A legend, a convicted “terrorist”, self-described as “a drinker with a writing problem”, Brendan Behan was one of the sharpest, most entertaining and rambunctious geniuses of our time.
A man who lived too hard and died too young; his brilliance has touched many lives and minds. We love the statue of him that sits on the banks of the Royal Canal in Phibsboro. An unlikely location some may think, but it is positioned strategically near two of his long-term addresses, his natal home on Russell Street and Mountjoy Prison. The statue by John Coll depicts the man himself sitting on a bench staring at a blackbird, with between them carved a number of triangles, an allusion to the opening section of The Quare Fellow.
Many scattered couplets from his works subtly adorn the bench. Behan is commonly remembered for his stocious antics and boisterous carry-on (like shouting abuse at actors in his plays from the audience mid-show), but the beauty of this statue is that it captures Behan in a moment of subtle introspection.
It immortalises the Behan that produced the works of art that will resonate throughout the years, the Behan that lives on in lively pub anecdotes. Funnily enough, that spot on the canal attracts a fair few stragglers who have a heavy taste for the gargle, so Brendan’s feet are often adorned with empty cans.
They are an accidental homage he wouldn’t mind one bit, he did say after all “One drink is too many for me and a thousand not enough”. His ruffled hair, shaggy clothes, and warm smile are inviting, so if you are passing by stop and have a moment in his good company.
Photo by Paul Reynolds.
Pints by a roaring fire is what this time of year is all about.There’s nothing quite like the feeling of coming out from the freezing cold, hard Dublin streets into a familiar pub to meet friends, many returning emigrants, to catch up beside an open fire with the only pressing problem being to figure out whose round it is. Without trying to emulate a seasonal Diageo advertisement, there is something utterly soothing about the crackle of a real fire, the clink of pint glasses and the first sip of a hot whiskey on an icy Winter evening. Our favourite spots for the real deal would be upstairs in The Lord Edward, Christ Church, McNeills on Capel Street, Mulligans on Poolbeg Street, upstairs in Kehoes on South Anne Street or The Gravediggers in Glasnevin.
Irish Soccer Hopes
Whoever remembers Dublin in the Summer of ’88 will recall the ecstatic fervour in the city’s pubs and streets. Twenty-four years later the boys in green have done it again, and will be off to Poland and Ukraine for Euro 2012. Being an Irish soccer fan isn’t easy, many would compare it to long-lasting unrequited love. But Trapattoni and the squad have given some of it back. In the Summer of 2012 years of suffering will be momentarily forgotten; lighthearted bonhomie will fill the air, we’ll all have an excuse to have a few pints too many and get hoarse voices from singing “Joxer goes to Stuttgart” (forgetting momentarily this is 2012). After all, don’t we love an excuse for a bit of craic, and what better one than Ireland making it this far!
Independent DIY. Local Bargains
Not, not punk but those stores regaled in day-glo homemade signage like Phibsborough Hardware. Located just before Cross Guns Bridge, just past Phibsbronx, is one of the city’s many scrappy little hardware stores. One of the old boys knows all the prices and the other knows where everything is. Over their shoulder is a mad display of DIY desires. Absolutely zero sense or order to it – just shelves stacked with crap. Ask for something, anything – and a hand reaches back blindly into the oblivion. A random price is applied, and out the door you go with whatever it is you thought you didn’t need and more. Still standing after defying the growth of mega-chain DIY outlets during the boom, these on-your-step DIY stores really do carry everything from a needle to an anchor.
Chicken baguette A National Institution
It’s more than just a piece of breaded battery-chicken in a baguette. The chicken-fillet roll is an Irish institution. When your powers of imagination and creativity fail, you know that the trusty roll is always around the next corner. The plain lettuce and tomato minimalist variety can be bought for €2 in many places. Now that’s a bargain. For the more adventurously inclined, add on 50c. a filling and you can lash in jalapenos, egg-mayo, BBQ sauce and anything else that is on display from the day before. With 8,000 likes on Facebook, the classic surpasses both the Fine Gael and Labour Party pages in popularity, respectively. It is a force that has taken over our country, and it won’t slash your benefits (well, perhaps just some health-related ones).