Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween is a little bit of a different animal here in my neck of the woods. In our last apartment, we lived in an apartment building, so obviously no kids came around trick or treating. Also, our old neighborhood was in a place called Drumcondra, which, even though it's on the north side, is relatively posh. Our new neighborhood, Stoneybatter, while technically "up and coming," is surrounded by "flats," ie what in America we'd call Tenement housing, but is really housing given to the poor that has since become dilapidated and a bit "rough and ready" as they say here.

Because of all the kids roaming around our 'hood, and the fact that there are many houses per street and the streets are tiny, we figured that we'd get a ton of trick or treaters this year. In fact, I went out and bought FOUR bags of candy (luckily Mars bars, which Mark can't eat and I don't like so much). As Halloween approached, you could hear more and more "bangers" (ie crappy fireworks), and you would often see kids of all ages dragging random pieces of wood.

Here in the grittier parts of Dublin, bonfires are a great Halloween tradition. Mark has many fond memories of hanging out with a 2-litre bottle of cider, watching the ole fire burn up in Cabra. Personally, Dublin bonfires terrify me because I've heard too many stories of animal abuse at them. (Trust me, don't look into this matter further; you don't want to know.) But our house is a stone's throw from a very large flats complex called O'Devaney Gardens, and there really was no escaping the bonfire. Even if we couldn't see it, we could sure smell it.

So a few days before Halloween, it starts to sound like a warzone around these parts, because the fireworks sound like guns going off. Then the bonfires on Halloween start going, and you do start to feel like you're maybe in some kind of war-torn Eastern European country. Halloween was on Sunday, which is a night we typically go to the pub with Mark's parents. I was a little apprehensive about leaving the house, to be honest. But we got on our bikes and ventured out.

But as luck would have it, I got a tire puncture about 30 yards from home, just as we were setting out, forcing us to walk back to the house, ditch our bikes, and walk to the pub. But this wasn't a bad thing, because I grabbed my camera on the way out and we took a little detour to see the bonfire at O'Devaney. Now, keep in mind, we were still a pretty long distance away. But I took a little video. Look at the building next to it for a greater understanding of how tall this bonfire was. I think it was about three stories high. If you click on this, it is much more impressive in a bigger window:

We didn't tarry too long, but we also passed by another bonfire in another flats project called Drumalee, where we bumped into a man and his young sons who had pestered him to take them to see the bonfire. But you could tell he was NOT into it. "It's like during the war in my country," he said. We didn't press him for which country he referred to, but it sure did seem a little post-apocalyptic in our part of town. As we approached Cabra, we didn't see any more bonfires, but we could sure smell them. Mark drank cider at the pub as a nod to his happy bonfire memories. It was one of those moments where the country girl in me couldn't fathom feeling safe as a child in a place like this, on my own running around the streets. But that's what city kids do, just like us country kids ran around in acres and acres of woods with no fear or went skiing off the trails among the trees. Being a kid is about taking chances, and being fearless, of facing the elements, nature, and human nature, and not knowing what you have to lose.

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