During a trip to Dublin in 1997, I was shooting black & white film around the city. On the opposite side of the River Liffey, I saw a dramatic black column of smoke. I decided to go to see what was burning. Following the smoke took me to a part of the city I normally wouldn’t visit. It was down Queen Street, and I got right to the fire. After I took some photos of the blaze, I noticed the locals who were watching around me. There was a whole gang of kids who hammed it up when I turned my camera on them. They dragged me to the flats across the street where they lived. I was particularly charmed by a little girl named Tanya, who stole my heart. Her little face had flecks of soot from the fire, and she put it right up to the camera. Her little sister Chloe was also adorable. I didn’t learn the names of the other children.
Two years later, I returned to Dublin. I was eager to visit my kids to see how they’d grown. Tanya had lost her some of her confidence, and she ran away when I tried to get close-ups of her. She was still cheeky, though, and she’s sticking her tongue out in most of my photos. Chloe was older and even cuter. The kids were jumping on an old mattress outside, and the boys lifted it up and accidentally dropped it on Chloe. She was okay, just a bump on the forehead, but I think my heart stopped when she disappeared under the mattress.
About two years later, I went back again. The boys were a lot rowdier and tougher, and a boy I’d never seen before tried to run off with my camera bag. One of the girls grabbed it back. After I took a few shots, several of the girls escorted me back down Queen Street to the river. They were obviously worried about me!
That was my last trip to Ireland. The google street view of Dublin shows me that the neighborhood has changed a lot since then. I’m not sure I’d recognize it. The kids are grown. Some of them are raising kids of their own. They may not be wearing Spice Girls tee shirts, but I hope they’re just as cheeky!