Travelogue: Dubliners

On the plane ride into Dublin, I sat next to an older man, who was from Kilkenny. He consumed half of the flight boasting about his hometown and his country. The Irish are very proud of being Irish and they are not ashamed to boast about it. People with a strong culture are prone to this and I find it appealing. He was coming back early so he could watch his hurling team in a big match. This allowed him to tell me that the national game of Ireland was the greatest thing in the world. I feel the same way about baseball so I could relate.

The other half of the flight, the back half, he spent asking me about American politics. I got the impression that he wanted to talk politics from the first moment he saw that I was an American. The glories of Ireland stuff was just to butter me up. Of course, he wanted to know about Trump. My assumption was that he thought Trump was terrible, but he was going to be polite until I revealed my allegiances. There was an Ivy Day in the Committee Room quality to our conversation, when another person joined in the discussion of Trump.

The Irish love their politics and I got the sense they were mystified by Trump or maybe mystified as to why Americans are considering him. Alternatively, they may simply have been wondering why a country as big as America is unable to find better options. That’s not an unreasonable question, but there is no answer. Every country can ask the same of their political leaders, so size has nothing to with it. For some reason, politics attracts the sort of people no sensible people should ever want involved in politics. It’s a paradox.

My response when asked why Trump might win was , “Because what comes next would be much worse.” At first I assumed this would elicit questions, but people seemed to understand. Perhaps they were simply being polite, but I came away from every political discussion with the impression that the Irish are fully aware of the dangers that loom just over the horizon. Something has gone wrong and no one knows exactly how to make it right. Tossing out the people currently in charge is simply the option available.

The puzzle they left me was that they never once spoke of Hillary Clinton. They both agreed that Trump was a typical American, by that they meant big and boisterous, as well as a bit silly by their reckoning. Even so, Hillary Clinton has been in politics for almost three decades now. Her husband was president and made a big show of coming to Ireland and pretending he was Irish. I would have expected them to be pro-Clinton and dismissive of Trump. Instead, all they cared about was how a TV guy could become President.

I chewed on that mystery a bit as I walked around the city. Dublin is an old city that does not like being old. All over the city you see efforts to show that Dublin is a modern, hip city, equal to any of the hipster cities around the world. The young people are fully engaged with their phones and seem to be divorced from their past and the past of the city. All over people were quick to tell me that Dublin had the latest of whatever I was inquiring about at the moment. Maybe the locals simply get tired of stupid Americans asking them where the Shire is located.

The the thing about Dublin that will stick with me is the whiteness of the place. There were about 25 thousand Americans in the city for the college football game. In the pubs, you could hear them marveling at the whiteness of Dublin. In America, cities are very diverse and some are dangerously diverse. Portland Oregon is the whitest city in America at about 65%. Dublin is probably 95% white as their immigrants are mostly from eastern Europe. The only blacks I saw were tourists from America.

That is, of course, why you don’t see the police presence you see in other cities. I was at a pub and noticed that the street was packed with young drunk people, but I could not see any cops. As a cab driver told me, if you want trouble you can did it in Dublin, but you have to look for it. In more diverse cities, trouble is always on the prowl so the cops have to be out showing the colors in an effort to keep the peace. I would be lying if I said I thought for a minute that Dublin needed more diversity. It manages to get along just fine without it.

The funny thing I noticed in Ireland was how the city had turned itself into a tourist trap. By that I mean everyone is hooked into Ireland Inc., a community enterprise to sell everything Ireland in an effort to boost tourism. I saw this in Iceland too. I was told by a cabby that after the bust, they figured it was the best way to make money, so the local economy converted quickly to tourism. In fact, the cab drivers were all hilariously over the top in their tourism pitch. Everyone of them I encountered sounded like he was working for the department of tourism. Perhaps they had all been real estate agents.

One of those cab drivers said a funny thing to me. He was pointing out a section that caters to students, when he said it is the one thing he dislikes about driving a taxi. He has to witness the debauchery of the young. “It’s as if they have no respect for themselves, particularly the men. They treat women like whores. How could they ever marry one of them?” Every city, every country, is a city of the dead. We live in the shadows of those who came before us. What spurs on progress is the desire to get out of those shadows and make our lives our own. It’s not without its consequences though, as often the past is where the future lies.

