Rachel Gaffney, the famous foodie who’s flying the flag for Ireland in Texas, sees parallels between Dublin and Dallas in the rebirth of the city she now calls home.
Rachel Gaffney's Letter from Texas
Rachel Gaffney, the famous foodie who’s flying the flag for Ireland in Texas, sees parallels between Dublin and Dallas in the rebirth of the city she now calls home
Beyond Southfork Ranch
The year was 1980 and I was a 12 year old school girl living in Cork. My daily life was unremarkable at best. I was a gangly red haired girl, whose extra curricular activity consisted of hockey (or field hockey as they call it here in the USA) and elocution lessons.
My memories of those days are not by any means halcyon days. I remember vividly waiting in the rain at bus stops, feeling the heavy green gaberdine uniform stick to my skin and itch uncontrollably. It was more often than not damp, dark and cold in Cork.
These conditions are ideal for our world famous green grass but they were not ideal for me when waiting to take the bus home. The bus was not a respite from the weather. In fact it too held its own murky imperfections. Grumpy bus conductors checking for tickets, people inhaling deeply on cigarettes, the windows fogged up from a combination of smoke and condensation.
Then finally the respite came for me in the unlikeliest of places. It came across my television screen in great big capital yellow letters spelling out the name of a faraway place in Texas, namely the city of Dallas. The excitement was palpable during that year. The scheming oil baron that we knew as JR Ewing had been shot and everyone wondered who had committed this crime. This was my first impression of Dallas. Towering gold and mirrored buildings, expansive ranches with their iconic yellow awnings covering their patios and the giant Dallas Cowboys stadium blazed across my screen and was forever etched in my memory with indelible ink.
Now, 33 years later, I see the city of Dallas for what it really is and I also have the privilege of watching the continued growth and even the birth of a new city emerge. Dallas and Dublin have something in common. Both cities embraced the work of Spanish visionary architect, Santiago Calatrava.
December 2009 saw the opening of the Samuel Beckett bridge in Dublin and March, 2012 saw the grand opening of the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge in Dallas. This 400 ft bridge soars up and over the Trinity river finally linking the forgotten west Dallas to the rest of the city. Driving across this bridge, I am continually in awe at her splendor as she reaches upward towards the big blue Texas sky. This modern marvel connecting the old with the new. One last glimpse in the rearview mirror and you leave behind the gleaming downtown buildings and skyscrapers. The other side is a far cry from the background view, for here lies fifteen acres of what was once considered wasteland.
A whole new world is being reborn, led by a team of innovators. A well known trio, here in Dallas, namely Butch McGregor, Phil Romano and Stuart Fitts. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, old buildings are being regenerated and reborn, just like the aforementioned bird in Greek mythology.
Warehouses that lay dormant are being gutted, keeping their original framework, old Dallas houses are being redecorated and new life being breathed upon them. The once chaotic wasteland is now bright and cheery painted with vibrant colours. Bright pinks and cheery yellows are around every corner. Out of the wasteland, an incubator community is emerging.
“Trinity Groves will foster the growth of startup concepts and businesses , and capitalize on Dallas’ culture of innovation and entrepreneurism” This trio plans on bringing together the community and businesses in West Dallas by providing unique experiences that will make Trinity Groves a primary entertainment destination in Dallas.
This is extremely exciting news. I mentioned incubator community. I associate the word incubator with my infant son, who was once in an incubator. He was not quite ready for this world. He had all the potential back then. He could not do it alone and therefore needed to be kept safe and warm with the ever watchful eyes from experienced doctors and nurses. They nurtured and loved him but they also performed uncomfortable procedures that caused pain at times until he was ready to go it alone.
So, you have an idea for a new restaurant or retail concept? What do you do next? The traditional methods of securing bank loans are becoming a thing of the past. Trinity Groves is the incubator for those who are not ready to go it alone, those that need guidance and mentoring, nurturing and caring, experiencing new learning curves and painful decisions. The reality of business is that there will always be painful decisions to be made. There is also another all too obvious reality between entrepreneurs and investors and that is the obvious reality of ‘my idea’ and ‘my money’.
Here is your first big and painful decision. You may have a wonderful idea and concept but no way of financing it. Trinity Groves offers you the solution you were looking for and more but you wrestle with how much of the pie you really want to give away. So, you need to ask yourself this question, ‘do you want to own 100% of nothing or perhaps 40% of millions?’ (caveat, this is merely an example).
Now, 33 years later, the famous hit tv series Dallas airs once again. The show opens with the same catchy music but now the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge is in the opening scenes, the old Dallas Cowboys stadium is gone and replaced with the new one. Sadly we lost Larry Hagman last year so the caustic JR Ewing is no more, but times are changing.
Change can be very difficult for people to embrace. It stirs fear and causes procrastination. But like the phoenix who has been reborn from the ashes it garners its strength from the sun. It lives for a 1,000 years before submitting to the legacy of its death. So, my salutation to the new year is, ‘Here’s to a thousand years of rebirth in the city I now call home, Dallas.’