I had to do a job in Dublin today and I was up and down in a flash on the great new motorways we have these days. Isn’t it great? No more sitting in the traffic at Borris-in-Ossory or Mountrath or Moneygall, asking yourself, why the fuck do these places exist?
Although, in fairness to Borris-in-Ossory, I have to say this: a very kind lady in the hotel once took pity on us when we had a brand new baby in distress and the kind woman offered all the facilities of the house to make sure the little one would be all right. Thank you, kind woman from long ago. I hope you’re still among us.
The child is now a strapping young woman herself and in no further need of assistance.
But still, wasn’t it a disaster, driving from here to there? I used to live in Dublin, and the journey was just that — a journey. Today, you jump on the motorway and you’re there. Bang. The end. But not in the dark old days.
Does anyone remember the ridiculous hairdresser’s shop at the corner in Nenagh? It exemplified and encapsulated everything that was pathetic and provincial about the Ireland of its time. As you nudged forward in the traffic, trying grimly to keep enjoying your latest Talking Heads album on the tape deck, while the child screamed blue murder in the back and your blood pressure approached red-line values, there it was, right there on the corner. A very cheap plastic sign that said Eileen O’Brien, Late of New York.
Oh dear sweet Jesus. Thank you Eileen. Unwittingly, you lifted our weary souls as we trudged southward and gave us a hearty laugh every time.
Eileen O’Brien, Late of New York.
Doesn’t it say so much, in so few words? I regret never taking a photo of that sign, because it said so much about our country at that time, and perhaps in the future. The loss of the old National Primaries is the loss, in many ways, of a culture. A culture of rage, frustration and annoyance, but also a culture that educated us in musical taste. After all, what else could you do when stuck in a three-mile tailback outside Roscrea and trying to placate a screaming child? What else but play that child your copy of Graceland at full volume, thereby creating a natch’l born throwback years later? It’s not like you’re going to play your favourite Matt Johnson tape, is it? Or Blood and Chocolate? Well, yes. Unfortunately for the child, it is.
It’s a lot better than it used to be, but of course, none of that is relevant to this post. I’m all in favour of motorways, but what I’m not in favour of is this: politically-designed motorways, which is what we have in Ireland.
Here’s the ridiculous politically-driven motorway map in Ireland today. I wrote about it in another post, and I won’t waste my time repeating that discussion here.
Motorways should be designed by engineers. They should determine the precise layout, the optimal grid that will achieve the most efficient transport, given the various constraints that exist everywhere in the world.
Were Irish motorways designed by engineers? Well, yes and no. After the politicians finished selecting the land that the new road should go through, so that their friends, relatives and voters got the maximum compensation, the new roads were laid out broadly along the lines of the old national primaries. Needless to mention, this was an insane policy, but we did it anyway, because it made the relatives and friends of politicians rich.
That’s the No. The Yes is that after all these political decisions were finished, engineers designed the roads, but they did so based on utterly corrupt choices, and therefore we ended up with superbly-designed motorways that just happen to go through land formerly owned by the friends and families of politicians, who had to be bought out at enormous public expense.
It isn’t about public officials being bribed. By the time they became involved, the decision was already made.
Figure it out, folks. Corruption takes many forms.