Transport in Ireland (I Have a Horse Outside)

It has been a few days since I last posted. Something that has happened this morning has given me the idea of writing about (public) transport in Ireland. Public’ in brackets since, first, I don’t know if it is exactly public, and second, because I will write about other means of transport which are not public too.

This morning I was going to take a bus and it didn’t stop. I waved twice and still it didn’t stop. That made me very angry as I missed the connection. Next bus was in 38 minutes, and then I would have to wait 30 more minutes for the next bus. So an already long daily journey of 1 hour and a half, became more than a 2 hours journey.

So finally I decided to write a complaint letter to Dublin Bus.

I spend 35 euros a week in bus + Luas (tram) in Dublin, around 140 euros per month. It takes me around 3 hours a day for 12 km between X and Y, and 12 more between Y and X. If I went walking, it would take 4 hours, only one more hour than with public transport, and free. If the weather was not so bad in Ireland, I would have a total 1.5 hours commute by bike, half the time of public transport.

It is easy to draw conclusions, right?  For the sum spent in a month just from Mon-Fri I would have unlimited integrated Bus+ Metro + Tram for 3 months in Barcelona (142 €, being cheaper options too). I could even live in the public transport. Get up in the morning and take the metro, go to the other side of the city and take a bus, then cross it again and change to the tram, and so on until midnight. Then, I could take night buses until the metro opened, and so on and so forth.

And lucky me I live in Dublin. If you don’t live in a city, then it’s even worse. When I was living in Clonakilty and had to take a bus to Cork city, it took more than 1 hour for 50 km, and it costed 21 € return. Then you understand why everyone drives here. Although I am not too sure if this it’s like a dog that chases its tail.

Ireland had a better railway network decades ago. According to Wikipedia, by its peak in 1920 Ireland had a 5,600 km route. The current status is only a third of that. In West Cork you can have a nice stroll along the walkway where railways used to be. Before, you could travel from Bantry to Cork by train. Now you have to take a bus which is expensive and has a low frequency.

Or you can buy a car. Or two. It is very common that in each family there are at least two cars.

I had my first and only car in Clonakilty. You need a car if you don’t live in a city. Otherwise you are stuck. My first month in Ireland I was more than stuck. I was completely shshtuck. Before moving to Clon, I was in a beautiful place in the middle of nowhere. The closest village was Kllbritain (population of 324 people), and it wasn’t so close. So I didn’t have a car, and I couldn’t take a bus anywhere. I was blocked.

Moving to Clonakilty was a big improvement, but I still needed a car. As I was saying, there I had my first – and only – car. And it was not exactly mine, but that’s another story. It was a fabulous Honda Civic of year 1999. It worked quite well and drove me to Bandon, Rosscarbery, Glandore, Kinsale, Skibbereen, Mizen Head, Goleen and I’d say to Kerry too. Never complained. Or at least not too much. She brought me to Dublin too, but then our lives fell apart. It made no sense to have a car in Dublin (at least by then I thought so) when I had a 20 mins walk to work and city center.

So here I am again, ranting and giving out about Irish (public) transport system. I think the best way to travel in Dublin is by bike. There are quite a lot of bike lanes and, in general, cars are quite careful with cyclists. At least more than in Spain. There is also a Dublin bikes system that works in a similar way like in other European cities. It is quite popular and it is growing.

Regarding the ‘foot transport system’, some people run to work and then they shower and change there. I have done it myself a few times and it is a really good way to start the day. You get to work earlier and fresh. Obviously not all companies have a shower or a gym, but there are many that do. I have never seen it in Barcelona and I think it is something that would benefit the employees and therefore  the companies if they provided these facilities. It is funny too that you see many women that walk to work and they dress with formal office attire but then they have pink runners that they change for high heels shoes when they get to their offices.

Nevertheless, this isn’t the most interesting way to get to places.

You can have a horse.

Yes, you can have a horse. Why do you need a Honda Civic when you can have a horse outside? The Rubberbandits say so, and I completely agree.

No kidding, I have seen horses in Dublin. I’m not saying that it is something that you see every day, but I can say that once I saw one ‘parked’ in a green on my way to IKEA. And some months ago a horse was burnt in Tallaght, Dublin.  These things only happen in Ireland.

