Flightfest in Dublin

Sadly, some people must think that, like their IKEA furniture, when a buggy is unpacked and assembled, it must not be folded away as on the DART to Flightfest yesterday, there seemed to be as many unfolded buggies on the DART as there were people.

As trains from both Northside and Southside alighted at Connolly Station, with the lack of organisation, it took around ten minutes to leave the platform, but once I was off the platform, I was rolling.

I decided my best viewpoint, according to the assigned viewing areas, would be at AIB Bank Centre at the corner of Butt Bridge, that way I should have been able to see the planes coming down the Liffey and turning towards the southside, so you can see two profiles of the planes; head on and side on.

At Butt Bridge, people were being turned back to walk up the LUAS Line.  As far as I know there was no previous suggestion that you couldn’t view at the AIB Bank Centre.  The first available place to turn towards the Liffey was Commons Street, which took people towards Citibank on the corner.  There didn’t seem enough organisation before the event, but a lot at the event.  That said, I was happy where I was as I stayed at Citibank.  It was as good a place as any.

The flypast was a wonderful idea, but I have one more complaint (after this, I’ll complain no more, I hope).  As the planes flew by, there were nice photo opportunities for shooting the planes head on, but not at side on, unfortunately.  There was a nice mix of commercial, private, Air Corps and naval aircraft.  As my camera is currently inoperable, I didn’t take many photos, but did get the odd photo with my phone.

Later on I did manage to get to the other side of the Liffey to meet my sister, Áine, her husband Richard, and my favourite niece, Beth at Grand Canal Dock – a more advantageous spot as it was possible to take some of photos of the aircraft side on.

The people who I asked what their favourite was, said to me Airbus A380,

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To me, my favourite was the Boeing B-17 (Sally B) as I love the drone of its four propellered engines. I may have seen her before, but she always has a place in my heart.  Plus, it was the one plane on display which is a film star.  This particular plane was in Memphis Belle.

Another plane which has a place in my heart is the Avro Vulcan which I had the pleasure of seeing in Wroughton, near Swindon, many years ago.  Unfortunately it couldn’t make it due to fuelling issues, but if you check my Flickr account, you can see photos I took of the plane and some of the aircraft at Flightfest.

Despite my protestations, it was an enjoyable day.

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Ireland – An Allegory

The following is a fictional story with fictional characters.  If there are parallels to reader’s lives, I apologize and offer my condolences.

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I wait in an empty cinema lobby for friends who I haven’t seen for ages and am both dreading it and looking forward to it.  It must be seven or eight years since I’ve seen them.  You know the story; work takes over, we have families and move on.  I decided to contact them to catch up on old times and try to rekindle the friendship we had before.  It’s sad when you approach an age that loneliness is painful.  You want to improve your social life by any means, whether it’s sport, a trip to the cinema or other activities.

As one film ends, the lobby fills, and then empties as quickly as it filled.  Shortly after, two of my friends arrive and we exchange our hellos and insult each others weight gain, as friends normally do when they haven’t seen each other in a while.  The truth is we were all gaining a little weight.  The lack of the football we played together does that to you, as do our ‘working’ lives.  Both look the same otherwise.  Ron is more portly than he was and Dave has more hair on his face than he has on his head.

‘Wow.  Good to see you guys again,’ I said.
‘And you,’ Ron replies.  ‘What have you been up to?’
‘Apart from being unemployed, I went back to college to brush up on a few skills.  And I’m still looking for a job. And you two?’
‘Computers still,’ Ron says. ‘Every so often they threaten to move me elsewhere, but I’ve managed to avoid it.’
‘Ah. Nothing’s changed that much,’ Dave says. ‘Still married and still packaging, but with another company.  Thankfully.  Who else is coming?’
‘Nobody.  Just us three.’
‘Just us three?  Come on D.  Where are the others?’ Ron asks.
‘He probably didn’t ring the others,’ Dave laughs, nudging Ron to remind him he just told a joke.  Ron duly obliges and laughs with Dave.
‘Ha ha,’ I reply sarcastically.  ‘I tried ten of the guys including you…’
‘Ten,’ Ron says disbelievingly.
‘…Yup, we’re a few short team wise.  I couldn’t get a hold of Brian or Tom.  I’m not too sure if I have Tom’s number any more.  Joe’s immigrated to Canada his sister tells me…’
‘Joe’s immigrated?’ Ron echoes.
‘…And Steve, except he’s gone to Japan strangely enough.  Peadar’s going through a rough time.  He smokes and drinks like a trooper.  He got laid off a year or two back, not long after, his Mum died and he’s never recovered…’
‘God.  That’s awful,’ Dave says. ‘Still, we could have…’
‘…Persuaded him?’ I interrupted.  ‘I tried.  He wouldn’t have it.  I offered him my condolences and said if he ever needed a shoulder.  Et cetera.  Et cetera.  Ken works in Tipp now and couldn’t come up to meet us.  I met his sister a few weeks back and she told me he’s living with a Polish fella and isn’t having a good time of it in Tipp.  I told Jenny that perhaps we’ll go down to Tipp one day to cheer him up.’
‘I didn’t know he was gay,’ Ron ads.
‘Neither did his family until three years ago.  He had a job up here, but managed to find one in Tipp and moved down not long after he came out.  Al lived down the road in Priory Hall.  He’s screwed by the banks and that ‘builder.’  His finances are so bad he can’t afford a paper cup from a coffee shop to beg on the streets.  Even though I’m in shit street myself, I offered to pay buy him a ticket, but no.  He’s struggling to support one wife and four kids.  He sounds as if he’s got depression like Peadar. ‘
‘I’ve heard enough.’
‘I wish I did too.  Jimmy died three months back.  An accident, his wife bluntly said to me.  I didn’t manage to get the full story.  It felt wrong.  I didn’t even know it happened.’
‘Fuck,’ both Ron and Dave said in unison.

Silence fell and almost knocked us down.  It felt like I punched my friends in the stomach and that I said too much. It felt exactly like when my friends on the phone relayed their stories to me.  The air was so dense, it would blunt a sharp knife if it attempted to cut it.

I interrupt the uneasy silence.

‘We should go to the pub each week and reminisce,’ I said for fear of my own sanity.  I hope what happened to my absent friends does not happen to me, Dave or Ron.

Both Dave and Ron nod.  We head on in to the cinema.

Remembering 9/11

11th September 2001, I was at a FÁS training course in Baldoyle, Dublin learning HTML.

Towards the end of the FÁS working day, the course lecturer announced in a matter of a fact way that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.  It sparked a small conversation amongst my fellow students and suggested that it was probably a small aircraft like a Cessna.

As we were going home on the DART, not much more was said about the incident.  It felt insignificant.

When I got home I turned on Sky News and got the shock of my life when I finally realised what had happened.  Not long after I turned on the TV, the second plane hit.  It was no longer insignificant.  The TV and I seemed alone at home.  The TV was on, but I was not.  It was like being punched on an empty stomach.

When my mother came home, she reminded me that my cousin, Ciarán, worked nearby.  The two buildings collapsed.  There was screaming on the TV, again there was silence in the room.

I cannot remember when my mother finally got in contact with my aunt, Emer, but thankfully, he worked in a building on the next block and was safe.

9/11 still resonates and it will never be forgotten.

RIP