“Welcome to Dublin!” greeted the receptionist at our hotel.
“We’ve just had a nightmare journey from the port!” I cried, “It’s taken us an hour and a half to drive here!”.
“You drove here?” he asked, incredulously, “Through the city?”
It had all started so well when we left our Dorset home this morning. Our six hour drive to Holyhead had gone without a hitch. The crossing to Dublin Port was smooth and relaxing. Surely the last 8km through the city to our hotel shouldn’t be too difficult. Then we - me, my wife, and our grown-up daughter - could start our ‘Irish Holiday’; two nights in Dublin, followed by a week’s self-catering in Kinsale. We had directions, a road map of the city and, with my wife navigating, I felt confident that this last leg of our journey would be trouble-free. Little did I know!
It all began to go wrong as we were leaving the port. Somehow we took a wrong turning and found ourselves in the Port Tunnel heading north out of the city – our hotel was in the centre, south of the river!
“I thought something like this might happen!” groaned my wife, “OK, take the next exit – M50 South”. I obeyed.
A little later another exit appeared in the distance. “To the city” I read.
“Take it!” my wife urged. After a while she confessed, “I have no idea where we are!”
“I know exactly where we are!” piped up my daughter in the back seat. She was studying a tourist street map of Dublin, which appeared to be a little more detailed than the one my wife was using. “This is Church Street and we are just about to go over the river – by the way, where are we going?”
“Harcourt Street!” we chorused.
Marvellous, I thought: my wife knows exactly where we are going but ‘has no idea where we are’, whereas my daughter has no idea where we are going but knows ‘exactly where we are’!
And this is how the conversation went in the car over the next hour. Echoes of ‘I have no idea where we are!’ followed by ‘I know exactly where we are!’ abounded.
Eventually we found ourselves in the city centre – we were close; in fact we could have parked the car and walked to our hotel! But the problem with driving in Dublin is that it’s full of one-way streets, no entries, and bus lanes. So, after three traffic violations later – going down the wrong way on a one-way street; driving on the right-hand side of what I thought was a one-way street; and entering a bus lane – and going round in endless circles, I decided to stop and take stock.
“OK”, I said, studying the map, “I am going to take the next right – hopefully this will put us back on track!” As I turned into a wide tram-lined road my wife muttered “I have no idea where we are!”
“I know exactly where we are!” shouted my daughter, “This is Harcourt Street”, as she pointed to the street sign, “And, look, there’s the hotel!” After 90 stressful minutes we had finally made it!
“Well, I think you are very brave, driving in the city”, the receptionist said, “I wouldn’t!”
It was then that I saw the bandage on his right hand. “Oh that”, he said, “I fell off my bike on the way to work”. Well, that’s the ‘luck of the Irish’ for you!