Trinity College: Made famous by the rowdiness and wanton irrational prejudices of its fellows in the 17th century, Trinity College has in more recent years declined into a sad, dilapidated caricature of its former self, like an Ian Paisley with Alzheimer’s. It is now famous for its illuminated manuscripts and for being the location of a pathetic movie that sees Michael Caine stumbling around drunk quoting Baudelaire while Julie Walters sits gurning on the steps outside pining for Alan Bennett. Needless to say, you’ll never find a real Irishman or woman inside this place. It’s all American tourists, ex-pat Brits trying to conceal their nationality out of shame and in the hope of shifting Spanish exchange students who don’t know any better, and swollen pompous homosexual academics with low self-esteem in the search of oblivion, the spirit of Wilde, and the chance to give a tawdry blowjob in the toilets to an African boy without a word of English.
The Mater Private Hospital: Mute testimony to the country’s debt to the United States for its economic policies, the Mater is the apogee of the denial of choice for the country’s poor. It stands here in mockery close to the inner city, flaunting its exclusivity in the faces of those not allowed to avail of its privileges. Of course, like all such monuments to freedom, the liberties it speaks of are a sham: The same surgeons carry out the same procedures next door in the Mater public. What differentiates the two is the level of comfort-it is not for nothing that it is known as the Mater Private Hotel-and the chance to skip the queues for the lifeboat, which can make all the difference on the lumbering Titanic that is the Irish health service. Those who have the money to buy their way on board have Mary Harney to thank for the chance to exercise that “choice” about whether or not to live or die. For the rest, the best option is emigration, maybe to some place that welcomes huddled masses yearning to breathe free. I dunno. Spain or somewhere.
Nora: My Wrinkly Sustainer: Our dérive at this point had lasted four hours and I was yet to eat or drink any of the comestibles brought along to facilitate an extension of our investigations, with the result that, just as I was about to shoot an outstanding example of Medieval Dublin erotica, the hypoglaecemia kicked in and I fainted clean away, snapping, it would now seem, the merest glimpse of said Medieval erotica, namely, Nora, my wrinkly sustainer. It was she, the craggy-faced harridan, who rushed to my aid, identifying the cause of my incapacitation and unscrewing the Thermos of hot mulligatawny soup, which she then proceeded to splash all over my face and the crotch of my trousers to stimulate my senses. The strong aroma of Beef Madras and burning scrotal agony immediately aroused me, in more ways than one, and drew masses of concerned citizens to my side, some of them concerned for my well-being, others concerned not to miss out on free food. They were all taking away my oxygen, the inconsiderate idiots, but Nora quick-wittedly lobbed a couple of chunks of Kendall Mint Cake and our saved-up Harvest Crunch Bars over their heads like hand grenades, which had the effect of dispersing the crowd like a David McSavage song. This gave me the opportunity to revive and clear my head, after which I asked Nora to give me the kiss of life and copped a feel of her ancient dugs.
Croke Park: Home to the money-spinning circus of corruption, nepotism and all things Oirish that is the . . . no, wait. That was Leinster House. This is Croke Park, home to everything in Ireland that is upright, decent, Catholic, and rural. For years the GAA has lacked a suitable cynosure, a stadium that might perfectly reflect and encapsulate the pomp, the colourfulness, and the dedication of its followers and participants, for Gaelic games are truly the lifeblood of ordinary communities across the nation. Now, as you can see, it finally has a suitable home.
Of course, the elephant in the room that nobody mentions is that this home is in the northside of a capital city known for its Jackeens, West Brits, foreign nationals, cosmopolitanism, sophistry, sophistication, tolerance, religious scepticism, and liberal values that rest uncomfortably even in the contemporary Irish psyche like a squatter they fantasize about evicting using hurleys. There will always remain a suspicion that the Dublin-based GAA hierarchy can’t be trusted, that its members will be influenced by soft living and the proximity of all those temptations generated so unnaturally by the modern-day metropolis. Going up there every other year for the semis of the football is bad enough, for Pete’s sake.
Part One is here. Part Three to follow.