Weekend in Limerick

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As I sat in the waiting area of Heuston Station for my train to Limerick, I heard a deep sigh to my right. Well, well, well. What was this? A visually appealing gentleman in his late twenties, with his arms crossed, huffing and puffing. I looked away. I’m not good with small talk. Especially when someone looks anxious.

‘Where do I get the bus to Clare from?’ he muttered.

‘Not from here – this is the train station. You can get the train to Ennis, or you can take the tram from outside the building to the bus station.’ I replied.

He swore, and told me that he hated Dublin, and wanted to leave.

‘Why are you here?’ I asked. Turns out he is a member of the peacekeeping force of the neutral Irish Army. He was just home from a mission in Syria and would be home for four months. I asked him was it as terrible as it looked on the news. He told me it was great.

He was meant to be staying with his friend in Rathmines (which he mistakenly believes is close to Croke Park) but he couldn’t get through to her.

‘My but what broad shoulders you have’ I thought to myself.

He seemed quite distressed so I just babbled away to him about nonsense.

He asked me what I did in Dublin. I told him. We continued our chat. He asked me again what I did in Dublin. I repeated my initial answer.  A few minutes later he asked me what I was doing in Dublin. I glanced around me in confusion. Why was he repeating the question? I looked at him and understood. He was wildly distracted and wasn’t actually listening to my words.

In a sudden move he stood up and told me that was going to Croke Park to meet his friend (which is not in Rathmines) and how could he get there.  I explained to him that Croke Park and Rathmine are in two different districts in town. He didn’t care. I gave him directions and he went on his way.  He seemed vacant and troubled. I hope he is OK.

On the train journey home I read the news that Leo Varadkar has become the new leader of the Fine Gael Party. As they are in power it means that he will be the new Taoiseach within a week. This is a symbolic day for minority communities.

Leo is intersectional in his minority status. He is gay. He is the son of an Indian father. And he is privately educated

I know that it is an important emblem to Ireland’s sense of itself as a modern, open country to have such a person as a Taoiseach, and I am happy that he has succeeded. The problem is that I loathe his party, and I loathe his conservative politics. His economic agenda seems rather sinister as well – here’s hoping you are rich, because that’s who our Leo represents.

Still though – a gay Taoiseach? Who would ever have thought it? Maybe one day we might have a female Taoiseach?

My sister collected me from the station and we stopped at Donkey Ford’s chipper on the way home. Battered sausages and chips for my supper as planned. This dish deserves an award. For something.

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Saturday was a day of action. A walk along the canal and then through the leafy suburb of Corbally.  The heavens opened. Not to worry – my trusted, international umbrella (it accompanied me to Lisbon last week) spared my hair. Sadly a jeep deliberately swerved into a puddle as it approached me . Mud splattered jeans can be classy though.

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Onward into town and to the Milk Market where I resisted temptation. I had lunch plans in the People’s Park. As a holiday weekend a section of the park has been transformed into the International Food Truck Festival. Like a deer in headlights I flinched from the trucks that described themselves as eateries or used the word ‘artisan’ in the food description. I was not having any of that crow-shite this Saturday. Then my eyes lit up – in the distance I saw a poutine truck. For those not in the know poutine is a Canadian dish of the gods. It’s a simple dish. Chips covered in cheese curd and then smothered in gravy.  One should not eat this on a frequent basis. It had been six years since my last visit to Canada. I felt my plate had been earned. It did not disappoint.
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I made my way to the Limerick City Gallery of Art where I nodded sagely, stroking my chin contemplatively as I took in the art. I’m not going to pretend that I understood the MEANING of it call. Rather it’s just a very peaceful place to spend a half hour.

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It was threatening rain again so I ran to the bus stop. The sign indicated a six minute wait.

What was that smell? Pungent, burning, herbal. Who was smoking marijuana in my presence? The only other person at the bus stop was an elderly gentleman. Looking in my direction he announced that he had reached his milestone birthday of eighty the previous week.

What he said next flabbergasted me. He informed me quite casually that he smokes marijuana for arthritis relief. Only then did he wink at me.

Homosexual Prime Ministers, lost soldiers on leave from Syria, Canadian junk food and stoner pensioners. What is the world coming to at all?

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