You should know that the foxes have long been part of the Dublin population, in Trinity as elsewhere in the city. They are shy animals, at least to humans, and usually only visible at night. The first lockdown of 2020 was a game-changer: with the streets empty of cars and pedestrians, many foxes ventured into territory unknown to them, namely the street, and even by day for some of them.
By chance or by the grace of a photographer who had ventured into the empty streets of the city center to document it, a wandering fox appeared on the Dublin scene and was immediately newsworthy. It was given the gender-fair first name of Sam, before it took up residence on the outdoor spaces of Trinity College and the university zoologists could say for sure that Sam is a vixen.
Sam even inspired Irish writer Derek Mahon’s poem « a Fox in Grafton Street », an allegory of our world turned upside down by the pandemic. After suffering from hunger and illness, Sam was treated with drugs hidden in the food made available to her. Then observers mentioned the fact that she found a soul mate with a fox named Prince, and in April 2021, she did indeed give birth to a litter of cubs, quietly, at Trinity College, in the Provost’s Garden! Relief and compassion in the Irish capital for whom this birth appears to be a symbol of life which resumes after 16 months punctuated by 3 particularly strict lockdowns (just take my word for it). In other large cities, the fox would probably have been shot by a hunter, or forced to relocate… Not in Ireland, not in Trinity.
At the start of the 2021 academic year, the university has decided to give a gift to it’s staff for the work done during the 16 months when not a single course took place on campus (a few labs aside), yes I repeat it not a single one..and even if some ignorant cynics may think that one hour of lessons = one hour of work (try it, you’ll see..) , the teaching and administrative staff have worked and achieved way more than usual in order to ensure the progress of the teaching, exams and student monitoring …
So here I am, the proud owner of a limited edition, custom-made watercolor depicting Sam and her soul mate in front of the trees and the famous little tower in Trinity’s courtyard, the campanile, with the dedication „Like the Trinity Foxes, we’re stronger together», nice team building motto..
Oooh.. what about the pandemic bonus so much claimed, you will ask me? Of course, a watercolor is not money. At the risk of shocking some of you, I would say that the money you spend it and then it’s gone, and personally I prefer this watercolor that I can keep for life and pass on to my children afterwards.
Despite everything, it remains a beautiful and true symbol of this unique period in our lives, when we were all “together apart” and did the best we could. In spite of everything, we managed to do our job, developed, created new social bonds sometimes improbable at a distance, developed new hobbies in our free time, survived, and we are back « together together » like the Trinity foxes.