My friend Azahar got a laugh out of me this evening. It resonates with something I have been thinking about a lot since I started work in Dublin two weeks ago.

Temple Bar is the central tourist district in Dublin. Walking down its streets, you are assaulted by American themed sports bars, Spanish restaurants, Romanian buskers, French jugglers and Polish and Czech beer-joints, with all things Irish* well out of view. I’m sure this is no accident. Marketing being what it is nowadays, this is likely to be what most tourists to Dublin want. Instead of shamrock emblazoned bars, trad sessions, and Brendan Behan wannabes mouthing off about the price of a pint, what you get instead is an idiosyncratic and vibrant display of World Culture.

I don’t see this in a particularly negative light. To a large extent, “culture” is directly related to backwardness. When Ireland was a land of great culture, thousands of people were buying one-way tickets out of the place. Neither was it a mecca for hordes of tourists back then, as far as I know.

Actually, before I leave this entry, I remember reading once about an accident in the 19th century, where a very large whiskey barrel broke, its contents spilling out on the streets, flooding the gutters. Great crowds of people had to be physically pulled off the streets in a state of extreme inebriation.

Now that’s culture for ya.