“I’ll remember Dublin city, in the rare ould times”
“And their sons will be respected men, and they will be established as judges over your sons; they will govern your city and they will buy your field, for the universal conscience gives them expressly all these rights.” – Maurice Bardèche.
A foul odor welcomes those who venture into the entropic heart of Dublin. Their nasal inevitably encounters a collage of piss, horse and junkie shit, vomit, and an unknown noxious scent that is likely sui generis to “Dublin’s fair city”.
Dublin’s increasingly diverse populace compliments the heterogeneous stench. Once home to its famous market, Moore Street is now distinguished (and disfigured) by the voluminous Gypsies that roam its streets. A frequent sight is groups of Gypsy men huddling together in large packs, subtly conveying to passers-by that this is THEIR area now.
Flanking the descendants of India’s untouchable caste are an array of West African and Oriental business. Our enterprising Bantu friends specialise in the sale of trashy synthetic wigs, while the Orientals tend to fix phones and other tech trinkets for a cheap fee. Regardless of the great gifts their presence has bestowed, one wonders if they know who surrendered to the British on Moore Street in Easter 1916? And if by chance they’re cognisant, do they care?
A leper stumbles onward among the eclectic Moore Street throng. Although disfigured by vice, his face smacks of a familiar native stamp. The Dublin Junkie, lamentably, is the last vestige of Irishness left in the center of our capital. Neither foreign tongue nor the threat of Igbo and Yoruba mobs will dissuade him from getting his next fix. In the face of an increasingly non-Irish Ireland, the Junkie marches on.
Footage from the late 90s and early 2000s reveals Dublin’s shockingly rapid descent into a cosmopolitan morass. I experienced a strange feeling upon my first viewing of Paul Tickell’s debut film, Crushproof. Released in 1998, Crushproof is a thoroughly Dublin film, from the accents and faces (there is a Dub face) to the locale featured.
When juxtaposed with contemporary Dublin, it becomes truly jarring how much this city has changed in less than a quarter century. Many nationalists rhetorically query what the leaders of ’16 would think of modern Ireland; a better question: what would an inner-city gurrier from the year 2000 think?
Horse Raids and Männerbunds in North Dublin
“And we hunted, like young lions, death with its black fur dappled with pale crosses, who ran before us in the vast violet sky, palpable and living” – Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, ‘The Futurist Manifesto’
An ominous sound accompanies the opening shots of Crushproof. Reminiscent of a church bell, it forebodingly signals what’s to come. Above the motorway, we witness six figures atop unsaddled horses, traversing the overpass – a meeting of the modern and the archaic.
Soon after, we encounter our anti-hero protagonist, Neal. A young Dublin ruffian who has just been informed that he is to be released from the ‘joy. However, he soon finds himself facing the prospects of renewing his domicile in said penal institution, after the young mother of his son calls the Garda on a persistent Neal.
Rather than acquiesce to the heat, Neal re-groups with his old crew and begins his Odyssey. Thereafter, the Northside Männerbund experiences: revenge, murder, fighting, drink, anti-garda insurgency, the death of old friends, robbery, and even incestuous cuckoldry. And who can forget them “Ravin’ in Glasnevin. Techno! Techno!”. Recounting these events in detail would not do them justice – watch the film.
Despite the dark subject matter, the humorous wit of the North Dublin crew, especially Neal, prevents the flick from straying into unnecessary melancholy. Lamenting the poor prospects that await lads from his background, Neal states: “There’s no tit waiting for you when you grow up, just the dole. Then a hole for your knob. Then another in the nut. And then another fucking hole in the ground for your corpse”.
The prominent feature of horses – quite common throughout the estates of North and West Dublin – throughout Crushproof buttresses its authenticity. Upon re-grouping with his friends, Neal is brought to the grave of his horse, subsequently descending into a state of mourning; Sean tells Liam, Neal’s talkative friend, to keep quiet and “let the man cry for his Horse”.
The purpose of horses in Crushproof is not limited to being a lazy device by which Tickell can express the emotional complexities of his otherwise stereotypically boorish characters. Instead, the horse represents a primal element, seemingly out of place among the motorways and housing estates of West Dublin.
One witness something truly atavistic when Neal and his crew – all on horseback, with at least one bearing a pitchfork – pursues a former friend of Neal’s with vengeance on their collective consciousness. The protracted struggle between the Garda and Neal’s crew for possession of horses harkens back to the Cattle raids of Ancient Ireland – reminiscent of a modern Táin Bó Cúailnge.
Concluding Remarks: Against the Post Young Fella Society
“The Proletarian is such by his own desire” – Arthur Moeller van den Bruck
Bruck’s statement was written with the intent of criticizing those members of the working class who refused to regard themselves as part of the nation. In the contemporary world, however, those that reject the social order, and instead opt to live in a lumpen prole fashion, are to be commended rather than admonished. It is, after all, more ethical to be a Canada Goose Adorned Finglas Coke Dealer than a Trinity College Humanities graduate who works for an anti-racist NGO.
The dispossession of their horses in Crushproof foreshadowed the on-going dispossession of their nation. After being ravaged by drugs, gangs, and social decay for generations, the working class now faces the brunt of migratory displacement, and the consequent issues which attend it, in their own communities. Particularly disgusting was the verbal abuse that working class shoppers were subjected to immediately after the death of George Nkencho.
Despite all this, I still hold out hope for the native Dub. This is the stock that comprised the ranks of those involved in the 2006 Dublin riots. If one looks at the arrests during the February anti-lockdown protests this year, most were working class young men. For those still not convinced that the native Dub possess enough resolve to oppose our increasingly post-young-fella-society, take heed of Neal’s speech to his crew:
“Fuck your knackers, for Christ sake. The knackers were refugees from Cromwell. We’re the Old tribe, the old ones. We’re the bleedin’ Bedouins. We’re the toerags of the North. We’ve got the warrior blood. They’ll never crush us cause we’re crushproof. Thousands of years old we are – the industrial revolution is just a blip on my bleedin’ screen”.