: Fair City: Dublin, 1979 :

an excerpt by Maureen McCoy


In Dublin that day my cockamamie tourist dreams of loving and claiming Ireland, and an Irishman too, as my own, collided with the cold business of reckoning bloodshed.  I was a young woman wearing a sensible tan trench coat, walking arm-in-arm with the Irishman, out for a day in which all of Dublin was raised to the highest pitch of tension and murmuring disbelief, because soon, any moment, a motorcade could pass—pass where?—on a secret route heading toward city centre, and rush the most wanted I.R.A. suspects in a generation to trial at the historic Four Courts building.   The capital of Ireland, and the whole Republic, for that matter, were again shaken from the determined fable that Belfast and attendant Northern Ireland violence, a mere seventy-five miles away, beyond a sorry border, comprised another world that could not touch the South, not really.  All the bloodshed of forever, and the current century’s quakes: the 1916 Easter Rising and hangings, the 1920s treaty and its aftermath civil war; the 30s, 40s, reprisals on and on, had been shared by all, true, but enough of that.  The Troubles, as the 70s explosiveness was called (a baffling understatement to me as an outsider), lay elsewhere, North.  The Troubles remained tucked away from daily business in Ireland proper, fingers crossed.  Keep the shadow-dread corralled up North.  Let everyone buy the new Pádraig Pearse centenary stamp, just out, and safely feel the revolutionary pride of long ago—while mailing letters.  I bought my share and used them.