26 Things About Dublin That Will Never, Ever Change – From Drive-By Slaggings To Psychotic Seagulls
They predate the Celtic Tiger, and they survived the recession; these things are here to stay.
Dublin is a fast-moving mecca on the edges of tomorrow, full of start ups, up-starts and everything in between – and while we love that, it's great to know that there are some things that will never change.
Here’s a list of things which have stayed strong through the ups, the downs and the doldrums. They’ve always been, they always will be – and they're yours. Here are 26 things that will never, ever change about Dublin.
I don’t remember Dublin without Funderland.
According to legend, Funderland was founded in 1173 when an enterprising young man pushed his friend down a hill in a barrel and charged him two gold doubloons and a sheep for the privilege. Since then it’s grown into our very own annual Disney World. Get a hot dog, go on the waltzers, find the inner child you forgot you had.
2. The old women of Moore Street
Walk through Moore Street on any day of the week and you’ll hear the siren calls of these Dublin fruit and veg stalwarts, offering punnets of plums for €2 and boxes of bananas for a fiver – haggle if you dare.
3. Sneaky art
While Dublin can strike visitors as grey, small and perpetually wet, there’s a strong culture of underground art lurking in our streets – from decade-old tags and murals around Ballymun to the socially impactful works of Joe Caslin on city centre streets.
4. €2.50 chicken fillet rolls
The difficult years of the recession in Ireland were eased when shops, akin to famine soup kitchens, recognised the population's need for cheap, nutritionally-dubious, delicious food.
Enter the chicken fillet roll, a sumptuous marriage of crunchy baguette, ripe juicy tomato, crisp lettuce and chicken (which I tell myself lived a happy life in a field somewhere). Adding taco sauce to your roll is the connoisseur's choice.
5. Spanish tourists
From the Spanish Armada crashing on the west coast in the late 1500s, to the millions of Spanish students who appear in Dublin in the summer – walking in impenetrable horizontal lines and wearing matching back packs – our fair city has always had a magnetism for the Spanish.
We love them for giving us tapas bars and spending their money to boost our economy. Gracias lads!
6. Auld fellas in pubs
I was doing a comedy gig in the Patriot Inn recently and noticed four auld lads sitting in the corner nursing pints of Guinness.
Every now and then, one of them would finish his pint and he’d put the glass under the table, where an ageing Jack Russell would lick it clean. I felt a surge of love for my city stronger than I’ve ever felt – and it was all from watching four old men getting an old dog drunk in Kilmainham.
Outside of GAA, jaywalking is often considered to be one of the national sports of Dublin.
I got stopped by a policeman in Berlin last month for crossing the street when the light was red, and only managed to escape a fine because the officer was a big Christy Moore fan. In Dublin, it's the gardaí who leg it across the road at the first opportunity.
Seagulls, the psychos of the sky.
Due to Dublin’s coastal location, these stone-cold killers walk our streets like prehistoric monsters, ripping apart bins and carrying off small children to their cliffside lairs. Bless.
I’m lucky enough to have a job that lets me travel all over the place, and out of everywhere I’ve been, I have never encountered a city as welcoming as Dublin.
It could be as simple as asking for directions, striking up a conversation with an auld fella and his drunk dog in a pub or making an entirely new group of mates on a night out; but Dublin always welcomes you with open arms.
10. Dublin Zoo
First opening its doors in 1831, Dublin Zoo remains a delight for animal lovers, old and young alike. Housing many endangered species and always developing new areas, it's a brilliant day out, and always will be – watch for the Celtic Tiger, tucked away in a corner.
In recent years Dublin has experienced a gastronomic explosion, with a new sushi shack or pulled pork palace appearing overnight on every street corner.
However, nothing says Dublin cuisine like coddle. as loved by James Joyce and Jonathan Swift alike. You just get your rashers, sausages, onions and spuds, bang them into a pot, cook em for a while and enjoy. And sure, you can even add parsley if you’re feeling fancy.
12. Drive-by slagging from kids on bikes
As long as there have been children and as long as there have been bikes, the two have come together to form a union as old as time itself.
