Dublin as a city is a UNESCO World Heritage site, coined the City of Literature. It is also home to Viking influence, a largely British past, Norman history, and ancient Celtic tradition. Dublin is also the country capital and largest city in the Republic of Ireland. It boasts a unique musical, literary, theatre, and film culture that is thriving and known despite the island’s relatively small land mass. Combine all these factors and you get a population that is proud of who they are, where they’ve come from, and how the country’s future will unfold.
I’ll start with a brief history lesson. After years of the Celts ruling the land, Viking invasions around 10th century AD soon changed the reign of power to this group of men from the lands now known as Scandinavia. Dublin became a major port city (which it still is today) for the Vikings, becoming a hub of trading. After a couple hundred years of Viking rule, Anglo-Normans seized power after the man known as Strongbow attacked the island. For the next several hundred years, Dublin and Ireland served as strong economic post for the Anglo-Normans, eventually becoming a part of British rule in the 1600’s. It remained under British control until 1921 when the Republic of Ireland was founded. Yet, the people who lived here always saw themselves for the most part as Irish. From 1798-1916, the Irish people staged several failed rebellions to break away from British control and form a sovereign state. In 1916, with men like James Connolly, Patrick Pearse, and Joseph Plunkett, the Easter Rising created a catalyst for creating an Irish state. In 1921, the Republic of Ireland was born, with monumental men like Michael Collins bearing the weight of the nation’s pride and passion.These men’s actions during the past rebellions and ultimate revolution can still be seen today with bullet holes in the General Post Office (one of the main sites of the Easter Rising) as well as bullet holes in the statue of Daniel O’Connell at the head of O’Connell Street.
Since then, the Irish have maintained, preserved, and even resurrected their history, instilling pride into the population and even foreigners with Irish blood. The Irish language (the only Celtic language recognized as an official language by the EU) can be seen all over the place- written on street signs, said over the speakers on the bus, and even the family names of the people who have lived here for hundreds of years. Viking tours, with its shouting tourists wearing Viking helmetes, drive around the streets daily. And traditional music (“Trad”) can be heard from pubs every night, creating a sense of unity and camaraderie in the form of music.Children in school are taught river dancing, Irish, and other aspects of Irish culture, creating a new generation of proud Irishmen. The people that live here are happy and genuinely proud of their heritage.
Working at the Jameson Dublin Film Festival has exposed me to this pride through the medium of film. Currently, we are working on an event to celebrate Dublin’s favorite film, iconic movies that showcase the history, culture, architecture, and people of Dublin. (Stay tuned for a blog on this event as we begin to make things official and public). After watching these films, it is obvious why the people of Dublin and Ireland love them. Each film has a thread of family, humor, passion, and honor.
While not working, I’ve had the opportunity to travel around the island. Going from coast to coast, seeing the countryside, the sea on the east and the west, and other booming cities like Kilkenny and Galway. I’ve had conversations with locals in pubs, cafes, and bus stops.The people of Ireland, as products of their past and their tradition, are proud citizens of this tiny island. I can only imagine that this pride won’t soon disappear but only increase, as the UNESCO World Heritage site finds itself as a burgeoning international presence.