“Essential Travel” ?

What exactly is “Essential ” Travel.

Readers will know that my big hobby is travelling around Ireland …for free. Since I became entitled to a SmartPass three years ago, I have been in all 32 counties. I have been in around 173 towns and villages on this island. Some places like Cork, Limerick and Waterford, I have been on more than two occasions. And of course I have travelled to every Dublin suburb by LUAS, DublinBus and DART.

My most recent outing on public transport was train to Dublin, BusÉireann to Newtownmountkennedy (Co Wicklow), a cup of tea and cake and another BusÉireann to Ashford. Then a BusÉireann to Bray, then DART to Killiney and a walk around. Then train to Portmarnock and back to Dublin. And a meal before the last train home.

I think it is important to stress that this amazing freebie is good for the physical and mental health of senior citizens. And it is economically beneficial to bookshops, tea shops and other businesses in (say) Warrenpoint, Enniscorthy, Ballinasloe and Edgeworthstown.

In early March, I was hoping to see a lot of places before going into hibernation around November.

I have lost months. And it is really hurting. I dont expect to be back on the road before the end of August.

In pragmatic terms BusÉireann and DublinBus are currently operating at 50% capacity. Only 36 people can travel on a DublinBus.

For the good of the nation that I actually love, it would be very wrong for me to take up one of these 36 seats, travelling without any real purpose to Inchicore, Dundrum and Swords.

The public transport is primarily for …….essential workers.

The downside of course is that I am 68 years of age. I am not the person I was when I was 60 years old or 65 years old. It has always seemed to me that getting to 75 years old in reasonable health is as much as I can reasonably expect. So six months out of active life is a heavy price to pay. But others have paid a higher price.

Have I broken Lock Down restrictions?

Yes. My wife’s best friend died in May and there were child care considerations which in strictness made us break guidelines and I dont regret it. But I missed a cousin’s funeral on the north coast.

My wife and I have taken three car journeys to Fivemiletown, Clogher, Augher and Ballygawley…Tynan, Middletown and Caledon…and Carrickmore, Pomeroy and Donaghmore. Again…no regrets. We only left the car long enough to take pics for my travel blog.

So I wont be judgemental about private individuals who broke some rules. Especially if rules seem vague.

Nor would I be too critical of an Alliance Party councillor who sought advice and was told that “essential travel” can include a visit to Spain to maintain a property she owns. Fair play to her.

Indeed as she wrote on Facebook (4th July) that after 14 weeks of LockDown and being heavily involved with the local response, she was taking a break. Again…fair play.

“I’m going to take a holiday for a few weeks and catch up with my own wee family, we haven’t all been together since Christmas”.

I dont know if all of that “few weeks” was spent in Spain. I dont know how long it takes for maintenance work on any property in Spain. Nor do I know how many family members travelled to Spain.

I am honestly not that bothered. Few would begrudge anyone taking whatever opportunity was there.

More serious is that the Alliance Party spokesperson on Health ……..Health!!!!….Paula Bradshaw…was seemingly unaware that travelling to Italy on a family holiday was not “essential” until an hour after she announced her plans on RTE Radio.

More worryingly, Ms Bradshaw is an adviser to the saintly Naomi Long…who is Minister for Justice. ….Justice!!!! Now of course its perfectly possible that Ms Bradshaw and Ms Long dont actually talk about personal things like vacations.

But it seems a bit odd that Ms Bradshaw did not say “hey boss I have booked a holiday in Italy in a couple of weeks”

What is the proper response from Ms Long.

A…..”Great….send me a postcard”

B….”Thats not actually essential. Cancel it.




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10 Responses to “Essential Travel” ?

  1. korhomme says:

    Question: is your travel blog public, and if so where is it? I’d be interested to see what all you have done.

      • korhomme says:

        Thanks for the link. I had a quick look this morning, and it looks delightful, and I enjoy the little historical vignettes and details.

        I’m a bit older than you, and while originally from Belfast, I have l lived near Dungannon for over 30 years — so I looked at Co Tyrone. I will take the time and look through the other counties later. (And you might guess from what I say on Slugger, that I’m from “the other side of the fence”, though in a Dissenter tradition.)

