Dublin Can Be Heaven (even now, and even for cyclists)
An age-old problem in Dublin is the reluctance of its many rural migrants, no matter how long they live in it, to transfer their loyalties to the city. Having lived here all my adult life, I have no such reluctance. I am happy to consider myself a Dubliner (except in GAA matters – up Monaghan!), taking pride in the city’s achievements and taking personally its failures.
As a resident of Kilmainham’s inner fringe, I may even have become what used to be called a “city slicker”. I rarely visit suburban shopping centres, or drive to anywhere within the M50. If I can’t walk, or get the bus or Luas, my main mode of transport is the Dublin Bikes scheme.
Cycling is by far the best way to get around the city centre, especially if you don’t mind risking your life. That must be why, when I sat down to rewrite the Dublin Saunter, aka “Dublin Can Be Heaven” – Leo Maguire’s musical tribute to the city, circa 1950, made famous by the actor Noel Purcell – my version turned out to be bicycle-based, and a bit less relaxed than the original.
I’ve been north and I’ve been
south, I’ve been east and west, I’ve been like a rolling stone, Yet there’s one place on the earth, Where I’m a permanent guest, And even have the nerve to call my
own. Dublin can be heaven In the bus lane after seven On a roll towards Stephen’s Green. No need to worry ’Cept for that lorry To whose driver you may be
unseen. James’s Street’s a wonderland There’s magic in the air And expletives from that taxi man You held up just back there. But if you don’t believe me Try cycling if you dare In Dublin on an average weekday
I’ve been there and I’ve been here I’ve sought the rainbow’s end But no crock of gold I’ve found Nor indeed my stolen bikes. And let me tell you, friend Those thieves have left me well off,
browned. Still, Dublin can be heaven On Streets like Cuffe or Kevin And yes – on College Green. Just mind that gully Concentrate fully Or your wheel will slip in between Nassau Street’s like Funderland There’s screaming in the air Those damn Viking Splash tours
again I nearly hit the kerb. And if you too are fearless, Try cycling here and there In Dublin on an average weekday
I’ve been south and I’ve been north I’ve even braved the quays I’ve gone where Red and Mad
Cows roam Yet there’s one place in the town I’ve always been at ease, The only spot that cyclists feel at
home Phoenix Park is heaven (And in Dublin 8, not 7!) For a roll ’mid all things green. The glens are furry It’s scenic – vurry And the air is remarkably clean. All the paths are wonderful There are cycle lanes to spare (They’re full of bloody walkers,
mind With whom you have to share). So if you’re new to cycling You should probably practise there Not in Dublin on an average
Below: Actor Noel Purcell popularised the ‘Dublin Saunter’ song written by Leo Maguire. It described a relaxed, post-second World War Dublin few would recognise today. PHOTOGRAPH: KEVIN MCMAHON, THE IRISH TIMES