Pride and the city
Banter’s Living for the City series has shown that there’s a lot of pride in Dublin’s dirty old town
A few weeks ago, this paper ran a piece by Trevor White, from the Little Museum of Dublin and formerly of The Dubliner magazine. White’s piece questioned just how much pride Irish people have in the capital. He explored the issue of “anti-Dublin bigotry”, looked at the historical reasons for the city’s unpopularity and even posited that big smoke dwellers even have a dysfunctional relationship with their place in the city.
Naturally, there was a response, including letters to the editor (always the best way to monitor the readerships’ feelings on issues raised within the publication’s pages) and reactions from two people mentioned in the original column. Ciaran Walsh from “the “unfortunately titled” Le Cool Dublin” (to quote White) took aim at this notion that it was “slavish” to seek to emulate ideas from elsewhere, while Niall Harbison from Lovin Dublin simply didn’t stand back when he put fingers to typepad in response.
The whole idea about “pride” in a city is something which we’ve been thinking about and talking about for months at Banter. Last year, we decided to try an experiment and put together a (very) loose selection of talks under the banner of Living for the City. The Banter kitchen cabinet (ie myself and Banter co-producer Eoin Cregan) drew up a list of ideas and themes we’d like to see addressed. We decided to kick off with a dicussion about cycling in the city, invited some great people along (Damien Ó Tuama, Anne Bedos and Rebecca Moynihan) and set the ball in motion.
To say that we’ve been amazed with the response would be an understatement. Every single time, we’ve had full rooms for these things. While you’d expect a great response when you’ve a name like Jon Ronson or Dawn O’Porter or Peter Hook, the massive reaction to these Living for the City talks took us completely by surprise. We’ve had discussions to date on alternative spaces, immigration, housing and homelessness and we still haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of stuff around and about Dublin that we want to discuss.
What we’ve found is that people who come along to these talks or who have checked out the podcasts are super-engaged when it comes to talking about and hearing about the city where they live, work and play. They want to hear about the issues which affect their world and they want to have a say about what they’d do to change that same world. Be it the crazy rental market, the views from new Dubliners or how to put together an alternative venue, people are hungry for knowledge.
There’s a vivid curiosity about how the city works and ticks and operates (or not, as the case may be). Yes, there’s often frustration and indignation and ire about how things are here, but the point remains that people are determined about their city. They’re proud in a very strange way of this dirty old town where stuff sometimes doesn’t work or doesn’t happen as easily or simply as it should. You could call this very strange pride a very Dublin kind of pride. These people – natives and blow-ins from places out foreign and people up from the country – could be anywhere else, but they’ve chosen to stay here instead.
So when people talk about a lack of pride in the city, you really have to call shenanigans. Because it’s there in spades. It’s just a case of taking the time to leave your ivory towers and gilded palaces and go looking for it. The city does have good friends in lots of places, both high and low.
We can expect that topic to feature heavily in Covering the City, our look at media in the city as part of The Beatyard festival.
Covering the City will look at how various media – new, old, online and offline – cover what’s going on in the city. We’ll examine what the panel feels is of interest to Dubliners about the place they call home. And we’ll talk some about the other stuff which should be covered and why.
The small print: Covering the City takes place at the Twisted Pepper on Wednesday April 30. Doors open 6pm, the Bantering gets underway at 6.30pm and admission is free, but you need to sign-up to the invite list in advance.