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March 9, 2006

The post with the most
Posted by Patrick at 03:30 PM *

Off in about an hour, to fly to a city and country I’ve never visited: Dublin, Ireland, for a small SF convention called P-Con. I’ve been to Northern Ireland, but never the Republic.

Dublin is famously a city of monuments, and I meant to brush up on my 20th-century Irish history so I could make sense of them all, but I was distracted by the discovery of the many fine nicknames given by the locals to their landmarks. There’s the statue of James Joyce known as the “Prick with the Stick”; the (now removed) “spirit of the River Liffey” sculpture called the “Floozy in the Jacuzzi”; the pair of bronze shoppers dubbed the “Hags with the Bags”; the sculpture of a well-endowed Molly Malone nicknamed the “Tart with the Cart,” the “Dolly with the Trolley,” the “Trollop with the Scollops,” and the “Dish with the Fish”; and—evidently inspiring in modern Dubliners a veritable frenzy of naming—the soaring, modern Dublin Spire known variously as the “Stiletto in the Ghetto,” the “Scud in the Mud,” the “Nail in the Pale,” the “Erection at the Intersection,” the “Rod to God,” the “Stiffy by the Liffey,” and, with magnificent restraint, the “Metropole.”

Naturally, a Wikipedia article called “Dublin statues and their nicknames” covers these artifacts and more. But in clicking hither and yon from there, I was most struck by another such page, which relates the tale of—

Brendan Behan (the self-confessed “drinker with writing problems”) who, when asked to define the difference between prose and poetry, is reported as saying:

“There was a young fellah named Rollocks
Who worked for Ferrier Pollocks.
As he walked on the Strand
With his girl by the hand
The tide came up to his knees.

Now that’s prose. If the tide had been in, it would have been poetry.”

That’s it from me for the next few days; I’m not even certain I’ll have Internet access. Back Monday. Play nice.

Comments on The post with the most:
#1 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2006, 03:31 PM:

(Thanks to TNH for hot-shit research assistance.)

#2 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2006, 03:49 PM:

Have a splendid time.

I'm hoping you'll find monuments for which the names "The Vessel with the Pestle" and "The Chalice from the Palace" will be apropos.

#3 ::: Gabe ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2006, 03:51 PM:

I will make a point to commit that little bit of prose to memory.

#4 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2006, 04:11 PM:

Have a wonderful time.

#5 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2006, 04:11 PM:

We were in Dublin a year ago - we LOVED it!
Have a great time.

#6 ::: Beth Meacham ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2006, 04:17 PM:

Have a great time!

#7 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2006, 05:02 PM:

I trust you plan to read "Dubliners" on the plane.

#8 ::: Michael Walsh ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2006, 06:30 PM:

Been to Dublin twice. Loved it.

Oh, the Guinness is very fresh... oh my.... oh my yes... "yes I said yes I will Yes" ... if time allows, take the tour of the Guinness plant. Drinks at the conclusion. Really fresh Guinness...

#9 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2006, 06:52 PM:

Guinness is fine but I would suggest a couple of good Irish ales: Caffrey's and Kilkenny. Of course after a couple of pints of ale, you can always switch back to Guinness . . .

#10 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2006, 07:22 PM:

If time doesn't allow, skip the "tour" part of the Guinness tour (an animated diorama, as I remember, not an actual tour of the brewery) and go straight to the tasting room. Mmmmmm......

#11 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2006, 07:32 PM:

I did the brewery tour back in the early '80s. The glasses in which Guinness was served were smaller, IIRC, than even a half-pint. Still the case?

#12 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2006, 08:50 PM:

I lived just outside Dublin last year. The great thing is that all the statues you mention - well, apart from Anna Livia - are on or just next to O'Connell Street, and you can do the tour in about ten minutes. Leaving you more time for Guinness consumption, presumably.

Although the best place to go (IMO) is the Chester Beatty collection in Dublin Castle. They have the actual second-to-fourth century manuscripts of parts of the gospels, among lots of other things, and the whole thing is free.

#13 ::: jane ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2006, 09:12 PM:

We were in Dublin two days after 9-11, and loved it. But the Joyce statue is called "The Mick with the Stick."

Be sure to see the Book of Kells.


