The Dubliners

As an introduction to James Joyce, The Dubliners wasn’t the daunting experience I had anticipated. A comprehensible glimpse into the world of early twentieth century Ireland, told through fifteen short stories depicting the everyday lives of the writers co inhabitants. Interesting that this was the same man whom could dispel seven hundred pages on one day, and in just a few pages tell complete stories based on more extended periods of time.

The Dubliners may be as much a novel as a collection of short stories, a novel about a week in Dublin at the dawn of the twentieth century with separate unrelating chapters, all happening at the same time in the same town. Our world is only what we experience, as if what we don’t experience doesn’t exist, these stories seem to be a thread of seemingly unconnected happenings around Dublin, which creates a perhaps serendipitous connectivity. The stories explore apparent inadequacies, duties to ones home, the drink, children receiving the pent up fury of their parents and large personalities that never see the light of day.

As is the way, all their cares and worries, dramas and joys, significant and not, along with the mortals of these lively tales inevitably melted into time. While it is likely that there is a little of Joyce in each story, it may be that Gabriel of The Dead was closest to Joyce himself. The next best thing to a one hundred year old YouTube clip, The Dubliners is an insightful experience into a time that considering where we live today, may as well have been two hundred years ago. I suppose that a reading of current times in 2117 will be viewed in much the same way.


Padraig Niland was part land, a fluid part sent out on nocturnal inspections to report back on what those odd beings trampling above were up to. He was a fox, he was a badger, he was a hare, not bound by the same bizarre societal laws as you or I. A fox perhaps most fitting; red hair, night roaming, and of course, that he was often misinterpreted to be crazy – like a fox that is.

For a man that seemed to dwell at the bottom of societies illusory food chain he was very comfortable in the company of those at the even more illusory top. I guess the distance that he placed between himself and the madding crowd allowed clarity, his opinion of you wasn’t influenced by the status of you. The demeanour of one with such an utter indifference to the circus made for the ideal companion in any cosy pub corner.

He was an immediate friend, conditionally funny and polite in earnest, he had a non intrusive way of attracting your ear that bore shades of skills administered in any covert intelligence agency. That he seemed to be insulated from the madness of our broken world brought a level of comfort, like a rogue buddhist monk, wandering in contemplation.

Though as with any mortal he was less than perfect, battling the same demons, burdened with the same inadequacies. But how did he make you feel, did he ever really hurt anyone, did he take more than he needed, did he add a little sparkle to the world. Forgive the savagely over used and abused cliche – Kilcolgan is a lesser place without Padraig Niland. One especially starry night while en route for the 2am bus to Dublin airport, I spotted him casually strolling over the quiet fields, perhaps he’s there now, spending time well. Continue reading “Padraig”


In the tales of The Síde, extraordinary musical ability is cited as one of their most prominent qualities, not that the only explanation for the haunting talent of Sinéad O´Connor is that she is a Faerie, though she certainly has a sense of not from here about her, her voice is at the very least a national treasure, a voice that could save your life.
Of course she has always been presented as a fringe and slightly bonkers performer by; TPTB #2, RTE, (#1, Church / #3, Fianna Whatever). I can´t help but hold respect for this person, wether or not we would agree on many issues is irrelevant to the point here, that she sings what’s in her heart and hasn’t buckled under the immense pressure to convert to celebrityism is to me a sign of integrity.

All of her downfalls have been highly publicised and presented as further proof that she is a nutter, and only has herself to blame for not towing the company line and walking the well beaten path to a sane and lovely life.

I can’t speak as to her psychological well being, but that she is nuts to them, in my humble opinion, only further validates her as one of the good guys, or as it was so well put;

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted in a profoundly sick society”

Or even better, as Sinéad herself said upon seeing that a once serious music publication had chosen some dingbat to adorn their front page….. “What is this C### doing on the cover of Rolling Stone” ….Brilliant.
Rock on Sinéad….