Friday, March 24, 2006

On relearning what you thought was your home town

Standing on that bit outside the entrance to Connolly Station today (the bit that overlooks the Luas Stop – I had never looked down on a Luas tram before – rather ugly compared to the sideways or onboard view!)

I was having a ciggie before taking the train to Leixlip. A young woman aged about 20 weighed down by her backpack approached me. Behind her stood a young man who also had a backpack and two other large bags. She smiled as she came forward and said hello. ‘Can you tell me if we can get a train or a bus to Naas?’ Train network expert that I am, I thought Naas and trains don’t really go – Sallins isn’t really Naas so I asked if it was Naas town she was looking for. She said she did not know, she had a piece of paper with a mobile number on it and NAAS in large letters.

I directed her to the Bus Aras and said she would find busses there. She asked about where to get tickets and I told her that she could buy them on the bus or at a ticket desk. As she left I asked her was this her first time in Ireland. She said yes, she and her boyfriend had just arrived by bus from Warsaw and were going to stay a friend’s house. I wished her luck on her journey and she and her boyfriend shared the luggage carrying and made their way down the staircase.

The train journey to Leixlip was a new one for me. Whilst I had taken a train from Leixlip into the city before I had never really had a chance to look out the window.

I went through parts of  Dublin I had never really seen before, well maybe on trains to Sligo or Leitrim a few years ago, but everything looked very different. Rows upon rows of apartments, many under construction appeared along the train line. At Broombridge, Coolmine, Ashtown, new construction was everywhere. It did not feel like Ireland. It reminded me of heading out of London to the suburbs, complete with the dumping grounds, and the endless apartment complexes. However unlike London most of the building here is brand new, there are few services, shops or schools around these complexes. The train stations enroute are ugly and impersonal and full of metal barriers

Arriving at Confey with the commuters after what was a very short journey I still felt like I was in South East England. Maybe somewhere like Hemel Hempstead – a settled town with lots of housing and many cars waiting for their owners in the car park.  I was thinking about being the 18 year old in 1988 arriving in the UK to live and work and I thought about the young polish woman I met arriving in Ireland to start her life here.  Powodzenia!


At 14:45, Anonymous Sean R said...

Welcome to my world Maman Poulet! The Blanchardstown Shopping Centre is an oasis (read M&S and Starbucks) in the area, but the development work is going on apace, we're soon gonna live in an Irish version of the Parisian northern suburbs, with an emerging cosmopolitan culture for many nationalities. Maybe the concrete is not the only thing that holds us together.


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