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The Life of Brian

This week we as the O' Brien family had some bad news. Our beloved family pet dog Brian passed away of what I can only think was heart failure. But more on that later. As someone who likes to take pictures of our city having a companion on trips, usually on a Tuesday or a Wednesday was bit of a god send. In fact it worked both ways. My work roster allowed me to be off those days and Brian knew this. Might sound mad, but he did.  Mondays were taken up with dropping Darragh and Joe off to school in Killester then me and Brian heading over to my Ma's in Donnycarney. Brian loved going to Donnycarney because his girlfirend Lilly was there. He would leap out of the car when he knew the destination and would play with his girlfriend in the huge back garden until Helen my wife,  would summon him in to go home. He would come in, eventually. Tuesday and Wednesday morning would be the same. I would get up, he would be at the front door, knowing it was Tuesday or Wednesday and looking at me asking 'Where are we going today?'. His favourite spot was in between Helen, Darragh and Joe and myself , in the car, going somewhere.  When Thursday came around he would be looking to head out the back for the last wee before being let back in until Helen came home with the boys after school. He would jump on the couch, we would all kiss him goodbye..(I swear he was saying feck off) and when they came back at 2.45 he was in the window, half dozing until Helen and the kids came home and the wag of the tail was all he needed to be happy. That wag of the tail would be seen too when I got home late from work on either Friday/Saturday/Sunday nights and he would be in the window and when the car lights were seen the tail would go. I walked in the door, I would usually have a beer to wind down, we would chat; he would talk to me, sitting as he did on my lap, as we discussed events of the day. Unless you have a dog, this is all nonsense. Unless you have had a dog that has been so engrained in the fabric of your life and has since passed away this is also nonsense. Let me try and explain the nonsense. I can't remeber the exact date we got Brian. Must have been Spring 2006. That's 12 years ago. I remember Helen and myself in Ashton Pound looking in cages and seeing this black dog in a dark corner of his cage. I knew in that very second he was the one. I don't know why. I Just knew. Helen was more dubious, I assume wanting more of a smaller dog. This dog was the one. We signed the papers, I can't even remember the formalilities, I just remember coming back a couple of days later and taking the dog home. As we sat there in our new house, this dog was the proudest thing I had ever owned. The pound had no records for his history so we just went along with it. In the car on the way home, he was sitting at Helen's feet, his head not lifting and looking seriously depressed. We took him home, gave him a bowl of water, gave him some fresh meat as a way of saying hello and welcome to our family. I assume he ate it. We played hurling down on the green, I would hit the ball and he would run and run and run and catch the tennis ball. But never ever giving the fucking thing back. As long as I have known him once he caught a ball he wasn't giving it back without a struggle.

October 2007 and my first born, Darragh came in to the world. For the previous few months Brian would sit with Helen, across her lap as if he knew she was pregnant. Dogs have this inate feeling to protect their master and family. He would bark if someone came to the door, something only now years later I realised what he was doing.  By this stage Helen and myself thought that Brian needed company. A bad idea on our part and Gary left us after a few months of madness. Brian settled back in to his routine and we continued to play ball down at the field. In 2011 and Helen's dad was not well, and Helen was heavily pregnant on our 2nd born, Joe. Brian would stick to Helen on our nights in like glue, laid across her lap as if protecting her and he knew how sad she was about her dad. Dogs sense feelings. When Joe was born in April 2011 Brian would be even more protective over Joe, barking at postmen, delivery men etc....

 

Darragh and Joe would get bigger with each an every month and our walks would extend to The South Wall, The Phoenix Park, St Annes Park and Brian loved the Dublin Mountains.

Sunday 22nd April I got a call in work from Helen. Helen never rings in work. 'Brian is not well'. I was throwing things out like 'it;s the heat, 'it's something he ate'. Helen sent me a video and I said I would be home in 15 minutes. I got home, he was there, under the trampoline, looking at me. I crawled under, we had a chat. A good chat, I told him he was the bestest dog I could have asked for. He came round a bit and I brought him in to the couch and said I will be back for 6ish. I came back at 6.30 and found him in the porch with Helen, Darragh and Joe by his side; he had just slipped away. We were distraught. When a pet, and calling him a pet seems to undermine his role in the family unit. A pet just doesn't quite cut the title. This pet came everywhere with us. The pictures show how loved he was. From all the O' Brien Clan thank you Brian, thank you for your loyalty, love and friendship for the last 12 years.

