like my cynical mood, the rain has been pleasantly absent from ireland recently. the past couple of weeks have been all sunshine, rainbows and tan lines. school is out which means the dissertation has begun, supposedly. in actuality, steaks, weekend drives and afternoon cheap cocktails in the backyard have been taking up most time.
the other day, bill and i were driving down the m50, dublin’s largest motorway, on the way to powerscourt waterfall in wicklow. (see photo)
the m50 is kind of a physical incarnation of ireland itself. well, post-celtic tiger ireland, that is. brand spanking new, completely uneven, always under construction. it is the narrowest, most terrifying highway ever. potholes and road works barriers greet you at every bend. and there are a lot of bends. additionally, irish drivers love to speed and late-brake, and given that i’m already a terrible backseat driver, it’s all i can do to keep my mouth shut when we are driving on this thing. the m50 doesn’t really take you anywhere, and it does that in (perhaps slightly) less time than it would’ve taken to just drive through the city centre, and also with no guarantees that you will have any hair left at the end, or a beating heart for that matter. as the swearing lady aptly said, only in ireland could you have a motorway that goes nowhere.
i have also been thinking a lot (read: bitching) about grafton street. grafton street is dublin’s major shopping district and it is a soley pedestrian thoroughfare, save for the flower carts and delivery trucks that arrive in early mornings.
i HATE grafton street.
there are never less than 200,000 people on that thing at any given time. the pedestrian congestion is worsened by the existence of street performers that set up shop all along the length of the road, sometimes drawing crowds of hundreds to watch them stand on pedestals made up like james joyce erected in cement or scary silvery clown guys, or to perform stupid human tricks to badly amplified music. i really hate this place.
the worst part about grafton street, though, is that no one knows where they are going. it’s like where’s waldo just to keep track of the friend walking next to you, thanks largely to the numerous clans of europeans that can’t find their way, or irish teens that insist on walking twelve abreast while shouting at one another. my urban word of the day gave me one brilliant entry about a year ago that describes these people perfectly: meanderthals. and that is what they are.
but even my hatred of grafton street and death-defying experiences on the motorway can’t damper my happiness in ireland. the country is fickle – on the days you think you are in love with ireland, the weather beats you to a pulp or you get inexplicably trapped between a busker crowd and HMV on grafton street… little reminders that you can have most of ireland, but you can’t have it all.