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Chat With Pat Liddy

September 4, 2009

Pat Liddy

Pat Liddy

by Kat Behling

Today we chat with acclaimed Dublin historian, author and artist, Pat Liddy. Pat spent his childhood growing up in Phibsborough, on Dublin’s north side. After an early retirement from a thirty year sales career with Aer Lingus, Pat dedicated himself to three of his life’s passions: writing, illustrating and exploring historical places. His favorite subject: his own 2,000-year-old city where he has channeled his love of historical research, legendary tales and amusing anecdotes of Ireland’s Capital City into a unique walking tour service simply called, “Pat Liddy’s Walking Tours of Dublin”.

Pat’s love affair with his hometown doesn’t end there. Since 1984, he has authored and illustrated numerous books on the historic city. In addition, Pat’s delicate pen and ink drawings and paintings have been exhibited throughout Ireland, mainland Europe and the United States. And if that doesn’t keep this Dublin enthusiast busy enough, he also hosts a weekly radio show, “Hidden Dublin” and has teamed up with Dublin Tourism to present audio versions of his walking tours. Both his radio show and his narrated tours are available as podcasts. Welcome to the Fireside, Pat

What is your morning ritual?
Stealing an extra ten minutes in bed and always regretting it. After that, there is no fixed ritual as my lifestyle dictates that no one morning is the same as another.

What historical figure do you most identify with and why?
That’s too hard to pick on one person. I suppose I like to identify with anyone who in his life never gave up even when the going got rough and even seemed hopeless.

Which living person do you most admire?
No particular celebrity or famous person (who are often not what they seem), but my 94-year old mum who still cares about every little detail in our family and annually turns out the most admired garden of flowers in her neighbourhood. Also someone I know who is a full-time care-giver of an elderly person and always remains cheerful.

The perfect place to live is.
In your own body. If you are not happy there, your surrounding environment will be ultimately irrelevant to your happiness.

Name one place in Ireland you think visitors should not miss.
Newgrange in County Meath. 500 years older than the Pyramids of Egypt, it is the world’s oldest existing roofed building and was once the centre of a very sophisticated civilisation over 5,000 years ago.

Who is your favorite writer?
I simply don’t have one. I read mostly historical or popular science books and the subject rather than the writer appeals to me.

How would you describe your sense of humor?
It is always on duty 24/7 and being somewhat irreverent, it can ambush even the most solemn occasion.

What music are you listening to today?
Handel is my favourite composer and my musical tastes range principally from the medieval period to the baroque. Old-fashioned jazz is a nice contrast I appreciate from time to time.

What three things are you most grateful for?
My family, my health and my love of live.

Name one trait you most deplore in yourself.
Being a bit self-centred.

Name one trait you most deplore in others.
Rudeness and aggression to promote self-interest.

In the event you are reincarnated, what would you like to return as?
Just me – with another chance to have more time to achieve my more ‘noble’ ambitions without the need to make money for plain survival, to be more calm and more generous with my time for others. In this life I am unlikely to succeed in these aspirations.

What is one of your most treasured memories?
Family holidays or snuggling in with my children when they were very young to watch a film on TV we all enjoyed.

What is your favorite meal?
Not so much the food (as I enjoy most cuisines) but the company gathered around candlelight, especially family meals, no matter how humble the fare.

What is your favorite Irish tradition?
Attendance at the annual Christmas performance in one of our cathedrals of Handel’s ‘Messiah’ (which was first performed in Dublin in 1742).

Which of your podcast walking tours would you recommend for a first time visitor to Dublin?
Perhaps ‘Viking & Medieval Dublin’ to get a sense of the very beginnings of Dublin (see

Your philosophy on life is.
The triumph of optimism over experience.

Pat’s books include bestsellers “Dublin Today,” “Dublin Be Proud” and more recently, “Dublin A Celebration: From the 1st to the 21st Century,” the official book on Dublin and published by the Dublin City Council. The book contains almost 1000 illustrations of historic and contemporary Dublin. To learn more about Pat Liddy’s Walking Tours of Dublin and his podcasts, visit :

Originally published in our e-newsletter

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