#14 ::: Kieran ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2006, 09:16 PM:

Ah, my green'n'lovely homeland. Have a grand time, but be sure not to take any shite from the locals -- especially about literary Ireland. The "Great Irish Writers" poster you will inevitably see hanging in a pub somewhere is notable mainly for the fact that more or less all of the writers on it left Ireland voluntarily never to return, were driven out by their fellow countrymen, or stayed and roundly despised the place while on their way to an early death.

#15 ::: Kieran ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2006, 09:20 PM:

While we're on the subject of Irish literary limericks, there's always this one:

Riverrun where would you guess
Finnegans Wake is a mess
"Will you help me get even?"
Said left-over Stephen
Yes I said yes I will yes

#16 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2006, 10:24 PM:

I wish they got around to naming some of the sillier monuments around Montreal. There're lots.

Of course, there's the Airman's Memorial in Toronto which some press wag dubbed "the Apotheosis of Gumby." Will look for a pic.

#18 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2006, 10:33 PM:

Structural nicknames: the campanile at UC Santa Barbara, officially named Storke Tower, is much less reverently known as 'Storke's Last Erection' (he was quite old when it was built). I don't think anyone considered a rhyming nickname for it.

#19 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2006, 10:34 PM:

I take that back. It's also called the 'Brick Prick'.

#20 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2006, 10:47 PM:

I don't think anyone considered a rhyming nickname for it.

Storke Dork.

#21 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2006, 11:03 PM:

Thought of that - didn't want to go there. The nickname I remembered is bad enough. (Storke died in 1971, aged 94, about two years after the tower was finished.)

#22 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2006, 11:07 PM:

During our Worldcon trip last summer, Dublin was clearly Margene and my favorite stop (we stayed three days and touristed about on the tour buses, etc.).

Because we were there mid-week our bus driver was giving us the slang names for landmarks and then going 'oops, that is so not what I'm supposed to say.." and he'd give the correct name.

The Guiness tour is worth it, then both Jim and I have engaged in home brewing and it is kind of the Holy Grail of brewing. It is now a lot more than an animated diorama, and while we were there they had a special display of artwork by the guy who did all the animal Guiness advertising. We were shocked that they had Budweiser on tap in the restaurant in the Guiness museum.

And my favorite is Smithwick Ale (say "Smith-ick). Which tastes a lot better over here than the Guiiness that gets served in the average container. (which in our market is actually brewed in Canada.)

And the Gravity Bar is mind-boggling, it offers a 360 degree view of Dublin.

We let a vacation apartment near Christchurch, and every stop we made on every bus tour trip we took the announcer would point out 'and there is the spire of Christchurch."

Many kinds of cool. And Margene and I both had our faces pressed against the window and were crying when we flew out. Going back. Not sure how, not sure when. Maybe to stay to retire. sigh.

#23 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2006, 12:47 AM:

Re: Guiness

Wonderful! Certainly not like U.S. version.

BUT - don't forget to check out the hard cider!

#24 ::: Daegaer ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2006, 03:31 AM:

Thanks for the link to the Wikipedia article! It did get one name wrong, though: Anna Livia wasn't Viagra Falls - that was a very colourful temporary sort of frozen waterfall placed much further north up O'Connell Street. The name the article missed for Anna Livia was "Bidet Mulligan", from a song extolling the virtues of one Biddy Mulligan, the pride of the Coombe (part of the Liberties, a working class area just outside the bounds of the old city wall).

#25 ::: Bryan ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2006, 04:32 AM:

I suppose it would have been poetry also if the poor fellow was abnormal.

#26 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2006, 05:29 AM:

Maguire's pub on Burgh Quay (just south of O'Connell Bridge) makes the only microbrewery stout I've ever found, and is well worth a visit.

#27 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2006, 08:08 AM:

The Guinness brewery would appear to be directly across the Liffey from my hotel. Do you suppose some of the writers at this convention might be interested in doing a tour?

Jane, I went and looked at the Book of Kells even before checking into my hotel room. It sure is the Book of Kells. And the Long Room is Borges's library. Wow.

(Off to lunch with Charlie and Feorag.)

#28 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2006, 08:51 AM:

The Guinness brewery would appear to be directly across the Liffey from my hotel. Do you suppose some of the writers at this convention might be interested in doing a tour?

If not, well, tell them to stop kidding around and peel off that human costume.

Jane, I went and looked at the Book of Kells even before checking into my hotel room.