My taxi driver was one of 14 kids. His best friend was one of 18 and his father had a second wife with whom he produced a handful of kids. The taxi driver, a man in his fifties, had four children, but his kids were childless. The Irish fertility rate remains the highest in Europe, but it stands at 2.02. The average age of new mothers is close to 30. The young, those in their 20’s, are not getting married and that is of concern. When you tease out the births to immigrants, the Irish youth seem to be following the same path as the rest of Europe.

A people without children is a nation of dead people, soon to be a forgotten people. It is not a guarantee with the Irish and perhaps the debauchery of their youth is just a temporary phase, but I wonder if I had not just visited a museum without realizing it. Joyce supposedly said Irish history is a nightmare from which they never wake up. That’s no longer the case as Ireland is prosperous and free of the sectarian violence that came to define them for close to a century. Even so, they may have woke from their nightmare to find the future does not include them.

35 thoughts on “Travelogue: Dubliners

  1. “One of those cab drivers said a funny thing to me. He was pointing out a section that caters to students, when he said it is the one thing he dislikes about driving a taxi. He has to witness the debauchery of the young. “It’s as if they have no respect for themselves, particularly the men. They treat women like whores. How could they ever marry one of them?””

    Interesting. I was in a cab last year in South Bend, Indiana, and the driver said almost the exact same thing about the Notre Dame and St. Mary’s College students.

  2. As an Englishman, I admit I find it hard to keep a straight face about the Irish. I admire their passion, their ability to make the most of a bad hand and above all their innate ability to tell stories like no one else, but they are suffering from a love of the EU. The European Union is not their friend but they haven’t seen it yet, though the recent attempt by Brussels to squeeze extra money out of a large employer in the shape of Apple may yet hurt Eire more than it likes.

    But while we on the mainland of the British isles are hoping to get our politicians to accept that the will of the people in voting for Out really does mean that, there is a lingering problem with the Irish border. If anyone in the EU can make its way into Eire and thus have unfettered access to Norn Iron then England, Wales and Scotland will find that any border between us and the muslim-flooded content is pretty much meaningless.

    Sort of like leaving the back door wide open while the front door is locked.

  3. What the English couldn’t accomplish over centuries of trying, consumerism and the EU have managed in two generations: the near-destruction of the Irish cultural character. Once a rural people, the new norm is urban and cosmopolitan. Once unquestioningly Catholic, now decidedly secular. The list goes on and on, but is too depressing to contemplate for a 70 year old who remembers what Ireland and being Irish once were. The Irish abroad will not forget themselves as a people, one hopes, even when they meld by marriage and their children share other ethnicities.

  4. The Claremont link posted by elbaboso is well worth reading. It’s by someone who wrote earlier in the year under a pseudonym for “The Journal of American Greatness,” which shut down a little while back. Nice to read his stuff again.

    Quote: “One of the Journal of American Greatness’s deeper arguments was that only in a corrupt republic, in corrupt times, could a Trump rise. It is therefore puzzling that those most horrified by Trump are the least willing to consider the possibility that the republic is dying.”

    El baboso… You live in the NY north country too? Wonderful perspective up here. What happens when the liberals are really in charge for a really long time…


    • Tim,

      I spent some time up there. I still remember the ice storm of ’91 and the wind blowing so hard off the lake in March and April that the rain drops appeared to travel parallel to the ground. Late spring, summer, and fall were glorious, though. Maybe after I win the lottery, I’ll buy a summer house in Sacketts Harbor or the Thousand Islands.

  5. White people are no longer reproducing for whatever reason. In four generations, the remnants will be exhibited in zoos, like albino rhinos, for the colored peoples to gaze at and wonder how they once ruled the world (always supposing that homo sapien will survive four generations more)..