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'It’s great.  Very, very moving.  You’ve captured the bond between man - and family - and dog really well.  Thanks for letting me read it'.

All the best

Roddy Doyle


Mike O' BrienComment
Liberty Hall

Sometimes we don't even notice it. More often than not we don't notice it. It's there though. Liberty Hall in it's current guise has stood there since 1965. The architect, Desmond Rea O Kelly embodied the new Dublin that was emerging in the 60s. A new state, a state looking forward for a change, a state that announced it's arrival. Busaras around the corner which was completed in the early 50s was built in the same concept. New design, new thinking. The site at which Liberty Hall stands is one which is more than important to us Irish and more importantly, us Dubs. The Proclomation was printed in the basement, the picture 'We serve neither King nor Kaiser over the front door in 1916 resonates as a part of our history. Recently I managed to blag my way to the top thanks to Paul who was on the front desk. the building is a beut. It does need some love, let there be no mistake.

People don't like the building. I've heard and read things on forums about it being very ugly, not fitting in with the city scape. Granted Liberty Hall is not pretty. I don't think that can be denied. The architect had designed the building to be initially see through. A unique design, the Look at the context of the building though. It's Ireland in the mid 60s. A new generation of thinkers. The 1916 50th anniversary was at this time, new politics from government was emerging. The de Valera way of thinking was shrinking fast. With Sean Lemass as Taoiseach he was injecting new life in to Ireland, trying to reduce the scourge of emigration that has blighted our nation since the 1840 with his political policies. Architecture in the city was following suit.

Mike O' BrienComment
Pat Liddy on Dublin; his Dublin

I sat down with Pat Liddy and we had a chat about all things Dublin. Pat knows Dublin because he is Dublin. We sit down in the bustling Cafe Nero on O' Connell Street and I began by asking him what the best thing about Dublin is.

'It can't be just one thing, it's a whole lot of things coming together making it a unique city and I only realised how unique Dublin is when I started going abroad while working with Aer Lingus that I saw the opportunity to show the world that we are a people apart, we are a city apart from anywhere else but we were destroying it by neglect or by active development which was not sympathetic to the legacy of the city so I set about trying to do something about that. Bearing in mind that Dublin is a low rise city and in terms of accessibility the city centre is unique in Europe, you can walk to a lot of places, cities unlike Paris and Rome while also full of heritage and history it takes time to traverse them. In my later years I have tried to show off our city to the world. In the 80s and early 90s tourism was very small compared to what it is today and especially Dublin would have been seen as a the place you landed in on your way west or even south and that had to be changed. What could we show them? What was the product? They were two questions I asked myself. Besides Trinity College, Dublin Castle and Christchurch Cathedral, which is relatively small compred to other cathedrals in Europe but it's the depth of stories and heritage attached to these sites that make these spots unique. And that's what people started to like. Also over the years we may have given out the wrong message, 'We'd like to find a cosy pub and have a Guinness is the most popular thing tourists say  but in reality we are a European capital city and a cosy pub at the weekends is near non existant. Once Dublin recieved traction in terms of tourism, I think the latest figures are just around the 6 million mark which is a huge for a city this size. The messages we have been giving out include a visit to the Guinness brewery and Trinity but they are now at capacity and we need a back up. A back up like The Docklands with proper development of the area that will be sustainable for years to come with more cafes and also with the use of barges in the area for living and for showcasing artists too. While we have a lot there at the moment there is scope to develop it more and to develop it right'.

 

PatLiddy_2.jpg

We have had a chat about the best things in Dublin, now can I ask you about the worst things about Dublin? We won't dwell too much on them though!