This illustrates again what I have mentioned in previous posts. Ireland, but mainly Dublin, is a place with pronounced contrasts where there are very wealthy people and very poor people. Peaceful nice residential areas with big houses and not so nice ones. The same applies to transport. You can see all those young professionals jogging or cycling to work, and then… and then you see a horse parked.

And why not? Considering the prices and the inefficiency of public transport, what the heck, I will have to follow the Rubberbandits’ advise: feck your Dublin Bus, I have a horse outside!



Rugby, Poetry and West Cork

Rugby, Poetry and West Cork: why this title? For those who have been in Clonakilty, Skibbereen, Inchydoney beach, Schull, Baltimore or Cape Clear, just to name a few places, you know already that they are really, really inspirational places. Inspirational to play hurling, football, rugby, or inspirational to paint, sing of write poetry, as my friend Isaac Xubin does. Isaac is a rugbyman, poet and West Corkonian in heart, all at the same time. We shared good moments together around 2 years ago when I was living in Co. Cork. West Cork is a place with many musicians, painters and all kind of artists who are looking for beautiful and quiet landscapes to relax and get inspiration. On the other hand, rugby and poetry may be considered by many as opposite poles. However, anyone who follows both things can see a relation, and Isaac is the tangible living proof of such connection.

Rugby is a quite military sport indeed. There are more rules than in soccer, and the tactics and strategy are more organised and rigid. Many players even confess they don’t know all the rules. Simplifying, although there are big skilled stars in rugby the same way as there are in soccer, I wouln’t imagine  a Lionel Messi or Maradona in rugby. Rather a Cristiano Ronaldo (The General according to Joseph Blatter), or a Frank Bekembauer. However, rugby is an epic and beautiful game. Rugby is a brutal sport where you can break every bone that you could break, but at the same time illegal violence and cheating are strongly punished. It promotes noble and fair principles, as of accepting defeat but respecting the rival when celebrating tries or winning. Even the famous Haka is somehow an anthem, dance or cry: a poetical expression in the end. Rugby is therefore a Romantic sport where individual ambitions meet group goals.

Isaac was one of the first friends I made in Ireland. When I was living in Clonakilty, I attended  the seminars organised by UCC Hispanic Department for professors and PhD candidates, and he was a Galician language lecturer there. We connected soon, as I had just started my rugby experience with Bandon Rugby Football Club.  Isaac was a much more experienced player, since he had been playing for many years in Galicia. I had started to play at Bandon RFC thirds, and that was my first rugby experience. I knew that you had to pass the ball backwards and little more. Training was on Friday, and Isaac joined a couple of times. We played a few matches together on Saturdays and Sundays. While I was just given the last 15 minutes of each game due to my lack of experience, Isaac soon impressed the coach, Aidan, and played from the start as a scrum half under the name of a South African player that had left the team in order to be ‘legal’ and be covered by the club insurance. I was a winger, the best position for a newcomer, as you touch the ball just a few times during the match and, basically, what you have to do when you have it is run, run, run.

I always had interest on rugby, but in Spain it is not very popular, or at least as a professional sport. It’s difficult to get to watch a live match on TV unless you go to an Irish pub. Since my days in West Cork, though, I watch it as much as I can Munster, Leinster, Conacht or Ulster matches, and I have been a few times at Aviva Stadium or RDS, even a 6 Nations Ireland-England!

Also, during my time working at Google, I tried to join a team, but during my second training I badly broke my finger and I have two permanent screws and a stitch. I would have liked to continue, but rugby is a sport which is better to learn at the earliest possible stage, like cycling or driving. Not knowing how to play it properly is quite risky, so if you work with your hands, or with your legs, and you are a starter, I would think about it twice. For the time being, I will continue watching it on TV and following Isaac’s rugby blog.

If you follow his stories, you will understand how Rugby, Poetry and West Cork are words that share a story, a space, a color, and a rhythm, and if not always that story has happy endings, there are beautiful things one can learn from being in West Cork, playing rugby, and writing poetry.

Isaac’s blog, ‘Melé a cinco‘ -‘scrum at five’-, is written in Galician, but it can be automatically translated if you use Google Chrome and you click the option ‘Translate page’.