We returned to Stansted airport at the crack of dawn as the last chavs glassed each other on their way out of the Black Lion pub in Stortford and the most conscientious milkmen began their rounds. We fought our way through another badly managed security checkpoint and within an hour we were on a tiny little plane packed to the brim with Essex men and women. We were packed in tighter than the contents of a Scotsman’s wallet but their was a cheery mood on board and everyone seemed ready for some fun and frolics. I half expected Cliff Richard to appear and hand out some beach towels but alas he was a no show. The flight was fairly tolerable aside from the fact that we had 4 peroxide blond foghorns with umpalumpa orange tans sitting in front of us loudly fantasising about their upcoming “Hen night”. Having been subjected to their war plan I couldn’t imagine that the eligible bachelors of Dublin would be lining up to meet them but perhaps the free flowing alcohol and deafening night club music would compensate for their amoeba-like intellects.
On arrival we quickly broke away from the rabble who had been on board with us as they wandered about in bewilderment looking for passport control. We hopped on a bus which took us to O’Connell St. right in the city centre. For me it was quite a poignant moment not because I had an ancestral connection to this street but because I had once spent 2 quid on a cheap plastic framed picture allegedly of O’Connell Street in 1901 and at least I could now honestly say I had been there. Five seconds after arriving we realised that O’Connell St. hadn’t added many places of interest in the preceding 107 years and we boarded one of the garish yellow buses that take your directly to the main tourist destinations. The bus claimed to have running commentary in 5 languages but only the Spanish version seemed to be working. The Spaniard did a good job of making everything sound interesting even though I couldn’t understand a word he said. We made our first stop at Trinity College Dublin which is home to the book of Kells. It is a document used to list famous Irish people called Kell like Kell-y Ripa, Kell-y Osborne and of course R Kell-y. The college itself is a nice stop off point and it has a library that I am sure was used as the model for Disneys Haunted mansion but anyway we didn’t have all day to hang around so it was a case of a taking a few quick snap shots and moving on to the next place of interest.
The most fascinating place we went to was the Irish National Museum. It had the usual assortment of things you’d expect in an old museum such as spearheads, Victorian chamber pots and enough gold jewellery to keep Mr T clothed for weeks but it also had a new display of bog-men. These poor old fellows were prehistoric murder victims who had been perfectly preserved in peat for a few thousand years until a farmer was out giving his new combine harvester a spin happened to stumble upon them. The weird thing was that they were all red heads and all were at least 6 foot tall. No wonder the petit skirt wearing Romans had so many issues conquering the Celts. These guys would have eaten a couple of Lucius’ for lunch with a nice Gaius for dessert. It seemed a bit disrespectful to permanently store someones dead uncle in an air tight glass capsule but I guess it’s a step up from a smelly peat bog for these lads.
By midday I had noticed that something very curious had happened to the Emerald isle since my last visit. In the past one of the things that had helped to make Ireland seem so Irish was the abundance of Irish people there. I don’t know where they went but these days you’re more likely to find a Predrag than a Paddy or a Miljana than a Molly in Dublin. We had to walk for 45 minutes at one point to a find an actual pub that served Guinness. When I say a pub I mean a real pub as opposed to an “Irish style Italian restaurant” (whatever that is) or a “pub style French restaurant” (What ??!!!) These were places where in the past flat cap wearing drinkers sat with a cheap fag in one hand and a betting slip in the other hand wondering why they never had any money. These days the same locations were full of Czech hair stylists talking about the merits of knee length fur boots as opposed to leather ones with their Parisien customers.
Before we knew it the day was over and it was time to head out of the city and board our toothpaste tube sized plane for the journey back to the mainland. I would have liked to have had time to venture out of the city and see the real country. For example there is the small matter of checking on the “leprachaun trap” I made out of a wheel barrow and some brussel sprouts with the aid of an Isle of man politician in 1984. The last time I checked ( in 1998 ) it had still failed to yield any results but the aforementioned MP assured me that it would “eventually” net me a pot of gold so until then I intend to keep checking. I would also have liked to catch up with an childhood friend called Brian O’Brien and make sure he gets a good baby name book before he has to name his own offspring but alas God set the Earths orbit in 24 hour spells and the next day I was due in London.