Dublin; Wednesday, 09 April, 2008

I packed my bags, grabbed a quick breakfast and then walked down to Busáras to leave it in the luggage lockers, then walked round the corner to Connolly station to catch the train out to Malahide.

The town is about 9KM north of Dublin and home to Malahide castle. When the last member of the Talbot family finally vacated it in the 1970’s they brought to an end the longest continuous residence of a house by the same family in Ireland (ignoring the short period when they were dispossessed by Oliver Cromwell!) Today the house is owned by the city of Dublin and is open to look around, albeit on an audio tour.

After looking around the castle I headed back to the station to catch the train back to Dublin. The first one was cancelled, so in the end I had a pleasant 40 minute wait sitting on a bench in the warm sun (only remembering when I got on the train that the only times I have really got sun-burnt were both in Dublin!)

By the time the train got back into Connolly I had missed the midday river cruise, and there wasn’t one at one so instead I headed over to Dublin castle to go on a tour of that. The first tour was fully booked, but I was able to get on one about 30 minutes later so quickly grabbed a sandwich before taking the tour around the “Symbol of English oppression of the Irish for over 700 years”. It was from here that Ireland was run, firstly as a separate country and then, following the act of union, as part of the United Kingdom, up until the creation of the Irish Free State in 1921.

Following the tour I wandered down to the river to catch the river cruise only to find that nature was continuing her vendetta and had managed to get the hat-trick. After yesterdays lack of water today it was very quickly obvious that there was a bit too much. With less than two foot clearance between the river and the bridges the tours had been suspended. Instead I wandered along the edge of the river heading down stream, past O’Connell street and down towards the Customs House.

This area of Dublin – the Docklands – is rapidly being developed into the modern business heart of the city. Gleaming office blocks and sleek shopping centres a testament to the phenomenal economic growth of Ireland over the previous 20 years. Just across the road from one of the larger shopping complexes is something that brings you right back down to ground with a jolt.

The Irish Famine Monument is a stark reminder of the suffering that Ireland has been through. The statues of emaciated and dying people desperate for food is very moving. You forget whilst you are looking at it that you are in a modern busy city, with one of the busiest roads just feet behind you. You are taken back to a time when people like this would have huddled around here hoping to get on a ship out of the country. A figure at the back has the body of a child draped over his emaciated skeleton.

Leaving the monument I walked through the docklands area and found myself approaching Busáras just as the skies started to open. I dashed inside and looked at my watch. I could, if I wanted to, spend another hour in the centre of Dublin before I would have to catch the bus out to the airport, but given what the weather was doing, I thought it was probably best to admit defeat at this point, pick up my luggage and catch the airbus back to the airport. 45 minutes later the driver finally cleared the traffic in O’Connell street and joined another traffic jam on the airport road, 35 minutes after that a bus full of very frantic people, concerned they were about to miss their flights, and one smug git who didn’t have to rush as they had left an hour early, arrived at the terminal building. It was quite fun to watch people trying to fight their way off the bus, I decided to just stay in my seat until the end and then calmly stepped off the bus and walked to checkin.


Sunny Heavy Showers
Mild (0-10C, 32-50F)