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25th Apr 2020

At some point, Dublin’s electric weekend atmosphere won’t be just a memory

James Fenton

It’s 6pm and for the first time on this sunny Saturday, city centre shoppers are outnumbered by thirsty revellers making their way to Dublin’s pubs.

It’s been a long week, almost as long as the queue for pints at Kehoes but as always, the line is moving at a fast pace and whoever’s turn it is to get the round is snaking their way back outside with two handfuls of drinks within minutes. The strumming of Grafton Street’s buskers can be heard in the distance as pubgoers fill each other in on their news.

Across the Liffey, Capel Street is awash with people ducking into its variety of Asian restaurants, hoping that the wait for a table won’t be too long. The doors of The Boars Head and Slatterys are swinging back and forth and everywhere friends are embracing after going too long without seeing each other.

In between the two scenes, tourists line the Ha’penny Bridge, looking to capture that perfect golden hour snap as a memento of their trip to Dublin. They’re passed by an excited hen party, making their way from their accommodation to sample the fruits of Temple Bar that they have heard so much about.

Back towards Stephen’s Green and the afternoon sun worshippers are gathering their things and making their way towards Luases and buses. Some might come back into town later on, others will stick local. There are also those who might take advantage of the rare opportunity to have a Saturday night in. The restrictions put in place by Covid-19 are a distant memory and Dublin City is alive again.

Sounds like heaven, right? Back to present day and speculation is rife about when such a scene will realistically be able to take place again. WhatsApp health experts and amateur politicians are offering their own consensuses but really, most of us can only guess.

In March, the idea that certain elements of Irish society would be closed until the autumn was unfathomable to some people. Now, in the middle of April, a restriction on gatherings of over 5,000 people until August is the stark reality.

Engaged couples who were entering the final stage of preparations for midsummer weddings are starting to look at alternative arrangements. Surely society will have completely gone back to the ‘old normal’ by Christmas? The idea that it won’t isn’t really that unthinkable, sadly.

Mass gatherings, synonymous with live music and sport, will remain as memories for quite some time. It will be a while before we’re sitting in a muddy field waiting for the headline act to come on or roaring on our team from the stands.

In the meantime, we can all cling on to these fond memories of Dublin, knowing that we will experience them again in some capacity. The buzz of the city was taken for granted by some of us but there’s little danger of that happening again for a generation at least. At some point, Dublin’s electric weekend atmosphere won’t be just a memory.

One day soon we’ll be clinking glasses and toasting birthdays and christenings, new jobs and new homes, engagements and marriages. Until that day, all we can do is follow the advice of the experts and do what we can to help.

If staying at home a little longer means we can experience these moments sooner rather than later, then it’ll be worth every minute.

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