Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Exodus!

I worked in one of the few Dublin Civil Service offices populated with more Dubs than cultchies! I was one of the four from the office who engaged in the mass exodus out of Dublin on Friday evenings. Carrying my little red weekend case, that had been carefully packed the night before.

In order to catch the 6:25PM train, it was necessary to leave the Ballsbridge office at three. You may wonder why! Well let me tell you, if you wanted a seat on the Waterford train, these were the measures you had to take.

The journey started catching a bus on the Quay. As the double decker pulled closer to Hueston Station people began bustling in an effort to be first off the bus. Because of this I never went upstairs.  It was difficult enough to descend the one step onto the street in an upright position. Once safely off the bus I made my way towards the station to join the queues for a ticket window. This often snaked out of the station and around the corner, very unpleasant if it was raining. I could never figure out how people who had gotten off the bus behind me were ahead of me in the ticket queue.

We were like the Flight of Geese, all trying to get ourselves out of the Pale as fast as we could on a Friday. With purchased train ticket in hand it was time to locate the platform. Hoping the massively long queue was not for your train and of course it usually was. At this stage it would have been about 4-4:30.

Joining this queue, I would consider myself lucky if I was still within site of the platform. Recently I took a Ryan Air flight, which is what put me in mind of my weekend jaunts home all those years ago. Except the train queues were about five times longer! Shortly before the train was to depart, two rather grumpy CIE ticket punchers took positions on either side of the barrier gate. Again somehow people who had been in the queue behind me were ahead of me walking the platform towards the train. Girls reached back past my face and over my shoulder to pull their many friends up ahead in the queue. There were rowdy young fellas who would try to use you as a step ladder in their efforts to get to the barrier gate. The objective of course was to get a seat. If I didn’t get a seat I could be standing all the way to Carlow or worse still, it could be Kilkenny before a seat became available.

I hated getting on the train and finding one seat vacant with the three others occupied by friends or worse fellas. Feeling like an intruder taking the lone seat they obliviously hoped would be filled by someone they knew. My hope was to find an empty table of seats and sit by the window. I was more comfortable when others joined me. I would dig into my shopping bag grabbing the Irish Press and work on the crossword while waitng for the train to depart. Later if the snack trolley rattled along I would have my few pence ready to purchase a cup of tea and munch the bread roll I had brought with me. Once I finished my little snack, I would pull out the new book I had chosen for the journey.

When the train finally pulled into Plunkett Station,Waterford there was a bus to catch. There were familiar faces on this leg of the journey that couldn’t be seen in the Hueston crush. Everyone excited, relating the plans for the remainder of Friday night and all the hoped for plans for Saturday. The bus was filled with great anticipation. So despite the hassle of exiting Dublin you arrived home floating on a cloud of joy and expectation. The return to Dublin on Sunday evening too far away to dampen the enthusiasm that bounced along on the bus.

Cultchie is any person from outside Dublin
"The Pale" what us cultchies refered to Dublin as!  A historical reference to Dublin.


Brigid said...

That was lovely Ann, I agree with you, I always preferred to sit on an empty row than join a group. That brought me back, I used to read the Irish Press, that was the one that I NEVER won the National Princess Day comp, its ok, its been 30 odd years, I am over it....Seriously enjoyed that piece, I think you might have found your writing style.

KarenG said...

Interesting peek into the life of a Dublin commuter! It's all so cool, especially now that I'm part Irish lol.

jinksy said...

Reminded me of my station platform waiting every evening after work...What joy to be retired!

Karen Walker said...

Oh, Ann, I'm so jealous you get to live in Dublin part of the year. I fell in love with Ireland when I went for the first time last year. This is a lovely piece.

Theresa Milstein said...

You make commuting sound more miserable than anyone else, if that's possible. One day a week, I used to commute on a NYC subway during rush hour to Harlem. Being pressed against and smelling everyone else, I was thankful that I had to endure it only one day a week. But I didn't have to wait like you did.

Ann Best said...

What you've written is evocative. Stirs my memories of riding buses, chatting with the passengers. Riding the subway into Washington D.C., hoping for a seat so I could relax and read my book. And what a vivid and colorful photograph. Both writing and photograph pull me into a setting that's unfamiliar yet familiar. Well done!

Barbara Scully said...

Oh my God Ann you are bringing me right back to the 80s? I remember your little sister making the same journey every so often. As a jackeen I went home every night and I remember many Fridays bringing Siobhan with me for home cooked dinner and what my kids would now call a sleepover. I really hope that for 21 century culchies the journey is easier!!
Lovely post!

Old Kitty said...

What a palaver to get home!!!

Ann, you clutchie!


How you could be so cheerful afterwards on that final bus on that final leg home is beyond me. I'd be so super duper grumpy I'd be the clutchie with no mates by then! LOL!

Thanks for sharing this madness with us. I will remember this tale as I take my usual commute to work and be grateful!

If there was a queue snaking out like how you describe it here, there'd be a riot - but then that's Londoners for you!

Take care

mise said...

You've reminded me of the very similar journey from Dublin to Galway - I'd have no stamina for it now, and indeed wouldn't stand for it, but back in the old days it was just part of the routine.

sarahjayne smythe said...

Thanks so much for putting me up on your sidebar. I'm over here following you now. :)

Jackee said...

See? This is what I love about your blog--I learn something new everytime I visit. Not to mention I get to read gorgeous prose.

