Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Discovering Dublin - Pearse Square Park

When you know a city so well it's great to stumble across a little gem that for one reason or another has remained unknown to you. One such spot is Pearse Square Park.

Located at the lower end of Pearse Street as you approach Grand Canal it is surrounded on three sides by Georgian terraced houses I have found out that it was built in 1839 and was then called Queen's Square after Queen Victoria. It may have been a private square initially but was opened to the public in 1889. The square was renamed Pearse Square in 1926 but fell into disrepair, described in 1939 as "a wasteland." It is now owned by Dublin City Council who bought it in 1996 for £1, 450, refurbishing it and reopening it in 1998. A bronze sculpture titled "Harmony" by Sandra Bell was installed in the centre.

It is hard to imagine as one walks down Pearse Street that all of this area is built on land reclaimed and drained in the eighteenth century after the Liffey was narrowed by walls and a quay being built. A swanky area in its time, with the nearby Theatre Royal drawing actors who stayed in the square when in Dublin shows.
  Theatre Royal

The layout we see today is different from the original square, the details of which can be read in this article from the UCD archaelogy department.


The other squares in Dublin are; (Georgian) Fitzwilliam Square, Merrion Square, Mount Pleasant Square in Ranelagh, Mountjoy Square and Parnell Square. Victorian squares are Dartmouth Square near Ranelagh and Kenilworth Square in Rathgar. Other squares are Belgrave Square in Rathmines, College Green, Eaton Square in Rathgar, Leinster Square in Rathmines, Ormond Square in Smithfields, Wilton Place and St. Stephen's Green.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Meanwhile...The Wile Big Derry Phrasebook from Guildhall Press

From my friends in Derry I have been sent news of the launch of a revised and updated edition of The Wile Big Derry Phrasebook - City of Culture Edition by Seamus McConnell. If by any chance you are in that neck of the woods on the evening of Thursday 1st August, the launch will be in the Central Library, Foyle Street at 7pm.

The press release reads: "The Wile Big Derry Phrasebook is a rib-ticking cross-section of the many colourful words, sayings and expressions to be heard in the Derry area, all lovingly captured by social historian, musician, songwriter – and proud Derryman – Seamus McConnell, who sadly passed away in 2010. This revised and updated edition is the definitive compilation of the wit and wisdom of generations of Derry wans in our unique City of Culture and presented in this lavishly illustrated book for all to share and enjoy." 

Published by Guildhall Press and available from all good bookshops and direct from
ISBN: 9781906271756. Paperback £6.95

Monday, July 29, 2013

Mad About You by Sinéad Moriarty

Mad About You, published this week, is the new novel by the Irish best selling author Sinéad Moriarty. With a hoard of followers, devoted readers and new ones will enjoy Sinéad's light-hearted, but with a darker twist, story about Emma and James Hamilton's move to London from Dublin where James is to take up the position of Coach to the London Irish rugby team.

Arriving in Putney in south-west London along with their adopted son Yuri and own younger daughter Lara, Emma is nervous about making new friends and finding her feet. Her neighbours are welcoming, recommending childminders and offering advice and her sister who is a television presenter finds her a job almost immediately.

This is a good read that many readers will enjoy. Sinéad's sales testify to her popularity and fans of her writing will not be disappointed. I had a few niggles with Sinead's description about London locations. The recommendation by Emma's sister to move to a "Soho loft" is just not something that exists- very few people live in Soho and lofts are something that exist in SoHo, New York not Soho in London's West End. Also, Putney where they move to would hardly be described as a "village" more a major London suburb. In addition, it is a long time since I read of a character responding with the phrase "yikes", maybe not since I read The Famous Five! All of that aside, Mad About You is a good read and one with likeable and interesting characters.

Mad About You is published by Penguin Books