The Dublin Portal: When a New Yorker gave them the finger, Dubliners returned the gesture

Art project on North Earl Street provides Dubliners with a 24/7 live stream to Broadway

Dublin to New York Portal on North Earl St in Dublin. Photograph: Dan Griffin

It’s 11am in Dublin and about 30 people on North Earl Street are vigorously waving at a man on an escooter in New York, who stares back at them with a look on his face that suggests he’s not entirely sure what’s going on.

The two cities have just been linked up via a 24-hour live stream as part of the Portals art project. The large circular screen in the middle of the north Dublin street provides a window to the Flatiron South Public Plaza at Broadway (and vice versa) and will remain in place until the autumn.

“They can see us, and we can see what’s going on there,” said one passerby to her friend on Thursday morning.

The Portal is the idea of Lithuanian artist Benediktas Gylys and is a collaboration between several bodies, including Dublin City Council and the EU Capital of Smart Tourism. The project will feature scheduled programming, including cultural performances at each city’s Portal. These will start in mid-May, with a visual program to celebrate New York Design Week Festival.


The Irish Times watched for about an hour on Thursday and in that time, viewers on the Dublin side waved at the New Yorkers, blew them kisses and tried to entice them into dance-offs. The New Yorkers repeated the gestures back; one guy in a blue baseball cap also rolled up his sleeve and flexed his bicep for the camera, another man performed cartwheels.

It took at least half an hour before a guy in a flannel top on the New York side gave the middle finger to the Dubliners, who repeated the gesture back at him enthusiastically.

Also in Dublin, one guy held up a can of beer to toast his American friends. A short while later, a young man pulled up on a scooter and shouted “Tiocfaidh ár lá” several times at the screen before continuing on his way. “I don’t think it has audio,” someone said after he had left.

It doesn’t. And in that way the Portal kind of resembles a Teams call on mute. The idea might seem futuristic, but it’s about as futuristic as a Skype call with your sister.

Still, it seemed to receive a positive reception on North Earl Street, although some people did have their reservations. “It’s cool in a way, but it’s not helping the country,” said one woman, lamenting the homeless situation in Dublin. She was nonetheless happy to urge several people to wave back at a man in New York who appeared to be shaking his breakfast at the camera.

“That’s New York?! It doesn’t look like New York,” said another man, before taking a closer look at the screen. “Oh yeah, it is.” He said he was happy to see this project in place because it’s good to give people something to wave at.

There were a lot more viewers in Dublin than on Broadway on Thursday morning, although it was only about 6am in New York at the time.

One Dubliner looked at the screen and shook her head. “There’s nobody up, they’re all still in bed”.

Dan Griffin

Dan Griffin

Dan Griffin is an Irish Times journalist