Did the same thing with the Rosetta Stone. However, it's easy when you fly overnight, and your hotel room isn't ready.

#29 ::: Andrew John ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2006, 09:05 AM:

When I lived in Dublin, the best Guinness was to be found in Mulligan's on Poolbeg Street. My sources tell me this is still the case.

On Irish literary limericks, may I humbly proffer these two, written many years ago in response to a challenge from a friend?

Come Gather Round Ye Parnellites: A Limerick
Come drink to a proud man called Parnell
As mourning bells ring out their far knell.
None purer, nor fairer,
Than his love for Eire –
Than his love for Kit, none more carnal.

No Second Troy: A Limerick
I once loved a lady named Maud
Gone away now with a fraud.
I’ll sing my confusion
With classic allusion
And stop quick before you get bored.

#30 ::: Mark DF ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2006, 10:15 AM:

Why did I know this would be Guinness crowd?

The Book of Kells is cool, but it can get a bit crowded. You can buy a great cd in the gift shop that contains--if I remember correctly---the entire book. Around the BoK is a informative description of bookmaking at the time that I took lots of notes from.

I was just about to recommend the Long Room when I saw PNH hit it. It's much less crowded, makes you wish you owned it and has great display cases.

I think I have a pic of me with the Prick with the Stick. Oh, wait, that wasn't Dublin...

#31 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2006, 10:18 AM:

I was in Dublin last April, and a friend of mine told me that the place we went (possibly Mulligan's?) had the city's best Guinness. I was dubious - how could there possibly be that much variation in taste when it was all local? Would I even be able to tell they were different? (I'm not a big beer drinker, although I do drink single malts and wine.) Then, the next day, we had Guinness at the brewery and it tasted noticeably different (and worse) than at the pub. Apparently, it has to do with the distance to the keg - the brewery pub is on the top floor, and the kegs are in the basement. I wouldn't go to the brewery just to drink the Guinness - go for the tour if you are interested, and enjoy your included pint and the view - but follow the locals to the good Guinness, which are usually in places with a more relaxing ambience. And you can also have fun putting conflicting opinions to the test!

And I'm ashamed to say that I didn't see the Book of Kells while I was there - I was only there for two days, most of which were spent stressing about and then giving a talk at Trinity College (which was pretty cool). But I also know I'll be back, so I didn't worry about it too much.

Oh, and the Airmen's Memorial in Toronto is also commonly known as 'Gumby Goes to Heaven.' And, for the sake of my civic pride, I hope that the error in the inscription is only on the website...

#32 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2006, 10:24 AM:

They got rid of the floozie in the jaccuzzi? Had they no sense of tradition?

The Chalice from the Palace and the Vessel with the Pestle can be seen in the Museum, along with -- I'm not kidding -- a whole pile of Holy Hand Grenades of Antioch, in a glass case, labelled IIRC "Celtic objects". They're actually loom weights, and they may have changed the sign since I told them that. But they really look just like the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.

If you go into the Guinness Brewery, I wonder if they'll let you see the Two Magic Guinness bottles? The story is that a man rescued a leprechaun, and was given three wishes. He wished for a bottle of Guinness that would never be empty, no matter how much you poured out. Then, when he'd drunk as much as he wanted, he wished for another one the same. His third wish was for a 9999 year lease on a large property in downtown Dublin, by the river -- and if you go into the right bit of the Guinness brewery, you'll find those two endless bottles chugging out into barrels and pipes and bottles and cans... they really do have a 9999 year lease. And Emmet wrote the software for the machine that puts the Guinness into the cans. But they didn't let him see the magic bottles even then.

#33 ::: Martin G. L. ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2006, 11:58 AM:

The Glaswegian poet/prosac Tom Leonard has a really good prose/poem thing. It's called 100 Differences between Poetry and Prose. A quote:

you don’t get prose in anapaestic dimeters
nobody publishes their first slim volume of prose
aristotle never wrote The Proses

if you dribble past five defenders, it isn’t called sheer prose
poets are the unacknowledged thingwaybobs

#34 ::: Beth Meacham ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2006, 12:25 PM:

Oh look, Patrick has internet access. This is excellent. We can have Reports.