Cultchie is my new favorite word. I'll have to figure out a way to use it in common conversation.

And would you believe I've never been on a public bus in my life? I do have great dreams, however, of riding on a double decker someday, though!

Have a great weekend!

Talli Roland said...

I'm sorry, I'm still snickering at Ballsbridge!

Happy weekend!

covnitkepr1 said... beautiful.
I’ve enjoyed looking over your blog. I came across it through another blog I follow. I am now a follower of yours as well. Feel free to look over my blog and perhaps become one as well

Ann said...

Sorry for the delay in responding to all your wonderful comments. Been a bit under the weather these past days. Just a quick check in as I wanted to thank you for all for your comments.

First of all I am so sorry Brigid to have once again opened that old long ago wound of disappointment. Two of my flatmates worked in the Irish Press.

Welcome Irish KarenG! :)

To all my non-Irish commenters. The Friday night trains out of Dublin were a way of life. The average age on these trains was 18-19. Rarely seeing anyone over 25. By that age people had established a life in Dublin or had a car or a friend with a car. This being a sign of success and maturity. If you were that age and still taking the train you were meet with major sympathetic glances accompanied by some tsk-tsking from the less mature train travelers.

Hi Barbara, I am sure it is much easier for cultshies these days; most of them have cars now. Different times. Better? I think so.

Hi Mise, Thanks for stopping by. Of course I wouldn't stand for that type of thing today either, but at 18 it was just power for the course. Part of going home. Looking back though I wouldn't trade it for anything. Well maybe for a seat!

Hi sarahjayne, thanks for stopping by.

Hi Jackee, delighted I could add this little morsel of Irish slang to your vocabulary. You use it when referring to anyone who is not from the capital city.

Hi Talli, Stop snickering. Ballsbridge is Dublin 4! Very Posh! Stop snickering!!! Have you stopped yet? :)

Hi covitkepr1, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Anonymous said...

I think I would have died on the spot being packed in with that many people. *shudder*

Alexandra Crocodile said...

Hi:) I'm so glad I found your blog via Karen G's - I love Dublin, it's one of my favourite cities!

Olive said...

I can really identify with your post! Like you, I'm a "culchie"; I lived in Dublin for a couple of years and loved to get the train back to Cork. I was always last minute and hated being crammed in with a bunch of guys too, especially on the older trains. But, now I get the plane, so it's all good:)

niamh said...

What a lovely post Ann. Hope you're feeling better! Funny to read that as the weekly pilgrimage still takes place - just us culchies usually take the bus now as it's half the price of the train. Or if you're a posh cuclchie you fly Ryanair for even less!

Shannon said...

Glad that I found your blog, Ann.

Reading this just makes me want to visit Ireland all the more.

Someday. :)

Jen said...

I've never had to commute by train, subway, anything of the sort. I think it's cool that you have, I think I would enjoy the experience once or twice but as an everday thing I don't know if I could handle it! Who knows though!

Thank you for sharing, how neat!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Good job -- I was going to ask what a cultchie is.

I love the post and I love reading about Ireland. Your description reminds me of the Friday night traffic (by car) from Denver, Colorado, west into the mountains in winter for skiing, and then the long cold drive home on Sunday late afternoon as families return for school and work.

Judith said...

YOU LIVE IN IRELAND?! I'm so jealous!! That's awesome. Sigh<3 lol I heard that if I ever visit, I'll never come back because I'll want to stay there forever.

Ann said...

Thank you for your lovely comments. A big hello to Alexandra C., Olive, Shannon and Judith. Delighted you stopped by my blog. Hope you drop by again soon!

Hi Niki, Well I think I too would shudder if I was still making that pilgrimage. 

Thanks Niamh. Yes the bus has replaced the trains today. Pity that. I do take the bus when I venture to Dublin nowadays. To chicken to drive. All the roads have changed with one-way systems and I am unfamiliar with them now.

Hi Jen, You must take a train. It is an experience. Such a wonderful way to travel, if you have a seat that is.

Hi Patricia, glad you stopped by. Funny I never thought of it as Friday evening rush hour, but now that I think about it, you are absolutely right!

Catherine said...

Hi Ann - boy did this take me back! To the 70s in my case, showing my vintage now. But of course being a nurse meant I was never off home on a Friday, rather my preferred mode of transport was the No. 51 bus to Newland's Cross and the thumb thereafter, always a new adventure, and weren't we naively lucky that we didn't ever meet any creeps on the way home.I would have killed any of my kids if they were hitching like I was! Sometimes when I'd be off on a Friday I'd take the train and then hitch from Waterford or Mallow, and sometimes I'd get a lift on Dowd's fruit truck, all the way home. There could be three or four of us and we often ended up in the back of the truck with all the fruit boxes - in the dark, like smuggled migrants! In those days none of us had cars so we'd little choice. Whenever I take the train now I feel like I'm on a little holiday - even if it's only to Dublin for a meeting. Out with the book, the iPod, the snack and the drink (water!) and if I'm on the Cork-Dublin train I get to pre-book my seat so my name's above it - like on the trains in India 30 years ago!
Thanks for the nostalgia trigger!
Catherine (PS you'd want to book some of the Immrama gigs soon if you're interested, as they're selling fast - especially the breakfast and Jan Morris at Fortwilliam - small capacity).