Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Longchamp, last Sunday

Last Sunday, I went out to Tallaght on the LUAS (see post below), but because of the long queue, I decided to get the bus back. Delayed by a running race in the Terenure area, I barely got home in time before the BBC coverage of the racing from Longchamp started. Quite simply, this is one of the best days of horse racing in the world all year.

I have not been to Longchamp since my one and (so far) only visit there for the weekend in 1994, when Carnegie won the big race, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. It was also my first visit to Paris.

But I admit I felt a huge feeling of inner satisfaction when Jim Bolger's Alexander Goldrun won the Prix de l'Opera. And I didn't have a bet on the winner, in case you're wondering.

Especially when the camera got a shot in the unsaddling enclosure of Aidan O'Brien and Jamie Spencer breaking off their post-race discussions to applaud the winner into the number one spot.

Aidan learned his trade from working for Jim, another native of Co Wexford. I have met Jim Bolger a few times, and he was never anything but polite and courteous to me. Nice guys sometimes finish first.

Jim is probably not too far off getting his bus pass, but he is a testament to what anybody can achieve through hard work and determination. He did not come from a racing family, and effectively had to start from scratch. Incidentally, he was born on December 25th!

So Jim's success put me in a good mood for the rest of the day. Thanks Jim for putting a smile on my face!

Sunday, October 03, 2004


We good citizens of Ireland will have Mary McAleese as our President for another seven years.

Now I admit I have nothing against the lady from Rostrevor; I'm just sorry we're not going to have a Presidential election. Because elections are my favourite blood sport.

If Dana had been allowed to run as a candidate, I would have voted for her, just as I did seven years ago. But I'm not making sour grapes. The key point is that the political establishment have basically decided that we will not have a election, and therefore we do not get the chance to choose our Head of State.

But I wouldn't have voted for her this year anyway - election day would have been October 22nd, and I'll be out of the country!

Would I like to be President? Well, you can't make a public statement without permission of the Government; you can't leave the country without permission of the Government; you must sign every piece of legislation passed by the Oireachtas, though you can send a Bill to the Supreme Court for a ruling whether or not it is constitutional. That's about the only real decision you can make.

The wages are good - over a hundred grand a year! And a nice pension at the end of seven years!

Hmmm, if I start now I should have 20,000 signatures on the petition by 2011!!

Thursday, September 30, 2004

LUAS Red Line

This evening I made my first trip on the new LUAS Red line, which is the line from Connolly Station to Tallaght.

I got on at Four Courts, and got off at Kylemore. On the way back, I got off at Abbey. In both directions, the tram was jam-packed. Obviously that will change from Monday next, when we will all have to pay our fare (except all those with the Dept of Social & Family Affairs passes). It was noticeable how many pre-teenagers were travelling. Overall, I did not get the impression that it was much faster than taking the bus. This is probably because, at the stops, no doubt the drivers were taking care with the doors so that nobody was travelling with one of their hands or limbs on the outside.

Studying and travelling on metros and tramway systems brings home to me how much a transport network can really change and affect how we view a city. In other words, the transport map almost becomes the real city map from our point of view. We tend to look at places from the point of view of how to get there.,

In London and Paris, it is standard practice for a hotel, shop, or public building to publicise itself by stating which is the nearest Metro/Tube station. In Dublin, it is not a ubiquitous custom to see bus numbers on advertisements, but I can see businesses in Dublin using the LUAS as a marketing tool, and advertising how far they are from the nearest platform, etcetera.

It was not cheap to build, and it will not be cheap to use it, but now that we have it, most of us will make the most of it.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Hello from Dublin

So this is it. Inspired by others, I have decided to set up my own blog.

I will be posting here on the subjects that interest me most - it is my blog after all!