  6. The one factor I don’t see addressed is the diaspora of Irish blood around the globe. Sure, what you say is true in “Ireland” proper, however, the concept of Irish is still flourishing. I would say it is a strong cultural representative in the US but I don’t know about the child birth rates or racial mixing effects. Maybe this is a case where the ideas of “borderless” culture applies.

    • I know very few people who are descended from the Poato Famine generation of migrants who are full ethnic Irish. My great-great grandmother was potato famine era. I think it would be extremely rare to not intermarry after 5 generations (and 15? child-producing unions) in cities that were teeming with non-Irish people. The white Americans who are not European mutts seem to be from rural areas (much Appalachia is still very culturally similar to the British Isles) or part of religious groups that make exogamy hard (Jews, Mennonites, etc. and even they lose some every generation).

  7. I was just in Ireland back in May of this year and felt fortunate to have enjoyed two weeks of nearly perfect weather. The Irish are amazing people; friendly, hospitable and very open. Though it doesn’t take much to verify they have a national drinking and gambling problem (no thanks to Guinness and church bingo). A round trip from Dublin, Sligo, Castlebar, Galway, Limerick, Killarney, Cork and back to Dublin gives one a good perspective of the land and the people, especially if you avoid the major cities and highways and make a point to stay on the back-roads and drive through the smaller towns along the way. If you’re a hiker, I think you’ll enjoy the north-west more than the south-west. The area around Killarney is a bit over rated in my opinion. But if you follow the signs for the Wild Atlantic Way you won’t be disappointed.

    Since you’re in Dublin, you’re close enough to two very unique landmarks in Ireland; Trim Castle – which is the largest Norman castle in Ireland and the ancient burial grounds at Bru na Boinne. Both are about an hours drive from Dublin and well worth a visit.

    If you spend any time traveling around Ireland you’ll start to notice the number of abandoned and/or ruined churches, abbeys and farm houses. These are unique, yet unspoken features of Ireland, and you won’t see anything like it anywhere else in Europe. Irelands greatest export for the past 200-years has been themselves, thus the number of abandoned and ruined structures scattered across the landscape and the fact their country is twice the size of Switzerland with half the population.

    If you make it down to Cork, avoid kissing the Blarney Stone in Blarney Castle as is the popular tourist event. The local boys are known to sneak in at night and piss on it! Just saying. 😉

    • I saw the deserted churches and farmhouses in rural SW England in 2004. Realtors were trying to sell the churches as houses. I saw a lot of depopulated rural areas in South Korea in 2009 and we all know areas in the US that are in decline. In the NY State North Country in 1991, the local newspaper took three days in eight point font to print all of the county-repossessed properties.

      Even my intelligent/intuitive liberal kook friends know that something is very wrong. Unlike the proprietor and commentators on this blog, they are just in denial.

  8. I recall reading (several times over the last ten years or so) that there were a lot of Nigerians in Ireland. Maybe many moved on to England.

  9. Another good essay.

    The reason for the lack of kids with younger people is the overpopulation caused by the fecundity of earlier generations. Look up “mouse utopia” to see how animals behave in conditions of overpopulation. I have one child so that my grandmother and my mother-in-law each could have nine. The young people in Ireland are living lives of “debauchery” so that cab-drivers’ parents could have eighteen. The last time every Irish generation each had eighteen children you got the potato famine. It evens out.

    • I don’t see how that works. Eighteen children is a bit much today, but food certainly isn’t a problem today. We Americans can feed the planet, can’t we, if the government and anti-GMOers leave Monsanto alone? Second, if the millenials eventually have only one child each, doesn’t that mean that by the third or fourth generation there won’t be anyone else to mate with? Each generation becomes half as many, right? I didn’t take time to work it out.

      • The planet is fed through the burning of massive amounts of fossil fuels. I realize red-staters believe that you can burn massive amounts of fossil fuels without any harm to the environment, but at least they are going to run out some day. Work with me here. With overpopulation you also get, and this happens throughout history, these massive migrations from poor areas to rich areas, especially as its always the poorer people who have the most children, its often one of the reasons why they are poor.

        • The article is about Ireland and the Irish, right? So why are you talking about over population, global warming and fossil fuels? Go sell your lib ideas elsewhere.

