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Ireland”? What did it mean that I imagined Michael on stealthy midnight runs, his path lit by a bright moon, doing his bit against the British oppressors? What did it mean for me to romanticize war from the safety of my middle-class American upbringing and abstract understanding of nationalism? In the end it made no difference whether or not Michael appeared in the countless books written about the Troubles, or if he was the person he claimed to be, or just an excellent, vivid liar. His refusal to humor our invasive, unending questions made me examine their value and their roots in my own misunderstandings of war. On my last day in Dublin, I took the train out to the sea, past brick homes with bright kitchens and clean wash billowing from lines. As I watched the Dublin lights flicker in the distance, I thought about Michael. One afternoon I had noticed him sitting on College Green, a cigarette dangling from his thick fingers. He was watching the workers move inside the scaffolding that flanked the west side of the quadrant. Every 10 years or so, the buildings required cleaning because the wind blowing over the Liffey River absorbed its pollution; the soot eventually found the buildings, where it sank deep into the limestone. Light is a luxury during Irish winters, and in less than an hour the Dublin sky would be black and deep. Together we watched the workmen move quickly, scraping and lifting. Each time he took a drag from his cigarette, a dragon tattoo stretched and roared around his elbow, the Irish tri-color flag flapping from its mouth. The college grounds were green and lush. He and I sat like that, for a few quiet moments, under a quickly darkening sky, a warm wind stirring the air. Eavan Boland writes, “If colony is a wound what will heal it? After such injuries what difference do we feel?” As Michael and I sat watching the reconstruction of the buildingsa project that would take months and a crew of many to remove the charcoal-colored stainsI was struck by how difficult it was to remove the black layers; a slow, tedious process. It has been just as difficult for me to reckon with the meanings that were passed on to me as a kind of terrible, beautiful truth about my roots, about Ireland. How terrible it must have been to live with those wounds, as he did. Dublin has changed since 1994. Altered for tourist consumption, with the same shops, traffic problems, and broadband networking systems, it feels just like any other cosmopolitan city. Dimly lit pubs with sticky floors have been replaced with “entertainment establishments” complete with shiny track lighting and tropical drink specials. The old men tucked into the dark corners of pubs are gonetheir tables are crowded with trendy business people chatting over glasses of imported wine. The strange shops selling expensive Irish linen alongside flimsy umbrellas and frisbees have been ousted by Gucci and Armani. The General Post Office, where Patrick Pearse read the Proclamation aloud, is part of an architectural walking tour of Dublin. Many of the beggars have been shooed from the streets.The buildings at Trinity College are spotless. Even the Dublin buses have been cleaned up. And the war in the North continues. Observer intern Emily Rapp Seitz lived in Ireland from 1994 to 1995. She is now a student at the Michener Center for Writers at the University . of Texas at Austin. IF YOU AGREE WITH THE FOLLOWING, cut out and mail this statement to either D. Slusher, R. Alvarez, Austin City Council 124 West 8th Street Austin TX 78701 WHEREAS selling to the developers the City’s former Mueller airport land before it’s redeveloped, if shown later to be a mistake, IS TOO LATE TO CORRECT, and WHEREAS in contrast, leasing preserves the choice whether to lease or sell after we see how leasing works and know the value of the developed land, THEREFORE I support leasing Mueller now as the only prudent step for the City Council to take. Signature Printed name Tel email Address PAID FOR By KEEP THE LAND 30 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3/15102