Tag Archive: Grand Canal


The statue gets some socks

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It was just a matter of time before the guerilla knitting would stretch a little to left, and land on Patrick Kavanagh. Just a little. Today, Patrick got himself a pair of socks. And I had a few more interesting conversations – one aul guy said he was also from County West Meath, and that “We only send our bad poets to Dublin,” before taking my picture and laughing at his own joke.

A country bus driver and I had a long chat, telling me that – being known as a grumpy old fella – Patrick Kavanagh was not known for wearing matching socks. But the bus driver liked these matching socks, and after finding out what Guerilla knitting is, he also took a picture. Then he smiled shaking his head at the concept, and asked me ‘What am I known as? do I have a ‘tag’? God love him!

Back to this well-known and much-visited statue / bench. For those not native to Ireland, Patrick Kavanagh was a renowned poet. Who was also remembered for enjoying a pint, sometimes a little too much; for his disheveled appearance; and perhaps a robust exchange of views here and there. My mum told me, (after smiling at the socks in situ, replacing the slightly baffled look she gives me when I’m often knitting) that local legend says he was barred from a few of the local pubs. Including one a few hundred metres from where his statue/seat has sat for a decade or two, and another ‘Canal bank seat’ for four decades or more. Mmmm. Seems Patrick had the last laugh there.

Writing this post has prompted me to look up some of Patrick Kavanagh’s poetry again. Though I’m no poetry afficiniado –  reading “Lines written on a seat on the Grand Canal, Dublin,” has moved me all over again. I so appreciate this man’s talent, and I remember my Dad. Who like Patrick Kavanagh, often sat next to the canal while recuperating through that dreadful disease. Patrick survived it, but Des didn’t.

Lines Written on a Seat on the Grand Canal, Dublin

'Erected to the memory of Mrs. Dermot O'Brien'

O commemorate me where there is water, 
Canal water, preferably, so stilly
Greeny at the heart of summer. Brother
Commemorate me thus beautifully
Where by a lock niagarously roars
The falls for those who sit in the tremendous silence
Of mid-July.  No one will speak in prose
Who finds his way to these Parnassian islands. 
A swan goes by head low with many apologies, 
Fantastic light looks through the eyes of bridges - 
And look! a barge comes bringing from Athy
And other far-flung towns mythologies.
O commemorate me with no hero-courageous 
Tomb - just a canal-bank seat for the passer-by.

Copyright © Estate of Katherine Kavanagh

So here’s a picture of Dad’s tree, complete with his first granddaughter.

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Get some colour on…

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After months in harsh weather the tree gets its first bright colour injection.

Lots of conversations with passers-by, one pleased to have actually found the knitter, and took my pic by the tree. Aaah.

Lovely evening in Dublin, pic taken at 9pm 🙂
 

Guerilla Knitter

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Last year I got the notion to do some guerilla knitting.

Also known as craft-bombing, if you don’t know, it’s the art of adorning public ‘things’ with knitted or croched ‘covers’: trees, lamposts, fences, statues etc etc. I am a bit of a crafter, and like to knit odd little things – teacosies with dreadlocks in hand-dyed aran wool; a portable DVD case soft as a cushion (days before iPads) etc etc, among other little creations.

It wasn’t long after we scattered my Dad’s ashes at his favourite spot. Next to the sculpture of Patrick Kavanagh on his park bench, along the grand canal in Dublin. I had planted some wild flower seeds under the nearest tree. A few months later I was home again, and thought: Aha. That is exactly what it sounded like in my head. I like this idea of craft bombing, guerilla knitting etc, and here’s a reason to do some. So went wool shopping, sat down and started knitting.

This went on for some time – actually I started while attending a conference on Tolkein at Trinity College Dublin (awesome). So it seemed fitting to be hearing discussions about middle earth, Ents etc etc while I was knitting a lovely tree its very own scarf.

So more knitting, more wools, different wools, stripes even. When I wasn’t clicking away I was buying plants, bulbs and soil, digging the hard clay around another tree, and planting. Known as guerilla gardening, they tell me. Tree on one side gets a wooly scarf, the other (which is a bit wide and knobbly for wool) gets planted around its feet. It seemed a fitting way to remember my Dad.

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An aside: this part of the canal is very popular with walkers, office workers, tourists and joggers. Just after we lost my Dad I was digging away and planting bulbs, and a woman about my own age stopped in surprise when she saw me and commented. I told her I was planting the flowers to remember my Dad, and told her a little about him – my eyes brimming. I told her I lived overseas, and was going back the following day. She asked me my Dad’s name again – Des – and said she would look after the tree for me, and we ended up hugging. It was such a tender moment. And between planting, tending and sewing scarves on the trees, I’ve had quite a few more quiet meaningful  moments.

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Nine months after I sewed on the initial scarf, I’m back home and went over to see how the guerilla knitting has fared. It has been a very harsh Winter and hardly any Spring I’m told, but the scarf is intact, if not a little faded. Indeed it has grown. I was hoping some other crafty person might add their own touch, and someone did. Yay.

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However the harsh weather and exposed position has left the hand-dyed Aran wool faded and one or two dogs may have used it as a stratching post. I’m pretty sure this tree may have got a few extra hugs too. The scarf is very mendable, and could do with an injection of colour. Already the knitting needles have been flurrying, and I have been doing some felting with the excellent Niki Collier. http://www.nikicollierdesign.com  Leaves are on the horizon.

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Crafters, guerilla knitters and Grand Canal walkers: watch this space.