A Bachelor’s Life for Me

at | 19 Replies

From left at top: Keith McErlean, Simon Delaney and Don Wycherly in Bachelor’s Walk (2001-2003): Heber Rowan

What Bachelors Walk, an Irish television series from the 00s, does better than many other shows is its ability to present the awkwardness of contemporary life. Recently, I stumbled upon the entire boxset available online via the RTÉ player and felt compelled to write about it.

Nearly two decades ago, the show came out and even looking back at it now, it bristles with relatability and a lightness of tone unfamiliar amid the pessimism of many contemporary Irish dramas.

Certainty its not the ‘pull your teeth’ out awkwardness of the likes of ‘Peep Show’, a London near equivalent comedy show about co-dependent housemates. Bachelors Walk paints a living scene of Dublin in the summertime with a simple use of light jazz and some cracking tunes from the time that make Dublin, Paris. No longer is Dublin the dirty auld town but a place with actual sunshine and people falling in love.

As a millennial watching it, there is an overload of the distant familiar, a nostalgic orgy. The VRC computer screens, the ashtrays on the tables, the cans of Dutch Gold and the haunting ‘bleep bleep’ of a text message received by a Nokia 3410.

Time has passed, and much of Dublin has remained the same. All over the city, there are familiar characters we all know and love in our own communities who bear significant similarities to the trio of unmarried men living in Dublin.

Bar the extraordinary situation of their low rent in the middle of Dublin just as the economy was revving up…. Complaints in the show about an apartment for rent being €800 are laughable today, with average rents being nearly double that. We all know it.

That is why watching the series once again you feel that Paris-like idealism reinforced. A fantasy of what Dublin could be and for the most part actually is.

We might ask ourselves, why is Dublin considered so idealistic in it and even from the days of Joyce meandering around Dublin on a June summer’s day.

A sense of home you might suppose. An uncomfortable love for the mélange that uniquely Dublin creates. A barrister, a journalist and an unemployed guy living together: if that could happen anywhere, it would be in Dublin.

That is what the writers of the show perhaps consciously did. They gave us that sense of comfortable incongruity that we have in so many neighbourhoods in Dublin.

A fancy coffee shop might neighbour a drug treatment centre just down the road, or a chipper will have a little gallery just next door. It’s all part of what Dublin is. Cosmopolitan.

From the Greeks, the idea of a city-state is one that is a comfortable mix of the populous, a blend of many flavours of humanity all within the one place they call home. Cosmopolitan.

In Bachelors Walk, living in number 49, our three lads give us a sense of happy leisure. Sure they have their problems, from romances to nagging parents but tthey give us a sense of a life less hurried. A life more filled with random encounters from three lads living together beginning their day with coffee on their front steps looking out at the Liffey.

The buses are yellow, and the acting is a little awkward but the characters in the portrait of Dublin from the early 00’s we call Bachelor’s Walk cannot help but make one stop and marvel at the idealism it brings to a city consistently portrayed as dirty and ‘auld’, with three lads awkwardly figuring out their lives.

Here’s the first episode, take a look.

Heber Rowan is a Sligo native with a passion for politics. He works in public affairs and enjoys listening to and narrating audiobooks. He can be found on Twitter and occasionally blogs on Medium.com.

Looking back on Bachelor’s Walk (Heber Rowan, Medium)

19 thoughts on “A Bachelor’s Life for Me

  1. Dave

    If you are mentioning the ground-breaking, critically-acclaimed, multi award-winning (and actually funny) Peep Show and Bachelors Walk in the same sentence then you shouldn’t be writing about or commenting on TV in the first place.

    Reply
    1. Paulus

      Not sure; VDU (visual display unit) was used much more regularly at that time, whereas today we’re more likely to say monitor.

      Reply
      1. theo kretschmar schuldorff

        Can he mean CRT?
        Anyway, he needs to either shave, or grow a beard. Ginger people with a growth of stubble simply look dirty, which I say as a ginger person.

        Also, its nice to see Mick Wallace’s crew building in the background. Say what you like about the man, but his contribution to the city in the construction project between the Quays and Abbey St and the pedestrianised Mick Wallace Way, is laudable and was executed to a very high standard.

        Reply
        1. diddy

          quite right. he built with taste and foresight unlike some of the Philistines who see Dublin as nothing more than a cash cow while living in Tipperary

          Reply
  2. Harry M

    I loved that when it came out and watched it a couple of years back and found it very enjoyable. However, i think one thing that didn’t age that well was Barry going out with a TY student…

    Reply
    1. Paulus

      So did I. Dramas which presented the Irish male, in particular, in a credible authentic manner were thin on the ground. Pure Mule worked well in this regard too.

      Reply
      1. Harry M

        it does and is also on the player. I never watched it at the time, watched it a few weeks back. Some dodgy dialog, but reminded me of Donal Ryan’s A Spinning Heart.

        Would be fantastic if there was budget to produce something like that every year

        Reply
  3. Janet, I ate my avatar

    I’m not really buying the Paris comparison, nothing could be further in my experience, Amsterdam at a stretch maybe

    Reply
  4. Who am I now

    Nice piece though Heber, I enjoy your stuff

    Will you do one now about whether the life in Sligo depicted in Normal People is realistic?:)

    Reply
  5. diddy

    different time. before Eastern Europe became EU. wages were higher then and rents lower. globalization put the squeeze on that

    Reply
    1. Rob_G

      The great standard of living we enjoyed during the Celtic Tiger years was down to an unsustainable economic bubble. I’m not sure if you realise how much of a poohole Ireland used to be before we embraced globalisation.

      Reply
        1. Harry M

          I’ve lived in Dublin for a decade and the Dublin i know is completely unrecognizable to what was in the Commitments.

          Most pertinent near the final scene when he is walking down the quays past the Diving Bell with the dilapidated warehouses and caravans. That’s all law firms now .

          Reply
        2. scottser

          i miss the grime and the humour of commitments-era dublin. globalisation just turned everyone into an opinionated w@nker, tuppence hapenny looking down on tuppence.

          Reply
  6. Enn

    The show’s not amazing but I completely get what you mean – it was on when I was at school and I thought that’s what my supercool life in Dublin would look like when I got out of the small town.

    Reply

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