Tuesday 2 August 2011

Dublin: A Site With Bite

On my last full day in Dublin in May (hosted by Aer Lingus and Tourism Ireland), I had some time to kill so I jumped aboard one of those "hop on, hop off" double decker tour buses you find in cities around the world.

I don't usually think much of these tours, compared with the close-up advantages of seeing a place on foot. However, but they can give a good orientation to a city and allow you to (briefly) see some areas you otherwise wouldn't get to.

The bonus that day was the driver of my particular bus, who had a witty turn of phrase that livened up the standard tour commentary.

He particularly delighted in telling us the nicknames that Dubliners have given the various statues and monuments dotted around the Irish capital. What makes them particularly funny is that they're not at all fond and whimsical. Instead, they're rapier-sharp phrases with an acid bite, usually couched in the pattern "The X with/in the Y".

For example, an underwater clock that once sat beneath the River Liffey was known as "The Chime in the Slime",  while a set of statuary featuring two shoppers near the Halfpenny Bridge is called "The Hags with the Bags". Not gentle, certainly, but funny all the same.

Here are a few other Dublin statues and their nicknames.

1. This statue of famous author James Joyce holding a cane in O'Connell Street seems universally known as "The Prick with the Stick":

(Image courtesy of Tourism Ireland, photographer Dublin Tourism)

2. Not far from Joyce is this soaring monument erected in 2003, the needle-like Spire of Dublin. This has attracted an enormous number of nicknames, including:
  • The Stiletto in the Ghetto
  • The Stiffy by the Liffey
  • The Skewer in the Sewer
  • The Spire in the Mire
  • The Erection in the Intersection
  • The Rod to God
(Image courtesy of Tourism Ireland, photographer Holger Leue 2005) 

3. This statue features Molly Malone, from the famous song which had her selling "Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh!" in Dublin's streets. As Molly is depicted wearing a particularly low-cut dress, it's attracted more than its fair share of ribald nicknames:
  • The Tart with the Cart
  • The Dish with the Fish
  • The Dolly with the Trolley
  • The Flirt in the Skirt
  • The Trollop with the Scallops
(Image courtesy of Tourism Ireland, photographer Holger Leue 2003)

4. This statue of Phil Lynott, frontman of Irish band Thin Lizzy in the 1970s and '80s, was erected in 2005. It hasn't attracted a lasting Dublin nickname yet, demonstrating that it's not that easy to form one that follows the formula and is also funny.

A commenter in an online forum on the topic suggested "The Ace with the Bass", though that's too positive to really fit the acid style.

(Image courtesy of Tourism Ireland, photographer Tony Pleavin)

5. Finally, this monument features Anna Livia, personification of the River Liffey. It was erected in O'Connell Street in 1988, but was removed in 2001 to make space for the Spire of Dublin. In early 2011 it was re-erected in a park next to the Liffey.

Given her watery setting, Anna Livia has attracted lots of irreverent nicknames. The best, however, must be the unforgettable "The Floozy in the Jacuzzi".

(Photographer Piolinfax, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license)

And that's all from me - The Jotter with the Totter. 

This post was sponsored by AFerry.co.uk.


  1. Don't forget the hags with the bags on Liffey Street :)