Growing Up In Dublin

Bono Recalls His Childhood

Although he has traveled all over the world, Bono is still deeply attached to his hometown. He recently talked to Correspondent Vicki Mabrey about his feelings for Dublin.

"I spend some time in France. And New York, to me, it's the most exciting city on earth," Bono says. "But (I) love Dublin."

"My father and my mother came from the center of Dublin and they call them Dubs," Bono recalls.

He grew up in the suburbs, though, attending school in the city. "People wanted to get out of the inner city, they wanted to get to new houses....Suburbs are OK, but...they haven't the culture of the city."

For a year Bono attended St. Patrick's Cathedral Grammar School in Dublin, one of two Protestant cathedals in the center of the city. ("There was no Catholic cathedral," he observes.)

"My mother brought me there because she thought it was a good school," Bono says.

He played chess. "I was a campanologist actually," he says. "I was a bell ringer,...which is...maybe even more uncool than playing chess."

"I was never really concentrating on...schoolwork," Bono confesses. "I was kind of encouraged to leave," he says. He was caught throwing dog excrement at a teacher in the park, he says.

He then attended a progressive school, with people from varied backgrounds. He went to this secondary school a lot younger than was typical, at age 11 or 12. "It was free; it was non-denominational," he says.

It was also co-educational, ususual for that time. There he met future members of his band, Larry Mullen, Adam Clayton and Edge, as well as his wife Ali.

Because he was raised at an early age as a Protestant but now attends Catholic church, he calls himself "ambidextrous."

"My mother was from a Protestant tradition, father was Catholic," Bono explains. "My father was very cool about it, he was very evolved....He got a lot of flack and criticism for marrying a Protestant woman. And he used to drive us to church on a Sunday with my mother, drop us off and then go to...Mass."

He speaks of "the tribal differences," in Ireland. The truth of it is is that this island is big enough for both traditions," Bono says.

"My father on the Republican side would say...if Hitler had crossed the channel and...had taken over the south of England, got past London, how many years would it be before it would be acceptable to say this is German soil? And the answer would be no amount of years; it would always be England."

"So that's the argument of the Republican people here," Bono continues. "It's never going to be England."

But he points out that the debate is not so simple. "There are people who've been here for generation after generation after generation (who) don't feel part of the...Republican tradition. They feel part of Great Britain...And we have to make room for it."

"The real divide is not the border; the...real in people's minds," Bono says.

With Ireland's past economic difficulties, there was resentment of success "because success was always seen as collaboration with the enemy." Bono says. So with Ireland's newfound prosperity, "people are saying actually this is our country. But for a while if you did well, you must have screwed somebody over."

Bono likes Dublin enough to raise his children there. Being a father has made him even more politically aware. "Having children made me more militant," Bono says. "It made me really want, want to get more involved politically,...because you think about the world that they're inheriting."

Parents ask themselves hard questions or their kids demand of them, "How come...while you charge, while your generation ran the show, raped the planet?" says the father of three.

"If we let capital run the show,...we will destroy everything," Bono says.

But he doesn't want his kids "living behind a plate glass" or in "bubble of privilege," even though his family is blessed with so much. "They go to a free school. They're in with everybody else; they're not treated any different."