'There are a lot of aggravating things about Dublin, there is a lack of public toilets, public seating, there are so many unfortunates on the streets that there isn't enough active work being carried out for them and they can greatly interfere with tourists by looking for money for hostels etc. A lack of policing in the city too, we need more Gaurds on the streets of Dublin. Another issue I have found is the lack of leadership when it comes to the civics of the city. There isn't one person with responsibilty, it's a whole load of them, it takes too long to get things done. There needs to be a 'grabbing the bull by the horns' type of scenario'

Dubliners. What makes us a people unique?

'We now have the new Dubliners and the traditional Dubliners and when a visitor comes here they want the Irish Dubliner, and when you at the huge variation of the Dublin accent, this is language, our language, unique to us and it is to be treasured. For instance the Dublin way of saying hello is 'Howya'. That comes acrss as a warm greeting to someone and us Dubliners often overlook that. Over all if you were to ask a Dubliner about the city they would be very proud of the place. Quirks and all.

 

In terms of the development of Dublin. Where do you see it going in the next 15 to 20 years?

'A city is it's people. you have to encourage  people not only  to work but to live in the city. again, referring to O' Connell Street, our main street in the city, there is nobody living on it.  All those empty upper floors on shops in the street should and need to be used either for working offices or even better residential  use.  There are still so many derelict sites in the city, one down at the far end of O' Connell Street looks terrible as it is. It's one of the quirky things about Dublin that you can develop a block and the block next to it can see no benefit from that development. Joined up thinking is what's needed. Take Abbey Street, the three of them, lower, upper and middle Abbey Street; they aren't great and I suspect it is down to absentee landlords. The future is that we have to make these landlords look after the heritage of these buildings through guidance and education. We need to allow a bit of high rise, not in the city centre though and the reason for that is that with high rise we would be a dark city. We need the light!! It can't be development for the sake of development, it needs to be proper and sustained with all the services that must come with apartments, shops and the recreation, balanced living with families and the like'. 

 

 

Moore Street Pat. It has been in the news for a few years now. Where are you on the issue?

'I would keep the laneway and keep the shape of the laneway and the street itself and the facades of the origianl buildings and especially keep  the interiors of the building where the rebels where held up, there is only about 5 buildings there still. The rest were destrroyed and redeveloped over the years and you have to mark points in our history like 1916 which are important. The plaque on the wall marking where The O'Rahilly was shot is the saddest looking  thing you can imagine, we put up  these plaques and say 'aren't we great' then we walk away from them for years, it's a shame really'.

 

Pat Liddy tours. talk to me. Sell yourself!

'I don't need much encouragement, it's www.walkingtours.ie  and we are constantly changing, moving and growing, I am always looking for new ideas to get people to move  away from the standard tour, we want to get people to Georgian Dublin, The Docklands, St Michans. We organise architecture tours, we can have up to 700 people on the Dublin City Council tours, well organised. We give a high level of training to our guides, our tours tend to be smaller so it's a bit more personal. We give an entertaining and educational tour, we want you to come away saying 'i never knew that before' We have this passion to try and tell the story of Dublin.

 

A Big thank you to Pat for his time in making this interview,

 

 

 

 

The full 22 minute interview can be found here on our Soundcloud page.

 

 

 

Pat is an author of many books on Dublin, here are my two favourites and are available here

 

Dublin be Proud
By Pat Liddy

And here

 

Mike O' BrienComment
18 Ormond Quay

Heading up the Quays many times I often wondered what was this run down, grubby building along Ormond Quay. 18 Ormond Quay has just been taken over by the Dublin Civic Trust and have huge plans to bring the building (dating from c.1740) back to it's former glory. The building has had an extensive history of uses over the centuries from a Gun Shop, hotel, a pub, Fishing tackle shop to an art exhibition space used by Mannix Flynn. Not in use since about 2006 the building has started to peel from the weather and when I rocked up to take pictures of the exterior, (The very knoweldgeable forman wouldn't let me inside due the state of the interior). He was enthused at this undertaking which involves restoring the building from top to bottom and putting back the original entrance in the middle arch at the front. The windows will be repaired as where possible too back the original. Recently the fantastic RTE journalist Philip Bromwell got acess (it's not what you know eh??!!) and did this fantastic report:

https://www.rte.ie/news/dublin/2017/0724/892657-restoration-dublin/

The pics here were taken just before the extensive works took place

 

These pictures show the task ahead for the Dublin Civic Trust. The scaffolding was erected today and works will continue for the next 3 years or so.

