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Oh To Be In Dublin

(Words and Music: Brendan Nolan)

[Tempus Fugitive]


On my first album I wanted to try to include at least one original song about my native city of Dublin. The locales mentioned in the song are places that I became very familiar with during my early life and I'll just reference them here:

My father and mother took us on many a trip to the Phoenix Park, the largest city park in Europe. It also housed the Dublin Zoo. That used to be a big day out for us on Easter Mondays when we were kids. Part of the thrill was the bus-trip over there. We had to take two buses and we always tried to sit on the top deck of the bus.

During my day-job years I worked in the old telegraph office, which was on the top floor of the General Post Office in O'Connell St. Moore Street , where the hawkers sold their vegetables, was close to there. There were a couple of pubs on the street that I frequented during that time, one was Dwyer's which is gone now.

Malahide and Portmarnock were several miles from where we lived. It seemed a lot farther when I was young. They are by the sea and still lovely spots for a day-trip.

Oh, to be in Dublin town
The spot where I was born
Where the seagulls softly glide
O'er the Liffey in the morn
Where the sunshine fills the Dublin hills
That rise to the south of the town
And spreads away out in the bay
Till the evening rains come down
Twas a sight for the eye, I tell yis no lie
My dear old Dublin town

Oh, to be in Dublin town
Come join me one and all
On O'Connell's thoroughfare
Where he greets both rich and small
Where Larkin stands, and Parnell's hand
Held high to his words of renown
Where the floozie reclined in her bath divine
Drenched to the skin in her gown
And in Nelson's place, the flowers add grace
To dear old Dublin town

Oh, to be in Dublin town
On a glorious summer morn
In the grand old Phoenix park
Where the deer roam with their fawn

To stroll again in the furry glen
Where many's a lover walked down
And where me Da grew his lot in his war-time plot
When food was scarce to be found
It was blessed we were, with this space so fair
In dear old Dublin town

Oh, to be in Dublin town
Of a Christmas mid the throng
And to walk down Moore St
Where the learn-ed accent's strong
Where the ladies effuse from orange-box pews
In a varying gaiety of sound
And a glass ye could slug in Dwyer's oul snug
But alas, it's no more to be found
Oh, as landmarks fade only memories are made
In dear old Dublin town

Oh, to be in Dublin town
For a trip to lovely Howth
And to walk along the prom
Mid the yachts and the fishing boats
And across from there is Portmarnock fair
With it's dunes that play up and down
And in Mallier's tide ye could freeze your hide
When the Stephen's Day swimmers abound
Take a bus or a hike, or hop on your bike
It's not far from Dublin town


O'Connell: Daniel O'Connell, Irish patriot and the man who won Catholic Emancipation for his people in 1829.

Larkin: Jim Larkin, a Union Leader in the early part of the 1900's. He's particularly remembered for his support of workers during during the lock-out of 1913.

Parnell: Charles Stewart Parnell, Leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party at Westminster from 1875 until his death in 1891.

The Floozie: A statue in O'Connell St of Anna Livia, nicknamed 'The Floozie in the Jacuzzi.' Anna Livia is said to embody the spirit of the River Liffey which flows through the city. She was named after the character Anna Livia Plurabelle in James Joyce's 'Finnegan's Wake.' The statue of Anna Livia lay in a bath with water cascading down her body. The sculpture was placed for the Dublin Millennium celebrations in 1988. However it was removed in 2001 for placement elsewhere.

Nelson: Statue of Horatio Nelson. It was a Doric column with a statue of Lord Admiral Nelson that was erected in Dublin in 1809. It was blown up in March of 1966, no doubt to have it out of the way for the commemoration of the 1916 Rising which had begun at the G.P.O. across the street. The flower garden mentioned in the song is also gone. The space is now occupied by The Spire, a glass spike-like column. Since irreverence has always been a part of the Dublin character, The Spire has been called, 'the spike in the dike' and 'the stiletto in the ghetto'

Phoenix Park: Large city park just slightly to the west of the city. It is the largest city park in Europe and houses the Dublin Zoo. Also on it's grounds are the residences of the Irish President and the American Ambassador to Ireland.

The Furry Glen: An area of the Phoenix Park traditionally for courting couples

War-time plot: Dubliners were given plots of land in the park during the 2nd World War to grow vegetables.

Moore St/Dwyer's Pub: Hawkers, mostly women would stand, sometimes on Orange boxes, and sell fruit and vegetables on Moore St. Dwyer's, named after the owner Gerry Dwyer, was on the west-side of Moore St. Mooney's was on the east side. Both pubs are gone as well as several others in the immediate area.

Howth, Portmarnock, Mallier (Malahide): All seaside towns on the north east side of Dublin.

Stephen's Day Swimmers: St. Stephen's Day, or Boxing Day as it's also called, the day after Christmas, used to see quite a number of hardy souls out on the strand at Malahide getting ready to take a winter dip in the freezing water.