I was walking down Stephen's Green last November wearing a checked shirt and a wheeled youth shouted “Lumberjack Adele” at me before wheelying off into the horizon - 10/10.
13. The Bernard Shaw
Bodytonic’s Portobello drinking emporium is the epitome of a modern Dublin pub. Good pints, affordable drinks, awesome music and tasty pizza served out of a double decker bus in the back of an ancient pub building – all named after George Bernard Shaw, who was born around the corner on Synge Street.
14. Getting wet
Dublin is right on the coast, so you’re never too far from the sea. No amount of Berocca, brunches or Bloody Marys will get rid of a hangover faster than a quick dive at the 40 Foot.
Like every species, teens of South Dublin have their own age-old mating rituals.
This Donnybrook institution, known as the Wezz, is home to one of the most notable teen discos in the city. For years, this hallowed ground was where any self-respecting teen went for their first 'meet', generally to the romantic sounds of DJ Rankin or Scooter.
Music has and always will be part of the soul of Dublin. Walk down Grafton street on any day of the year and you’ll hear everything from acoustic guitar to Japanese throat singing – with the odd surprise appearances from Bono and Glen Hansard thrown in for good measure.
Getting a bag of Burdock's chips with extra crispy bits and loads of salt and vinegar on a cold wet day and taking comfort in the steamy smell. That’s Dublin city.
18. The 'Craic'
You can’t write an article about the unchanging face of Dublin without mentioning the craic. Loosely meaning fun, it's a term which is open to individual interpretation – ranging from sitting on the edges of a music session in the Cobblestone to chasing the deer topless in the Phoenix Park at 4am.
Which I have never done, ever.
19. Dublin taxi drivers
Ah, the authentic Dublin taxi driver. Not only does he know the history of the city, give you life advice, know how to run the country, is an expert on sport, is an expert on women, is an expert on men, is an expert on everything and then some, but he also gets you from A to B before you can say: “The problem with the government is...”.
20. Comedy clubs
27 years ago this year, Ardal O’Hanlon, Barry Murphy and Kevin Gildea founded “The Comedy Cellar”, upstairs in the International Bar.
Since then, Irish comedy has been a major export with Dublin pumping out comedians at the rate most people make cups of tea. Brilliant for a date, a night out or just to escape the monotony of your desk job.
If you gave Dublin a body, its blood would be Guinness.
Since 1759, the success of the stout has moulded the city, helping develop its parks, cathedrals and character. Visit the Storehouse to learn the perfect two part pour, or simply enjoy a pint in a snug somewhere. (I once saw a bar in Paris serve Guinness in single pour and I was so angry I puked into my own beard in protest.)
22. Dubliners' pride
Dubliners have a strange sense of pride in their city, in that they’ll complain about every little thing all day long, as long as it’s to another Dubliner.
If anyone from outside the city were to so much as imply that they didn't like something about the big smoke then they will quite swiftly be told to 'go and shite'.
23. Temple Bar
Love or it hate it, Temple Bar, with its hen parties, overpriced pints and cobbled streets is the old heart of Dublin. At weekends thousands of of revellers flock to its famous pubs to experience “an authentic taste of Ireland”, which seems to mean €7 pints and getting vomited on by lads from Scunthorpe.
Hooray for the cultural quarter!
24. Dublin Slang
Geebag, wetser, dope, session mot, meet, g'wan, baluba, Black Mariah, bleedin' deadly, dry shite, quare hawk, off your face, skanger, posho, manky, scoops, swill, session, gargle.
No wonder we’re seen as a land of poets.
25. McDonald's Grafton Street after a night out
When the clock strikes 3am, and the clubs empty onto the streets, McDonald's on Grafton Street turns into a scrum of party beasts devouring chicken nuggets, swilling milkshakes and desperately trying to land the ride by offering to share their curly fries.
Go drunk for the Eurosaver Menu, go sober to watch the madness.
26. Cans along the canal in the summer
As soon as the sun peeks through the clouds in spring, you can find gangs of people up and down the length of the Grand Canal, lashing back cans and making the most of the weather.
Generally you won’t be more than 100m away from someone playing Wonderwall, so it's kind of like a discount version of the French Riviera.