Afternoon Coffee in Dublin

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 1 min.)

It has been noticeably difficult in Dublin to find a place serving hot food between about 4pm and 7pm on a Sunday but that was once a week only (though awkward enough if you were entertaining visitors from abroad). But now it’s difficult to find a decent café in Dublin after 3.30pm all week — and more so if you’d like to sit outside or next to a window, watching life’s “rank and rich array” passing by.

Yesterday I was looking for a cup of coffee before I set off to visit someone in hospital. I found Anne’s Bakery in Moore Street closed at 3.30pm and, after a brief conversation with some people working nearby, headed off for its sister café in Henry Street but realised that if open, it would be closing very soon anyway (I think it closes at 4pm). So I set off for the hospital.

Coming back into the city centre around 5.15pm and still hankering for a coffee and thought-flow, I realised my chances were even worse now because Simon’s Corner in South Great George’s Street would be closed or closing. What about Cornucopia, in Wicklow Street? I cycled there, spotted empty tables outside, locked up my bike across the road just by Dingle company Murphy’s Ice-Cream (where you get 10% discount through ordering in Irish) and entered Cornucopia by left-hand door for the coffee-station. But …. no-one serving there. No sign saying “closed” so … maybe … might just have gone to the toilet?

After waiting awhile without any staff appearing, I made enquiries in the other part, the food-serving section and was told the coffee-station was closed. I looked at the lonnnnng queue, muttered “Fuck it”, went back outside, unlocked the bike and, careful of the big cars coming down that narrow street, pulled out to ride towards Grafton Street and from there northwards and home.

And …. Glory Alleluia! Empty tables outside Mary’s Bar & Hardware Shop! And illuminated by the sunlight slanting from the westering sun. Did they serve coffee, I wondered (I know they don’t sell hardware). Most Irish bars serve tea and coffee but the coffee quality can be questionable … or even instant and …. relief! Spotted the machine at the bar’s end with the roasted beans in the cylinder on top, ordered a cup and went back out to lock the bike.

Outside Mary’s Bar & Hardware Shop, Wicklow Street, yesterday late afternoon with part of my bike in view (Photo: D.Breatnach)

A little later, sitting outside in the sun, sipping reasonable coffee, watching passers-by …. people finishing work, shoppers, tourists, beggars, cops …. and then an interesting chat with one of “Mary’s” customers out for a smoke.

Then home, caffeinated and happy.

End.

PS: If you ever pop in to Mary’s for a drink, do make sure you visit the toilet. You will pass through what looks like an older section of the bar with surprising partitioned parts, past some hardware (but not for sale), then through a door, up some stairs …. On the way back, like as not, you’ll take a wrong turn (as I did) and enter …. a brightly-lit US-style diner with customers seated at red formica-top tables! A dislocating experience like something out of a sci-fi novel.

As you find the correct way back, depending on how much alcohol you’ve imbibed, you might wonder if that other place really exists. In this dimension, anyway.

ANTI-INTERNMENT MESSAGE GOES OUT UNDETERRED BY POLITICAL POLICE SURVEILLANCE

(Reading time: 1 minute)

Clive Sulish

On 9th April, the Dublin Anti-Internment Committee held another of its regular awareness-rising events in the city, this time on on the northside, at the junction of the busy shopping Henry Street and Liffey Street.

Section of the anti-internment picket in Dublin last week (Photo: Rebel Breeze)

Supporters lined up with the Anti-Internment Committee of Ireland banner and placards. In addition to the Starry Plough of the Irish working class, the Palestinian and the Basque flags were flown in symbols of solidarity and also as a demonstration that political prisoners are held in many countries around the world.

Going on for 200 of the AIGI’s leaflets were distributed, explaining that Irish Republicans continue to be held in custody without trial through the practice of refusal of bail and through revocation of licence. This practice by administrations on both sides of the British Border are anti-democratic suppression of the right to hold political opinions and to organise in their furtherance.

Plainclothes political policeman (in blue top, far left of photo) stood a little distance away facing the picketers but they were not intimidated (Photo: Rebel Breeze)

Recordings of relevant songs were played on a portable PA, such as The Roll of Honour, Viva la Quinze Brigada and Something Inside So Strong. Throughout the period of the event, two Special Branch (plainclothes political police) kept up an obvious surveillance which however did not deter the picketers.

The Anti-Internment Committee of Ireland is an independent broad and democratic committee, endeavouring to hold regular awareness-raising events and all democratic people are welcome to attend its public events, always advertised in advance on its Facebook page.

(Photo: Rebel Breeze)

An Ghailseach – “The Foreign Woman”

Diarmuid Breatnach

(Reading time: 3 mins.)

A young Dublin man, out to see something of the world, arrived in Franco’s Spain just a few years after WWII. At a reception at the German Embassy in Madrid (foreign press invited and anywhere for a free meal) he met a tall attractive half-Basque, half-German woman. Lucila Hellmann de Menchaca was multi-lingual – bilingual in German and Spanish through her upbringing, she had also learned English and French. She knew only a few words in Euskera – her mother’s side of the family was not very patriotic and in any case, since the victory of Franco’s military-fascist coup in ‘39, the language was forbidden. They conversed mostly through English.

Deasún, tall with grey-blue eyes and dark curly hair and thin moustache, had been raised only with English language but was learning Irish and Spanish, the latter out of necessity and the former by choice.

They were attracted to one another and began dating; within around six months they were married and soon afterwards on their way to Tangiers, where Deasún had a job waiting for him writing copy for a USA radio broadcasting company. The Moroccan city was an “international zone” city according to the Tangier Protocol, which meant that it was effectively ruled by the British, Spanish and French and, inevitably, full of liberation political activists, smugglers, spies and double-agents.

