A New Irish Experience

This  time in Dublin much was different. I’d already visited Ireland three times for fun and once for business between 2002 and 2011, so I was surprised.

In 2004 we met a family on the west side of Ireland who were raising their children to speak only Irish. The desire to regain Irish roots resonated with us, but the approach seemed a bit extreme. Speaking English is an asset, whether one likes it or not, and all bilingual children have a brain-wiring advantage that can’t be duplicated later. Yet, to each their own.

In 2019, that desire to reclaim linguistic roots has taken hold in Dublin, but in a gentler way. Signs are in Irish first, and announcements in public places are made in both languages. I find this new pride to be wonderful, and I am happy a few words stuck with me.

Dublin itself has also undergone quite a transformation, or at least the downtown area has. There is a beautiful convention center along the River Liffey, now, and new construction is everywhere in the area. I’m sure it is a mixed blessing to the residents, like all such things are, but I hope all this new growth will bring Dublin more than it takes from it.

The bus system seems vastly improved, with easy to find and use express buses running to and from the airport and a handy tram running along the river. An affordable and well publicized LEAP card made it easy to buy all the transportation I needed for a week for 40 Euros.

The Irish may have been making gin for a long while, but the push to sell it to visitors was new to me. I found myself passing on the ever popular Guinness several times in order to enjoy the new flavor I fell for — rhubarb gin. Paired with a pink pepper tonic and served with a slice of grapefruit, it was  an amazing drink.

Other things were very much as I remembered them, thankfully. The fish and chips remained wonderful and the Guinness was every bit as easy to find as it has always been. Plenty of Irish still seem to like to talk about politics, and they have a fine way of not holding ones opinions against them. It makes our hostile environment here in USA seem all the more childish.

The World Science Fiction Convention I was attending found many ways to feature Irish myths, including this eerie and beautiful representation of a legendary monster from the River Liffey. And the bridge linking my lodging to the convention center used Ireland’s ancient symbol of the harp in an exquisite way to form a thoroughly modern path across a river.

It was a wonderful week in Dublin, and I was happy to see a country I’ve enjoyed so much so many times doing so well.

(Read more about my Worldcon 2019 adventures in Dublin at And the winner, she is …., at  An Irish Worldcon: I’m here! , at Fast Forward into the Past and at Feeling at home.)

Bulletproof

Every so often one finds a song that they really like the first time they hear it, and they still like it dozens if not hundreds of times later. I’ve got a few of those, and La Roux’s “Bulletproof” is one. So when I was assembling my largely-female-indie-artist playlist for d4, I was delighted when my music expert recommended it.

Why so much love for this song? It’s always hard to say why you like something. I’m a “words” person when it comes to music, and the lyrics are just so clever. You’ve met this guy. You know this lady. You’ve seen the dynamics. But it’s more than that. The very concept of being bulletproof appeals to something deep within. It doesn’t just mean being immune to his manipulations. It also means not being afraid of icy ski slopes or catty store clerks or traveling alone. The lyrics speak to me about being stronger; for the next presentation at work, for the next nasty book review, for the next thing that strikes fear into me whatever it is.

Yet it is more than the lyrics. The infectious beat and sing along melody is part of what make it all work for me. I found this video from a live performance at the Isle Of Wight Festival in 2010 and it captures every bit of that. I can hardly keep from waving my arms along with the crowd while I watch.

No, I can’t explain why I like this song so much. But I hope you enjoy it too, as well as the short excerpt from d4 showing how I mentioned the song in my book.

She decided to take Friday off work, and Eoin did not object.

“Any special plans?” he asked.

“No. Just preparing,” she said. He didn’t ask for more.

The day turned out to be one of those unusual winter days when the sky is bright blue and the temperature climbs into the sixties. Ariel smiled at her good fortune as she took the little car the company leased for her and headed north out of Dublin, planning to drive for as long as it sounded good, and then to stop and do yoga somewhere along the shore.

Ireland doesn’t have much in the way of sandy beaches. Much of the coast is ancient granite and volcanic remains, and much of its rocky core is old limestone, formed from the remains of tiny sea creatures that led happy lives nearly half a billion years ago, back when Ireland was located near the equator and no mammal had yet set foot on the Earth. Ariel reached for her music, and spent a minute picking her song. She decided on “Bulletproof” by La Roux; it was the perfect choice.

 She drove far enough to find a rocky bit of shore that was deserted, spread out her mat, and worked on clearing her mind. The poses came to her in a random sequence, without thought. The table. The cat. The bow. The plough.

Her goal was to calm down, and gather her strength. To make herself as bulletproof as possible.

Downward dog into a cobra into a sun salute and repeat it again. Warrior poses. Low warrior. Warrior two. Warrior three. She had skills, she had advantages, and she had back-up. She finished her routine concentrating on balance, holding a strong tree pose while she gazed at the far horizon.

She was ready. Now, she needed to go do what needed to be done.

You can also listen to or buy La Roux’s “Bulletproof” at Amazon.