Outside Lorraine's Window

When I go to Dublin, one of my favorite things is visiting my friend Lorraine's fashionable architectural-statement apartment, with 5 Georgian windows overlooking the Liffey. Her dining room even has more windows, richly curtained with golden brocade.

She is the essence of style, doing magical things with vegetables and olive oil, puff pastries, and lamb. I love looking out her windows at the night sky over the Liffey as kitchen smells waft throughout the apartment.

This summer, driving through County Mayo, past the famine memorials, through vastly beautiful, rugged land that could almost speak to you about the bitterness buried beneath it, I came upon a bookshop. In it, I found a book about the Irish Civil War. And there, on page 56, I saw a picture of a mine exploded by retreating Republicans, which destroyed the Public Record Office and the rear of the Four Courts, and hung a cloud of smoke over the Liffey.

It was the view outside Lorraine's window in May 1922.

The fight was over the Treaty for an Irish Free State that Michael Collins had negotiated with the British. Michael Collins from Skibbereen, Co. Cork, had invented guerilla warfare and brought the British to their knees. Eamon de Valera wanted independence. The treaty Collins negotiated gave the North of Ireland to the British. This dispute split the Irish Republican Army and led to an Irish Civil War, which is still being fought today.

Looking outside those windows today, the rage is hidden just like the bitter death of the famine victims is hidden in the Mayo mountains. The Liffey is calm. The district is now a growing residential and commerical area of Dublin. Economic development and hope covers the ghosts of the past.

But I thought to myself, there must be history outside many windows. And don't we all have the windows that we stared out of when we were growing up, or when we looked for the answer to a tragedy, or when we first fell in love.

Maybe someone has a story about a window that they would like to share. We all come from so many parts of the world. I am fascinated with what everyone saw outside their windows.

© copyright, 1997, Barbara Steinberg
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