Well, folks, these are my last few days in Europe…
Here I was in the suburbs of Dublin, in an apartment built in the 1850’s for coal miners, with nothing touristy nearby, and I couldn’t bring myself to leave the apartment. I was mentally and physically exhausted by travel. Living out of a carry on bag had it’s advantages of course, but it’s limitations as well. While I was in Paris I thought it might be cool to go to the west coast of France, rent a house and hole up there for a month, but figured I might miss out on visiting all the other places I’d been since. Prague, Berlin, London, Bath. So I’d kept moving. And eventually, that takes some travel enthusiasm out of you. My host has a large video library and I ended up doing nothing but watch movies and surf the net.
While web surfing, I discover there’s a road in Northern Ireland named Ballymongan. That is interesting because I was just doing some random searches for my family name, Mongan, and found that it links to Ballymongan. With the suggestion in articles I’m reading that’s where my family hails from originally. Back in the states I’d spent 100’s of hours researching the families Irish roots but had never stumbled onto Ballymongan. I had traced the surname Mongan back to the year 630, but had never pinpointed an area of origin this concisely. Ballymongan is basically just an ‘area’ of Ireland now. The family is fairly scattered. Three hour drive NW of Dublin, and less than an hours drive due east of Donegal.
Back in the early 1960s, one of my distant cousins had traveled to Ireland and came back with pictures of what they said was the Mongan family castle. I remember looking at them, and it’s as you would expect, the pictures showed a ruin. Still, if I could get over there to Ballymongan and perhaps find a long lost relative, maybe visit the castle if it’s still there, that would be cool.
So I ask my host if he’d have the time to drive me over there. I’d pay for everything of course. Unfortunately, he’s too busy to make the trip. So close, yet so far.
I start trying to find some means of transport over there that would work and find an AirBnB apartment to stay at…but travel exhaustion was hitting me hard. Couldn’t bring myself to do it. My European trip was over. I just wanted to get back home, sleep for a week, and then rest for a month without traveling anywhere. To hell with it. I checked ticket prices for Irish Air and bought a ticket for a couple days on that gave a $1,000 break on the price over a flight tomorrow. When my host got home later, I asked if I could stay another night (I’d only booked 2 nights). Necessary for that airline ticket price discount. But turned out he had another guest showing up the day I wanted. So back online, I find a nice hotel that was having a price special and reserved a room. This would put me right downtown Dublin so I could do a walkabout whenever I wished while I stayed there.
2nd Day in Dublin…
Next morning, showered, had breakfast, cleaned up my messes, locked up and dropped my key in the mailbox slot as I trudged off into town. And as I passed a gentleman my age behind his fence, I asked where the nearest bus stop was? He stares at me for a few moments, mumbles a couple words I couldn’t make heads or tails out of, turns and walks back into his house. What the hell? I had my Android tablet set up with GPS mapping and decided to hoof it instead of taking the bus. It wasn’t all that far. That would give me more of a personal view of Dublin and her people.
Soon I was near the river, just a couple blocks distant. My GPS mapping was working fine as I walked into a newly rebuilt area with fancy condos, a hotel, government buildings, a small park, the works. All spruced up. Without a single fukin’ street sign on any street corner, or on any building like they do in so many cities. WTF? This huge area had absolutely no help for someone trying to find an address. There weren’t even any building numbers I could find. And my GPS got confused around this time. I think it was because of being surrounded by highrises.
Now, I knew I was only a few blocks away from where I wanted to be, no biggie, but it would have helped if the city of Dublin would have required building contractors to install street signs in this large area of town. Wow. I did find a city crew working in an alley and I got to talk to the foreman a bit. I was laughingly complaining about the lack of street signs after I’d gotten directions from him and he didn’t believe me. Until we walked into that new area and I pointed it out to him. He’d never noticed. Funny.
Following his easy directions, I was soon right where I wanted to be. This is the main drag and the hotel is nearby. I haven’t been yet, I’m approaching it though. Dragging my bags.
This statue is on O’Connell Street, downtown. Sort of the city center. A way on is O’Connell bridge that has some famous history. But, remember I was sick of traveling so I didn’t bother to investigate the history of Dublin. Everything is nice and modern. They even have a trolley system.