BEWLEY’S R.I.P. – LAST SURVIVOR OF DUBLIN IN THE RARE AUL’ TIMES by Donal Kennedy

Inboxx Perhaps the last gasp of Auld  Dacency is signalled by the closing of Bewley 2s in Grafton Street, which, I am surprised to learn, had only been opened in the 1920s.But Bewley’ Oriental Cafes had been established in South Great Georges St and Westmoreland (” west-MORE-land ” Street ,to its patrons) in 1896. Coffee can be niceenough  to taste, but the aroma, fifty yards from Bewley’s doors would could have one licking their lips. I suppose it would not be politically correct these days, but allthe waiters were female, pretty and dark-haired, to conform to a Western stereotype of Asians. I’m glad that the surviving café was not burned out as part of the blame China, hate the Chinese campaign, being whipped up  these days in the Western media. In the 1940s and early 1950s I rarely spent much time in Dublin City, and never alone, living as I did on Hill of Howth, nine miles from its centre. If not quite wild andwoolly,goats grazed on the Hill of Howth, and I had been raised on Goats’ milk when over in Britain, powdered milk was the norm. We also drank Cow’s milkwhich we bought from a local farmer, a staunch Orangeman, who used lead the Local Lodge on its parade on 12th of July. The milk came warm and was emptied intocans. If you ordered a quart, it was topped up with a  “Tilly ” free of charge. “Tuille ” means extra, or bonus in Irish..It’s analogous to a “Baker’s Dozen” wherebakers would give thirteen loaves for the price of twelve, a phenomenon unknown in Ireland, at least in my time. When I did visit the City it was generally with my mother, city- born whose family lived there for many generations. She would shop frugally, (I had four siblings)walk over the Ha’penny Bridge, to Dublin Castle, where she had been a Civil Servant, which she showed me, and various old haunts, Whenever we passedTrinity College, she would point out the statues of Oliver Goldsmith and Edmund Burke, proud that she and I were the latter’s kin. She loved Bewley’s and I can recall when she first took me there. In Bewley’s cakes were elegantly mounted on plates. And I took a liking to them. Whenshe told me they were fourpence. I had never studied the “dismal science” of economics, even to scoff at it. But I did scoff sufficient  cakes to registersurprise when I heard the bill. (Untouched cakes, were offered, at a price, to other patrons. “FOURPENCE EACH!”  I exclaimed at the top of my voice,to the mortification of my poor mother, who had been doing her utmost to uphold Auld Dacency in straitened circumstances.
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