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

Weaknotes for f/e 19 October 2019

Quite a busy, three-city week to start the fortnight just gone.

The first Monday I was in Belfast, to get the battery on my MacBook Air replaced at the only Apple Store on this island. Certainly we have Apple authorised resellers and servicing places in the Republic, and I’d considered taking it to CompuB in Dublin, before I blanched at the Yelp reviews. Anyway, the staff at Victoria Square knew what they were doing, and my laptop was ready to collect within two days though I wasn’t able to get back till a week later.

While I was there (and the following Monday) I took the Glider out to West Belfast to do some shopping, since there’s an ASDA next to a Sainsbury’s at Kennedy Centre, and we don’t have either of those chains here. It’s interesting to compare what’s cheaper (most mass-produced food items, as it happens) and what’s not (fresh vegetables are overpriced, I’ve noticed).

The Glider is fantastic, as it happens — I bought my ticket with the mLink app on my phone, and the bus zips a line right across the city. Indeed, it took me straight back to the train station for my journey home. There’s nothing else as convenient like it for public transport on this island.

Tuesday last was my first gig in ages, DEAFKIDS at The Sound House — the latest incarnation of that above-bar space at the end of Eden Quay. The band were fantastic, one of those groups that translate their songs better in the live setting than on record (for me that’s a rarity; Sleater-Kinney did it when I saw them in the mid 2000s).

But it also reminded me why I don’t go out to gigs often (if I ever did), because I spent far too much of the show distracted by whether the two drunk dancing clowns invading my personal space would get so close that I’d have to push them away, or give up and go home. How hard is it just to behave in public, seriously? By all means dance if you want to; there were a few others there getting down with it, and all power to them. But if you can’t do it without messing with other people around you, you can get stuffed.

I stayed up Tuesday night since I got home so late from the gig and had to be out before dawn to catch the first bus to Dublin, and then the train to Cork, to spend time with Bee’s parents who were visiting from South Africa. They’d hired a car and were driving around the country, and we were meeting them down in Cork for a few days.

But transport on Wednesday morning was not working in our favour. Our plan to take it easy, grab breakfast in town and catch the Luas to Heuston was scuppered by a) no available breakfast place even at 7am, and b) the red line not running in the city centre at all. So we had to hoof it across the Liffey to find a bus heading down the quays. On the way, we learned that vandalism on the line out of Heuston was delaying all services through Kildare. Our train departed on time, but took an hour longer than it should have to get to Cork. Six-and-a-half hours from our front door to Kent Station in total.

Thankfully things didn’t go any more pear-shaped. Indeed, we had a blast driving the Ring of Kerry, a part of the country I haven’t been in since I was a baby — in particular the Skellig loop out of Killorglin where not only were we flabbergasted by the sights from the cliffs outside Portmagee, but also surprised to find of all things a chocolate factory in the middle of nowhere.

I mean, look at this view:

Kerry Cliffs view of the Skelligs in the Atlantic Ocean

I have to mention this, though: one evening while we were there, in the hotel restaurant, I ordered an Irish coffee from someone who’d never heard of an Irish coffee. I mean, that’s a bit odd, isn’t it? It’s like never hearing of Marilyn Monroe or something. Sure, you might never have had one, or know how to make one, but to have never heard of the concept? The mind boggles.

That’s your lot. Tomorrow I’ve got a freelance journalism workshop in Dublin, and then the rest of the week is relatively quiet. Maybe it’ll stay dry enough for me to get the lawn mowed one last time before winter closes its grip?