In that multi-lingual society with the Muezzin calling the faithful to prayer five times a day in Arabic and Berber heard in the street along with European languages, Luci was soon pregnant and, as her time neared, went back to Madrid to be near her family. Luci and Deasún first’s child was born in the German hospital in that city; then back to Tangiers soon afterwards, of course.

Their big guard dog, named Bran after one of Fionn Mac Cumhaill’s famous wolfhounds, occasionally takes off to return days later with scratches and bite-marks. He was watchful of the child and one day complains, whimpering to Deasún who, when he goes to investigate, finds the crawling child stuffing the dog’s dinner into his mouth.

Deasún watches his son speaking his first words in Spanish from Luci and some in Irish from himself. Increasingly he feels the need to have his son develop his speech in Ireland; soon the couple are back in the Spanish state and, after a short interlude, visiting the Basque Country of Luci’s youth, crossing the border into the French state by train to the coast and boat to England. A short stay with a cousin there and they and their child are on the way to Deasún’s native Dublin by train and boat.

Some years later in Dublin, his family of sons and a daughter growing up speaking Spanish and Irish in the home and English in the street, Deasún composes the piece of music which he calls “An Ghailseach” (the Foreign Woman”). Luci and Deasún’s youngest son, Cormac, an accomplished flute and whistle player, learns the piece. Some years later again, in the Club an Chonnradh with his father, Cormac plays the air and Deasún is amazed to learn that the piece he likes so much was actually composed by himself.

An Ghaillseach, composed by Deasún Breatnach, played on low whistle by Cormac Breatnach; Garry Ó Briain accompanying on guitar and keyboard, mastered by Seán McErlaine, uploaded by Féilim Breatnach.

Cormac records the piece and it is played on an Irish-language radio programme to mark a century since the birth of Deasún. On the morning of the broadcast Cormac cannot listen to it for he is on his way to Stockholm, where the Amerghin Ensemble of which he is a part have an engagement to perform their music. The older son listens to the program just before he is due in the Dublin city centre on a historical conservation commitment. The tears spring to his eyes from the sheer painful beauty of the piece.

Luci and Deasún are years gone (they died within days of one another in 2007) but An Ghailseach has joined the extremely rich and varied body of traditional Irish music, where it will outlast yet other generations to come.

End.

DUBLIN ANTI-INTERNMENT AND PRISONER SOLIDARITY PICKET SENDS SOLIDARITY MESSAGE TO MUMIA ABU JAMAL CONFERENCE

Clive Sulish

(Reading time: One minute)

A group of mixed political background held a picket this afternoon in Henry Street, one of the main shopping streets in Dublin’s city centre. The picket was protesting the continuing internment in Ireland of political activists and also expressing solidarity with political prisoners in different parts of the world – a Palestinian flag and a couple of Basque ones flew alongside the Irish ones. There are over 60 political prisoners in Irish jails both sides of the British Border.

Many people were out shopping or just enjoying the sun on what must have been the hottest day of the year so far. Up to 200 leaflets were distributed and passers-by occasionally stopped to discuss with the picket supporters.

Section of the picket displaying the banner of the organising group held by supporters. Also in the photo from left to right: Basque national Ikurrina; Basque Amnistia organisation; Irish Starry Plough; Palestinian flag. (Photo: C. Sulish)

MESSAGE OF SOLIDARITY TO CAMPAIGNERS FOR MUMIA ABU JAMAL

Near the end of the picket, a representative of the Anti-Internment Committee of Ireland was recorded voicing a message of solidarity for Mumia Abu Jamal, to send to an upcoming conference on Mumia and other political prisoners.

Mumia Abu Jamal in 2019 (Photo sourced: Liberation New)

Mumia is a political prisoner, a black United States activist and author who was awaiting execution but is now in his 40th year in jail. He was a popular broadcaster in 1981 when he went to the assistance of his brother, who was being harassed by a white police officer. As the incident came to an end the cop was dead of gunshot wounds and Mumia was shot in the stomach.

There are so many questions about the scenario the Prosecution laid out and which got Mumia convicted of murder and sentenced to death, which was later commuted to imprisonment for life. His gun had five bullets missing but Mumia was never tested to see whether he had fired the gun nor were the tests on the bullets in the police officer conclusively proven to come from there. The crime scene was not preserved and the police were in and out of it, with Mumia’s gun while Mumia was in hospital, undergoing an emergency operation. Photos taken of the scene by an independent press photographer did not show the presence of the taxi of a witness against Mumia, who claimed he was parked there. Not to mention the later confession of a man who claimed to have killed the police officer on behalf of other police as a contract kill (the decision not to use him as a witness divided Mumia’s legal team and two lawyers resigned as a result).

As the spokesperson of the Anti-Internment Committee said, even if people believe that he fired the shots that killed the police officer, after 40 years Mumia should be freed on humanitarian grounds. The USA is allegedly the country leading the world in democracy, as the spokesperson commented, but holds a great many political prisoners, some of them for many, many years in jail.

MORE EVENTS TO COME

Eastward view of picketers in Henry Street, Dublin, facing Liffey Street (Photo: C. Sulish)

Pandemic permitting, the AIGI intends to hold pickets on approximately a monthly basis to protest continuing internment and in solidarity with political prisoners, such events being advertised on our social media. The organisation is independent of any political party or organisation and all who oppose the jailing of activists without trial or wish to support political prisoners are welcome.

Two of the picketers with placards (Photo: C. Sulish)
Westward view of picketers in Henry Street, Dublin, facing Liffey Street (Photo: C. Sulish)