Thursday, 2 June 2011

Run/walk/cycle to the Dáil day three - 2nd update

TWITTER:         @ballyhea14
FACEBOOK PAGE:   Ballyhea bondholder bailout protest
June 2nd 2011
Alright, alright – what happened to day two?  For any of you who didn’t get the earlier posts, spent yesterday ‘hors de combat’, the body having seized up from the effort of day one.  Still pretty battered today but the others from the Ballyhea Bondholder Bailout Protest have stepped in; a relay bike ride, started in Nenagh at 10am this morning, and already we’re in Portlaoise.
Young Frank McNamara took us out, a veritable machine on wheels, went as far as Roscrea, then Mikey O'Sullivan, a veteran of the 1976 county junior winning team, took over and if anything upped the pace, so that by the time Noel Hanley got in the saddle in Mountrath we were way ahead of schedule.  That’s where we are now, Noel and his brother Christy (two men you did NOT want to meet on the hurling field) are going on ahead while I have dropped back to Nenagh to let student Frank head home to complete a project, and pick up four more students, including my own two kids; they will complete the last miles into Dublin.
One thing we’re learning on this crusade to Dublin – how badly the crisis is affecting life in Irish towns.  Lifeless, many of them, barely a sinner to sign our petitions.  ‘I hope the crows here can write,’ said Noel Hanley pointing to the circling flock as we pulled up in Toomevara, ‘or we’re not going to get a single signature!’  We got a few, then headed for Moneygall.
Early and all as it was in the morning – before noon, and thus well before any of us would normally indulge - we had planned on having a pint of Guinness in the pub in which Barack Obama was pictured quaffing a full measure of the black stuff.  The welcome for the US President didn’t extend to the protesting Ballyhea boys, however.  We set up our little petition table and sign outside the pub (not going to name it – might only be my mother and sister reading this but no publicity here for this guy) and took a picture, then – still not a sinner in sight – I set off across the road to try and get a few signatures in the souvenir shop.  Managed it too, lovely lady behind the counter, but while I was in there the three lads were met by a guy who came out from the pub and told them, in no uncertain terms, to move the table from in front of the pub.  They explained what we were about, and that we’d be gone in a few minutes – begone now, they were told, moves made on the table.  Our protest is about galvanising people behind us, not about confrontation, so up we packed, moved on, and no pints either!
Mountrath was the best, great reaction, and finally, someone who would march with us; Joe Carroll from the village, along with a guy passing through some of ye might have heard of – Martin Comerford, multiple All-Ireland winner with Kilkenny.
On from there to Portlaoise, and that’s where I left the Hanley brothers.  Update again this evening.
Well, dropped Frank back to Nenagh, picked up the next team, four youngsters; Niall and Sadhbh ye’ll have come across already, my son and daughter, along with a neighbour’s child, Eoin Coleman, and their friend Aidan Murnane, from Cork city.  Headed back for Monasterevin (or Monster Heaven as my kids always thought it was called back in the early 90s, when it was on the route down from Dublin) and met up with the lads, who seemed to be entertaining half of the town.  Had a good number of signatures at this stage, running out of pre-printed and lined sheets, had to revert to using the back of those sheets.
The handing over of the ‘torch’ took place (our little ‘Run/walk/cycle/crawl to the Dáil’ sign) from one generation to the next, and Sadhbh took off, headed for Kildare.  Made it in double-quick time too, and we were getting a fine reception, for the most part.  Difficult to find a single busy spot in the main street of these towns, much of the business now syphoned off to the likes of Tesco and so on, on the periphery.
On to Newbridge next, mighty Aidan in the saddle, and God, what a contrast to everywhere else we met.  Didn’t get the kind of outright abuse we got in Moneygall, but oh, this went beyond apathy – this was a comfort zone, and very much so.  Did manage to get a lot of signatures, but even the local people said to us – a lot of wealthy people around that town, not hurting yet with anything that’s happening.  The lads just wanted out of there, found the lack of support extremely disappointing, but we did our march anyway, dammit.
On then to Naas, Aidan still powering along (Frank’s bike all the way, by the way, and now they all want one!), going so well in fact that a brief stop by us for an ice-cream left us so far behind that we caught him only just before Naas.
At this stage it was well after six (the trip back to Nenagh had really held things up, car breakdown preventing the four younger brigade from travelling up to Portlaoise themselves, so they were ferried to Nenagh by Gavin Morrissey, a Ballyhea contemporary, where I picked them up), so numbers on the street were down, but we still picked up a few more signatures, a lot more support.  Did our final march (Rathcoole wasn’t actually en-route, we just stayed on the dual-carriageway), Eoin gone ahead already on the bike, and off we went.  Halfway to Dublin Niall took over, and brought us home, a slight glitch at the end when we were waiting for him at O'Connell Bridge and he was waiting for us at the Spire, him without a phone.  Spent over half-an-hour on that confusion before eventually Eoin took a ramble up O'Connell Street to see if maybe he had headed for the Garden of Remembrance, met him at the Spire.  Sadhbh, Eoin and Aidan headed for her Granny & Pop’s place in Ballymun, Niall and myself headed the chariot for home, Frank’s bike in the back.  Got back after midnight, now after 2am, headed back up again tomorrow morning for our noon march to the Dáil.
An illuminating day, not at all what had been planned originally but that old saying comes to mind – if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.  Wasn’t just the gods who had a laugh on this one though I reckon, but doesn’t bother me – good or bad I set my own standards for myself, didn’t meet them on this occasion but it wasn’t for lack of effort.  I’ll take that.
Most overriding lesson learned from the three days?  Yes, a lot of people support our protest, yes, a lot of people are angry, but no, not angry enough to act.  Not yet.
Have a few pics to put up, but not tonight – a cover-letter to do now, for this great petition handover.
START  FROM – TO                   DISTANCE (m) ARRIVAL
07.00  Ballyhea/Charleville            5.5            08.00
08.15  Charleville/Banogue             8.8            09.45
10.00  Banogue/Croom                   3.1            10.30
10.45  Croom/Patrickswell              6.7            12.00
12.15  Patrickswell/Limerick           6.6            13.30
14.00  Limerick/Birdhill               12.3           16.00
16.15  Birdhill/Nenagh                 12.5           18.15
08.00  Nenagh/Toomevara                7.3            09.30
09.45  Toomevara/Moneygall             4.1            10.30
10.45  Moneygall/Dunkerrin             3.2            11.30
11.45  Dunkerrin/Roscrea               5.5            12.45
13.00  Roscrea/Borris-in-Ossory        7.4            14.30
14.45  Borris-in-Ossory/Mountrath      8.5            16.15
16.30  Mountrath/Portlaoise            8.4            18.00
08.00  Portlaoise/Ballybrittas         9.0            09.30
09.45  Ballybrittas/Monasterevin       3.9            10.30
10.45  Monasterevin/Kildare            6.6            12.00
12.30  Kildare/Newbridge               5.6            13.30
13.45  Newbridge/Naas                  6.7            15.00
15.15  Naas/Rathcoole                  10.4           17.15
17.30  Rathcoole/Dublin                10.3           19.16
12.00  Parnell Square/Kildare Street   1.3            13.00
                                       152.8 miles total  
Diarmuid O'Flynn.