Parnell Street’s Chinese community


Chinese Community Parnell Street 001.jpgUrban blight, neglected and abandoned Georgian buildings, and poor quality streetscape have long bedevilled the character of Parnell Street East, which is just off the northeast end of Dublin‘s O’Connell Street, a street apparently forgotten by Dublin City Council planners.

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Be that as it may, the presence of Asian supermarkets, hair salons, internet cafes, sidewalk fruit and vegetable stalls,  noodle houses, and restaurants all with their own distinctive signage also testify to Parnell Street East’s organic development over the past 20 years as an ethnic precinct.

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Indeed, in many ways the bustle of daily life on Parnell Street East, the focal point for the largest concentration of the Chinese immigrants living and working in Dublin, resembles a typical Chinese (mainland, Taiwan, and Hong Kong included) street. The shops and restaurants provide important social gathering places for the Chinese community, while Dublin’s discerning foodies are more and more drawn to its ever expanding rich diversity of authentic and delicious Chinese and Asian eateries.

This orientation as an ethic precinct adds up to a civic asset that could be capitalised upon to incite economic growth, tourism and opportunities for new immigrants. Hitherto, Dublin City Council has yet to recognise this ethnic area as a civic asset, which sets our capital city apart from other significant international cities, such as London, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Rome and Paris, all of which have distinguished multi-cultural Chinatown districts.

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The completion of the Luas Cross City single track loop, with a Parnell Luas tram stop located in front of Marlborough House, will be an essential element in the regeneration of the precinct. It also presents Dublin City Council with a unique opportunity to build, following consultations with the Chinese and other local community stakeholders, on the ethnic character of the street by creating a vibrant district of local businesses and traders that consolidates the distinctive ethnic diversity of the precinct.

Plant more trees, consider making a space for an oriental style park or garden, play to the strengths of the street and its community. Above all talk to the residents who have reinvented Parnell Street East.

The photographs above depicting every day life on Parnell Street were shot over a two days period, March 4th and March 5th 2017 (Copyright @ Niall J. O’Reilly 2017)

A craving from the far side: An Irishman in Hangzhou and a Chinese lady in Dublin.

HIMSELF: Ah the things I still miss most from Ireland make me realise I can be very one-dimensional in my ways.  Sad to say but seriously a day without a mug of golden coloured Barry’s tea , with its warming aroma, is just a day incomplete. Call it a caffeine addiction of whatever you like, but this deep-rooted cornerstone of my life brings habit and sense of purpose to the day…..

…..And you haven’t had a real bag of crisps (or what the Americans call ‘chips’) until you’ve gorged your way through a bag of Tayto, and not just one pungent crisp at a time, but a whole handful (as much as you can cram into your mouth in one go), and not one bag at a time, but quickly followed up by a second bag as well….. finger licking good, deadly! (Irish speak for brilliant)…..

…and then there’s Guinness, Ireland’s black beer. I miss the smooth creamy fresh taste of a Dublin pint… I have, to the point of despair, like more than once, watched yer man down in our “Sham” of a pseudo Irish pub here in Hangzhou, the Shamrock….. pouring a pint with all the finesse of a donkey .  No skill level whatsoever, non comprendo that pull is directly related to quality, creaminess and smoothness. “Don’t pour it in one pull” I silently beseech him, “what’s the rush?“. But, then again he likely knows that Guinness just doesn’t travel well.  Maybe it’s the potholes on some of the more rural roads between Dublin and Hangzhou, or the swirling about in the kegs, but by the time it appears in China .. Well, put it like this there is nothing quite so awful to drink as Guinness gone bad! 

HERSELF: Curious about what locals from Hangzhou crave for when they go to Ireland? I have been pondering the answer to this question for years….. Well, read no further.  I just received the following phone messages from WJ, one of the Hangzhou Municipal Government’s finest and brightest, who is in Dublin for a training course that will keep her there for the whole summer.

Date: 17th July:  Location: Dublin to Cork inter-city train:

09.15 hrs (Dublin time):

If it is not too much trouble please bring me some sunflower seeds, dried beef, packed preserved eggs , and most importantly vacumn-packed sweet and sour Wuxi pork ribs. Thank you very much”.

After a few minutes to ponder the order and ogle out the window Irish landscape rolling by… a second message………

09.31 hrs:

haha, maybe don’t bother with the eggs and the beef. Make up with more ribs!”

and then a third message…

09.45 hrs:

” 无锡酱排骨 卤鸡蛋 .真空包装的熏鱼干. You may show the shop assistant the above names”

Who is the more desperate? And we hadn’t even begun to compare the heat of a Hangzhou summer to the cold of an Irish “summer”!

And the mention of heat has me thinking WJ will be sending me another message….. Surely no self-respecting Chinese spice addict can survive in Ireland for long periods at a time without a fresh supply of 辣椒 pronounced “la jiao” (red peppers)?