        I had a plan when the Brexit debate was raging and there was a lot of talk about the Border, to travel around and photograph it, particularly all the crazy bits where it winds all over the place. Alas, I’m not so fit or well now, so this project if not abandoned is “resting”. I have a few photos on Flickr, but no text.

        In parallel with this, I wanted to photograph the gate lodges of the great houses; they were so often an ostentatious sign, a sort of “conspicuous consumption”. The gate lodges at Caledon are on the main road at present but the original was down what Google calls the Killylea Road; the newish house there was once the house built to replace it and the school. The gate lodge is behind the wall. (I got a series of books on the gate lodges of Ireland, and all these details are in it.) I wanted to photograph the gate lodge at Tynan Abbey, and some of those at Castle Leslie — there are said to be eleven, but alas…

      • Thanx.
        I was in Carrickmore, Pomeroy and Donaghmore in County Tyrone last month but never got around to blogging about it. Still in draft form.
        That Tynan, Caledon, Middletown triangle is familiar to me, especially from visits in the 1960s.
        My granny lived in the area near the railway station/mill at Tynan until about 1954/55 and left after a dispute with the Stronges or one of the Stronge “followers”.
        The bollards at Tynan Abbey gates were not there last year. We were in the area for a 80th birthday party in July last year.
        De-cluttering last week, I came across some photos taken when I was a baby and I often heard my mother saying that they were taken at the gate lodge at Tynan.
        On our recent visit, we saw the gates going into Caledon (hard to miss!) but on our way out forgot to stop and take a pic.
        As indicated my granny (died 1956) never had a photo taken after her widowhood. I do have some memory of her.
        My paternal grandparents lived in the Beechmount area from about 1923 until their deaths in 1959 and 1961. I do have memories. But no pics taken with them. My Auntie Sheila, often referenced here was born over a pub in Peters Hill in 1921 during a gun battle.
        One of the oldest pics I have is my maternal granny and her two eldest daughters (then toddlers) …a very long distance shot ….taken in the 1890s and it is in the Caledon grounds. They are sitting on steps of a building with pillars. My mother always called it the Garden House but possibly the Gate Lodge.

    • its largely for my own amusement but thats the link

  2. korhomme says:

    Interestingly, I got a notification from 23andme this morning; they do DNA testing, and my daughter and I did one earlier this year. I now have a family tree of sorts connecting me to people I’ve never heard of — my paternal grandmother had an unusual surname, so that helps; my mother’s maiden name was also uncommon.

    Not sure that comments on a travel blog is the best place for this. I’m happy to discuss further if you wish by email. I’m korhomme@grail.com

  3. Kevin says:

    I’ll be consistent here; I’m not going to beat someone up for a holiday even if “non essential” as time away from everything is in many cases essential.

    I think in this instance people in a political organisation need to speak to one another and make sure these things to just come out of the blue, but c’est la vie.

    Wishing you and yours safe travels back home.

    • The three car journeys that we made were not “essential” except in the sense that we were stir crazy. So no regrets and likewise child care that gave the kids a break.
      I dont really have any problem with any politician of any party doing the same. All politicians are human.
      There is certainly a dimension where politicians are leaders and/or public figures and cant be seen to be giving advice and not actually taking it themselves.
      The point here is that in the Bradshaw case, she appears to have escapred the criticism that the media would have heaped on another party, particularly Sinn Féin.
      We are keeping really well here Kevin. Actually just taking a break from painting a dolls house 🙂

      • Kevin says:

        Oh i don’t disagree at all. It is fairly noticeable the double standards on show at present, whether it is Emerson equating the shinners with being dogs or the abuse heaped on MON’s appearance.

        Glad you and yours are well; we have been fortunate here in Germany that they have had things largely under control with a huge amount of buy-in from the populace at large.

      • Its bizarre that Bradshaw has escaped serious criticism by those commentators and bloggers who would be critical of others.
        “when you have a reputation for getting up early, you can lie in bed all day”

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