The pictures above show the uses and depictions of the building through the years. Most Dubliners will remember the Watts Fishing Shop that was located here until the 90s.

 

Below is an artists impression of the finished product after all works are complete. This is the most challenging and transformative building project the Trust has embarked on since its foundation in 1992. The future looks bright for this building with these plans in place.

This will include:

- Extensive structural engineering to consolidate the bowing side wall to Arran Street East

- Removal of pebbledash to facades, and repair and repointing of brickwork.

- Structural stabilisation of historic shopfront, repair of granite masonry, and reinstatement of original configuration with central entrance door and Georgian-type windows with cast-iron grilles.

- Upper floor windows returned to their original Georgian grid configuration using precise historic dimensions.

These works will be followed by repair of interiors, including plasterwork, joinery, floors and ceilings as well as a mechanical and electrical services.

A subsequent phase in 2018-19 will address the more complex 18th-century building to the rear on Arran Street East. This will involve careful investigative opening-up works to help determine the structural condition of the building and its original layout and purpose.

From me Mike O' Brien I wish everyone at the Dublin Civic Trust all the very best with this massive job. And make sure you keep the old Dublin street sign too!!  They are looking for donations to get this project completed so should you require any further information visit

http://dublincivictrust.ie/building-projects/18-ormond-quay/the-building

We will keep you updated on progress on the project too as it develops.

Mike O' BrienComment
Has video killed the radio star?

Radio is a part of my life. It is a part of a lot of Irish peoples' lives. I am a presenter with multi city station Classic Hits 4fm and I have done stints on many pirates down the years. Sitting in a padded room with a box of CDs and talking in to a microphone may not be everyones' cup of tea but ask anyone in radio and they can't explain the buzz, the thrill of being on air. The interaction from callers, giving away tickets, making peoples day is what being on air is all about. Radio is a one on one medium to which we can engage with unlike TV. Ireland has one of the highest radio listenerships per head of any population in world. Simply; We like radio in this country. It's diverse and we get a lot of news from radio. Be it our local stations our national stations or even the excellent quality from community stations like NEAR FM there is a vast amount to choose from. We also like our radio personalities too. It makes the news if a presenter leaves his gig or defects to a rival station. Recently RTE Presenter Joe Duffy purchased a picture from the site, we got talking about radio, RTE and about Dublin.

I started by asking Joe what has been the highlights of his years presenting 'Liveline'.

Joe

'Every week brings something quite new on Liveline, but one of the more memorable moments was when we recieved a call from America, a woman who had been in a Mother and Baby home, she had made a life for herself in the US and she had heard that one of the women she had grown up with in the home had died and had been buried in a communal grave with no individual headstone. Her name was Margeret Bullen who was the longest resident in that home. We then recieved a call from a woman called Samantha Long who said Margeret Bullen was my mother and I didn't know she was dead. The had met their mother, they knew the circumstances but they had been adopted or fostered out which led a few weeks of talking about these homes and since then Samantha has been a campaigner for people who were in the Magdalen Laundries and Mother and Baby homes. More recent stories on Liveline were of Michael and Kathleen Deveraux who were seperated on going in to a nursing home; both had applied for the Fair Deal option, the home said yes to Michael and no to Kathleen. The day after Michael went in to the home Kathleen had a fall and ended up in hospital. They have been 63 years together and never seperated and within 10 minutes of making the call to Liveline the powers that be had Kathleen in the same nursing home the following afternoon. It was a memorable Liveline topic because of the voice of Michael Deveraux and the love he portrayed on air between the two of them was palpable.

 

Mike

What makes Liveline capture peoples ears?

Joe

'Our crew are very aware that we (Radio 1) has been news heavy for most of the morning and the crew, a small brilliant crew lead by Aongus Mcanally look for something different for the programme. We feel our job is to give a platform, a voice to people who don't have a voice, we try and get a good mix, sometimes we succeed, sometimes we don't'.

