Friday, August 31, 2007

The Seven Wonders of Dublin 15

There was a much-publicised survey recently to find the seven wonders of the modern world. Although many people treated it as an interesting piece of trivia, lobbying was feverish as governments eyed the billions of dollars in extra tourist revenue that could result from making the top seven.
In a similar way, the Community Voice also commissioned a survey to find the seven wonders of Dublin 15 in a bid to lure millions of foreign tourists to our neck of the woods and make us all rich. Sadly, the survey was not quite as extensive as had originally been envisaged, as both my wife and daughter merely raised their eyes to heaven and tutted when asked to contribute.
So, in no particular order, here is a list of my seven wonders of Dublin 15.
Possibly the most famous bridge in the whole world, the Clonsilla Bridge was constructed in 1500BC and was almost immediately declared too narrow to do the job. Nothing has altered much in the intervening 3,500 years. Today hordes of Japanese tourists pile out of coaches to take pictures of exasperated commuters taking their lives in their hands as they attempt to catch trains by squeezing in between the traffic and the bridge ramparts. This spectator sport has waned somewhat in recent months as extra trains have meant that the traffic is kept static for much of the time but the bridge is still deserving of being one of Dublin 15’s premier tourist attraction.
It is said that the Quinn Direct building is the only insurance building in Dublin 15 that can be seen from the moon, though this has been very difficult to prove. By far and away the tallest building in the area, this colossal structure has been likened to the Empire State Building, but only by very silly people. It has 97 storeys, though many of these are on the same level. But the main reason for its “wonder” status, is that when we are travelling along the bypass at night, I always say “Oh God, look at the queue!” and my wife is fooled every time.
Not too far from this magnificent structure is the “Games Workshop” unit by the yellow entrance in the Blanchardstown Shopping Centre. This choice might cause a few raised eyebrows and earlobes among adults as basically it is just an ordinary shop that happens to sell toy soldiers and warriors, just as Fields Jewellers sells diamonds and pearls and the Perfume Shop sells smelly water. However, this modest shop is perhaps unique in the western world in that not only are young people allowed inside without being spied on by suspicious security guards, but the assistants who work in the shop have a habit of treating them as adults and engaging in intelligent conversation with them!
My fourth choice as one of the wonders of Dublin 15 is the Urbus. Despite its name, this bus does not serve the ancient Mesopotamian city of Ur (much to the confusion of Blanchardstown’s burgeoning Armenian population) but wends its merry way from Castleknock to Blanchardstown and onto the Airport and Swords. What makes it remarkable is that passengers travel in comfort and the buses are quite reliable. For those who have not enjoyed a journey on the Urbus, this may seem hard to believe in the context of the Greater Dublin Transportation System. In fact managers in Dublin Bus have been actively spreading rumours that the Urbus doesn’t actually exist and is really only the commuter’s version of Fiddlers Green or the Big Rock Candy Mountain.
No list of Dublin 15’s wonders would be complete without the now legendary St. Mochtas telephone mast, a beautiful and aesthetic structure that is the pride and joy of the surrounding estate. It is said that St. Mochta struck the ground with his staff three times and the telephone mast rose out of the ground and convinced the dumbstruck villagers to become Christians. Sir Christopher Wren is thought to have modelled the nave of St. Paul’s Cathedral on the mast and it has been reported that the dishes have picked up irregular radio signals from the vicinity of Betelgeuse that warrant further investigation by Jodrell Bank. However, rumour has it that mobile phone users nearby still have to go out into their back gardens to get a signal.
Another place that I would maintain merits a place on the must-see sights of the locality is the footbridge that crosses the M50 from Castleknock to the Royal Canal at the Twelfth Lock. Designed from an idea by Isambard Kingdom Brunel (namely, that a bridge should always span the distance between its two ends) this remarkable feat of engineering is one of the more unsung beauty spots of Dublin 15. There is nothing more relaxing than bringing one’s deckchair onto the bridge on a Friday afternoon, sitting back and soaking in both the gentle hum of the traffic beneath and the fragrant fumes wafting slowly upwards. If there is any place closer to heaven on earth, it has yet to be discovered.
Finally and after much deliberation, I have plumped for the Snugborough Road intersection for my final selection. What a well-thought-out feat of civil engineering this is! There are five busy roads all converging on one spot which certainly gave a headache to traffic management. Would they use fly-overs, or filters? No, the ingenious solution was that each road should take it in turns to have a green light. Brilliance! Around Christmas, it has been known for the 39 bus to take an hour in crossing this intersection and the resulting log jam has certainly cut down on the risk of accidents.
Of course I realise that my choice is purely arbitrary and my mind cringes with embarrassment as I take stock of all the eclectic sights and structures that have failed to make it to the top seven. The Fingal County Offices in Blanchardstown with their shimmering translucence – a fine house of residence for those dedicated people who work tirelessly on our behalf; the Coolmine Recycling Centre, currently being restored, with its architecturally playful use of colour and shape; Rugged Lane which sweeps down from Porterstown to the Strawberry Beds and was obviously designed by the same pygmy roadsmiths that designed Clonsilla Bridge; the Georgian sweep of the Crescent Shopping Centre in Mulhuddart; the deceptively simplistic and artisanal prefabricated unit that houses Castaheany Educate Together National School. The list is endless and it certainly goes to show what a rich heritage we have in Dublin 15.
All that I can say is that if you have any further suggestions for sites deserving of inclusion, then by all means jot them down on a postcard and send them in. The list is due for revision in two thousand years time. (Please note – you may vote as many times as you like.)

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