#35 ::: Owlmirror ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2006, 06:03 PM:

the soaring, modern Dublin Spire known variously as the “Stiletto in the Ghetto,” the “Scud in the Mud,” the “Nail in the Pale,” the “Erection at the Intersection,” the “Rod to God,” the “Stiffy by the Liffey,” and, with magnificent restraint, the “Metropole.”

Lo, and I looked upon the image of yon mighty tall pole, and thought [1]
for the entire nation".

I am a bad and evil person.

[1] Via Shrek's "Compensating for something"?

#36 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2006, 06:55 PM:

We had so many high points in Dublin, but certainly the Guinness Brewery, the Book of Kells/Long Room and the Literary Pub Crawl were among the highlights.

I was unfamiliar with Brendan Behan before the Literary Pub Crawl, but the actor leading our pub crawl made Behan very vivid. The crawl also goes to Davey O'Bryne's, made so famous by James Joyce.

#37 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2006, 09:39 PM:

Last summer my dad took me and my sibs and all our kids and sig. others to Ireland. First stop off the plane was the Guinness Brewery. Truly set the tone for the rest of the trip. One of the most memorable - although somber - things we did in Dublin, however, was tour Kilmainham Gaol.

#38 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2006, 05:27 AM:

Actually, when you're in the company of Charlie Stross and Feorag NicBhride, you're very rapidly reminded that Guinness is just another bland international corporate brew, and you get dragged off to the Porter House Brewing Company instead, Dublin's first full-scale real-ale brewpub.

I (whisper it) still like Guinness just fine, but man, this place's "TSB" was one tasty beer.

(Flickr photo set from yesterday here.)

#39 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2006, 10:27 AM:

There is no stout like Dragon.

#40 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2006, 11:03 AM:

I just don't like dark beers, or room temperature beers, so I always drink a lot of cider when I'm in the UK or Ireland.

If you go down to visit one of the Martellos that dot the seaside, you can see Dalkey Castle...

#41 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2006, 12:00 PM:

Fragano Ledgister

Which should be drunk from a flagon?

#42 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2006, 12:57 PM:

J Austin:

Of stouts, there is none equals Dragon
Which ought to be drunk from a flagon.
Alas, like a lot I'll
Drink straight from the bottle
In spite of the hostesses' naggin'.

#43 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2006, 01:16 PM:

"Oh look, Patrick has internet access. This is excellent. We can have Reports."

And photos. (I followed the link to the new hamster photo, and found Patrick's Flickr site also had just-posted photos from Dublin. Cool.)

#44 ::: Bjorn ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2006, 01:44 PM:

Having had very good local assistance on my only visit to Dublin, I can confirm all of the major points above such as the best Guinness being found at Mulligans, that the Gravity Bar is amazing, that the Book of Kells is astonishing, that the Porter House brews the best beer I had in Dublin (and possibly the world) and would just like to add that of course the Long Room is also the Jedi Library.
I should go back soonish.

#45 ::: Nigel ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2006, 06:04 AM:

They put a clock into the river under O'Connell Bridge counting down to the Millennium with big, friendly yellow numbers. It had to be removed because of the corrosive nature of the water, but it is still fondly remembered as the time in the slime.
We can't make it to P-Con this year; if you see Padhraic (and you will see Padhraic) tell him I said hi.

#46 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2006, 08:29 AM:

I can indeed confirm that -- for a miracle -- the hotels in Dublin have sprouted Eircom WiFi hotspots since I was last here (last October).

The weather is mild, changable, and mostly wet (unlike home -- Scotland -- which is in the grip of blizzards, rains of frozen frogs, that sort of thing).

#47 ::: julie ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2006, 10:30 PM:

Check out the Stags Head Pub - it's been standing for over 300 years and hasn't had a proper renovation since the Victorian era. The Guinness is good, and the bangers and mash are sublime. Best bangers I've ever had. Ever.

#48 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2006, 11:05 PM:

Charlie - Mmmm, Tartan Frogsicles. And you're missing out.

#49 ::: paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2006, 11:13 PM:

OWWWW I so wanna be there.

then again, Ireland is where I hope to go when I retire. so does Margene. Jim wants to move to London......

We'll figure it out. (as in, we'll jump off that bridge when we get to it....)

#50 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2006, 01:04 PM:

Paula, we doubt we'll be able to afford to retire to England, but we hope to live in Southern England for six months to a year after we retire. And it's way easier to bop over the Ireland from England than it is from America!

