Image-ine: Defying The Queen With A Door

One of the legends of the doors of Dublin goes something along the lines of a queen in mourning and her commands being defied. But as all stories told by the Irish, this one needs to be taken with a pinch of salt to counter the ever enlarging stories brewed up in pubs amidst Guinness barrels and the good ol’ stout, some juicy ciders and you-know-what-I-means. These Irish, they really do love spinning ’em yarns.

The Irish have their yarns but I would be lying if I said these doors didn’t hold some sway over this lass too.

On 10 september 2009 I penned these words into my blog: “they just keep finding me. these blue doors. i think i might just have to knock on one someday. i quite fancy the idea of asking for the person who answers to tell me a story. anything really. but a story of a life that paints a door blue, is what i would like to hear.”

I remember that afternoon like a pristine picture:

I cannot see movement but then again the window is not exactly telling in its display of the innards of this home. I raise my hand to knock, lower my hand. It hangs limp at my side. I turn to look at the river, turn back again, raise my hand but cannot do it.

I stand in front of the royal blue door for what seems like an afternoon. I amble away only to come back again.

It was the brightness of the fire engine red everywhere that allured me back to this town. Most returned for the river that flowed so widely through the stone buildings and curved with the shape of the hillock up ahead. Or they came for the pub: that place where music seemed to secure itself into the wall, echoing silently long after the instruments have been laid down. There is something about the stonework in the village, offset by the brightness of the red that just captivates me in the afternoon sun, especially five o’clock sun, the kind that doesn’t burn but that illuminates beautifully anything that lands in its path.

I walk around the house with its roughened, white finish that looks as if the painter used a really old roller and left pieces behind that got tangled in the paint, leaving a lumpy finish to the wall. I crane my neck, standing on tippy toes outside the window to see if anyone is home. Mom taught me that it is rude to be a peeping tom but I really cannot help myself today. This little cottage needs my attention. It tells me so. I walk back around to the door to admire the shocking pink Fuchsias with their purple earrings that dangle and sway in the wind.

I turn and walk away for good. I lose all courage to raise the knocker and let it fall back down onto the hard wood.

That was the last time I ever went back to Ramelton again. I moved to Dublin instead and discovered not only blue doors, but purple doors, red doors, yellow doors, grey doors, orange doors, pink doors, green doors … you name it and I will hazard a guess that I could find you a door painted in that exact colour.

The legend goes that when Queen Victoria died her subjects were ordered to paint their doors black as a sign of mourning at the loss of their monarchy. The Irish, true to their defiance, painted the doors every colour under the sun instead. The other legend is about a man who stumbled out of a pub, into the wrong door, up the wrong stairs and into the wrong bed, next to the wrong wife. The next day all the women promptly painted their doors differing colours to make the homeward journey a little less confusing for their stupoured husbands.

My blog entry wangled itself into my heart and with the defiance of an Irishman it will not relent. And so I have given in to all this colour. I let that knocker fall; I invited myself to tea. I heard one story, then another, then another because in Ireland stories are how life happens.

This is the start of a series called the Doors Of Dublin. It is changing my photographic journey in many ways because it is pushing boundaries I never knew existed but more importantly, I am learning the lesson that every photographer needs to learn: the story is not about your interpretation of the moment, it’s about the truth unfolding before your lens. Stay tuned to meet some very interesting characters. Click on the images below to see the larger images of the doors.


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  1. says

    Wonderful post.

    I’m also drawn to doors, because behind them “life happens”; I own a Roberta Collier photograph of a door in Morocco, one of the first images I ever purchased, and I love it to this day.

  2. says

    Maureen, the doors of Morocco are something else with those big handles and slatted wood! I actually have a series of Moroccan door photographs that I took when we were there a few years back that I would love to frame!

    What colour is your door?

  3. says

    When I visited Dublin(in 2009!)I was completely surprised by the wondrous doors. I’d prepared for my visit to Ireland by reading about many things, but had missed anything about the doors.

    As I was limited to just a few hours with much to see, I was only able to take a few “door” photos. So I’m looking forward to seeing yours!

  4. L. L. Barkat says

    can’t wait; I am standing at the doors with you, full of curiosity and the hope of a good cup of tea and a story :)

  5. says

    Oh, these doors! How they invite. Just as your words do, dear Claire. Excited to sit and listen to your adventures again. Sounds like it will be quite the yarn 😉

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