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He’s a hard man to track down. He’s nearly ingotnito when I meet him. He has an air of suspiciousness towards me. What breaks the ice is the very hot coffee I carry in my hand just as he requested it (1 sugar and show it the milk!). The hot coffee melts the ice. We are in The Botanic Gardens, the Dublin summer appears to be trying it’s best to make an impact on us Dubs. We find a bench. The bees and birds are hummin’ behind us and lawnmowers are keeping the grass milimetres high.

We start by asking Liam how the page came about. Liam says it came about as he was loking for comparison shots of Dublin

Mike O' BrienComment
Please Don't go... Please don't go........

Over the last few weeks I have heard an unprecedented level of arrogance from UK MPs over Brexit.  Too many of them have have said  Ireland 'should know it's place' and I even heard another one of them nearly threaten famine on goods coming in to Ireland. Think about that. Threatening famine on a nation that suffered a horrific famine in the 1840s thanks to British rule.

That didn't go down well over here.

The EU is not without it's issues. We know that. Immigration seems to be a huge issue in the UK. Without people doing the work of nurses and road builders nothing would get done.

Two of the few jobs that immigrants do when they arrive to most EU nations. Your MPs have shown a lack of  'collective good of the UK' and more of a looking after themselves attitude to it all. There is only one option left to save the UK.  Another vote.  The UK was sold a bunch of lies spearheaded  by Boris and Nigel Farage and their likes. The UK was once looked upon by the world and even us here in little old Ireland as a nation to aspire to be. That's gone now. Gone.

We here in Ireland are very closely tied to the UK through Family, Culture, Sport and our shared, somewhat troubled history. I have never met an english person who hates Ireland. EVER. They are not taught the history our two islands have in common for centuries. Us Irish going to the UK is nearly  as easy as heading to Cork and in most cases a lot cheaper too. We have taken for granted the ease of travel between us.

From the end of March that's gone. We have already seen big multinational companies leave the UK for a more settled base  in places like Ireland with access to the single market. I can't believe the UK has a problem with too many  immigrants coming in. I can't believe that because it hs been happening since the dawn of The Empire. What I find hard to believe is too many UK citizens don't know why Northern Ireland is part of the UK and not Ireland. History is not a major part of British schooling it appears.

I can only commend our Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on his stance on Brexit. With the EU behind him he has protected Irish and indeed Northern Irish interests in not having a hard border. A hard border would/will set back Northern Ireland 20 years.

It will. It is fragile enough as it is.

A border with checks on goods/vehicles would be bad for business and tourism. But will somone ask the DUP why they can't see that??  Ask Arlene. She has 'Ulster says No'  Tatooed on her forehead and can't seem to be able to see the wood for trees. A no deal Brexit is a bit like getting thrown out of  bar on Saturday  night wthout your jacket or your wallet. What are ya gonna do??? A long walk home is the only solution.

The British PM has appeared to have bungled her way through these chats with the EU. The EU were not going to make it easy to leave. Why  would they? They signed up and can't just back out without fulfilling the financial obligations to the club they want to leave.  It will take 5/6 years of Sterling  being rock bottom for the UK to start to bounce back from leaving. In the meantime us Irish will have longer waits and immigration to get in to go and see a football match.  That is of course if we want to. But the UK will see fewer nurses, fewer builders, fewer people in service industry jobs as people will leave and less people will enter the UK.

But then again that's what The British  wanted wasn't it?I

Mike O' Brien
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.




'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

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'.



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