2. The Ha’penny Bridge and the ongoing Saga of the Hire Car.

I’m in a Dublin Pub, the Palace on Fleet Street, buying a Guinness for Me and a light beer for Her who is perched outside on a high stool alongside a higher keg which doubles as a table. It takes time to get a glass of Guinness as the bar person has to await the five food groups contained in the Guinness liquid to settle, before they top it up. This again dependant on how busy the bar person is. Next to me at the bar is a well built, structurally sound bloke with a gallon pot of Guinness. Short cropped hair, aged in mid fourties, he looks as though his life has been not too easy. Hearing me order he says New Zealander or Aussie’. Eamonn, for that is his name, starts chatting about a visit he once had to Adelaide and about his sister who married a yank. There was no understanding for me the connection between Adelaide his sister and a yank. Eamonn does not like his sisters choice of husband describing him as a ‘effin yank bottomhole’ but in more colourful language. He once purchased a Babe Ruth baseball mitt for the ‘effin yank bottomhole’  as a birthday present. ‘And do you know’ he says leaning forward as I wish the effin barperson would hurriedly top up my Guinness, ‘The effin yank bottomhole did not even thank me’. I nodded agreement and confirmed that all Yanks I had met and given Babe Ruth baseball mitts to, were indisputably ‘effin bottomholes’.      

Palace Hotel Fleet Street Eamonn’s inside.

There are 666 pubs in Dublin which in 2016 had a population of 1,347,359. Many of those pubs having Eamonn’s wanting to chat to you. Most also have a historical connection with the ‘easter uprising’ of 1916 or one of Irelands hundreds of important writers, poets, politicians and those who fought to free Ireland from the bondage, servitude and yoke of bloody minded English overlords. Pubs are proud of their link albeit sometimes tenuous, to ‘fame’ whether it be from the ‘uprisings’, or from poets, writers, playwrights or extraordinary peasants who had a drink at their bar in by-gone days. Those people who rose above the ruck and made their mark on the minds of the populace hence pubs advertise that Michael Collins, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Seamus Heaney or that seriously alcoholic playwright and poet Brendan Behan who managed to imbibe in all 666 pubs, stopped by for a chat and a Guinness. Ireland celebrates its own people whereas in Australia we cannot seem to shake off our love affair with English Royalty and soon we will have a King Charles and his consort the Duchess of Polo Ponies. Aussie pollies still cannot think of Australia as home. Our once upon a time West Oz premier, emperor Barnett, named the major new works on the river esplanade as ‘Elizabeth Quay’ in honour of the fact he once said hello to Liz. Ireland honours its ‘heroes’ across all spectrums of Irish society and not from a foreign society, like our emperor Barnett. There are no statues of British royalty nor heroes in Ireland. Ireland for the Irish – yay, way to go. There are statues and memorials from James Joyce to far less literary intelligentsia like ‘commoner’ Molly Malone the fishmonger currently in full size bronze statue form pushing her wheelbarrow up Grafton Street. The barrow filled with ‘cockles and mussels alive alive o’ and to the Pikemen and Boys who bravely defended their Irish ties to the death as they ineptly but bravely fought then were hunted down and slaughtered by the Poms. Theres a statue of a Pikeman in Tralee which was once torn down by the dreadful ‘Black and Tans’ an unscrupulous British infantry force, then quickly re-erected once the British Yoke was unburdened from Irish necks in 1922 or thereabouts. ———————————————–Our hotel accommodation in Dublin was booked before we were aware it was a long weekend in Ireland and hence the room prices were doubled. We also never realised until we arrived at Customs, Dublin airport, surrounded by ankle biters, that it was the start of school holidays.  Always check before you fly, the situation with long weekends, school holidays and what bars Eamonn might be in sucking on his fourth bucket of Guinness. Our hotel, close to the Talbot Street come Henry Street shopping mall and location of all those ‘name stores’, is a retro-fitted building laid out like a rabbit warren by a junior architect named Squiggle. Our first floor room, is squishy but adequate, and is accessed by a lift which starts and finishes with a jolt, whilst expelling relief, then takes its own time to open the doors which fortunately, are close to the floor level it is servicing. Our room has free wi-fi which has a mind of its own, the air conditioning is a window and the desk was used by Van Gogh in one of his portraits. I have to keep remembering that this is Ireland, an Irish l-o-n-g weekend and that there are people named Eamonn and Squiggle living here. On a previous trip, we did most of the Dublin sights of which there are many particularly if you love reading books. I do although I am yet to understand just what the author is on about unless there are pictures.

Des with Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde lying down with Des standing up.

