Dublin's gritty Northside feted in tour of poetry, song

Wed Apr 9, 2014 11:25am EDT
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By Michael Roddy

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Not many city tours start off at what once was one of Europe's most notorious red-light districts, then pass by a former sweat-shop laundry run by the Catholic Church, but all that and more fits in to a sightseeing jaunt on Dublin's gritty Northside.

The Five Lamps Festival bus tour gave a Northsider's eye view of an Irish capital that has had its ups and downs but has always celebrated itself in song and poetry - in this case poems collected in a new volume called "If Ever You Go".

"It's a different look at Dublin," said Roisin Lonergan, who organised the one-off tour on Sunday that used one of the screaming-green "Paddywagon" tourist buses to ferry a busload of mostly Dublin residents from place to place.

"The Paddywagon tours normally do backpackers," Lonergan, who teaches in a Northside college and runs a local festival named for a five-lamped light fixture across from her school. "I thought it would be fun to have it full of 'Paddies' for once."

Singer-guitarist Macdara Yeates, 23, a Northside native, and piper Patrick Cummins, 23, who is from the city's posher Southside but is part of the band Skipper's Alley with Yeates, making it all right for him to come along, provided the jigs, songs, banter and the poetry readings.

The poems came from a volume published by Ireland's Dedalus Press released under the auspices of Dublin's "One City, One Book" programme which encourages everyone in the city, visitors and residents alike, to take part in discussions, readings and analysis of a specific book chosen for the year.

Two years ago it was James Joyce's "The Dubliners" volume of short stories, last year it was James Plunkett's novel "Strumpet City" inspired by a famous lockout of 20,000 workers in Dublin in 1913, and this year it is poems collected in "If Ever You Go" that celebrate the city, warts and all.

The Northside bus tour was just one of a year-long programme that includes poetry readings, walking tours, bike tours and even a walk through Dublin's Glasnevin Cemetery to visit the graves of noted poets and writers.   Continued...

Singer Macdara Yeates (L) and piper Patrick Cummins leading a poetry tour of North Dublin as part of a festival celebrating the city through poetry and song, April 4, 2014. REUTERS/Michael Roddy