Walking down the Grand Canal from Portobello Bridge (La Touche Bridge) to Leeson Street Bridge on Thursday got me thinking about an amusing prank from October 1968 that I heard some years ago. Here’s the original Irish Times article published in full.
AN ‘ICEBERG’ FLOATED DOWN THE CANAL
The Irish Times. October 4 1968.
Unknown pranksters turned over a mile of the Grand Canal in Dublin into a bubble bath yesterday. The sequence of events was described Dragnet style by Jimmy Parsons, lock keeper of Lock Cottage, Portobello Bridge. “At 2:30am, a night nurse in Portobello nursing home looked out the window and saw white foam rising 30 feet out of the lock and overflowing on to the bridge and roadways. At 5am the police arrived. All they could do was watch. At 7:30am the fire brigade came. They said it looked lovely but that they couldn’t help”.
By then, Dubliners were on their way to work. The wall of foam hampered traffic at the bridges at Porotobello, Charlemont street and Leeson Street. Hundreds of curious people jammed the canal-side.
“It’s really like a fairyland” a schoolbound youngster breathed. “I’m going to be late for work” said a typist who had jumped off her bus “But it’s worth it – I’ll never see a sight like this again”.
Hours later some of the original watchers were still there, still spellbound, gazing at the foam writhing upwards in a Disneyland ballet.
The high wind scooped great gobbets of froth from the lock gates and flung them into the sky. Other pieces, too big to fly, rolled over the roadway like huge snowballs. “Lookit – it’s snowing” two messenger boys bellowed in chorus, beside themselves with excitement.
“All we want now is Brigit Bardot in that bubble bath”, observed a man with a ballroom sheikh hair-do.
Jimmy Parsons arrived, with a weed-rake on the end of a 10-foot pole. Poling about on the bottom of Portobello lock, he said over his shoulder, “This must have been caused by jokers dumping detergent or soap – powder into the locks. The way the foam keeps coming up, the stuff is still down there. It’s an expensive joke. They must have thrown hundredweights of it to whip up this froth”
Giving up on the search, he sat on a lock-gate and said “You should have seen it at dawn. Like icebergs it was. Icebergs floating down the Grand Canal”.
Angrily aloof on the canal – bank nearby, two swans looked on. After a while, they took like seaplanes in search of pure water. But the foam stayed and so did the crowds…