Mike

What career advice would you give someone starting out in radio?

Joe

'The first thing I would say is if you want to be a journalist, be a journalist, if you want to be a radio presenter, be a radio presenter. People often ask me 'How I get in to to RTE?' I don't know is the answer, I say to people, go to your local station, go to your local newspaper. Start learning the craft as it were. Interview people, record it on your iPhone, send it in to stations. Start at the bottom.

Mike

The negativity that sometimes is directed at Liveline, How do you deal with it?

Joe

'Aren't we being talked about?? My mother said to me once 'you are never as good as they say you are and you are never as bad as they say you are'. When I'm in bad form I can take the bad stuff badly. When I'm in good form I say to myself at least people are engaged in the show and that is what it's about. The great thing about Ireland is that radio still does engage people in a national conversation. We still have a national discourse if we are looking for a conman last seen in Dublin and then appears in Donegal there is a very very good chance that Liveline has made people aware of him. Thats the positivity from Liveline.

 

Mike

Where do you see RTE in 10/15 years?

Joe

'I probably don't see us in Donnybrook for a start. The radio centre is way way too big and outdated and I don't think anyone knows about the 2 floors of cables and wires under the centre and nobody knows what those wires do and are terrified to cut them! I think what we will have to do is build a smaller centre somewhere near the M50, ideally I would like it in Dublin City and be part of the regeneration of the city. And for the handover we would shut down the old radio centre and do a countdown with Larry Gogan doing the handover! Everything in TV and indeed radio is changing each year, we need new hi tec studios and a new smaller site has to be a logical way to go.  What we have to also keep is the trust from the public too. When something big happens people will turn to RTE. We have to keep that trust and make sure that what we do is truthful and representative. We don't have hidden agendas, for example at the minute the government and water charge protesters think we are biased, we can't win! We have a contract and a vested interest to the the people of Ireland to keep that trust.

 

Mike

Where do you see radio as a medium in 10/15 years?

Joe

'I think what radio has for it is that it is a one on one experience, it's communal, we listen to it on your own, it's interactive especially with social media, twitter etc. We need more really really good content, The current Director General in RTE Dee Forbes is strong on good content, some of the BBC content is stunning. especially on BBC World Service. We have a good relationship with the BBC built up over the years and that stands to us. As regards DAB, it's a dead medium, I don't know anyone with a DAB radio and RTE were forced in to this by the government and it won't last. Internet radio is where it's at, on your phone, tablet etc......

Mike

What is your favourite Dublin landmark?

'I was reared in Ballyfermot, There is no reason to go to Ballyer as a tourist, it's a very self enclosed area. I was thinking to myself where did we as kids go to that was near Ballyfermot. It was The National War Memorial in Islandbridge. People say there is an incredible gardens there and there is only one entrance to the gardens, the main entrance, and that is on a motorway. You cannot stop your car near the entrance, you have to park your car in Ballyer and walk the mile back to it. They were designed by Edwin Lutyens, who designed New Delhi! He had originally envisaged a bridge over the Phoenix Park to the Memorial Gardens over the Liffey, like a vista. Imagine how beautiful that would look now. The Memorial Gardens is my obsession at the moment. A wonderful Dublin Landmark'.

Mike

Your new book 'Children of The Troubles'  tell me about it, as a follow up to 'Children of The Rising'

Joe

'I'm researching it at the moment, it is proving difficult as it is so recent, so raw to all involved, all I'm interested in at the moment is putting the information out there, for instance from 1969 to 1998 148 children were killed. Same criteria, all under 16 years of age in The Troubles in Northern Ireland. What struck me was the closeness of the people who died, you would discover that a child had died, 5 years later a cousin of that child had died etc... I have their names and stories andwill contact families and see how they are about talking about this issue because it is so raw, so recent. It's a big big project but one I'm looking forward to. I'm putting together a story of the worst years and the worst bombings over the course of The Troubles and the mental health of the citizens Northern Ireland is something that shouldn't be forgotten.

 

Mike

Joe Many thanks for your time and I will buy the coffee!!

here is the full interview with Joe Duffy on Soundcloud.

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Mike O' BrienComment