Fifteen men on a dead man's chest
The Tall Ships were in town this weekend, in case you somehow failed to notice (in which case you probably aren't living in Dublin, in which case this weekend our fair city was visited by some very tall ships indeed). We took a wander down on Saturday and Sunday to have a look, as did (apparently) some 1.15 million other people over the course of the weekend (though I'm sure they must have double counted some folks).
If the wind is right you can sail away and find tranquility, which apparently lies on Sir John Rogerson's Quay
North Wall Quay, Dublin, Sunday August 26th
A friend remarked to me on Sunday night, "why ships?", as in what's so exciting about big wooden sailboats to create such a buzz, and while I couldn't answer beyond, "hey, it's free, there's a recession, and they're pretty big", I did counter with the depressing thought that almost 200,000 people gather every year somewhere in the Midlands to watch a bunch of lads plough a field. Competitively.
We are an odd race, us Irish.
It was actually a pretty magnificent sight with ships lined up along the quays as far as the Custom House, exactly as they would have been in the late 18th Century, albeit with possibly less sponsorship from beer companies and not as much Cumbia blaring from shipboard sound-systems, but I could be wrong.
What struck me while wandering along side and onboard these massive sailing ships was the thought that everything old will be new again, for as oceans rise and fossil fuels vanish, sail again may make a triumphant return. International commerce will almost certainly not disappear but it will indeed take longer. While sail is currently the plaything of the 1%, innovations in automation may trickle down to the world of commercial freight. Technology that we see today on obnoxiously grotesque indulgences like the Maltese Falcon may one day be used to bring our bananas from Central America (fair trade organic ones, of course).
The Italian training ship Amerigo Vespucci
Sir John Rogerson's Quay, Dublin, Sunday August 26th
That doesn't mean that I buy into the notion that our world is enriched by the crumbs that fall from the tables of the elite, just that technology has moved on since the 18th century so maybe we should break our addiction to the "just-in-time" mentality and take a long hard look again at slower, less catastrophically polluting forms of transport.
Also, they sure do look nice.