October 24, 2018
Colm Tóibín is kinda, sorta the greatest tour guide ever to walk the streets of Dublin
by Michael Barron
Every year, thousands of people come tattarrattating at the doors of Dublin to visit the James Joyce Centre and then presumably the Irish Writers Centre (they are only blocks from each other), and then presumably to a pub to get peloothered.
Maybe you’d even meet a skeeze or two. But if you are like me, who did this very thing this year (’twas a skeezeless outing), you might have been at a loss to discover much else in reportedly one of the most literary towns in the world.
Enter Irish novelist, short story writer, essayist, playwright, journalist, critic and poet, and the second best living Irishman behind Bono, Colm Tóibín. For The Irish Times, the country’s leading English-language periodical (I mean, there surely must be a Gaelic newspaper), Tóibín lent his superhuman literary services to bring a grand literary tour of The Dubs, and not without taking a bit of piss out of his whenceness. Here’s a sample:
“The street between Nora’s hotel and Oscar Wilde’s house is called Clare Street. Beckett’s father ran his quantity surveying business from No. 6 but there is no plaque here. When their father died in 1933, Beckett’s brother took over the business while Beckett, who was idling at the time, took the attic room. Like all idlers, he made many promises; in this case, both to himself and to his mother. He promised himself that he would write and he promised his mother that he would give language lessons. But he did nothing much. It would look good on a plaque: ‘This is where Samuel Beckett did nothing much.’”
If you agree with that sentiment, than this is a read that will make you anything but obstropolous.
Joycean vocabulary provided by James Joyce and Google.
Michael Barron is an editor at Melville House.