Urban Youth

We live off the South Circular Road in Kilmainham, a quite central and urban part of Dublin, in a little middle class oasis amid lots of working class neighbourhoods – Inchicore, Dolphins Barn, Rialto, and Drimnagh. At the back of our house is a laneway that runs between our houses and the Sth Circular. Last night we were hearing voices from kids, obviously larking about at the back. In the absense of actually seeing these kids, our minds raced off in different directions. Were they local, or were they from the badlands surrounding us? Were they drinking cans of beer, shooting heroin, or shagging their girlfriends? Were they pissing against our back wall? And, worst of all, was this going to be a summer-long movement of youth into our back lane? We also have an elderly neighbour who lives on her own who is always telling us how scared she can get at night.

In order to find out a bit more, I ventured out at about 10pm on a spurious errand to the local shops, passing the youths on my way. To my relief, they were very much middle-class, well-dressed, well-behaved kids. Certainly boisterous, and a couple were drinking cans of beer, but they were discussing movies and being utterly inoffensive in general. (And, yes, I admit I made a very class-conscious decision about this. What else?)

By the time I got to the shops and returned some Gardai were rounding the kids up. It all seemed a little heavy-handed and even a little extreme. The situation was calm and friendly enough, but it looked like it was their first experience with the law. Such innocence!

My mind turned to thinking what these kids were going to do with their summers. Are there places for them to congregate, have a laugh, and grow-up? Are we radicalising them in any way, innuring them to the law at an early age? I contrast the way we treat teenagers in Ireland with the way I saw them in Sicily recently, where whole families seemed more integrated and where drinking wasn’t the central entertainment for them. We’ve a lot to learn.

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From Kilmainham to outer space

(Irish Times photo). In the grounds of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, a life-size mock up of the new James Webb Space Telescope.

From their website, they say it launches in 2013 and has four themes: “The End of the Dark Ages: First Light and Reionization, The Assembly of Galaxies, The Birth of Stars and Protoplanetary Systems, and Planetary Systems and the Origins of Life.” Wow! That’s a must-see for me over the next week.

Kilmainham, Dublin

I live in Kilmainham, Dublin. It’s a very old, historic quarter of Dublin, where a lot of the events of the 1916 Rising took place. Indeed, if there is one ‘holy’ place in Irish history, it is Kilmainham Gaol, where many of the leaders of the 1916 Rising were executed by the British. It is now a museum, well-worth exploring. It preserves not just a record of Irish early-modern history, but is a fine example of a 19th century gaol itself. Kids can enjoy the gloomy dungeon-like cells, while adults can learn a bit of history.

Right across the road from the gaol is the (pedestrian) entrance to the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. This is now the Irish museum of modern art, IMMA. Aside from whatever exhibitions might be on at a particular time, the Royal Hospital is worth visiting for the stunning architecture and the fabulous gardens. It has a very long entrance path which also manages to have fine views out over Dublin city and the Phoenix Park. 

Just opened is a brand new Hilton. It is quite controversial, being situated bang opposite the gaol and near the entrance to the Royal Hospital too. But it at least is an attempt at regenerating an area that was sadly lacking in many amenities.

What do I like most about Kilmainham? I like the tree-lined South Circular Road. I like the canal and the Liffey, the Phoenix Park, and the War Memorial Gardens. I like the fact that it is just 15 minutes from town, that you can hop on a 123 or take the Luas, or catch a 19 bus and be in St. Stephen’s Green in no time. And the local people are very down-to-earth. Our neighbours couldn’t be friendlier. Our house has character and charm. Kilmainham is a good place to be.