Saving the Irish From Civilization

Despite Dublin's busy streets, Dublin still has a country-town atmosphere, and the visitor has a definite sense of being just a little behind the times. Part of the reason for this ambiance is that Dublin is a very small capital city. There are only a million or so people living in the whole Greater Dublin region. One is always close to open countryside. Indeed, from any part of Dublin, one can see the mountains that bound the city to the south. But there are plenty of other day-to-day reminders of the bucolic hinterland.

Children from blighted inner-city estates keep horses as pets and graze them beneath the tower blocks. In the vast Phoenix Park, right in the center of town, elegant fallow deer graze, oblivious to commuters' cars and the official motorcades to and from the President's residence, the American ambassador's residence, and the Papal Nunciature. Grubby caravans inhabited by feckless, coarse-looking tinkers, who claim to be descended from the Irishmen expelled from Drogheda by Cromwell, crop up in even the most genteel suburbs. In these same suburbs, there are strange isolated fields where there should be houses, and dolmens in otherwise well-ordered back gardens. Haggard women sell sprays of heather in the streets. People still speak in local accents. The street names are written in Irish as well as English. There are virtually no obvious immigrants (who may well be deterred by a vague idea that Ireland...

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