Archive for December, 2005

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Neverland

Saturday, December 17th, 2005

Fun happenings in Northern Ireland, things don’t get much more bizarre than the recent few days [1] [2] (BBC). I think for once, Bertie Ahern speaks for most people when he says “I tell you, it even stretches my imagination at 4am in the morning”. This isn’t just an odd and amusing incident either, Ahern also points out that “This was a huge case, it doesn’t get much bigger than bringing down democratically elected institutions that people have voted for” [3] (Irish Times – eircom.net).

The mind boggles as to what’s likely to happen next. Perhaps an inquiry, but I think it’s quite unlikely anyone, Republican, Unionist, or Irish Government is going to find out just what on earth the British were up to. It doesn’t look like the British are going to tell us just what Sinn Féin were up to either.

It makes McDowell’s recent actions [4] [5] (RTÉ) look entirely ordinary and straightforward by comparison.

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Rails to Midleton

Thursday, December 15th, 2005

Some interesting posts on the railway forum I frequent, Irish Railway News (msn groups unfortunately). Some photos of clearance work on the railway line from Glouthane (Cóbh Junction) to Midleton. Good to see work commence on this project, even if it is preliminary.

The railway line to Youghal was closed to passengers in 1963, and to goods in 1978. The last passenger special (rail tour) to Youghal was in 1987, and to Midleton in 1988.

The line has never officially been closed, and the current state (waterlogged and rotten track, trees and shrub cover) is the result of no weedspraying or drainage works (when the gulleys, ditches and drains block up, the ballast goes bad and falls apart, and the track rots) in almost 20 years. The track was poor anyway in some places, as CIÉ were so cash starved that they replaced worn mainline track with the good track on this branch. There’s actually two miles of missing track between Midleton and Youghal.

The line is being rebuilt with new track and modern signalling (mini-CTC). IÉ have had to apply for a railway order in order to allow them to fully clear the track and re-assert their control of the land in question.

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In somewhat related news, IÉ ran a track inspection car on the Western Railway Corridor from Claremorris to Athenry to Ennis. This section of line is currently disused but still navigitable. Last “real” traffic was ballast trains from Athenry to Ennis for the work on the Limerick-Ennis line.

As regards Ennis, IÉ published their new timetable. Among many changes to routes all over the country, services to/from Ennis have increased on a Sunday. This means the service is now 8 trains a day each direction, 7 days a week. Almost all connect to Dublin, with only one change at Limerick or Limerick Junction (and in one or two cases, no change).

One can now be in Dublin for 08:30 when travelling from Limerick or Ennis with the new timetabling.

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London

Saturday, December 10th, 2005

London is a really neat place to visit. Well, more particularly, there’s a novelty to visiting a really big city for the first time, that having only been here three days, hasn’t worn off!

So far I’ve seen the market in Camden, which was labyrinth-like, and had clothes for just about any type of person, to suit any fashion, any era. Possibly aliens would find suitable clothes to wear at some obscure stand. Not really being interested in clothes, I didn’t actually attempt to shop for any, but nevertheless found the bewildering selection fascinating!

On the way to Camden, we walked through Regent’s Park. I’m not sure if it is the London park that inspired the Park in Mary Poppins – perhaps not, but in any case it was an insanely delicately planned out horticultural wonder. It was actually truly awesome in the morning mist.

In my EIGHT HOURS of walking yesterday, I also got to see Leicester Square (got the tube there from Camden), the giant Forbidden Planet shop on Shaftsbury Avenue, and Oxford Street. Oxford Street was a bit crazy really – it had far more people on it than it deserved. It was the usual culprits for highstreet shopping, except bigger and posher stores, and repeated every two or three blocks (there must have been at least three HMVs, Dixons, Boots, etc.) The street looked pretty enough, but there being traffic on so many of the London shopping streets really spoils them.

Yesterday evening was random house party evening, where I got to meet some folks studying at Amber’s Uni, as well as her boyfriend Gustavo. It was a fun night, involving some alcohol drinking by some of us, and much much more alcohol consumption by others. London rocks for having buses at 4 am. Hah – and the streets look little different to 4 pm (similarly dark, similar amounts of people).

Anyways, after walking around the sightseeing area (Westminister, etc) and down to Kensington for a really good Indian meal (I haven’t had better yet), I’m pretty tired. Some stuff is more expensive here (CDs, DVDs, electronics, clothes) – but food is either the same (in the central areas) or a fair bit cheaper.

On a final note – London’s traffic cones are Irish Republican. Yup – green white and orange. Not joking, pure green base, and orange cone with a white band. Any Ulstermen in London will definitely be rubbing their eyes.

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Destination London

Wednesday, December 7th, 2005

So away to London I go, with little idea what the next few days hold. And actually, it’s a really cool way to have it.

I suspect that “spending lots of money” is definitely on the itinerary.

The most important thing though is I’m meeting an old friend again, and have two and a half years of stuff to talk about and catch up on 🙂

Here’s hoping it’s a nice weekend.

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Passing time

Thursday, December 1st, 2005

I’m still reading more journal papers.

Still. Just like last week. And the week before. And…

Next week however should be a nice break from the ongoing routine (which probably has been relatively unchanged since MidLAN). Going away to London for a few days (first time to that city, or England for that matter) to visit a friend from the States. I haven’t met her in over two years, so I’ve no idea how things will turn out!

The routine I’m in is worrying comfortable actually. I shall have to ensure I continue to leave Limerick every few weekends just to remind myself there is a whole world out there. It’s amazing how insulated an existence just three weeks solid of not leaving Limerick is (if I have been outside Limerick in the last three weeks, despite thinking the contrary, that probably says something worrying about my current mental state).