Visiting the James Joyce center
Walking through the North Town of Dublin, we pass run down houses, broken windows, burnt bus stops. But quite unexpectedly, we are in a beautifully renovated street of Georgian Houses. One of the doors has a small sign saying "James Joyce Centre". We knock, and our guide, John Tangney, leads us into a room with 18th century pictures of dancing couples and elaborate plasterwork. As a start, John shows us a film with pictures of Joyce's Dublin, impressions of the day Ulysses takes place. He tells us that we are now in the very house one of the minor characters of Ulysses lived in. Being a dancing teacher, the real life person had Romanised his name from McGuinness to Maginni, assuming that the Italians had more style and grace than the Irish. We move out to the yard, where we can still see the remains of Joyce's birthday party on February 2. John shows us around a Ulysses collage, combining scenes from the novel with portraits of the many real life characters Joyce worked in. Back in the house, we see the Joyce family's portrait collection - virtually the only belongings the family managed to keep when they got poorer and poorer, moving to different houses whenever the rent was due. This was a habit James Joyce kept throughout his life, living in about 60 different places, first in Dublin, then around Southern Europe after emigrating at the age of 22. After this, we get an introduction to hypertextual structures in Joyce's writing. John reads passages from Portrait of the Artist and Susanna Tosca explains how the associative links between paragraphs work. They mirror the ramblings of a child's mind rather than giving a chronological report. To finish the tour, John gives us an impression of Joyce himself reading from Finnegan's Wake, his most complex text in terms of associative links and circular structures. On our way back, we pass the Anna Livia fountain. Today, the mermaid is completely covered in foam.


Experiencing the DART
Having spent the morning thinking about the links between Joyce's complex narrative structures and hypertext, the afternoon was reserved for the train aspect of our project. We met at Tara Street Station, where Felicity Marley, a local specialist on public transport, was to take us for a ride on the DART and a visit to the Dublin Transport Museum in Howth. Felicity, who had spent two years of intensive study finding out about the history of the DART and all the places the train passed, proved to be a real DART enthusiast - explaining to us all about the different railway services available in the region, the old tram system which had been abandoned (and is just about to be re-introduced), and the differences between the German-built first series of trains and the later Spanish version.

We saw lots of traces of the history of public transport on our way - including an old turntable for steam and diesel engines, water supply facilities and the station buildings themselves. We were told that the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transport) is an ideal way of connecting the city with the outskirts of Dublin. Providing an alternative to traffic jams and insufficient parking facilities, it is quite attractive for the commuters working in the city of Dublin - and an added blessing is that the value of people's houses and premises tends to increase quite a lot if they are close to a DART station. However, despite the DART's obvious advantages and its low emissions (as it is a modern electric train), people are afraid whenever the system is extended. Some residents fear that the crime and vandalism of the city might move into the suburbs once the availability of public transport enables people from derelict areas to enter the wealthier suburbs.

Actually most of the areas we passed through seemed to be inhabited by more or less affluent people. There was a big redbrick school building which had produced celebrities such as one of the U2 singers, a big sports and leisure centre which will be the site of the next Paralympic swimming competition, and an island which had once been inhabited by monks who were looking for a peaceful retreat among seabirds and rocks and where they produced some famous medieval manuscripts. The train ran along the coastline, offering a marvellous view of the sea and the shore.

Eventually, the train pulled into Howth station, a small picturesque station with lots of flowerbeds and plants, looked after by the local stationmaster who seemed to be really committed to making the station look its very best. After a short walk through the park surrounding Howth Castle, we arrived at the transport museum, which consisted of large sheds housing about 60 vehicles previously used in public transport, the fire brigade, the transport of industrial goods etc. Felicity and a member of the Transport Museum Association explained the process of restoring the old tramcars (some of which had been turned into weekend cottages on the beach and other things), and they also addressed some social issues about public transport. In their opinion, the DART, which is a business and therefore expected to run at a profit, was not quite as egalitarian as the bus services. They pointed out that most of the DART services are provided for areas which are now quite well off. There were cartoons on display showing train carriages full of commuters reading the Financial Times… In contrast, the municipal bus services connect the less affluent regions to the city and thus fill this gap.

The participants who had taken part in the Netd@ys [link to City Train,] event in Cologne and visisted the Thielenbruch Tram Museum were in an especially good position to compare the history of public transport in Dublin and Cologne - and they discovered that the transition from horse-drawn trams to electric trams was delayed for similar reasons in both cities. The lobbyists of the horse trade simply would not accept the job losses connected with the transition. Another feature of the history of railway travel similar in both countries was that at first steam trains four classes of tickets. Thus the Hibernia, the first Irish train, had comfortable, roofed compartments, carriages with roofs but no windows, and so forth - just like the first steam steam trains on the continent.

On our way back, we had a look at Howth Castle and were given some glimpses of Irish folklore, including the story of the famous Pirate Queen, how the Bloody Stream running beside Howth Station got its name, a bit of traffic planning directed by superstition, and some other regional anecdotes.

When the train returned to Tara Street Station we all felt that we had learned a little more about Irish culture in general and Dublin in particular.

Jens Andreas Faulstich

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Dr. Elmar-Laurent Borgmann
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