Seagulls in Dublin


A chara, – I have disagreed only rarely with my very dear friend and neighbour Frank McDonald over the years, but I draw the line at culling seagulls (An Irishman’s Diary, August 24th).

They have lived on my roof in Temple Bar, and raised chicks, for decades. They are very noisy copulators. But they are devoted parents and the males share childcare equally with the females.

They have been part of Dublin’s heritage for generations. Walter Osborne’s masterpiece Dublin Streets: A Vendor of Books shows the naked feet of a child, to signal the appalling poverty of the day, and it shows lots and lots of seagulls.

Murray Gell-Mann, the Nobel laureate who died this year, spent some time in my house in Temple Bar. He especially loved the seagulls, because of course they gave a name to his great discovery: the Quark. Murray loved Joyce, and he named the fundamental particle (to simplify) after the cries of Dublin’s seagulls in Finnegans Wake: “Quark!”

Murray had a very specific interest in preserving the diversity of bird life on our planet. His work in Amazonia might today have won him a second Nobel Prize.

Let us work for a solution. But if we agree that half of all plants and animals that were on the planet before humanity became a big force will go extinct soon, culling seagulls is not a good look. – Yours, etc,


Temple Bar,

Dublin 2.