Dublin 2019: An Irish Worldcon

Posted at October 18, 2019

Like I said last time, Dublin 2019: An Irish Worldcon was my big excuse to back. This was my second experience going to WorldCon, the first being Loncon 3 back in 2014. There I became a pre-supporter for the Dublin 2019 bid, learned how to say slainte, and had an experience so amazing that I apparently didn’t write anything about it here.1

I’ve been poking at this blog for over ten years now, people.

The short version of Loncon: It was overwhelming. There were something like 10 000 people there (according to Wikipedia, just under 8 000). It went for five days. I only attended three, then hung out with some friends in London for the next week, but it was really something, and I was looking forward to experiencing another one.

My other sci-fi/fantasy con experience is the local con, VCON, with attendance somewhere between 100 and 200 people, I’d guess. It’s cozy and fun, but at the other end of the spectrum from Loncon. (Also, to my disappointment, it’s cancelled this year.)

These are my points of comparison for Dublin 2019.

And so:

  • The venue was too small. I knew that the Convention Centre Dublin was smaller than ExCeL London, but most of the panel rooms were tiny. At both VCON and Loncon 3 you could generally just pop into a panel room on a whim, but here you had to queue to get in, and most of the panels I went to were full up. There was an overflow venue in Point Square by 3Arena, about ten minutes away by foot, but that’s far enough that I had to make a point of going there.

    That said, props to the organizers. After a disorganized first day, they marked out queues on the floor and made things as orderly as possible, under trying circumstances.

  • The panels were good! For this sort of con, I really enjoy checking out random panels that sound interesting, and I had a good time going to them. The necessity of queuing, however, made it difficult to attend many of them.
  • I expected the dealers area to be bigger, but again, the venue was kinda small. It struck me as being akin to VCON’s dealers room, except a couple times bigger.
  • The galleries at The Point were good. I liked the stuff at The Point. I wish I’d spent more time out there instead of running around CCD.
  • I missed out on some of the big events, like the symphony performance, and the Masquerade. I popped into the ceilidh and the dance party briefly, although I didn’t join in. For the Hugo Awards, I watched them on a screen in the overflow viewing room, where I saved the day2 by giving a bartender a spare bottle opener.
  • I did catch a production of A Critical Miss by Tantalus Ireland. It’s a play about a D&D group finishing a campaign and moving on. They did a great bit of staging where the players sat around a table on the right side of the stage, while their characters quest on the left. I had to miss The Critical Hit Show (@critshow), but I still got to see people roleplaying on stage.
  • As for the Hugo Awards, I was happiest to see Archive of Our Own win for best related work. For anyone who doesn’t know, AO3 is ”[a] fan-created, fan-run, nonprofit, noncommercial archive for transformative fanworks, like fanfiction, fanart, fan videos, and podfic.” AO3 is to fandom like GitHub is to programming, except it’s a non-commercial entity. Awesome!
  • Martin Hoare’s bar was fantastic. OK, it wasn’t much of a bar, but it was a big open space with dim lights where people could congregate and socialize. Every convention should have something like this. I griped earlier about missing panels, but I sat around in the bar for two hours one night to watch the All Ireland Hurling Final between Kilkenny and Tipperary. I was supporting Kilkenny (for no particular reason), so of course they lost.

So… it was good, on the whole. I haven’t said it nearly enough, but the organizers and the volunteers were fantastic. They made a huge effort at accessibility for people with disabilities, recruited loads of panelists who weren’t white dudes, put up inclusivity notices in the washrooms, etc. They did have issues with the captioning software used for the Hugo Awards (it was funny, but disrespectful); they’ve since apologized and vowed to redo the captions properly. (As far as I can tell, they haven’t done so yet.)

Nevertheless, five days is a long time, and I was relieved to call it quits on Monday afternoon. That left me with four more days in Dublin. Woo!

Pictures:

The Convention Centre Dublin

The Convention Centre Dublin from across the River Liffey. It’s not the greatest shot, but so it goes.

Lobby

The lobby inside CCD.

Dealers area

The dealers area. Busy enough, yeah? I’m not sure what I expected, maybe something like the expo hall at PAX.

Brian Buro

This was along one of the walls and tells the story of Brian Boru, the High King of Ireland who defeated the Vikings at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. (Well, OK, that’s an extremely simplified view of things, but it did end Norse dominance over Ireland.)

Panel

This was at one of the panels, I think about fandom and social media.

Queues

See? Making the best of a bad situation. Also, the mirror wall on the right opens up to reveal a hidden bar, and that’s where I got my 5 Lamps pint on the trip.

The Doubleclicks

Oh, right, I saw The Doubleclicks perform. I caught their last song. It was good, tho!

Ceilidh

See? A ceilidh! I popped in, smiled, took a picture from the corner of the room, and slunk back out.

The Hugo Awards for 2019

The actual Hugo Awards for the year. The one on the left is for the retro Hugos; the one on the right for this year’s. The bases are ceramic, and the one of the right is covered in Celtic symbols, like the tri-spiral symbol from Newgrange.

Afua Richardson

Michael Scott was a good co-host, but Afua Richardson was amazing. And she sang and played the flute during the ceremony. DAG.

Hurling

Martin Hoare’s Bar, hurling final. <3

New Orleans

You can’t take pictures of the stuff in the art gallery, but there were a series of Lego dioramas in front. Here’s the French Quarter under attack.

Point Square

The overflow venues was in Point Square, which is basically a shopping mall. It’s the Dublin version of Tinseltown: a fancy-looking place with a lot of vacancies.

The Point

Unlike Tinseltown, it’s not because it’s a sketchy area. This part of the Docklands is under insane development. And these buildings are going to hold multinational tech companies. It’s the most soulless part of Dublin.

Escalators

The escalators inside CCD. This is in the front, on the other side of the big curved windows.

Bathroom sign

They had these signs in the washrooms. They made a good effort at inclusivity, IMO.

A Critical Miss

@A Critical Miss. Zounds! What manner of creature hath approached the party?


  1. OK, quick story. I was living in Dublin at the time, and my plan was to fly to London Gatwick, take a train into the city, catch the Tube, transfer to the DLR, and boom, I’d be at my hotel. But my flight was delayed, and by the time I got to London, the Tube was shut down. I used my phone to figure out the busses, at least until the battery died. My hotel was in Canary Wharf, so I got off the bus on the wrong side of the neighbourhood, and walked along a highway in an unfamiliar part of London for half an hour. I finally got to the hotel after two in the morning, only to find out I was at the wrong Hotel Ibis. The front desk summoned a minicab to take me to the right place, where I promptly checked in and crashed. The next morning I woke up, looked at a map, and realized that I could’ve avoided travelling halfway across London in the middle of the night if I’d just flown to the London City Airport, which is right next to the convention centre and walking distance from my hotel.

  2. Not really.