National Geographic : 1969 Sep
4G' ON'T ORDER THAT, LOVE," a waitress warned me one day when I asked for corned beef in a tiny Dublin restaurant. "It's awful. Nothing but fat. Have the chicken now." I needed some pennies to make a phone call. "Why break a pound note?" the young lady behind the desk of my hotel objected. "It'll slip away soon enough. Here, I'll lend you the fourpence." And a motorcycle-mounted gdr da, as the Irish Republic calls its policemen, refused to give me either directions or a ticket for blocking traffic, but led me instead through block after glutted block of downtown Dublin to an address I had just spent half an hour trying to find. The warmth that has always charmed the stranger in Eire is still very much at work. But change flavors the air, too. Fewer Irishmen (and women) leave to seek their fortunes these days in England or America. There's a healthful influx of new industry, and a desire to be involved in the world's problems. So it was a new Ireland as well as an old one that my wife Audrey, my 16-year-old son Ken, and I set out to explore (map, page 363). Angels Scarred by Bullet Holes First on the schedule, of course, was the capital. Amid the throbbing hurly-burly of Dublin's broad O'Connell Street, double-deck buses reminded us of London, and exhaust fumes and swarming tangles of traffic made us think of Times Square. But to the people of the "twenty-six counties," as Irishmen some times call their republic to distinguish it from the six northern counties that remain loyal to the Crown, this is much more than the busy heart of their largest city.* For on O'Connell Street on Easter Monday of 1916, the Irish Republic was proclaimed. I had heard that marks of the 1916 "Rising" were still visible along O'Connell Street, so I walked up and down it one morning, head in the air to scan the building fronts for bullet scars, until I bumped blindly into a policeman. "Whatever is it you're looking for?" he asked. I told him, and he led me toward the river, past the statue of Sir John Gray, who gave Dubliners their modern water supply, and the one of temperance ad vocate Theobald Matthew, who tried to make them drink it. Then we came to a tall and stately plinth from which a likeness of 19th-century patriot Daniel O'Connell surveys O'Connell Bridge from the foot of O'Connell Street (pages 356-7). "There," the policeman said as he walked me around the base, where four gauzily clad bronze angels stared off in as many directions. "There, and there." Two of *See "The Magic Road Round Ireland," by H. V . Morton, NA TIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, March 1961. The six counties were described in detail in "Northern Ireland: From Derry to Down," by Robert L. Conly, August 1964. 354 THE IENDLY IRISH By JOHN SCOFIELD Senior Assistant Editor Photographs by JAMES A. SUGAR "A plenteous place... for hospitable cheer," wrote an unknown poet in the 18th century, and so Ireland remains today. Farmer John Larry Cavanagh and his son greeted the author and his family on the Dingle Peninsula. Over the years, famine and strife forced millions of Irish sons and daughters to emigrate. Now, growing prosperity enables increasing numbers to stay at home, where they welcome a steady stream of visitors to their doors. KODACHROMEBYJOHNSCOFIELD© N.G.S .