Night and Day

You like the feel of the place at night: the theatre and taxis; the restaurants and bars. You like the high-heeled style of it; the buzz and glamour.

You’re lucky to live nearby; to have access to a well-designed urban space. You like the culture it affords, the trendy entertainment.  But mostly, if you’re honest, you like the red poles. You like how their lights dance skywards, cast playful reflections on the water.

(You may have outgrown sophistication.)

You like the place during the day, too. Its sharp-suited buildings project themselves with confidence, all angles and apexes. Light bounces off their reflective skins, catching your eye in fiery flashes.

You find it energizing to walk among the buildings, at least for a while. You know you’ll never be shiny enough to live or work in one.

That’s okay.

You like the sun on the water, too; the canal basin happy under a silver sheen. You find an empty bench to sit on and look out over the dock.

The water asks nothing of you.

You sip your coffee; watch seagulls squabble over a piece of bread. In the distance, five orange kayaks are tied to a pontoon. You think it might be fun to paddle around the dock, take the kayak under the bridge and into the marina. You could pull up to the barges; examine their painted hulls and polished windows.

You picture yourself climbing aboard a barge, untying the ropes and pulling out onto the canal. How long would it take you to reach the Shannon? You can’t imagine a more lovely or less likely escape.

You smile at the thought, finish your coffee and turn back to the city.


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Grand Canal Square is located at the west end of Grand Canal Dock, on the south side of the River Liffey. Opened in 2007, the development includes shops, restaurants and offices, as well as a 2000-seat theatre by Daniel Libeskind and a hotel by Manual Aires Matues.

American landscape architect Martha Schwartz designed the joyful light sticks and the ‘red carpet’ paving. A ‘green carpet’ of planters filled with willowy vegetation provides seating.

The Square’s character changes from daytime to evening and from weekdays to weekends. It’s a perfect spot for people watching.


About Aileen Hunt

I write nonfiction: essays, memoir, and prose poetry, as well as shorter, more humorous pieces. I embarrass my family regularly. I’m interested in how we respond to place, how it affects our sense of identity and wellbeing. I try to pay attention to my surroundings, to look at them carefully and respectfully. I want to feel at home wherever I live. I’m a Dubliner, through and through, but I have a soft spot for the West of Ireland. Who doesn’t?
This entry was posted in May 2013 and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Night and Day

  1. lynnwyvill says:

    Hi Aileen,
    Wonderful to see a new post from you!
    I felt like we were sitting together on that bench sipping our coffee.
    The pictures are stunning. Love the mix of old and new architecture.


  2. Niamh Rabbitt says:

    Lovely as usual. Reminds me of the day we spent in the docks taking photos for my interior design course!

  3. Jim Rabbitt says:

    Hi Aileen
    Love this piece, and the photos
    I know how long it takes to reach The Shannon by boat, as long as possible!

  4. Roy McCarthy says:

    Lovely appreciation Aileen. I walked/jogged through this area several times a week during my time in Dublin. I only ever saw the theatre and hotel under construction though. A great, still unappreciated, part of the city.
    You might like the night-time photo of the Basin in one of my old posts

    • Hi Roy, great photo thanks and great post on your blog. The theatre and hotel up and running now (‘Wicked’ opening this week). Place has a nice vibe to it – but still retains some of its old charm. An interesting mix!

  5. Another lovely post, Aileen. I share your ambivalent attitude towards the city. You can appreciate the things, the sites, the action it has to offer, but the yearing to just get out of it is very strong.

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