        • Strange is it not, that 200 years of Malthusian drivel having a 1000% perfect record of being totally wrong never sways today Erlichans from questioning their religious beliefs.

        • No, we WON’T work with you and your “Gaia -minded” propaganda! Its a shame you haven’t put an ounce of research or thought into what you type. First of all, the fuels aren’t “fossil”, they are naturally occurring and in all reasonableness, will never run out, as Earth churns out more and more hydrocarbons from within. Second, there is not and never will be “overpopulation”. Maybe from your tiny perch in the Boston-Wash. DC Corridor, things seem mighty crowded because you can’t get an easy reservation for dinner in your favorite bistro, but out West, the spaces are wide open and unpopulated to the point of desolation.

          Indeed, the total of Earths population could fit comfortably in just a few big counties in Texas. And feeding that population is not an issue (Granted handling the waste generated from such concentration could be problematic, unless capitalism is allowed to treat the matter as a profit generating activity.) Frankly, all of the food problems in this world that I’ll wager you ae so concerned with, are caused, not by scarcity of food stuffs, but by poor means of distribution, allocation management and outright political fraud!

          Come back here when your mind grows up.

          • There’s plenty of room in Argentina, the world’s eighth-largest country. If one deducts the populations of the three largest metropolitan areas from the total population, the country’s population density falls between the more densely populated Mongolia and the less densely populated desert waste of Libya. A nation largely in the temperate zone with significant subterranean water reserves and natural resource abundance, were Argentina to revitalize her railroad infrastructure and dismantle her crippling policy of outdated protectionism, the country could become a paradise for smallholders and small businesses. Already the “whitest” South American nation, folks of European ancestry willing to learn Spanish would do well to consider the country as a kind of “final frontier” should matters worsen in their declining societies.

      • Who says it is “America’s” job to feed the planet? And why should we leave Monsanto, a chemical behemoth, alone? Have you read what they have done to corn farming and using their power to buy political clout and legal “ownership” of the seed? Farmers MUST buy their seed from Monsanto or go out of business or face court costs up the yinyang. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Leave Monsanto alone. We can trust them. Just like we can trust Hillary.

        • You know there are open source (for lack of a better term) corn varieties available right?

          You don’t HAVE to plant Monsanto™ corn. The yield may be slightly lower, and you can’t use Roundup herbicide without killing the corn too, but it’s possible to grow corn and soybeans without dealing with Monsanto, if you don’t want to.

          There’s a guy up in Iowa who pretty much singlehandedly revolutionized soybean growning, and he kept the technology from being patented by Monsanto or DOW, etc. He’s working on hybrid corn varieties that out produce the current patented offerings as well. The big boys can’t touch his bean yields, and I suspect he’ll match that performance in maze before he dies (he’s not super old right now, so he’s got plenty of time).

          Spend less time protesting and more time doing productive things, and it’ll all shake out in the end.

          • Yeah right. Some “guy” is going to fight the legal funds of a powerhouse like Monsanto who has politicians in their pocket. I would expect a little more discernment from readers on this site and not so much blind faith in the global food industry which is controlled by only a few large corporations. Like everything these days, their goal is to eliminate competition and governments are only too happy to help them. They want to own the whole shebang. For more, start here:

          • You misunderstand. He’s not fighting Monsanto or DOW over GMO strains that they’ve developed.

            He’s made his own strains, unique and in the case of the soybeans, more productive than any strain ever before created. He patented the strain and then released it to the world a la open source technology.

            His pre-existing patent prevents the big boys from reverse engineering his creation and patenting it themselves.

            This isn’t just some random guy who started working on genetics last week, he’s been at the soybean thing for twenty five years, and has had that patent for five or ten years now.

            It’s legit and easily researchable, and has been in the news (especially the ag journals) several times over the last few years.

            The point is, that you don’t have to strip the big boys of their property (which they spent a crapload of money on developing, no doubt) to fight their stranglehold on agriculture.

