Notebook: A look at the week that was
Published 21/08/2016 | 02:30
I haven't had a stretch in my home town for a while, and it has been a joy to spend the whole month of August in Dublin. I don't know if it's the sentimentality of being a (relatively) new mother or the wistfulness that comes with a visit home during a (relatively) sunny summer, but I have been viewing our lovely capital through the eyes of a tourist (albeit one who knows what the city looks like when not being almost entirely dug up).
Every summer brings not only new tourists to Dublin, but new ways to see it too. Which one you choose says a lot about you: the be-helmeted families and hungover stag and hens roaring at passers by from the amphibious Viking Splash tour; the traditionalists clutching their maps on the open top city buses; the returning diaspora (or the ones who wish they were more than one-eighth Irish) joining the 1916 tours. Then there are the ones who've done them all so try the Ghost Bus, telling people that it was "surprisingly informative" but that they, of course, "knew all the Bram Stoker stuff already".
Spare a thought for the bemused chap I saw on the 1916 tour last week wearing a Viking helmet: he was either a lost stag member or a near-sighted historical tourist who perhaps thought it was the '916' tour, wondering why he was the only one dressed appropriately.
On the subject of amphibious vehicles, God-fearing, climate change denying TD Danny Healy-Rae might consider setting up his own water-based tours of Kerry once he has finished making us all chuckle in the Dail. He told us last week that Noah's Ark was one of the many indisputable facts proving man-made climate change was a myth. He also said that he would have no hesitation in shooting any intruder who broke into his home. Which is apparently what happened to the unicorns when they tried to sneak onto the ark after nightfall.
I made sure I found out the name of the little boy who became last week's terrible reminder of the Syrian conflict. Like Aylan Kurdi before him, whose tiny body washed up on a Turkish beach last year, the image of Omran Daqneesh, a boy who at four or five years old must only know war, his face dusty, bloodied and dazed, went viral on news channels and social media alike. Last year marked the 20th anniversary of Srebrenica, the worst massacre on European soil since World War II, and heads of state and other Very Important People wrung their hands and asked how on earth it was allowed to happen. Will we be saying the same about Aleppo in 20 years' time? The world continues to fail the people of Syria.
I took my family to Tayto Park on what turned on to be one of the hottest days of the summer on Tuesday. My stepson was visiting from the UK and had been itching to ride the much-vaunted Cu Chulainn roller-coaster for months.
Whilst queuing, he asked how the attraction got its name, so I told him briefly of the story of the great Irish warrior. The children in front of us listened in, and were appalled when I reached the part where Setanta killed Culann's dog, earning the name Cu Chulainn in the process. "They named a roller-coaster after someone who killed a dog?" said the girl with exaggerated horror.
I tried to explain that it was an accident, and was more a testament to his great strength and bravery, but she continued: "What next? Will they name a Ferris Wheel after the woman who put that cat in a wheelie bin?" Luckily the ride was indeed as great as its namesake, and the adrenalin seemed to offset her distress.
Opinion-dividing US comedian Louis CK brought his unique brand of self-loathing, nihilistic stand up to Dublin on Monday. Nearly 10,000 people came to hear CK effortlessly weave suicide, Isil, dog Prozac, the joys of napping, and his latent gay tendencies into a breakneck 90 minutes. He told us how despite the current global religious conflicts, that Christianity has already long won.
How? "What year is it?" he asked the crowd; and when the reply came that it was indeed 2,016 years since the birth of Jesus, he tilted his head as if to say quod erat demonstrandum. But what about Chinese New Year, someone piped up? CK told him to try writing 'Monkey' in the date section of a cheque and see how far he got. The man has a point.
No doubt the story of OCI president Pat Hickey's arrest in the wake of the ticket-touting scandal will continue to gather momentum and scoop up many others in its wake, but the most surprising element of the whole sorry tale to date has been that Mr Hickey was admitted to hospital, treated and released, all within the space of 24 hours. Who would have though we could learn so much from the Brazilian health service?