That’s the question everyone’s asking since Leo Varadkar moved into the neighbourhood recently. The Tánaiste’s arrival in my part of Dublin 8 was massive gossip locally, and we were all finding excuses to walk up his road and have a goo at his gaff.
Even taxi drivers want to know where Leo lives.
I thought I might run into him buying a packet of toilet roll in the local store we share, Booze and News. It stopped selling alcohol a while back – to the great dismay of residents – so it’s really just News now, but it’s still the place everyone goes to for the household essentials.
No sign of Leo around at all yet; although he wasn’t here a wet week before the hipster bible Time Out had declared Dublin 8 one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world.
Those of us who live here greeted this news with a similarly wry amusement.
Oh, it’s cool now, is it? Twenty or so years after the rest of us figured that out?
It has always been the coolest neighbourhood in the capital. It’s full of history, art, music and hedonism. Its neighbourhoods have romantic names such as The Liberties, The Tenters, Rialto and Portobello. It has Camden Street, Meath Street and Christchurch.
We like it so much that many of us are financially clinging on here by our fingernails as it’s also fast becoming one of the most expensive.
The house over the road from me, a two-bed semi built a century ago as part of one of the State’s first social housing developments, recently sold for nearly half-a-million.
Who’s moving in here, with that kind of money? And what kind of a shock will they get when they land and reality hits?
They’ll arrive imagining it’s a kind of edgy Ranelagh. That it’s all boutique delis for breathinarians; vegan warehouse cafes with confusing ordering systems – whenever they deign to open – and restaurants that sound like medieval torture chambers. Hen’s Teeth at Blackpitts, anyone?
What I love about Dublin 8 is that it’s rough, raw and real. It’s inner-city Dublin and all that comes with it. It has a kind of “ready, steady, violence”, as the Fontaines DC sang on their song about Dublin 8, Liberty Belle.
It has a menace to it. You have to be tough, or get tough, to live here. I had a bottle thrown at me by a group of young lads on bikes during lockdown. Anti-social behaviour is a reality of life here.
We duct-tape our letterboxes for Halloween. Thanks be to Brexit, the fireworks supply chain has sputtered this year.
Usually, it’s like a war zone every night as soon as September comes around. Last year, a young fella set off a firework from the bin inside the kids’ playground.
That’s the truth about Dublin 8, and for all those sins and faults it’s also home to the very best of people and the tightest communities. It may have a new cool cachet, courtesy of the Tánaiste and Time Out, but it’s not for the timid.