I check into this Blog every so often. It still surprises me that after several months of being dormant, the Blog gets a lot of views.
I thought you might like to know what I have been up to in my twilight years. Well eighteen months ago, I got my over 65 travel pass which entitles me to free travel on Translink, Bus Éireann, Iarnród Éireann, Dublin Bus, DART and LUAS….free travel all over Ireland.
As a young single man in the 1970s, I used to escape West Belfast by taking myself off to anywhere I chose. As a married man in the 1980s and 1990s, we took our sons to just about everywhere in Ireland. Well…now in retirement, it all feels like the “Farewell Tour”.
I am now re-visiting places…its odd seeing Thurles a square, the narrow streets of Wexford, the hills in Dungannon…the history, the politics, the demographics, the overheard conversations on trains and buses, the old pikeman statues from the 1898 Centenary (of 1798) and the modern “street furniture” like Joey and Robert Dunlop in Ballymoney and Terry Wogan in Limerick.
It is curious to see the old bars and the nail bars and Turkish/Kurdish barbers and avoiding anywhere that has a “barrista”.
The green pins show the places I visited in 2017 and the red pins show the places I have been in 2018. I am mostly in hibernation until Spring 2019. I have now been in all 32 counties. You may think that I have not been in County Galway or County Donegal but there is a pin in Ballinasloe and Lifford. It is really just a matter of going to Busaras or Hueston Station and looking at the destination board. Cavan…why not? Athy?….sounds ok.
The real pleasure has been discovering Dublin beyond O’Connell Street, Temple Bar and Grafton Street. Going to Kilbarrack or Drimnagh or Dalkey or Finglas.
On almost every journey I am asked directions. And my reply is nearly always “I’m a stranger here myself”. And increasingly that’s how I feel about Ireland in 2018.