“Lost in a maze of narrow lanes, she turned this way and that, heedless of direction. Lanes widened to streets, to squares and open spaces. The rational part of her mind veered close to panic. There was no area like this in any part of the city. It looked more like a fever dream of Dickensian London than modern day Dublin. There was no litter, no chip wrappers, no cans or ripped flyers, but everything felt tattered, dusty as if it was mostly unused. There were cobbles underfoot, everywhere, and high curbstones lined the edges. The deep gutters glistened with some kind of pungent oily sludge she didn’t want to investigate too closely. The doors they passed were closed, faceless things that gave away nothing. Elaborate fanlights with coloured glass stood over them, unfurled like a peacock’s tail. There were no shops, no neon or chrome, and no sign of anything twenty-first century. It was like stepping back in time. What light there was flickered, orange and And yet it was also like the Dublin she knew, the narrow, forgotten bits of Dublin, the ratty and forgotten corners that wound in and out of the modern city. It was like the type of places Dad showed her, hidden beneath the new world, an older one of magic and wonder, where you could find sculpture, gardens, or murals, or crenellated rooftops, gothic spires and bronze domes. Where stone mice ran around the base of a pillar and stone monkeys played the clarinet, like that there by the door. Hidden places. Right in the middle of places she thought she knew.
Admittedly Dad never brought her down alleys that were quite so grim and miserable as this. He would never drag her down here. She ran past buildings which carried echoes of the elaborate red façade of Georges Street Market, or the grey front of St Anne’s, hints of the hodge-podge of building squashed into the grounds of the Castle painted with the wrong colours, glimpses of jewel-bright stained glass that would have made Harry Clarke’s students weep.
It was beautiful, and terrible, because in that beauty was the constant reminder that none of this should be here. And neither should she.
And then there was a light.”
A Crack in Everything
by Ruth Frances Long
(O’Brien Press, 2014. ISBN: 9781847176356)