Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Walk & Talk

Dublin City Council has been making efforts in recent years to relate better to the people of the city. In some cases, such as involving the local population in the regeneration of the Liberties, the jury is still out. In others, such as the extension of the range of local library services to include wifi and access to digital newspaper and maps archives, the benefits are already being delivered and the range of services is being expanded all the time.

One interesting innovation which seems to be catching on is the Walk & Talk series of guided city walks which introduce the city's inhabitants to a wide range of scenery, cityscapes and history.

One element of this programme is entitled "New Shores - Ancient Footprints" and it aims to introduce Dubliners to the contribution to the city's life of communities originating from abroad. Numbers on the two walks to date in this series were way above expectations.

New Shores - Ancient Footprints

The first walk in this series explored Jewish Dublin. This covered "Little Jerusalem", including the Jewish museum, and culminated in a presentation in Taylor's Hall which reminded us of the particular Jewish contribution to both the Mansion and Leinster Houses, and to industry, commerce, financial services, literature and the fine arts.

The second walk in the series explored the Italian contribution, ranging from architecture through the ages to the ubiquitous fish and chippers. Some other tenuous links were thrown in as the walk wended its way from Parnell Square to City Hall where connections from Bianconi to Marconi were highlighted and the sound of Italian opera filled the marble foyer.

One fascinating link on the outdoor part of the walk was the Dublin version of Leonardo's last supper in the centre of the new Italian quarter on the north bank of the Liffey at the Millennium Bridge.

This community was also able to lay claim to a Lord Mayor of Dublin.

Historical Walks

There is also a series of historical walks based around particular areas of the city. The one illustrated above covered the Phoenix Park (part) and the Irish National War Memorial Gardens. The tour included the Wellington Monument, dedicated to a man who was embarrassed by his Irish origins, and the Memorial Garden, which commemorated those who gave their lives for their country in WWI.

You can keep up to date with the full programme of walks here.

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