SOME years ago I had the daft notion that Confucius was the patron saint of confused people who may have got lost somewhere along the road of life. Confucius was, in fact, a Chinese philosopher and politician whose many famous sayings were attributed to the patron saint of travellers, St. Christopher.
So what have these two celebrities got to do with my article this week? I’m not sure. I just decided to give an insight on the people you may need to pray to when you’re lost or confused or don’t know where you are going everyday when you hit the highways and byways of Ireland. That’s my simplest way of explaining it without confusing you too much.
Last week I hit some of those highways and byways on my world tour of Mayo, Roscommon and Leitrim. My first port of call was the scenic village of Mulranny, or is it Mallaranny, or is it Mulrany, or is it Mullranny or the Irish version An Mhala Raithni?
Take your pick of five different place name spellings for the same place. There are five geniuses out there trying to confuse us all. Thank God for Google Earth, but then these same guys are known to have directed lorry loads of ready-mix into bogs in Leitrim and Cavan where the loads had to be dumped in the bog.
From here I headed east past Charlestown looking for the picturesque village of Lisacul. Lisacul is situated between Charlestown, Ballyhaunis, Castlerea and Ballaghaderreen, yet in my search from the above four major towns I didn’t find one directional sign for Lisacul.
The only sign I found for Lisacul was the sign erected by the Tidy Towns Committee welcoming people to Lisacul. On my journey here I found new state of the art signs directing me into town lands and name places that even the people who lived in were confused.
Many people weren’t sure if they were living in the right place in the first place. As I left Lisacul, which is a well kept village in line for a Tidy Towns award, I prayed to St. Christopher to put me on the right road. I then asked St. Christopher to give guidance to the NRA, the National Roads Authority, the people responsible for our roads and putting us all on the right track.
At this stage I’m wrecked and my brain is stewed trying to understand how people’s minds work. I’m settled in at the lakeshore at the beautiful Forest Park Amenity Centre outside Boyle. I read the details on the EU sponsored sign, who are responsible for this development.
The sign was erected to thank all the organisations that played a part in having this facility developed. The EU Structural Funds, Fáilte Ireland, the NDP – the National Development Plan and Roscommon County Council. No mention of the NRA. Should they not have been thanked?
As I travelled out of the lakeside development I started counting 62 pot holes along a two km public road that the NRA should be responsible for. So I now know why the sign didn’t say thanks to the NRA.
At this stage I have an apology to make to the NRA or Roscommon County Council because I returned three weeks later to the Forest Park in Boyle and I found since my last visit 61 of the 62 potholes were filled. Someone must have read my mind. So fair dues to all who undertook this initiative.
I’m on the road from Carrick-on-Shannon to Mohill and I spot a sign directing me to Eslin Bridge. Eslin Bridge is a crossroads with a bridge and the usual church, school, GAA pitch and centre and facilities. The surrounding countryside is the best land in Leitrim or any other county.
There were 18 signs on a three km stretch of main road directing me to Eslin Bridge. I decided to check it out and disaster struck. One kilometre down to Eslin Bridge, a t-junction, I’m confused; left or right? No signage.
Took the chance and turned left and I came to another junction. No signage. Got my bearings from two ladies out walking. Turn back; arrive in Eslin Bridge on a four-road crossroads. One leads to Ballinamore, one to Carrick, one to Mohill and one to Drumshambo, with no signage. I pray to St. Christopher for guidance but sadly he must have been as confused as me because he sent me the wrong road to Mohill.
While on the road to Mohill, which I should have known without the help of St. Christopher or the NRA, I prayed to Confucius to help me on my way. A waste of time praying to a Chinese philosopher who probably never heard of Carrrick-on-Shannon or Mohill. In desperation I decided to take a break for the day from my efforts to make Ireland an easier place to know and understand. While I settled into my siesta and told part of my story I was advised by one listener that my experiences were mild compared to when one hits the major highways of Ireland.
So next week I feel obliged to give you all a ‘breakdown on my journey from here to the capital and the things to avoid.