Dubliners love their poets, authors and scallywags and erect statues, as I refer to above, which is why we went to Merrion Square, park actually, where there is a full sized sculpture of Oscar Wilde spread eagled on a large rock in a pose that says here I am, I’m different and thats the way it is, get on with it. He was literary elite and gay to boot. Jailed for two years and hounded within an inch of his life by self righteous religious fanatics, until he retreated to Paris, penniless and desperately unhappy which all contributed to his early death aged 46 in 1900. I like Dublin, its lack of skyscrapers, love its architectural drabness, drizzling dewdrop rain, crowds, pubs and that there seem to be no young people with bodies covered in tattoos, rings and trousers with designer holes in them. Oh, and I love the Guinness and the Statues of relative nobodies. Dublin, originally a Viking settlement which allowed them to sail across the Irish Sea and give those Poms a bit of a hurry up, gets its name ‘Dublin’ meaning ‘dark or black’ referring to a tidal pool where the River Poddle meets the River Liffey. Thats back when the Vikings were in charge. The dark tidal pool is long gone and replaced by both Rivers being now completely dark murky green tending in a few years, towards colour Guinness. Its all started with fouling of the waters by the Vikings then along comes open sewers, Global Warming, Pauline Hanson, Clive Palmer and Sarah Hanson-Young. Dublin also has the worlds tallest sculpture being the ‘Spire’ soaring up from a three metre diameter base to a point 121.2 metres above, too small for a seagull to perch on, pointing in the general direction of Heaven and/or Intergalactic Space, take your pick. Its located on busy O’Connell Street where Talbot and Henry Streets collide. A statue of the English hero Nelson stood on the site until it was blown up in 1966 possibly by the grandsons of those who led the Easter Uprising in 1916. Just a little away is a delicate iron structure, the Ha’penny Bridge arching across River Liffey. Once upon a time the charge to walk across the bridge was a half penny. A sizeable sum in bygone days making it available to the well to do and not the peasant class. But the peasants were smart then, such that peasants began piggy backing the missus or a mate across – two for a half penny. Guess how long that lasted. ————————————-We depart our Squiggly Designed Hotel early on Saturday, as full of good cheer as possibly whilst dragging two suitcases, one at 12kg and one at 23kg, two backpacks, two carry bags, a plastic bag containing my 1.5 litre bottle of Glenmorangie and one large handbag, hers. Some of our belongings have apparently gone and mated with another item of apparel and now we have their offspring to haul. Its fine weather, bit of cloud, bit of sun, the pigeons are out pecking and cooing whilst seagulls fight over a remnant triangle of pizza. Our U Bewt Rav 4 or equivalent, watch those equivalent statements in the ‘fine print’, was pre-booked in the jolliness of our Oz home fuelled up by the expectations of a wonderfully exciting adventure ahead and a bottle of liquid containing 14% of the doings. Ms Slim and Attractive welcomed us at Hire Car Central with a smile us thinking here we are all happy, lets sign in and show us where our Rav 4 is. Oh, and thank you. It just does not work that way, as after some ten minutes of Ms Slim and Attractive’s fingers fluttering at the speed of light over her keyboard, we came to the ‘DEPOSIT’ bit meaning we have to sign over some 2,000 euro, about 3,200 in Oz speak, to the car hire firm just in case we either, trash the car, do a drug run to the Outer New Hebrides  or sell it to Somalian Pirates. We knew this, but what was unexpected was that our credit card failed three times. No access to our money means no car. Grr Grr think the getting worried Bride and I. But we are not at the popping Panadol and drinking from my bottle of Glenmorangie stage yet as we have the phone number, its on the back of the card, to contact our bank in Oz where efficiency of banks and their call services is supreme.  Yay we say giving high fives and causing a worried look on Ms Slim and Attractive’s unlined countenance, That goes all hay wire as our bank, the one we carefully chose and let have control of our financial lives, ask a squillion electronically voiced questions of us as though we are a related to a convicted Coffin Cheater. Or are related to a Politician. We have to give up on the bank as they do not seem to realise these Coffin Cheaters are in a small office in a large six story carpark in Dublin and travelling with a loaded luggage carousel. Nearly two hours later we manage to pay our ‘DEPOSIT’ due to a brainwave by my lovely wife which I cannot disclose as, although she told me how, I just could not follow the paper trail. One up for the banking peasants and nil to the effin banks. Then, ‘Oh, sorry sir, there are no Rav 4’s, yours is a Nissan Quasimondo!!!’. There were no Rav 4’s at all as sceptical Des checked all the stock. Perhaps there never was.  We are off to navigate ourselves out of Central Dublin, a stressful near divorce task, to hopefully head south to the nearest Tavern where we can unwind, drink a gallon or two, recommit to our marriage vows and forget about hire cars. 


Ooroo from Des.