August 16th, 2005

me: ooh!

Day 1: Dublin

Dublin Famine Memorial
I've gone from deserted early-morning London to lying on a bench in Dublin facing the Irish Potato Famine memorial with its emaciated human figures and starving dog.

It's a bit strange that people don't spend much time on the memorial. They snap a few photos, glance at the plaques and walk away quickly. The street here is oddly quiet, a contrast to the crowded pavements of O'Connell Street and the Liffey near Temple Bar, only a few blocks away. I watch a plump man pose with one of the famine statues while his wife takes his picture. It seems an incongruous gesture. Not quite wrong, but disrespectful. What do a bunch of well fed Westerners have in common with these gaunt hopeless ghosts? I don't know why I can't have a sense of humor about this, why I can't see making an irreverent gesture towards this memorial. Maybe it's too personal. Speaking as a scientist, I doubt that a sense of injustice can be transmitted genetically. I simply know too much about the history that led to the emigration of my ancestors. Speaking as a superstitious Filipino-Irish Catholic, I think it might be my blood that's outraged.

The starving dog menaces the group of victims from behind. During the Famine, dogs were often shot, partly because there wasn't enough food to keep them, and partly in order to prevent them from devouring the carcasses of the human dead.Collapse )