Grafton Street, Dublin, 1pm, The Tourists

Benny and Abbie were making their way out the Grafton Street entrance to Stephen's Green, on their way to lunch in Jammet's, where they had been advised the food was excellent.They had not been impressed by the numerous betting men who appeared to operate ad hoc tables in the Green without any interference from the Constabulary.

Advertisement for the Jammet Hotel and Restaurant in the Evening Telegraph, 1904
Dublin City Public Libraries

As they left the Green Benny led Abby across the road quickly; there were workmen engaged in labour just at the gate and they were rising quite a dust. As he led her through the crowd that thronged Grafton Street during this sunny summer lunchtime he informed her that they were building a gate in memory of the soldiers killed in the Boer War. He had already remarked on the number of beggars and flower sellers in the streets, all calling out their musical cries, and some of them obscenities which he hoped had not reached his wife's ears, in a kind of chorus with the newspaper boys and other hawkers.

Around O'Connell street had been much worse, and as for the area around St Patrick's Cathedral and Christchurch! Quite apart from the noise, the smell had been noxious - what must have been open sewers mixed with unwashed human bodies. They had been afraid to go near the old clothes market at Patrick Street for fear of picking up vermin from the piles of filthy rags. The place was a complete slum, apart from the area where Lord Iveagh had cleared tenements to put up some new buildings, part of a charitable trust. On their return, Abbie had retired to bed with a fierce headache, and Bennie had taken the opportunity to sample some of Ireland's famous whiskeys in one of the Public Houses on Grafton Street.

He had not stayed long, however, as a voluble drunk had insisted on telling him about the hunt for Robert Emmet's bones in St Michan's churchyard. There had been great hopes that they would find his body, which had mysteriously disappeared at the time of the patriot's execution in 1803. Bennie had only a vague idea who Robert Emmet actually was, and when the drunk had begun to sing a lachrymose ballad about his hero, he taken the opportunity to make a quiet exit. While he had enjoyed his trip to Ireland, Bennie would be quite happy to leave Dublin. Abbie too, had had enough of Dublin. She had noticed her husband speaking rather too familiarly with the pert red-haired chambermaid in the hotel, though she didn't know how he could distinguish what she was saying in her thick western brogue.

And everyone seemed to think that because they were American they were made of money - down in Killarney they had paid an extortionate price for a trip around the Lakes. Next stop was to be Paris, and she was sure that there the shopping would be a vast improvement; there was only so much Belfast linen and convent-made lace you could buy, after all.

Dublin City Public Libraries


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