Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

We thought it would be interesting to put up a different kind of post to our usual academic analysis and commentaries, but which also tried to say something reflexive and useful about Ireland after NAMA; to capture something of the times and places in which we live.   Our first go at this is to create a set of ‘postcards from the edge’, which we’re calling ‘Postcards to NAMA’ using the format of a drabble.  A drabble is a story that is exactly one hundred words long.  The kind of length a note would be when scribbled on the back of a postcard.  Here are three to get us started.



They stared at the envelopes, all of them clearly bills or statements.

‘Don’t open them.’

‘We can’t just ignore them, Niall.  They’re not going to go away.’

He shook his head sadly.  ‘How the fuck did we get into this mess?’

‘You know how.’

‘Fucking banks.’

‘It was us that borrowed the money, Niall.’

‘Yeah, but they shouldn’t have lent us so much.  Jesus!’  He kicked the door.


‘What difference does it make?  They’ll be taking it back off us soon.’  He kicked the door again, cracking the wood.

‘Niall.’  Her head felt like it was going to implode.

Rob Kitchin



‘They go around smashing the patio windows and then leave it for a few days.’


‘These ghost estates.’

‘And then what?’

‘They go around again and check. If it seems nobody noticed, they tear into the place, strip it, the lot – kitchens, radiators, boiler, fireplaces, water tank, even the jacks.’

‘For what?’

‘For scrap.  Or to ship it off – Bulgaria, England, you name it.  It’s rampant.  White vans in the middle of the night.  Fast work.  They can make as much noise as they like and not a word said.  They built them, now they recycle them.’

Denis Linehan


Michael walked out of the post office counting his money.  He stuffed the change and the smaller notes into his back pocket and folded the larger ones carefully into his wallet.  Jimmy was on his way in.  Michael held the door.

‘Never goes far enough, wha?’ said Jimmy.

‘Better than nothin’. ‘

The wind hit Michael and he pulled his collar up around his neck. He hadn’t bothered to shave.  Sarah hadn’t noticed.  Across the street was a new bookies.  There was shopping needed, bills unpaid.  He turned away, sighed, slumped, then turned again. He crossed the street.

Cian O’Callaghan

At a recent “One City, One people” conference hosted by Dublin City Council, Ash Amin argued against the politics of catastrophe and for the politics of hope.  His words struck a chord with many of those present.  It’s probably fair to say that large numbers of us are increasingly despairing about the unrelenting and hope sapping quality of much of the current media coverage.  Good news stories are few and far between.   But there are many stories out there that demonstrate the capacity of people to act in creative ways, to be resilient and to make good things happen in their localities.

Last week I attended the Wexford Opera festival, which has been running every year since its foundation in 1951. What an imaginative leap for a small town in Ireland to come up with the idea of staging opera, recitals and concerts over a two week autumnal period.  Undoubtedly, the originators were considered half mad at a time in Ireland when we were still shrouded in De Valera’s insularity. Over the years the festival has garnered loyal audiences and festival goers come from all over the world.  The festival  put Wexford on the international cultural map long before sociologists began writing about the potential of culture to re-invent urban economies.  During the weeks of the festival the town of Wexford is alive with people. Restaurants and bars are buzzing, established galleries show a wide range of contemporary art and “flash” art galleries pop up everywhere.  Wexford happens because of the blend of state support, private philanthropy and the efforts put in by hundreds of volunteers from within the local community.  This partnership has been working for the last 59 years and looks set to continue into the future. It is a template of excellence and a model of how a good idea with the right support can turn into something with economic, cultural and social value.

Elsewhere, another initiative albeit on a smaller scale, demonstrates the dividends to be reaped from people working together creatively in their local context.  On Sunday, October 31 the Dublin Mountain Partnership (DMP) which was established to improve the recreational experience for users of lands in the Dublin mountains opened a new trail 43km long which stretches from Shankill in the East of the City to Tallaght in the West threading through some of the most spectacular scenery in the East of the country.  Coillite has worked alongside the local councils and with a team of volunteer rangers to develop this amenity which is literally on the doorstep of many of Dublin’s newest suburbs.  Volunteer rangers act in a stewardship role and patrol the mountains at weekends offering information and advice as well as assisting in emergencies. They also lead walks and special activities for newcomers to the hills. See www.dublinmountains.ie.  The DMP also operates buses from the Luas at Tallaght and Sandyford to the mountains.  So, if you’ve had enough of the gloom and doom during the week do yourself a favour and go climb a mountain at the weekend.

Mary Corcoran