Monday, October 4, 2010

Alternator Altercations - Trouble on the Rocky Road from Dublin

My trip to Dublin on Saturday got off to an uneventful start - taking four teenage girls to the city for a day trip is enough fodder for potential mishaps to begin with - and we were on the road by 9:00a.m and arrived in the city at 11:40a.m. Not bad for 130 miles given that the first 25 were on narrow country roads over the Knockmealdown mountains

We headed for the motorway - the M8 from Cork-Dublin which segues into the M7 once it joins the Limerick-Dublin road after the Abbeyleix bypass. This completed the Cork-Dublin motorway when it opened a few months back and brought us into the 21st Century transport-wise. That would be the 20th Century for the rest of the West, as Ireland has been about half a century behind most countries in its transport infrastructure, and we are only now getting used to toll roads and bridges.

There's still a certain mistrust of tolls as the money collected is not ring-fenced for further investment; that's because the toll motorways and bridges are almost all built by PPP (public-private partnerships) and tolls are collected by the private company National Toll Roads (you might be forgiven for thinking it was a state body with such a name!) for years - which is another example of the government sell-out of our assets.

With only one toll at the Abbeyleix bypass the journey went uneventfully and we arrived in Dublin after 2 hrs and 40 mins. Not bad for 130 miles given that the first 25 are on narrow country roads! I had some work to do there so I didn't actually get to see the sights I'd hoped to that I wrote about in my previous post. I deposited the four teenagers in the city centre in Parnell Street where they headed into the ILAC Centre on the start of their shopping odyssey.

The weather was showery but very mild, so I had a nice afternoon visiting friends and doing some shopping in the suburbs. The only sights I saw for the blog was this great sculpture of a Dublin icon, playwright Brendan Behan, sitting on a bench near Mountjoy Jail, the setting for his play The Quare Fella. He's sitting beside a pigeon and an "Auld Triangle" or more, in honour of the classic Dublin ballad he composed. Here's a few of his insightful, irreverent and often hilarious sayings - he was a genius who loved to drink and wrote about Borstal from firsthand experience, and he reminds me of Dylan Thomas in his approach and attitude to life.

Here are some photos of the Royal Canal near Binn's Bridge on Dorset Street beside the lock where the sculpture is placed. It was lashing rain when I took the photos with my Samsung camera phone - not bad with a 3.2MP camera and I have only just downloaded the software to transfer them to my PC for posterity.

And here's a videoclip of the late great Luke Kelly of the Dubliners giving it welly; his is one of the best renditions, though I think the Pogues and Shane McGowan gave it a good cover too.

As I normally bring our friends Darina and Tom some home baked goodies but didn't have time to bake anything for this visit, I overcompensated by splashing out on fancies in Thunders Bakery on Dorset Street. It's one of the best bakeries around - certainly in North Dublin - and I got some vanilla slices, coffee slices, carrot cake and custard slices. The sugar rush kept me going for the afternoon and we headed for the road home at about 7:00p.m., leaving hubby Jan behind in Dublin where he'd been for the previous few days for work and meetings.

This is where it all went pear-shaped - I was about an hour from home when the car started acting up - the lights started dipping and the engine lost power from time to time, and I began to pray that I'd get home in one piece. I thought for a moment it might have been the car drained of energy from all the loud music that was threatening to deafen me since early morning. As I predicted I didn't get a listen in to either the radio or any of my podcasts - instead, my FiTrip (fake iTrip) was appropriated and my space colonised with their music from Lady Gaga to whatever is hot in the charts at the moment blasting forth from their phones as well as my iPod.

About two miles from home, the car gave up the ghost and everything died - lights, engine, and battery as flat as a pancake. Luckily we were able to summon help from one of the girl's parents who came to bring us home, and another girl's dad (a mechanic) correctly diagnosed the problem as alternator trouble and he managed to roll it into the grass margin where it wasn't blocking the road.

Thankfully I had a powerful torch in the boot of the car, and I was able to ring my garage owner - who is available 24/7 by the looks of things. He assured me he'd sort it out in the morning (Sunday, no less) and true to his word he gave me a replacement car on the following morning. The girls found it all a great adventure to be stranded on a dark moonless night in the middle of nowhere, but the fact we were close to home made it easier to enjoy the excitement.

I have my own car back and as good as new - with a secondhand alternator (a new one was too costly given the mileage of my car) and a new battery. I still know nothing about the innards of the internal combustion engine and with a service like that from my local garage I'm happy to live on in ignorant bliss.


Pooch Purple Reign said...

i really enjoyed the song! too bad you had car trouble but like you said... close to home makes it not so bad.

Padraic Murray said...

Hi Catherine, I would like to respond in more detail to the lovely message you left on my post remembering my sister. My sister was Catherine Murray before her marriage to Colin Spencer whom she met in Bangladesh. Theycmarried in Lincoln where they had a lovely house just on the outskirts of that lovely cathedral city. Within a few years Colins job brought them to Como in N Italy.
They spent some ime in Oz before returning to the UK. They moved house into rural Lincolnshire in the hope it might help Catherines failing health but to no avail. She died in England but we held a memorial service in Dublin unsure how many if any of her friends would remember her. We got a lovely letter from Fr. aengus Finnucan whom you describe so warmly. Our greatest surprise and joy on that sad day were the number of concern volunteers wevhad never heard of who came along. Sadly she was unable to have children so the blog was a little effort to mark that Catherine did in fact pass this way and left behind glorious memories of the most winning smile and infectious laughter. I will follow your thoughts through your blog. Best wishes. Padraic.

Catherine said...

Hi Laura - thanks for commenting - and as you said, it wasn't too bad so close to home. Car's going like a dream now, long may it last!

Catherine said...

Padraic, thanks so much for your detailed reply about your lovely sister - what a strange world it is indeed, how coincidental is it that two people with the same name would end up in Concern Bangladesh? It all sounds familiar as I am sure I heard of her marriage, we had many friends and colleagues in Tanzania in the 1990s who were in Bangladesh in the 1980s after we'd left that country. Catherine Dwyer was my hubby's assistant director in Tz, she sadly passed away in 2005 from breast cancer at 50, went to her funeral in Abbeyleix. There was another couple in Zanzibar who'd met in Bangladesh in the 80s, Vivienne Evans and she married Alex Gray who was Save the Children director in Zanzibar. These were some of those whose time in Bangladesh might have crossed with Catherine's. That would have been typical of Aengus, he was such a big hearted man. He is sadly missed in Concern. Have you seen the TG4 programme on him, Tine i mo bholg? It is very moving. My hubby is on the Concern Council at the moment. I am an ordinary member, keep in touch that way and at the AGM.
Thanks for writing and please follow my blog if you wish, I have added yours to my list. I'm on Facebook and Twitter also.
All the best, Catherine.