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This was the sight I found when I went into the twins’ room yesterday morning.

They had discovered the zip for the bean bag…

Twins Room 1

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I managed another trip to the Galtees last weekend. This time we took a different route, ascending the valley by Lyreacappul (Ladhar an Chapaill), traversing the ridge of Monabrack and descending into the valley by Sliabh Cois na Binne: a gigantic horseshoe route that took over 5 hours to complete. Apart from the occasional rain-shower, it was a magnificent day. The views from the top were incredible. The entirety of the southern half of Ireland is visible from the summit. What was missing was a view of the sea: the Galtees are Ireland’s only inland mountain range.

Click on the photos to enlarge

Energetic stream in the valley

The Monabrack ridge from Ladhar na Chapaill County Limerick from Ladhar an Chapaill

Sliabh Cois na Binne Ancient wall on Ladhar an Chapaill

Sycamore grove

The new Irish Rail experience

Irish Rail recently purchased a whole set of super-duper railway carriages as part of a major government initiative to modernise our country’s rolling stock. You can book your train seats in advance, there is plenty of room for luggage and the journey itself is impressive by its relative silence.

One of the things that particularly interested me were the on-board toilets – automatic doors, push-button locking systems, triple action pee sprays for the loo-bowl, infrared systems for hand-washing, hot air blowers for drying. An almost totally hands-free waste management experience. The future has indeed arrived!

Except for one thing.

On my trip down from Dublin, the smell of cigarette smoke emanating from the little room was overpowering. The little room is being used as a smoking room by some of the lesser-evolved members of this society. And what do Irish Rail seem to be doing about it? Smoke alarms perhaps? Spot fines? Throwing the offenders out of the train at high speed? Garotting them on the emergency break cord? Naah. More than their job’s worth I would guess. After all, we are only talking about health and safety laws here..

In addition, what is it with the Irish male species that they feel obliged to bring on-board 12 packs of beer tins, and proceed to get pissed in front of their fellow travellers? Some of my fellow travellers were already stinking of drink before they boarded the train. If this was air-travel these people would never be allowed on in the first place.

I must be getting old, but it just seems that with all the changes in our country over the past few years, some old habits will take a long time to die out.

My friend Azahar got a laugh out of me this evening. It resonates with something I have been thinking about a lot since I started work in Dublin two weeks ago.

Temple Bar is the central tourist district in Dublin. Walking down its streets, you are assaulted by American themed sports bars, Spanish restaurants, Romanian buskers, French jugglers and Polish and Czech beer-joints, with all things Irish* well out of view. I’m sure this is no accident. Marketing being what it is nowadays, this is likely to be what most tourists to Dublin want. Instead of shamrock emblazoned bars, trad sessions, and Brendan Behan wannabes mouthing off about the price of a pint, what you get instead is an idiosyncratic and vibrant display of World Culture.

I don’t see this in a particularly negative light. To a large extent, “culture” is directly related to backwardness. When Ireland was a land of great culture, thousands of people were buying one-way tickets out of the place. Neither was it a mecca for hordes of tourists back then, as far as I know.

Actually, before I leave this entry, I remember reading once about an accident in the 19th century, where a very large whiskey barrel broke, its contents spilling out on the streets, flooding the gutters. Great crowds of people had to be physically pulled off the streets in a state of extreme inebriation.

Now that’s culture for ya.

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