Hello, world. I’m MacDara Conroy, and this is my blog.

Weeknotes #687

It’s been a few weeks, so it has, but few working particulars to catch up on, mostly extracurricular activities.

The first two weeks of last month were spent chaperoning Bee’s parents around the city and beyond as they came to visit from South Africa. That, of course, was preceded by a number of ‘why is this all happening right now?’ chores ahead of their arrival, such as getting our toilet unblocked (the local kids had kicked gravel into the drain, it appears) and our immersion timer fixed (can’t be having no hot water in the mornings). A lot of stress there as you can imagine, hence my brief entry previous.

Relatively speaking, all was well for the 10 days Bee’s folks were here. We had them over for dinner one evening (pulled pork, which came out perfectly, with various soul food fixings) but mostly did the touristy things. It made a nice change being a tourist in my own city, actually seeing stuff I’d never noticed before, like the carved heads of officers and constables above the doors at Pearse Street Garda Station. I should make it a habit to pop my bubble now and then.

We also spent a few days over in Galway — Bee’s and my favourite getaway spot — and went on a brilliant day-trip tour of Connemara, which I thought I’d never been to before but it turns out my mam took me there on a family holiday when I was a baby, to a cottage in the Maam Valley. The tour also passed through Cong where our artist friend Dáire lives and works, though sadly no time to say hello, but we’ll be back soon enough I think.

Ten straight days out of the house — and on our city’s ramshackle public transport — was exhausting, a lot for homebodies like us, and we both fell ill in the middle of the month. Then as soon we we were better, we were treated to a day-long wait at the GNIB on Burgh Quay for Bee’s immigration renewal.

Now we thought it was bad back in April, when we had to wait three hours (two more than our previous visit five years before) but our hearts sank when we got there before 8am and saw a queue that snaked round to Poolbeg Street, composed primarily of students who shouldn’t have been admitted till after 9am. Forty minutes later we got a ticket — yes, that long just to get a ticket — and were told to come back at 11am. Not that we were seen then; it was some time after 2pm when our number (a quasi-random one, it turns out, as the people directly behind us got a number 10 spots back) came up. It’s a relative blessing that there were no complications from that point on, and we were finished shortly after.

But was there any reason for us to spend the bulk of a work day on a process that used to take less than an hour? Certainly not. Yeah, the system is being overwhelmed by the sudden closure of language schools, but after all these months the situation is not unprecedented, and the powers that be are well aware that the GNIB’s and INIS’ resources are stretched. But hey, foreigners aren’t Irish citizens so who gives a shit, right?

Three days after those shenanigans, we bussed across the country for the day-long festival of heavy music that is the Siege of Limerick (well, I went to the Siege; Bee chilled out in the hotel), which I’ll be writing up for Thumped shortly. Limerick itself was a tad disappointing, but maybe just because it was a bank holiday weekend; the city felt deserted, and the Milk Market was closed on the Monday morning so we returned to Dublin early. Worth going back? Maybe; we did have a very nice dinner.

Since then? The clocks went back, the days turned black; the weather veers from crisp autumn to bleak winter; I filed and paid my bullshit tax; and I’m trying to get back in the routine, which is easier said than done. At least I got this yoke written up.