I love this town. I love the endless pool of multi-talented bastards who inhabit it. I love its edginess. I love the way Limerick looks at the world and says, Come in at your own risk, we are who we are.
We are a strange crowd and that’s what sets us apart, but in a nice way, you know? In a nice way.
This weekend, as part of the City of Culture thing, we had a celebration of chips, and why? Everyone likes chips, apart from the people who don’t like chips, otherwise known as liars. We’re not a pretentious town. We tend not to give our eating-places spurious French names or pretend to love things that are plainly disgusting and that no sane human being would swallow, although yes, it is true that we have one or two cringe-inducing restaurant names and a small bunch of folks who like to go on about truffles, but you’ll find gobshites everywhere.
What a mad weekend. Culture and Chips with the Tomcat Festival and the very same Spiegeltent in which Marilyn Monroe and Marlene Dietrich performed, combined to give us Limerick at its finest. Random pianists playing in reclaimed city-centre open spaces and in posh department stores like Brown Thomas. Traditional craftsmen offering free workshops in the art of water-gilding. Screen-printers making tee-shirts for kids in the street. Flash-mobs, tangoing, street-haranguing. Activism. General childishness. And of course, a chip competition, or to be more specific, the World Chip Championships.
Everything with chips, including the wonderful Jerry Fish (and chips) in the Spiegeltent and my man, Jack Loughman, aka Jack Lukeman, aka Jack L, who made the tent his own and who can surely now die happy after a breathtaking performance in the same space occupied by the divine Marlene.
Credit must go where it’s due, though in no particular order. The council is constantly on the receiving end of abuse, sometimes fairly and sometimes not, but in recent times, perhaps because younger staff are now involved, it seems to have realised what the rest of us knew forever, that Limerick is a place buzzing with creativity. So yes, well done to, eh, whatever it’s called now that it’s been combined. As usual, of course, no marks to the elected councillors.
Credit also to Dolans, who demonstrated the ability to make a public event into a welcoming, embracing thing, without keeping people behind barriers. With the antiquated model of event management employed in Limerick up to now, there has always been far too many shabby VIPs, friends of the organisers, and not enough important people. It’s time everyone in Limerick felt themselves a participant at these events, and not just simply an onlooker at the other side of the fence.
Needless to mention, without the input of the TomCat people, the town wouldn’t have had the same buzz, and therefore, much kudos to them, especially the good folks of the Blind Pig, Mickey Martin’s and Bourke’s Bar, but also to the traders of those streets, including Karl Kleiser the best piano-supplier in Ireland, who all pitched in to support the weekend. I’ll be adding details as the week goes on.
It all goes to show that when a town comes together, so much is possible. I was proud of Limerick this weekend, not only for the Barcelona feel (without the pickpockets) but also for the Munich-style Gemütlichkeit . It could have been any town, anywhere in Europe, almost, but at the same time, we never lose the edge.
That’s Limerick City, kid! Great stuff. Much to fix, but much more to be proud of.