Thom McGinty, "The Diceman", Dublin Street Performer
Dublin's most famous and best-loved street entertainer Thom McGinty was born in Glasgow, but came to Dublin in 1976 to work as a nude model in the National College of Art and Design. He spent most of his performing time on Grafton Street, where he would stand completely still, exuding a strange, enigmatic presence that seemed to fascinate people almost as much as his weird, colourful costumes. At one point in his career the Irish police started to make trouble for him for causing an obstruction due to the crowds that surrounded him, and his solution was to develop an incredibly slow, stylized walk that became his trademark, moving one foot in front of the other at a snail's pace, taking up to an hour to traverse the length of the street. To vary his routine, he would sometimes move with great swiftness - dressed as Dracula, he would stand immobile for ten minutes, and then suddenly wink and blow a kiss, or jump off his pedestal to chase a screaming group of girls.
It became a game to try and distract his concentration. Children would throw coins and make faces at him, and occasionally he was known to leap out of stillness and chase them suddenly with a grotesque and playful leer, which of course was what they had been hoping for. It was also not unknown for people to try and distract him in more unpleasant ways - he had many lit cigarettes thrown at his feet, and one person actually tried to set his costume on fire. Once, when he was dressed up as a giant lightbulb, a group of children tried to burst his costume with pins. These incidents, and the dignity with which he suffered them, only added to his mystique, and he became one of the most widely-known people in Dublin.
Thom also performed in Holland, Germany, Switzerland, France, Spain, the US and Russia, and fulfilled an ambition to perform on both sides of the Berlin Wall and in Red Square.
In 1990 he was diagnosed as having AIDS, and he died in 1994 after a sudden deterioration. After his funeral, his coffin was carried in a slow procession down Grafton Street, and Irish poet Paula Meehan wrote a poem for him, entitled "Dharmakaya", which due to copyright restrictions I cannot post here, but which can be viewed at http://homepage.tinet.ie/~abardubh/poetry/bearla/poem219.html