” I remember that summer in Dublin,
And the Liffey as it stank like hell,
And young people walking down Grafton Street,
Everyone looking so well.
I was singing a song I heard somewhere,
Called “Rock’n’Roll Never Forgets”,
When my humming was smothered by the 46A,
And the scream of a low flying jet.”
– Bagatelle, Summer In Dublin.
Ten, fifteen years ago it was a much more loosely arranged city, sketchier certainly but less expensive, constricting and gentrified into a chrome and plastic wonderland. Then, skateboarding was almost cool in Dublin, one of the fringe youth pursuits that an under- funded city council could neither encourage nor curtail, and there were a few places around town you could expect to skate without any serious hassle.
Then the money came.
Red ledges was a heavy skate. By this point our numbers had swollen to twenty or so, with more heads turning up every minute in the early evening sun. Just out of college, just out of work, just out for a fuck around. The Dublin skaters are an eclectic mix, its fair to say. No one style dominates and a quick look at people’s rigs showed that popular companies were Zero, Habitat, Flip, Chocolate and of course local brands Boarderco and Rukos. Is this a big night? I ask photographer Richard Gilligan. No, he says, this many isn’t unusual now everybody is skating together again.
Red Ledges is a re- interpreted old non- spot which new radness has brought to light. Located at the junction of Leeson Street and St Stephens’ Green in the historic city centre, we never really used to skate it because the only thing which opened it up was if you could clear the pavement onto the main road. It requires a sprint and a throw down, but it didn’t take long to heat up. Using half the crew to divert traffic it wasn’t long before a switch bigspin clipped the kerb for the first death slam. Then Anto (who looks freakily like Janoski) and Dion stepped up to the backside kickflip and 360 flip respectively before somebody called the cops and we took off in search of a rickety, Edwardian road gap.
As before, the new blood emptied it of all previous limitations. The ollie which created the spot was topped first by a perfect frontside flip and then Gav’s hardflip on the edge of control, bouncing around on the ancient streets as he approached.
Time for the best part of the session: Portobello.
Like all bourgeois places, Dublin has many pretentious little bijou dinerettes called something vaguely foreign.
Portobello is a tranquil suburb of south Dublin with the best plaza spot going. Previous attempts to hatestop it have been foiled by simply knocking the stopper flush with the still wet concrete an hour after the workmen left. Now they can’t replace them, and can’t remove them. Portobello has a cluster of perfect high manual pads, two of which have tricky diamond shaped watergaps behind them so you either have to step up with your feet already set, or you’re snookered. Longtime face on the Dublin scene Jer Evans stopped by for some half cab noselide bigspin out shenanigans as we gave up the last of what our legs had in us. Two soaked- through T- shirts later and it was time for a little bank/ firecracker wind down in touristy Temple Bar with Bruce Kelliher before limping off to slumber. After 3 pints of ring- splitter, naturellement.
The two reference points of Dublin skating tourists know of are Baggot Street, the Bank of Ireland office front which was a hub during the mid- 90’s but is now largely unused apart from when Graham resurfaced the Baggot Gap for the G1 10- year anniversary party, and the inddor sweatbox Ramp n Rail in Drumcondra, which is now right next to a poker den frequented by some of Dublin’s least salubrious villains. Just so you know.
Another glorious day in the city, with Grafton Street teeming life and money being spent fast, would see us leave for a new park on the outskirts being built by Aussie legend Jeremy ‘Jezza’ Butterworth who had just finished building the Stabelsbaddsparken in Malmo (see this issue). The Lucan park was only about half done but we got the nod to give it a dusty test run; it was great, especially as the cement was making the coping rasp and that makes you feel all awesome. Or it does me, at least. The park will be complete by the time you read this and should definitely be on your itinerary should you plan to visit.
Eating in Dublin is a minefield. Like all newly- rich, bourgeois places, it has many many overpriced, pretentious little bijou dinerettes called something vaguely foreign. Avoid them all, because although it might say jus of this, or carpaccio of that, it is still being made by a reformed joyrider smoking spliffs out by the bins. Rule number one is avoid anywhere that ends in “-ia” or called “La-” anything; they all go out of business in 6 months before scrambling the letters round and appearing somewhere else serving the same toss. If you eat out, eat somewhere with a family name, because they have a rep to maintain. This includes Italian names, by the way: for reasons no-one has ever fully explained, Italians run most of the chip- shops in Dublin, and all of the best ones.