Wednesday, January 14, 2009

April 2007-Dublin

It's easy to reduce a country and its culture to popular stereotypes. Ireland too often gets typecast as the potato-eating Guiness-swilling island in the North Atlantic. Ask people how they picture Ireland and they'll probably offer images of men in tweed scally caps nursing whiskey at the pub, playing the penny whistle, or tending their sheep.

These generalizations may have been the norm in 1916, but today Ireland is much more than gingers and step dancing. I'm sure there are a few shilelagh-toting farmers with a penchant for pints living in quaint thatched roof cottages. But with the dawn of the Celtic Tiger, Ireland rapidly transformed from an impoverished agrarian state to a European economic phenomenon. International corporations and immigrants took notice, resulting in a rapid influx of capital and people. For the first time in years, Ireland was the place to live, not leave.

Today, you can find Japanese sushi, Indian curry, and Polish pierogi restaurants in Dublin's city center. In 2007, the Co. Laois town of Portlaoise elected Rotimi
Adebari, an asylum-seeking Nigerian, as mayor. The influx of immigrants has transformed the country. Ireland is experiencing the growing pains and culture clashes associated with increasing immigrant populations. The question is: how will Ireland expand its definition of "Irish" to include new faces while maintaining its own traditions?

I can't pretend I have an answer to that question. While I have Irish roots, I was definitely born on the west side of the pond. Two years ago, I spent four months in Dublin. During this time, I explored the genealogical library, immersed myself in the country's music scene, and scoured the city for street art.

While Dublin was cleaner than other European cities, I did manage a couple of brilliant finds. Down on Dorset Street, I found the first photo sprayed on stuccoed buildings. the artist, DBC, has since covered the city in pieces.

The second photo was taken near the Hugh Lane. I enjoyed this cheeky assertion tagged just a few blocks away from a fine art gallery.


My third shot comes from Ballymun (see December 11,2008 post). Inside the condemned tenament, I found this little boy on a boarded-up window. I still can't figure out the meaning behind it. Is the boy already dead? Is he a symbol of holiness? What's going on?

Finally, the last stencil has little to do with street art. I found this stenciled invitation on a stone bench near Connelly Station. Although I left the country before the event took place, I can't help but wonder how awesome a party in the GPO would be.

Note: Sorry about the formatting issues riddling this post. This is what happens when you have 15 minutes to post before work in the morning. I'll try to address these later.

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