Continuing from part 1, where my colleague and I were caught in the Dublin Riots. Pub we were in was full so we went to Duck for dinner. I vividly recall we left around 9 pm to take the long walk back to the train station since LUAS is not operating from the nearest station. We checked Luas notification and saw that the they have suspended operations on all their lines. To me that is strange, perhaps after one pint I cannot reason straight. I didn’t think anything bad is happening.
We took a different route to get back, towards the general direction of the Liffey River. We went through Exchequer Street then turn right into Dame Court towards Dame Street. At Dame street, I bid farewell to my colleague who is taking the bus from the river and I decided to walk to Connolly Station to take the train home.
At this time, Dublin did not have the sense there’s a riot. Folks were out having dinner, pubs were full. Christmas shopping still happening full swing along Grafton Street when we walked on it to the pubs. There was an air of Christmas celebration around the corner. Only thing that I felt off, people were trying to flag down taxis and also on the FreeNow app. Seems there’s no taxis around and there’s a lot of people waiting for the bus.
When I turned around to the Bank of Ireland, the regular soup kitchen was still serving hot food. To me, feels like a normal evening in Dublin.
First Signs of Dublin Riot
First sign of something more serious happening was when I reached Westmoreland. There is a line of Garda along the road. There’s no cars or people behind that line. I immediately know this is the cordon line. I still didn’t think there would be a Dublin Riot since there was a traffic cordon just up the road when we arrived. Thought they had moved the line up to “clean up the mess”.
I walked up to the police and told him that I need to get to Connolly station. That would mean that I have to cross the river and whether he can tell me what’s the best route to take. He asked me to “go around”. I asked him which roads are closed and he said “all the roads are closed”.
I know I am on my own and started to walk away.
Stupidly, I walked back to him and asked when this will end, still thinking that this is a cleaning up work. He looked pissed at me and said “It’s a riot, when will a riot ever finish!”.
I know now, things just got real. Surprisingly, there’s a small crowd just in front of the police line. Sitting around and chatting among themselves. Still feels calm when there’s a riot in Dublin.
I took out my phone and have a look at the map. Looks like I need to take the 3rd bridge across the Liffey to get to Connolly station. I walked parallel to the police line into Townsend Street and up that road. There’s people walking on that road, some old folks and ladies, so it’s not too spooky.
As I was coming towards the junction of R138, a group of people started to run from the left into my path. They were yelling and really jumping away from R138. I have seen enough news and movies to know that something bad is coming through the road on my left. I cannot see into the road as it is blocked by a building. Firs thing that came to my mind was to cross to the opposite of the road so be further from the “danger”. I remember to take my phone out and took a video of the police line.
I walked calmly to cross the junction while people are hurling abuses at the police. On the hindsight after watching my video a few times, I realised I was in a bad place. Technically I was between the rioters and the police.
I didn’t look back and kept walking towards the 3rd bridge towards Connolly station. While crossing the river at Talbot Memorial Bridge, Dublin smells different. It smells of burning rubber and the heavy cold air makes is thicker. There were not many people walking towards Connolly station, which is normally bustling. The roads along the Liffey River was also devoid of traffic, no cars to be seen. At Connolly Station, the staff and the security guards are standing near the turnstill. They look like on high alert, not relaxed as they usually do and looking at everyone suspiciously.
While waiting for my train, a DART stopped and a lot of people got off. Spoke to a group of German youths, thought they were lost as they were checking their phones for a map. Told them there’s a riot. They said they were from Tara street station. Irish Rail closed Tara street station and asked everyone to get on the next train find their way out. I walked past Tara Street station after passing the riot police, sound like the rioters has reached the station and I just walked a bit faster than they can chase up.
Reached home around 11pm and went to work the next day. It was only when I reached home, did the situation sunk in. I was at the Dublin Riots.