Meanwhile, I thought that I would pass along some more entries into the Online Museum of Kitsch, Irish wing.
If you go into some of the shops geared toward the average tourist, you will find this:
Leprechauns and cows. Cows and leprechauns. Sometimes they mix it up and throw in sheep. This is for the kiddies.
For the adults, they traffic in the worst of stereotypes:
Drunken leprechauns climbing shot glasses. Yes, doesn't every Irish person want to be thought of this way? Isn't this every tourist's experience of Ireland? Heck, I'm not even seeing what every actual tourist has told me about the quaintness of Ireland. You just can't distill a whole nation into a tchotchke, can you?
Yet, some manufacturers try. This just screams "Ireland!" doesn't it?:
A green sequined hat with a green wig! When I passed by this later, a young French girl had it on and was asking her friends, "Bon, non?" Non!
Look, in the background, more shot glasses.
Seriously, these things are so incredibly at odds with what I've seen around town. In fact, the descriptions of Ireland and Dublin that other visitors have told me do not seem to match with the place, either. "Quaint" doesn't fit, nor does "gorgeous," although the opposite of "gorgeous" does not fit either. "Fascinating" and "gritty" and "urban" and any words that you would associate with places like New York or New Orleans or any place that has so many layers of history and gentrification and survival and tourism and immigration, all vying for the same spaces, do.
We are living in a part of the city that doesn't attract tourists. We live where people live. There are shops for groceries, and for makeup and medicine, and restaurants and pubs. People are as likely to speak a language from somewhere else in the world as they are English, and the skin tones and facial features all suggest a history from somewhere outside of the British Isles, or even Europe. I find this both strange and familiar. Strange because it is at variance with my own expectations of quaint homogeneity, but familiar because it is more like the face of my old neighborhood (or of any modern city, really, I suspect).