No wonder they call it “Hidden Dublin”

Occurred on 5/25/10; written on 5/26/10

As if the Book of Kells tour and hike at Howth hadn’t already been enough for the day, I went with Melanie and Gabby to see Hidden Dublin, a tour of haunted places throughout the city.  I was under the impression it would actually take us into places and show us some really cool buildings.  Instead, all I got out of the tour is knowing that I don’t want to cross the River Liffey again.

Across from a McDonald’s on the north side of the river close to the General Post Office, our tour guide John met us with an umbrella.  It wasn’t raining out and the sun was setting, so I’m not sure what purpose that served.  Some kids passed by, kicking a football against the sides of the buildings.  John remarked, “The kids here are far scarier than any ghost.”  He was right.

Ghost tour

The tour began by a pub called The Church.  Want to guess why it’s called that?  Spoiler alert: the pub used to be a church.  And it presided over what looked was essentially a gravel lot that we found out was actually a graveyard which likely housed hundreds of bodies from several hundred years ago.  John pointed out that a particular tree on the southern end played host to four hangings over the last 10 years.

Ghost tour

All while John was telling us about historic Dubliners being shot on the street here and this tree of death, the same kids from earlier looked like they were trying really hard to kick out a building’s windows with their ball.  The ball kept landing by us until John decided to move the group, consisting of us Bradley students, a couple from New Jersey, and two Indian girls from Texas.

Further down the road, after visiting a crappy looking alleyway, John tried to scare us into thinking ghosts were watching us as we looked an area that had been demolished – which is why the ghosts were pissed – and rebuilt.  I guess I’m called a skeptic for not buying into his theories.  All of the stories he told us made sense in the context of the stories he told, but I don’t know if I can believe any of it as truth since anybody can spin a story from a series of facts.

A completely different set of kids were hitting a football this time, and ended up launching a ball right into the New Jersey woman’s head.  She flipped out.  “Hey, you little fuckers!  That’s rude!”  She walked on over to them and yelled at them, when John decided he didn’t want any trouble.  Walking past trash, broken fences, and graffiti, he said it would be best to get out of there quickly.  He started walking away, probably for his own protection more than the safety of the eight of us who’d paid him who knows how many euro.

Ghost tour

The tour ended up at Brazen Head, the city’s oldest pub and, yes, haunted establishment where Dubliners frequented hundreds of years ago.  The workers in the offices up top are so on-edge about ghosts, John said, a person could clap and say, “Boo!” and they would freak out.  Nearby, a crazy beeping that sounded like a car alarm went off nearby, so John had to shout his tour wrap-up.

As if the trouble with the kids and their footballs wasn’t enough, a loose dog got its paw knicked by our taxi driver on the way back to Ballsbridge.  Thankfully, the dog was still alive, but clearly shaken from what had happened.  I’ve noticed lots of Dubliners don’t like to keep their dogs on leashes, but perhaps they should if they are near a busy street.

From the rampant footballs to the dog being hit, this tour was definitely odd.  I don’t know if it actually was the paranormal presence of the tortured ghosts of Dublin’s past, but I felt a definite difference in vibes between the touristy Dublin south of the Liffey and the shady northern part.  That fact is an odd contrast to the States, where cities mostly expand north while declining south.

After seeing the northern part, it’s no wonder they call it hidden.  They should really find less bothersome places to look for ghosts and the paranormal.

By Adam Bockler

Adam Bockler is a B2B marketing professional, a black belt martial arts instructor, DDP Yoga instructor, and a personal trainer.