January 2002

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PEARSE SQUARE, DUBLIN, 1970 or 2002 ?
Boarding houses here were used for many years by Actors and Musicians visiting the City

By Lucy Felix

On the bus to Ringsend
Next stop, 'Theatrical Square !!'.
Coming up on the left.
What costume is it wearing these days ?
'Its shrunk'.

An ill fitting garment, resplendent in all its ugly symmetry, bushes like pom poms, buttons for a clown. with his thin ankles and wrists exposed to all the passing traffic.

'Where could rites of passage take place here? The first time you could climb up onto the roof of the shelter and survey the square from a height, a startling sight coming as I did from the basement level. Getting out of sight was vital too, surrounded on all sides by the watchful eyes of the houses, a circuit of disappearing acts could be pulled from a hat, crouching behind the front park wall, along the narrow passage between the railings and the towering cliff of the ball alleys, into the deep dark alleys, one facing to the front, another guarding the back, making a dash to the generous

(Ondine Braddell 1972.)
embrace of the shelter's walls. For a quick get away, we slid through the one gap in the railings, by some freak of nature wider than all the others. 'All strangers can enter by the gates'. The big ones vaulted over the spikes with long legged ease. The witches hat, a roundabout, a conical construction of wood and iron was our gathering point, legs dangling, clanging and shaking we would start to twist, faster and faster, faces blurring until the pusher leaps on grinding us to a bone shaking halt. I got up early the morning it snowed, crossing the vast unexplored territory of the football pitches, unexplored since yesterday. Making perfect footprints in the snow, running across the unbroken soft blanket until there was a network of connecting paths. Then gangs of brothers got up, and threw buckets of water to make a skating rink, but only succeeded in making a slush. In the snow the clear geometry of our square stood out with dark lines of swing frames, railings and tree branches sprawling across the sky,
'Lets go to Misery Hill', a place that lived up to its name, docklands still and empty, faceless warehouse walls. The headless horseman. We turned and ran a hurtling mass of screaming bodies till we were safe again, home again able to enjoy the exhilaration of our fear.

'Did you see him?' 'No I was in the middle but I heard him'

Today the estate agent sweeps his hand across the miniature lawns devoid of children, like a music hall artist.

'At ENORMOUS expense I present a Victorian square'.

The only clue to its past is the way my body leads me to our gap, a body that now cannot slide again between these railings.


What will I say
Don't say a word,
Your mouth is too quick
And your head is wood.
Pick up your clothes,
Don't spill the milk,
Take your finger out of the socket
Or you'll never see silk.
He's on his eighth pint
And be coming in soon;
Look at the place,
It's all in a ruin.
There will be torture in hell
This very same eve.
Would you look at your man
Wiping his nose in his sleeve.

by Eileen Dunne
Treblin Times November 1973