Monday, 4 April 2016


The traffic flowed freely all over the fair land of Ireland and loh, the forces of evil saw that this was bad, and they did deem a curse be cast upon Ireland’s drivers, and the black tarmac was covered with colours of white and red, the colours of flesh and blood (if you have white flesh!) as an infestation of plastic cones spread along the roads, dividing the motorways and yea, even the bohreens of the nation.

Did we not drive aside mile upon mile of cones protecting empty carriageway, that smooth sleek unbroken asphalt over there that we are forbidden to drive along tempting our souls to become angry. 

For over there nothing is happening, not a kango, not a kettle being boiled nor even seven lads staring at an eighth lad in a hole.

Were our wills not sapped by steering between the cones, and was our spirit not challenged by serpent legions, disguised as Stop Go roadworks, designed to destroy our will.

I really tried to stay calm and happy, because I’d been looking forward to driving down to Kerry. I’m weird. Four hours alone in a car allows much mental dribbling to be done, yet instead of ‘point and shoot’ driving my journey became a test of patience; a game of bagatelle in which I was the hapless ball, being stopped, started, bounced around diversions and squeezed into hard shoulders by lines of cones … mesmerised by the cones … the cones … a plague of cones........

Yes, I know that the roads have to be repaired. I know that Ireland needs its infrastructure updated and on the way, hooray, there’s loads of jobs for the workers. I’m all in favour of jobs for the workers who mend the roads and keep the wheels of trucks and people carriers hurtling around.

All praise the workers and please let them be paid double time for the sweat on their brow as they labour long into midsummer evenings. Nobody should have to work on our roads when it’s cold, lashing rain and dark at four in the afternoon, so let’s make the most of the extra hours of daylight afforded to us in the other three seasons. 

If the worst thing that might happen to a worker is a midge biting an exposed builder’s bum at 9 o’clock on a summer’s evening then Hallelujah! Praise be to overtime, workers with stuffed wallets, and getting the bloody job done within something approaching the timeframe.

If I’m sounding even grumpier than usual, it’s because for the last year and a half I’ve had to drive through the Stop Go roadworks in Moycullen, day in week out, month in year out, watching them rip up the road, lay it again, rip it up again, lay it and then I lost touch with what was going on with the road, because they were demolishing the beautiful old stone bridge built by Alexander Nimmo, at a crossing point in the river where, before Nimmo, a bridge had stood since medieval times.

Showing sensitivity worthy of Alan Partridge and Donald Trump combined, this they proceeded to replace with an anodyne effort, matched only by their decision to line the new road with ersatz stone walls.

Even an amateur eye such as mine can see that the stones on the cladding do not interlink. They are separated by clearly visible sections, and really, why bother?

Anyway, the point is not that the roads are being mended, nor that there appears to be no semblance of any kind of planning. 

I’m not actually giving out here about the scattergun approach to various roads being worked on; closed; given intelligent traffic lights that only one person knows how to work, nor that he’s apparently gone to live somewhere else.

I’m not giving out about the way a car can hit a control box in Dangnan and put out lights on Quincentennial Bridge for days. 

I’m not giving out about how a lump of hedgehog poo by Terryland can cause traffic jams in Craughwell and Salthill.

I’m not crying out for a by-pass either, nor another bridge, so keep me off that bandwagon. More roads just create more traffic.

What I am truly upset about is that you Irish put up with it all. Spare me that ‘800 years of fear of putting your head above the parapet’ stuff just for a moment and think: why not complain?

In Ireland moaning is a way of life. Every afternoon this nation talks to Joe Duffy in a quasi-religious minor key that is uniquely Irish and relentlessly depressing. Yet neither a peep nor a whisper have I heard about roadworks that run months over schedule.

There is a quantifiable difference between moaning and complaining. Born in England only 12 years after the British Empire was called to a halt, I was told throughout my youth how everything used to be better.

Complaining was seen by the English as a right. If something did not do what it should, you made a complaint, and did not rest until justice had been served.

Even though there’s a legacy of Empire in the arrogance of that attitude, you did end up feeling that you had some influence upon life.

Ireland is on a very different journey. Here things are generally perceived as better now than they were in 1948, but for some bewildering reason, when they go wrong, you’re loathe to make an official complaint.

Yes, you got off your bums and marched against water charges, but not because an injustice had been done, but rather because so many had been visited upon you, the poor camel’s back was in shreds.

Be brave and complain. Write letters, sign petitions, knock on doors, shout aloud, before everything you love about this country is destroyed by progress.

©Charlie Adley

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