Nothing New Under the Sun

Okay, I will fess-up that I didn’t know that it was a Beckett quote when I first saw it, but seeing it was part of a package that was the highlight of my day I felt it needed mentioning. We were out to Fika in the café of the new Books Upstairs on D’Olier Streey overlooking Doyle’s Pub on the Green – an infamous drinking house of which I have more than a few happy memories. Back in the day the manageress watched me getting buckled in the company of a drunken Republican when I was no more than fifteen. Shame on the place, and, in the same breath: Fair play to it. Hanging over our heads was the print with the lines:

The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.

Being an utter nudnik regarding all things Samuel Beckett, other than knowing that he has a theatre named for him in Trinity’s brutalist Arts Block, I recognised it instantly as a reference to the first chapter of Ecclesiastes – one of those odd philosophical books of the Bible always read at funerals; because, one would presume, it is so philosophical.


Soli soli soli was very much on our minds today. Tomorrow, we are told, there will be a near total eclipse of it over Ireland. You’d have to be out on the Faroes or those unheard-of, and no doubt God forsaken, Norwegian islands somewhere out there on the wilds of the North Atlantic to see the totality of the total eclipse, but we will make do with finding a nice spot to not see it through the clouds here in Dublin. I can clearly remember the last time we witnessed an event like this in Ireland. It was back in 1999 and I was living down in Dún Laoghaire (or “Kingstown” as the people of Dún Laoghaire prefer to call it) with my aunt and uncle. As soon as the sky began to darken the birds fell silent, and a number of dogs began to howl. Yes, that was eerie enough alright. To this day I have never been sure if that effect on the animals was due to the eclipse or the realisation that they were in Dún Laoghaire. I know that the place often made me want to howl, and – like the birds – I’ll say no more.

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