Monday, July 24, 2017


Down by the Secret Garden – Blessington Basin

On the south side, the secret garden was always the Iveagh Gardens. But in recent years music, comedy and food festivals have meant that that garden isn’t so secret anymore. So these days to find the city’s true secret garden, you have to head north side. Up O’Connell St, then North Frederick, cross Dorset and on up Blessington until you come to the black wrought iron gates. In you go. And you’re there.
Yoga (Image: Dave Dowling)
The Blessington Basin, a perfect little gem of a walled park with seats and walkways around the edges of what the locals call ‘the duck pond’. The park is surrounded on all sides by quiet residential areas and the couple of old doors in the walls further enhance the secluded magical feeling. And those lucky enough to live on Geraldine St and Primrose Avenue, which back onto the park, enjoy stunning views.
Originally constructed as the Royal George Reservoir in 1810, fed by the Royal Canal from Lough Owel, it continued to supply water to the north side of the city until around 1885. Right up until the 1970s the reservoir also provided water to two of the city distilleries, Jameson and Powers. Dublin Corporation subsequently took over the basin and turned it into a public park – albeit one with a ‘private’ feel.
But the passing of the years was not kind to the park. “The ravages of time and sporadic acts of vandalism have taken their toll on the former reservoir…” the Dublin Tribune reported in 1990. “Much of the embankment along the water’s edge is subsiding. Iron railings are leaning dangerously close to the water… seating alongside the sides of the reservoir is regularly vandalised… a bricked up toilet provides an unattractive addition…” the paper added.
We all grew up feeding bread to the ducks
As Dublin played host to European City of Culture in 1991, the Goethe Institute paid for Dieter Magnus, a German “urban repair specialist”, to come up with a new design. But as Gerry Crowley tells us in his history ‘Basin At The Broadstone’, Magnus’ design met with resistance from the locals who cooled on the idea of German generosity. However, it did spur the local residents and businesses on into a flurry of fundraising activity. With added funds from the Corporation and with work provided by FAS trainee schemes and corporate donations of materials, renovations finally went ahead. President Mary Robinson and Lord Mayor John Gormley officially opened the Blessington Basin we see today in late 1994. The secret garden was back in business....continues

Monday, July 17, 2017

Beware Donal Trump The Anatolia Man!

This was from Sept 2016. And is still just as pertinent.
It's the standard con. Blame the other. Warn the mark about the ones over there. Don't trust them. Implicit in the cautionary tale is the presumption that you can trust us not them. It's a standard trope that any world traveller, well worldly wise world traveller, will instantly recognise. My old girlfriend Anne Moran n I had a term for it no matter where we were. In fact it became short hand for scam artists -apologies to all the honest decent Turks in question: Anatolia man. Out backpacking the Turkish coast in those halcyon days before the beaches - we left our safe European homes for - were bespoiled by the bodies of Syrian kids, the gravest threat we faced were the herds of men attracted siren like by Anne's red hair. And adding to the allure of the red hair was Anne's spellbinding asset.
"Ms Anne you look like Ms Pam."
That's Pam from Dallas.
Far away Dallas. But that was cool. Sanitised. Safe. American Dream.
No. No. Come here Ms Anne. (I was on the borderline of being tolerated and ignored. And I also seemed to serve as a guide to what was sexually acceptable: if I put my arm around Anne, beach Lothario felt he could too. But every move came with a cautionary tale:
Beware Anatolia Man.
Anne's legions of admirers and Anatolia cautioners grew vastly when food poisoning laid me low.
Back on my feet two days later, it was near impossible to pay for a meal or groceries.
Everything was a present for Ms Anne. The more genuine the gift the less intense the warning about Anatolia man.
A couple of his greatest foes, however, rendered our life impossible. They wld follow our every move. They wld lie beside Anne on the beach whispering sweet warnings of Antolia man. Out snorkelling with conveniently loaned flippers n mask, I wld look to shore to see Anne's red hair sandwiched on her towel by two black haired gents. Both whispering terrifying tales of Anatolia man as they inched up the towel.
Too much.
The next day we hopped the bus to Istanbul.
20 hrs later we walk out of an Istanbul bus station.
Only to hear a taxi horn blaring.
"Ms Anne, Ms Anne," a man screamed.
"Beware Anatolia man!" the taxi driver screamed.
Actually that's a lie.
He screamed
"Ms Anne I meet you in Dacha," referring to the coastal down we had just left.
During a wonderful week in Istanbul, we ended up in a late night bar. A wild dive joint. Dwarfs dancing on tables. A reek of underworld. Around the same time I noticed our dodgy drinking partners were packing pistols I realised they were not asking me the price of my hotel room. But how much for a sojourn with Ms Anne in a hotel room. As I informed Anne Anatolia man was actually at the table, bad lieutenant was warning me about the local Anatolia men. I forgot the name of their place of origin.
But we got out of that and many other such scrapes around the world.
In far flung villages in the Vietnamese highlands, it was beware Saigon Man. In Saigon the scammers wld caution: Beware Cambodia Man.
And always throughout the following decade or so, whether talking to the local policeman or late night tuk tuk driver, we wld get the supposed friendly warning that actually signalled dodgy intent.
"Beware Anatolia Man!"
Watch out for the other, I caution, as I rob you.
It became our private warning buzz word.
"Anatolia man is here."
"Your friend's from Anatolia!"
So when it comes to that racist, lying, cheating, daughter leching, hate spewing, tax hiding, piece of filth that is #DonaldTrump, I got one thing to say - and with apologies to the good people of Asian Turkey -