A brief tale telling of how, across a 40 year timespan and from the streets of Dublin to the mosques of Egypt, a bond exists between tour guides. Though, only one in our tale got caught....
This is the last of the Tales of a Dublin Doctor series. It has given me huge pleasure to rerecord my late father's work and publish it here. Thank you for listening.
While nibbling on a pork chop, my Dad muses on the lack of true tradition in the Christmas dinners of the 1980's and before.
A lunchtime walk in the city centre leads to a brief encounter, a flood of memories and a recounting of the history of "the Jervo", Jervis Street Hospital. The hospital was a Dublin institution and an important part of Irish medical progress across decades and centuries.
Junior hospital doctors working in the 1950's got a pretty raw deal. At Christmas time, the workload increased and the opportunities for a bit of levity were sparse on the polished floors of the wards. This is a lovely tale that shows the honour of my father and a minor discretion by one of the much feared and revered ward sisters.
This is a tale about the establishment of the oldest charity in the world. When Dad recorded the original in 1989, it was in the 250th year anniversary of Coram's inspired actions. This note from the "Coram Foundation" website:
When Thomas Coram (1668-1751) returned to London in 1704 after eleven years in America, it was to a city that was a powerhouse of industry, invention, global trade and wealth. It was also noisy, disease-ridden, polluted and the site of desperate poverty. The situation for children was particularly bleak with soaring mortality rates. Parents who were unable to care for their babies due to poverty or illegitimacy had few options, and many chose to abandon them in the street – it is estimated that around a thousand babies a year were abandoned in London. It was this clear need for practical action that spurred Coram to start his campaign.
Worthy work indeed.
This wandering tale makes a number of points about hospital administration and the human condition while giving a brief history lesson on the now defunct Richmond Hospital. It tells of an unlikely relationship between Ireland's great author, Brendan Behan and a senior ward sister in the Richmond.
In Dad's time as a professor of forensic medicine, he travelled to many different universities to act as external examiner. He had a huge appetite for knowledge and loved to meet and befriend people from different cultures and walks of life. His meetings with the old coffee seller in the souk in Benghazi were a real high point of his visits to the city. His insights on the then Libyan leader, thought not recorded here, painted a different picture to that recorded by Western history.
This is a tale of a brief encounter with some tourists in a Dublin supermarket. I was the one who collected my parents from the mentioned trip to Strasbourg. I do remember the dung like smell. Back then, I was abhorred by it. Today, I revel in both the powerful aroma and distinctive taste of a good Munster. It originates from an abbey in the French Vosgian mountains (Munster deriving from the Latin for "monastery"). It is not to be confused with the mild Munster cheese from the south of Ireland or the even milder Muenster cheese from the USA.
In this brief tale, my Dad looks back at part of the history of the Liffey Quays. His observations bring life and personality to some of the buildings that formed part of the physical and social fabric of the city back in the 1940s and 1950s. The Scotch House gets a mention and is a bar I remember from my youth. Today, it is a large scale office redevelopment.
Enjoying the "craic" in a rural Irish pub is something to which I am no stranger. I could tell many of my own stories of great nights in pubs cross our small land. However, this story of a stranger joining in the "session" in a small bar on a Friday music night has its own attraction and must have been very special for the locals.