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This is an online diary of my latest trip to Ireland.
Dennis J. Ahern

Wednesday, March 9th

A nice hot shower and a cooked breakfast at the Scanlans. Lovely little sausages and Irish brown bread. Sadly, they have, like many Irish, forsaken good butter for margarine. I think we've all been sold a bill of goods on the health benefits of margarine. Give me real butter anytime. As I was leaving they presented me, as a parting gift, with a bottle of the pure stuff. I tried to refuse, but they wouldn't listen. They are too kind.

Olive's mother drove me in to the City and dropped me at the corner next to the quay where the Jeanie and the Asgard II were tied up. I found Tom on the latter vessel, hard at work getting her ready to leave for Kinsale that day. He was lashing the rungs on the portside ratlines of the foremast and kept working while we talked. It was good to talk to him and get another perspective on the situation in regard to funding and support for both ships. I also told him I had read of him in the papers last year when he foiled a robbery in Cork. A balaclava-clad knife wielder held up a betting shop. Tom saw what was going on from the sidewalk and jammed his foot in the door so it couldn't be opened. He said the guy just came up for sentencing and had some story that he was dreaming and didn't know what he was doing and a lot of other nonsense. Tom thinks he grassed someone in exchange for a light sentence. (to grass is to squeal on someone else to the coppers). Tom Harding working on Asgard II
Tom Harding working on Asgard II.

I had just time to hit the gents' before the 10:00 a.m. Cork-Cahir-Dublin bus left. For those interested it was a 21-euro fare for a next-day-return. I think my one-way on Sunday next should be less than half but not sure.

As we drove through Cashel there was a party of six soldiers in battle dress holding automatic weapons at the ready and Gardai as well. It was a bank delivery and this is customary practice to guard the delivery vehicle from the IRA.

Saw a sign for "Used Railway Sleepers" in a roadside supply company. Sleepers are what we call railroad ties and people probably use them to construct flower beds.

Coming into Durrow I saw a Gardai speed trap with one hatless garde behind a telephone pole sighting his radar gun along the road and another garde writing up tickets for those who failed to slow down approaching the village. You'll also see, on the dual-carriageways (divided highway) speed trap lay-bys for Gardai. They are little raised parking spaces on the side of the road, which can't be easily seen by approaching vehicles because of the way they slant down hill.

It was 1:30 coming through Portlaoise and the secondary school students, girls in long blue plaid skirts and boys in blazers and ties, were all out to the shops for their lunch break, a brief bit of freedom. Just beyond was the foreboding grey edifice of Portlaoise Prison. No lunchtime freedom for those guys.

When I got back to the hostel I had to check into a new room and it was already full, too full. Someone who was already settled had taken two lockers and I had no place to unpack my pack. I had to do laundry though. It's 2.50 euro for the washer and another 2.50 for the drier. You can get the detergent free from the front desk. from the left-luggage room. I ended up leaving my pack in the left-luggage and caught a #10 bus to Kildare Street (only 50 cents at night) and to the National Library for a joint meeting of the Irish Family History Society and TIARA. My friend Norman Mongan, Dublin author, filmmaker and historian met me there. Brian Donovan gave a presentation on what Eneclann is doing with new CDs and a major effort to digitize books from Trinity College's Library collection. John Heuston, treasurer of IFHS introduced members present from CIGO and other local Irish genealogical organizations who all said a few words and, in adjourning, John said we were all welcome to come over to Buswell's for some liquid refreshment.

Norman and I caught up with Brian Donovan on the steps of Buswell's where he paused to finish his cancer stick. As both of them are interested in Irish medieval [sp?] history, Brian and Norman were soon deep in conversation on subject way over my head. But soon we followed the crowd and found our way to a room set aside downstairs. No sooner had I stepped in the door, however, when I was confronted by a certain person who informed me that this was a private party and I was not welcome. I was nonplussed to say the least. The begrudgery of some people beggars belief. If I had been quicker of mind I should have gone over to John Heuston, paid my IFHS dues, and sat down, but having been shown the door, Norman and I went in search of sustenance. Walking down Molesworth Street we first perused the menu of a French restaurant, which is not surprising as among his many hats Norman also leads guided tours of the French wine country. My stomach was not up for snails, however, and we wandered off up Grafton Street and settled on an Italian place called Little Caesars Palace where I had a very nice pasta with shrimp in a garlic cream sauce and a half bottle of house red. Some of you have asked me to report on prices of meals and such, but I was in the gents when the bill came and Norman had paid so I'm not sure, but it was quite reasonable and good.

When I got back to the hostel the lockers still hadn't been sorted out so I didn't unpack any more than I needed and slept in my underwear with my belt pack on containing my money, passports (Irish and US) emergency travelers checks, credit card, ATM card, etc.

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