In this interesting history of 12 Dublin streets, the author tells us that Dublin’s coat of arms is in fact three burning castles. Who knows?
and that chorus, ‘who knows?’ is something the reader may find themselves repeating over and over on every page, it is the treasure trove of information contained in every chapter of this pamphlet. There’s no major Dublin street here, no O’Connell Street or Grafton Street or Stephen’s Green or Merrion Square.
Instead, we have places like Fishamble Street, Moore Street, places that we might have overlooked in our entire lives, places that we might have rushed past every day on our way to a destination. elsewhere, without realizing the richness of history that is ingrained in the paving stones beneath our feet or behind the grimy windows of old buildings long abandoned.
The book was born as a result of Fallon’s popular podcast of the same name, which led him to organize street walking tours on his own. His knowledge of Dublin’s history is comprehensive but he resists the temptation to take the reader too deep into what appear to be inevitable holes; by no means a miracle because every street he chose seemed worthy of a book of its own.
There’s a real affection for the city here that he doesn’t even try to hide, his grandfather is one of those ‘Guinness Men’ he writes about in the chapter on Watling Street.
Politics and armed struggles are inevitable in any book on Dublin’s history but fortunately, amid a sea of commemorations surrounding the founding of the State, such matters are seen as part of the city’s broader social history. than its focus.
But if you want to know more about the sculptor responsible for the Parnell statue, or about who lived on trendy Henrietta Street before the landlords swept in and destroyed it, or simply life in the what happens to this street, most of them on the river Liffey, this book will give you many ‘who knows?’ by the time you have finished it. And old photos scattered throughout the text can bring back some memories. They certainly captivated this reader and reminded me also of Louis MacNeice’s wonderful lines about “The Charm of Her Dirty/The Bravery of Her Talk.”
‘Three Burning Castles’ by Donald Fallon, New Island, €16
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/books/book-reviews/a-delightful-potted-history-of-dublin-in-12-streets-42154511.html An interesting potted history of Dublin on 12 streets