Travelling is indeed a part of education. You not only get to see beautiful horizons and magnificent vistas, you also come into contact with various peoples, their cultures and traditions, and hopefully discover the reason why they do what they do.
Sometimes coming into contact with a different culture can leave you confused, maybe depressed and perhaps sad. You might on the other hand find it intriguing, interesting, invigorating, hopeful and feel a desire to know more about it. The latter has certainly been my experience since arriving here in Ireland.
One of the things I find quite fascinating are the doors of building. They are as colourful as the rainbow and come in beautiful colours such as red, blue, orange, white, turquoise, green, purple, black, cyan, magenta, etc. Not only do these doors charmingly light up the streets, they often have an interesting story and contribute to the culture.
An apocryphal story has it that two famous Irish writers, George Moore and Oliver St John Gogarty, were next door neighbours at the Ely Place. The two men were quite eccentric and also had a somewhat unfortunate proclivity for the drink. In order to differentiate their houses and stop the other from attempting entry to the wrong address when off their respective trollies, they had their doors painted in widely differing colours. Moore painted his door green, Gogarty painted his red.
The coloured doors became famous in the 1970s, around St Patrick’s Day. During that time a collection of colourful doors appeared on posters in the windows of the Irish Tourism Offices on Fifth Avenue in New York City. People who were going to watch the parade were enamoured of these colourful and intriguing images and wanted to find out more about them and how they could get copies of them.
The photos were taken by Bob Fearon, head of the advertisement agency in New York City, who was in Dublin for a commercial photo-shoot. Strolling pass Merrion Square and Fitzwilliam Square on his way back to his hotel room he couldn’t help noticing the colourful Georgian doors. With his camera he took photos of the doors, hoping to make an art collage for himself.
After combining the photographs into an attractive display he showed it to Joe Malone who thought it was brilliant and proposed that it should be displayed in the window of the Irish Tourism Office for St Patrick’s Day. The board in charge of Irish Tourism bought the right to the collage. It has remained popular ever since.