Wednesday 25 August 2021

Caroline Jordan's #Dublin : Merrion Square, #LeintsterHouse #GovernmentBuildings #TheMerrionHotel and more


When she's not in her office in Christ Church, Caroline Jordan is usually to be found dealing with her political clients - first the late, unlamented Minister Fitzpatrick and now the leader of the Irish Government himself, An Taoiseach Michael T O'Mahony. This work takes her to a different part of Dublin City, the areas surrounding Leinster House, The Offices of An Taoiseach and Government buildings. 

This includes the beautiful Merrion Square, with its sculptures (notably the Oscar Wilde statue and The Victims) and the War Memorial, These are more than just works of art or tourist stop off points, these represent deeply felt emotions, and events that Dubliners still care about. The affection felt for Oscar is visible in the cheerful "howya's" of regulars to the statue as they walk past. There are few visitors unmoved by the unusual war memorial (that commemorates as much those lives lost in the cause of Peace Keeping with the UN, as those lost in war in the more aggressive sense.) 

One side of the Square runs opposite to the Entrance to Leinster House, the seat of the Irish Parliament known as The Dáil (pro. Doyle or Dawl) or  Dáil Éireann. As described in The Body Politic this was once a ducal palace, designed for the Duke of Leinster, acquired for the State and enlarged and modernised over the decades, although the centre part is still the original building. Caroline's original boss the Minister for Justice* operates out of The Department of Justice on St Stephen's Green but his basic paranoia meant he stayed closer to the seat of power whenever possible. When she starts working for the leader of the Dáil himself, Michael T O'Mahony* she finds herself working in the Offices of An Taoiseach. Taoiseach is the title of the Irish Premier and means Chief, or leader. The second in command is the Foreign Minister, An Tánaiste. The use of Irish terms for our parliamentarians is an important statement of cultural and political freedom; members of the house are called Teachtaí Daile or TDs **

Politicians like to do themselves well in terms of wining and dining and Irish ones are no exception. Luckily for them there are number of fabulous pubs and restaurants nearby. The best are The Merrion, and The Shelbourne, two landmark hotels in the city. Visiting dignitaries and celebrities stay in both, and afternoon tea in The Merrion is an institution among Dublin society. But for a sneaky pint, if they're not using the bar in the Dáil itself, you might well spot a politician (maybe in earnest conversation with our Caroline!) in Buswell's Hotel, itself a legend in the city. Doheny and Nesbitts on Baggott street is another old pub with a modern clientele, where advertising and PR execs rub shoulders with musicians and the occasional Hipster or tourist. Of course with their own bar and the Oireachtas* restaurant, it's hard to tempt the political animal out of its lair. 

When she can, Caroline will walk back towards the Grafton Street area, away from the rather rarefied air of the Dáil and into the heart of the best pubs and restaurants in Dublin 2. The Long Hall is her favourite, and many a huddled conference has been held there between her, Paula and Stephen, the trio that make up Jordan PR. She'll grab food in the excellent San Lorenzos or Green Hen restaurants, and coffee in any of the great coffee shops like Kaph on Drury Street. Her job brings her to every trendy restaurant and "must be seen here" venue but when she's with real friends, she wants real food and drink. Meet in Brooke's Hotel, enjoy a drink in their ultra comfortable lounge, and then wander from there to see what's open. Bar with No Name, while trendy has the virtue of having a great atmosphere, and the Stag's Head is another place to stop for a drink and a chat. (Caroline and the gang have been known to leave work early on a Tuesday to catch the Ukulele Tuesdays in the Stag's Head, but if anyone asks they were all working late!)

Being a Southsider, she rarely ventures Northside - the rivalry between both sides of the city runs deep! - but like all Dubs, she's convinced the worst bit of Dublin is better than the best bit of the rest of the country. Everyone outside Dublin is a Culchie, Irish slang for a country bumpkin. Her city, Dublin City, has it all.

* All names and indeed, personalities of politicians in TBP are fictional and bear no resemblance to anyone living or dead. Any such resemblance is coincidental. If anyone thinks they recognise themselves I'd keep quiet about it. It's probably not a compliment. 

** A Teachta Dála ( /ˌtjɒxtə ˈdɔːlə/ TYOKH-tə DAW-lə, Irish: [ˌtʲaxt̪ˠə ˈd̪ˠaːlˠə] ; plural Teachtaí Dála)


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