Hello, New York, I'm David Norris. I'm a member of Chandigarh, and for the last 33 years, David, we're outside your home here on North Great Georgia Street. We can hear the sirens. This is the city. Obviously, it's much quieter because of comfort. How do you find walking around the city and what you love about walking during this pandemic?
I haven't been great at walking because I've lacked the motivation. I have to force myself to go for a walk. But I do have a walk that I go on most days up to the top of the street, turn right along Gardner Street through Mountjoy Square and back home again.
So we're outside your home here. I've noticed your brass knocker is missing. I just came back from the doctor half an hour ago to find some blaggard had wrenched the 18th century brass knuckles that's been there since 1787 off the front door as an act of absolute vandalism. But there is that around. I also came back and found somebody scratched my car. That's awful. Yeah, well, that's that's the bad side of life. But most people are decent and good and wonderful and Irish.
Is that city living or is it just bad luck that somebody wanted to make a few bob from your bros?
Well, I don't know why I was targeted. I mean, I've done a lot for the street, and it seems an extraordinary reward to get back. But I don't want to harp on it and I'm going to see if I can find another one. But it won't be the same. It won't be the original. But it's extraordinary that out of all the people here, I'm the one target.
So we're on the walk now walking along. Where are we going to go? Well, we're going to go up to the top and turn right and do my regular little walk, which I do most is just passing the Cobalt Cafe, which unfortunately isn't open at the moment, but a great place. And Belvedere School, though James Joyce went to school, is just up at the top facing down. And it is just such a lovely street because the eye is drawn up to the crown of the hill with Belvedere and then on the way back down before they built that awful telephone house, you used to be able to see the figure of Hibernian Commons commerce so mounted the dome of the Custom House.
So this is a beautiful part of the city. And I've just been inside your home. You've renovated it. You're very proud of George, and you've done so much for George and Toppin. But but for you, what do you think your greatest legacy was? Was it making being gay in Ireland legal single handedly? Was that your greatest legacy? Is it is it your love of James Joyce? Yes.
Is it your larger than life personality? Well, I hope that when I go if they do notice my death in the newspapers, they will just exclusively comment on the gay rights thing, because I did put an awful lot of effort into rescuing this street, which was very badly damaged when I came in. And I had to restore that and get my own house going, propagandised with other people and so on, bring more people into the street. And then James Joyce, you know, I had a one man show that I took all over the world.
I mean, South America, North America, Australia, everywhere, all China everywhere was great. And then I started the James Joyce Centre over there. Those three aspects of my life and my teaching in Trinity, I enjoyed that thoroughly.
And I know it's it's a cliche, but no regrets.
No, absolutely no. Like Edith Piaf. Jean.
Yeah, we can hear an airplane overhead. We probably can hear that because it's so quiet because of covered. How have you gone through the pandemic?
Well, I sleep a lot and I read immense amounts of detective fiction and I watch every programme about antiques. So that's really how I pass the time. But I'm lucky in the sense that I'm used to being solitary. I am very happy with my own company. So I have noticed this as much as people who would be much more sociable and gregarious and so on.
And what you want for the country, how do you think will be in a year's time and how we move past this pandemic?
Well, I think the pandemic has brought out the best in people. I mean, people have been so kind. I mean, people have been doing by shopping, making bread for me, coming to see if I'm all right, really very, very kind.
Because you fought cancer. You're seventy five to to get your age, right. Seventy six. Seventy six. Your seventy six or more years to eighty and you're sprightly and your. Yeah. Your fresh. What's secret. How do you have so much energy at seventy six.
Well I'm interested in life, I love life, I'm fascinated by things and I have a huge resources of mental energy, intellectual energy. But physically I'm going down and the other thing is rather sad. My poor Esraa, my ex. Has a tumor on the brain, it's incurable, so I have to wait and see what develops. This is such a beautiful day. I mean, little puffy white clouds like cotton wool, the of blue skies. What could be better?
So where should we want to know? Well, let's go down here. We're coming down here along great Denmark Street. And you can see the range of this lovely panorama of 18th century buildings, which I think is quite lovely. The only thing I don't like is there's a group of houses up here and they've painted the reveals and the windows black. You don't like the windows? Oh, I think they are absolutely disgusting. I thought like a slum, but I thought they used to have black windows back in the day originally.
But they're not black. Not at all. You think it's just a stylish lighting is of a complete lack of taste. You don't like the black windows? I hate them, so I am offended by them. So things still get your coat. It is something like that. You're very protective of Dublin and we're here beside an old shoe shop. It must have been. Yeah, I was going back to the 50s. I think they were dancing shoes.
I remember when I was there, but it's very badly decayed now, which is a pity. There is quite a lot of that around here, but there are some shops like this one here, smells of coffee and quite hipster. You've heard of the phrase hipster. I have indeed. Yes. And it's so international. We're just walking past some local people from Dublin one. Well, I'm coming across quite a lot of Brazilians in your neighborhood. Yes, I think there are quite a lot.
There are some in North Georgia, too, and up there that some Tibble Street with the beautiful, beautiful, beautiful St George's Church, one of the architectural masterpieces of 18th century Dublin. And I went there actually for communion service, the only person, only person. And it meant I had to remember all the responses. And of course, I do remember perfectly well until you put on the spot, because you are quite I understand you are quite religious.
Well, yes, I know. I go to church every week and you you have your funeral planned out. I have one week for you at your funeral. Yes, I have recorded the message and it's going to be a Haydn laugh and all this kind of stuff and a jazz band. And then I've been planted with my ancestors down in country. Leesha, but I think it would be great fun. The only thing that I have to make sure I don't die during this bloody pandemic.
Well, you know, like, hum. Well, this is it. I mean, I just have to watch online and, you know, I want hordes of people, crowds of people, thousands of people massing in north Georgia today reciting the rosary and saying the prayers for the dead. They will be heard as far away as West mines to mark the passing of one of the greatest souls of this nay any century. It's just fun. I'm really enjoying just hopping the tracks, wandering around Dublin, one the capital with you when you go when it's all over, what you want to be remembered for, what?
I don't care whether I'm remembered or not. It doesn't matter to me. I would hope that I've made the lives of people better in some way. And I think certainly through the gazing I have done is one of the lovely things people contact me and write to me and say, I just want to thank you because my son is gay and you made life so much better for people like him. That is such a reward. It's lovely because you have made a huge difference in the community's lives.
I mean, you've changed that and I've enjoyed it.
I mean, I enjoyed the court cases enormously. Did you? They were terribly funny, high. And somebody just gave you a thumbs up. Thumbs up. Absolutely. So people aren't that supportive. They love you. And do you see yourself as a as a national treasure or not? Because I see myself as a perfectly ordinary run of the mill person. I mean, I confronted some extraordinary circumstances in my life, but I just think I'm an ordinary, happy person and that's it.
Full stop. Nothing extraordinary. I don't believe in all this stuff.