#51 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2006, 06:30 PM:

NB: House prices in Dublin seem to be around the €400,000 mark for a two-bedroom terrace house north of the river (i.e. about $500K -- probably what you'd expect to pay in Manhattan).

#52 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2006, 08:22 PM:

i.e. about $500K -- probably what you'd expect to pay in Manhattan.


#53 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2006, 10:29 PM:

Charlie: $500K in Manhattan? For what, a used refrigerator carton?

#54 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2006, 01:50 AM:

Cheer up, folks. You can get a 2BR 1Bath condo in Waikiki for $495,000. It's some 5,000 miles from Manhattan, but virtual companies are all the rage now, so that shouldn't be a problem.

#55 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2006, 09:20 AM:

Yeah, these houses in Dublin are about the size of a used refrigerator carton.

#56 ::: Janet McConnaughey ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2006, 12:33 PM:

Candle -

Being as there's a limerick or two in this thread, and because this made me think of you,


Hmmm. I can't get the link to work, so just go to and search for Bardesanist.



#57 ::: Pádraig Ó Méalóid ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2006, 02:02 AM:

I'm glad you got to see so much of the city, and your research does you credit! If you're back again, and I can confirm that there'll be another P-CON next March, I'll take you on a walking tour of Dublin, as seen from my own perspective, if you'd like. Having said that, you seem to have seen a lot of the good stuff already...

Thanks for all your good pannelling at the con. Your reward, if you return, will be to be asked to do many more.

#58 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2006, 06:14 PM:

Hey Janet, thank you! I particularly like the agnoites, actually (if you look up the other heresy-limericks). Although the main conclusion, I think, is that Chuck Folkers really knows what he's doing.

Er, topic? Well, you don't really want to live north of the river in Dublin either. But when I lived in Dublin commuterland I was paying about twice as much in rent for a 1-bedroom apartment as I am now in Oregon for a 3-bedroom house. My salary is lower too, but I can cope with that.

#59 ::: Janet McConnaughey ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2006, 11:34 PM:

You're right. Were I in Dublin, my housing would be about an eighth-lin of what I have here. In New Orleans, my 3br (on the West Bank, unflooded, praises be) cost $97,500 seven years ago ... and was at about the top of what I felt I could afford.

You're also welcome. I'm sure there's a heresy or few you could contribute to the dictionary. :) (I've been wondering how many folks here already are there, too.)

#60 ::: brian Shanahan ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 08:06 AM:

well actually €400,000 wouldn't get you much of a house in Dublin. Come down to limerick it's better

#61 ::: Janet McConnaughey ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2006, 08:20 PM:

Brian -

what'll 400Kpounds buy in Limerick?


#62 ::: protected static sees comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 02:54 AM:

Grrr.... Persistant buggers, aren't they.

#63 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 01:15 PM:

jesus, you people sell limericks by the pound?

#64 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 01:50 PM:

There once was an age'd blog thread,
So old it was as good as dead.
Then along there came "bryan,"
With his Shift key denyin',
To rouse this old corpse from its bed.

#65 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2006, 01:57 PM:

(I'll gladly accept $1.90 U.S. if you don't have ready access to £ coins...)

#66 ::: Hawaii real estate guy ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 09:33 PM:

I hope you had a great time, I always wanted to visit Dublin, but it's such a far flight from where I am in Hawaii. Maybe if I sell enough property I can save up for a vacation!

#67 ::: Jon Meltzer sees real estate scam - uh, spam - ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2008, 09:43 PM:

Still working on the last bubble ...

#68 ::: Carrie S. sees possible spam ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2009, 12:15 PM:

No real content, and the URL in the name is something that looks commercial.

#69 ::: Serge sees possible spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2009, 09:37 PM:

Of course there's good info here.

#70 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2009, 05:12 PM:
O greyness run to flower,
Grey stone, grey water,
And brick upon grey brick.
(from Dublin by Louis MacNiece)

If not a Vessel with the Pestle, nor a Chalice from the Palace, did you find a Flagon with a Dragon?
One might turn up in this new Staffordshire Hoard.

#71 ::: Clifton Royston sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 06:49 PM:

Spammatores delendi sunt.

#72 ::: Serge sees SPAM ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2011, 09:55 PM:

No, you may not ask.

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