            Also, while one or two people have been sued for wind or bee related cross pollination, those suits were dismissed (and rightly so). The people getting sued for big money are the big farmers who are keeping a percentage of the Monsanto/DOW GMO maze harvest to use as seed for the next season. Newly made hybrid seeds don’t propagate as well as traditional maze does when you hold back seed corn from harvest, but it will germinate. The big guys are saying that 1) own that corn if it is used as seed to produce another harvest and 2) they don’t want second and third generation seeds taken from their original hybrids being grown and going to market because the product they yield will be of a variable and lower quality overall, which degrades the brand name.

            Fight back by being more nimble and smarter than the Goliaths of the world.

            Or, you can see yourself as totally powerless and sit around pissing and moaning about it while allowing the big boys to rule the world.

            They’re not beating you, you’re giving up and going back to bed because it’s hard.

            Fuck that noise. You think you’re so educated and informed, but what did it get you? Despair and hopelessness.

            That’s super useful. Let’s all go out and bitch about big companies while dismissing out of hand the one guy who’s actually DOING something about the problem.

          • thanks Nunya. I am not responding out of “despair and hopelessnes” but rather an attempt to spread the word that few are bothering to cover (our glorious media) and even less are educating themselves about issues like this one.

            I appreciate your inputs. I did not know there are efforts going on of an independent nature but as with the Brussels crowd, crony capitalism which has complete government protection and backing, etc. and the legal profession which is paid for by these conglomerates, even these little guys face a daunting challenge. So go ahead and belittle my rants but at least I will use my little bully pulpit to shout from my little hilltop about things that no one seems to give a shit about. I am trying to raise some awareness.

            You seem to be so friendly towards the Monsanto types, why is it you think they are so benevolent to man? I am not dismissing out of hand the one guy you know of who is doing something. You are right, I am pissed off. But I am not allowing the “big boys” to rule the world, the game is rigged and there is no justice … no way to change that even if you think there is a chance in hell to be competitive. Your friends patent, “cannot be reversed engineered” … ha, man do I have a bridge to sell you if you believe that. The damn lawyers will figure out a way to let Monsanto do so if they want and blame your friend for letting them. That’s just the way the game is done these days.

        • The Monsanto part was mild sarcasm; the point was that the ability to produce food today does not limit any family to one child. As John Tyler pointed out, the Malthusians/Erlichians have always been wrong.

    • The first and last cause of childlessness is the same cause as a vast variety of modernity’s other social ills: female emancipation.

      The State systematically emancipates daughters from their fathers, while discouraging them from finding husbands, and encouraging them to waste their fertility on non-reproductive sex with an endless series of unattached men. See college.

      It isn’t just an accident; it didn’t “just happen”, it’s systematic and deliberate. Woman are net tax consumers, meaning that State and State-mandated redistributions of wealth (direct welfare, make-work jobs, etc.) from men to women ENTIRELY fund “female emancipation”.

      No children because no marriages. No marriages because no marriageable women. No marriageable women because no legal marriage.

      • I think it’s worse than that. Modern feminists have convinced women to hate children. If you point out that women have historically loved babies and children, they get all huffy. The Italian government has been trying to convince the women there to have children again. The feminists there say that it smacks of Mussolini to be reminded that they might enjoy having a family.

        I think it is a shame that we don’t widely publicize the unhappy lives of prominent feminists. Kate Millet, Susan Brownmiller, even Gloria Steinham don’t seem to have had a happy ending. Maybe they were just wrong about what women want.

        • True. They’ve planted an idea in women’s mind about a baby being something like a parasitic growth inside them, and with child support and the other screwy “family laws” they’ve terrified men of ever having children.

          Both go back to female emancipation.

          Fortunately, the maternal instincts are so strong they can be reliably reactivated with just a bit of encouragement. Unfortunately, women’s instincts aren’t getting that encouragement.

  10. The second verse of the Horace Smith version of Ozymandias comes to mind-

    We wonder,—and some Hunter may express
    Wonder like ours, when thro’ the wilderness
    Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace,
    He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess
    What powerful but unrecorded race
    Once dwelt in that annihilated place.

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