“Whenever office-bound workers drag themselves away from the desk for midday food these days, it’s likely to be eaten on the run. As for the long, boozy lunch – once a staple of the journalistic profession, among others – that’s dead. Even if people do make it to a restaurant, the meal will usually be both abstemious and short.”

An Irishman’s Diary about the meal formerly known as lunch

“Recently I joined a club called GoCar, which rents them out by the hour. It works a bit like nicotine patches. Whenever the urge strikes, I make an online booking and head for the nearest ‘base station’. Then I drive around for 60 minutes or so. That’s usually enough.”  Photograph: Frank McNally
Driving a bargain

An Irishman’s Diary about car-sharing

Dave Brady: faster than a speeding hare. Photograph: Donal Glackin. Courtesy of Irish Runner magazine

An Irishman’s Diary about running with the hares, and hunting with the Heritage Service

“The urge to burn things at Samhain is also an ancient one. Halloween bonfires mimic those lit by the druids to encourage the waning sun to return in spring. So, whether they know it or not, those kids stealing tyres are the inheritors of an ancient pagan ritual marking a turn in the wheel of the year.” Photograph:    Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Rubber bandits

An Irishman’s Diary about Halloween

“It’s a charming little garden – a railed-off refuge from the busy streets around it, with a fountain, a pool, and manicured shrubs. Its Art Deco trimmings wouldn’t be out of place in Paris, or Vienna, or any of the better kept cities of Europe. The downside is that you’ve probably never been in it. Nor had I until recently, although I pass that way often. The problem is the opening hours – 8am to 4pm Monday to Thursday, with a half-day Friday – which are more in keeping with a bank than a public park. It doesn’t open weekends at all, even in summer.”

An Irishman’s Diary about one of Dublin’s lesser-known gardens

William Hogarth’s Beer Street and Gin Lane

An Irishman’s Diary about the ‘London Beer Flood’ of 1814

A contemporary painting by an unknown artist of the Palace of Westminster on fire in 1834. Copyright: Parliamentary Art Collection

An Irishman’s Diary about Patrick Furlong and the great fire of 1834

The anti-water charges protest march at the weekend. Photograph: Eric Luke

An Irishman’s Diary about the water charge march (and other waves)

“The current  coat of arms  is 400 years old and, as you’ll recall, depicts three castle-like buildings on fire. But nobody – not even City Hall – now knows which castles they’re supposed to be, or indeed whether they’re castles at all.  According to the mayor’s website, they may just represent gates in the city wall, or watchtowers outside it. Or they may be all be the same thing – Dublin Castle – but depicted in triplicate, “because of the mystical significance of the number 3”. Given this confusion about the crime scene, there can be little hope now of finding out who started the fires. But based on the city’s history, I suggest several possible scenarios.”

An Irishman’s Diary on why the capital needs a new coat of arms too

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