Dalrymple in Dublin

Mullet’s bar, Amiens Street

Renewing his acquaintance with the city, Dalrymple

can’t help feeling that it has lost some of its savour, its soul. Smoky bars are no more: smoking has been banned and the Irish public has obeyed the law without a murmur. I don’t understand why there can’t be bars for smokers; no one would be forced to go into them. Bars in which there is smoking are better fun than bars in which there is none.

When Dalrymple first came to Ireland,

the clergy were the aristocracy. A priest’s word was law.

The Parish Priest, from a painting by Jack B. Yeats

Now in Dublin,

priests do not dare wear clerical garb outside church grounds. It is not yet illegal for them to do so, as in Mexico, but they think it prudent not to do so; for these onetime demigods, deputies of God on earth, are regarded with such distaste by some of the population that they are likely to be insulted, spat at or punched as they walk down the street.

Indeed, Dalrymple notes, it is now

much safer for a Catholic priest publicly to avow what he is by his dress in England — traditionally a virulently anti-Catholic country — than it is in Ireland, where Catholicism was for years the bastion of Irish resistance against English domination.

Dalrymple has this to say of the Christian Brothers:

They inculcated learning by means, or at least with the assistance, of the cane. They were dedicated teachers, and they gave an opportunity to many children of the poor to rise above their social circumstance. If they were bigoted, they were also enlightened.

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