IRISH RAMBLINGS #9: “The Bus to Belfast” (excerpt from: ‘MY IRISH DIARIES- Travels Through Ireland North and South’) (© KPKeelan)


My second of 10 sojourns to Ireland was a summer-long storytelling tour of the island that was certainly one of the highlights of my life. I kept copious journals recording my remarkable experiences. When I read them in 1996, I realized there was a book in it. So I wrote one. Took about a year and a half, but it was time well spent. I am a much better writer as a result, and let’s face it: anyone can begin writing a book. It’s an achievement to FINISH writing a book. I never attempted to publish, as travel writing is like milk: it has an expiration date. The Ireland I describe in this book no longer exists. Little more than a decade later, it is almost an historical document. But it’s good. I like it. It’s fun to read. That is enough. It would be even better if people would read it. Books like having readers. It makes them happy.

*   *   *

. It was a grueling eight hour haul from Galway to Belfast. The coaches are comfortable enough, but the complete lack of onboard toilets made the trip urinary torture.

. Counties Mayo and Sligo came in a dizzying mix of three colors: Black, white and green: cows and pasture, pasture and cows. The topography made a slow, subtle transformation, as we approached the awesome heart of Yates Country, until- rising dynamically from the planes, a long finger-shaped plateau overwhelmed the countryside, looming majestically above the surrounding flatlands. Rows of deep ridges crease the high cliffs surrounding this remarkable landmark, that seems so out of place in gently rolling Ireland. It was, as the Irish are fond of saying: ‘brilliant’!

. Almost all Bus Erienne drivers chose to play the radio. Strangely, many drivers crank the volume amazingly LOUD. Most of the music is tolerable, if dated and lopsided towards sappy ballads, but the onslaught remains amped during the advertisements, subjugating the trapped riders to deafening commercial messages every bit as inane and insipid as those in the U.S. The low point came when an Irish car dealer began to deliver his pitch in a tortured white rap, an appropriation of what has been come to be known as ‘Hip-Hop culture’, that sounded absurd filtered through his thick Irish brogue. (What is this color-chic? Why does everybody want to be black- even the Irish, who are hopelessly pink? What’s with that?)

. The high point came when the Irish DJ began to play current grunge darlings Nirvana. The raucous strains of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ blared through the air of the traveling cabin with a savage joy. I inspected my surroundings, realizing that I was just about the youngest person on board. The average age in that bus was perhaps sixty- maybe sixty-five, but the rock‘n‘roll raged on- filling every square centimeter of the coach with raw energy. I noticed the bus driver’s idle foot, involuntarily tapping along to the insistent beat. Geriatric heads were bobbing perceptibly, though I was the only one who seemed to notice, making me chuckle quietly to myself. Kurt Cobain had only recently killed himself, and I couldn’t help but think that- had he been there with me on that bus, Kurt might not have despaired with such finality. It would have been so validating for him to see the way his uncompromising music had permeated the globe, reaching the ears, heads and feet of the masses- even touching elderly wayfarers, bouncing along on the country roads of little backwater Ireland. It was a wonderment!

. World Culture, here we come.


© Kevin Paul Keelan and lastcre8iveiconoclast, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kevin Paul Keelan and lastcre8iveiconoclast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


About KPKeelan

Fool, Philosopher, Lover & Dreamer, Benign TROUBLEMAKER, King and Jester of KPKworld, an online portal to visual and linguistic mystery, befuddlement and delight.
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