70


by Ray Hyland

For as long as I’ve been a resident of dear Dunboyne, there has been a tenuous but definite link back into Dublin City. An artery if you will, which pumps from the heart of the City Centre back to the edge of the old green belt.

I’d guess I’ve been on the 70 bus or one of its variants at least 5000 times since 1985 or ‘86.Probably more actually. I remember all subtle route changes. Did you know its original terminus was just by the Ha’penny Bridge beside an old carpet shop? From there it would wrap around to Liffey Street back onto Lower Abbey Street, pass the old O’Connor’s denim shop ( complete with weird mural that nobody remembers) back onto Capel Street, over Grattan Bridge and back to the still familiar route.

The terminus was pushed around a fair bit after that. The 70 made its home in Middle Abbey Street for a while, near the old Chapter’s book shop, before switching to the Abbey Theatre. It was moved to facilitate the Luas works, whereby it took up residence at the model railway shop on Hawkins Street. Right now it starts at the Burlington Road, hitting Dawson and Suffolk Street before going back onto the quays.

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Image courtesy of Dublin Bus Stuff http://www.dublinbusstuff.com

To live in Dunboyne without a car is much like living in a rural town without your own transport. For a long time, the bus only ran every two hours and sometimes not even then. Weekends especially were(and are) quite frustrating. I used to visit my Gran near NCR and by the time it got there from town, the single decker bus was always full, leaving me to sitting in the old luggage hold by the double doors.

So many times I’ve had to put my faith in this wretched service. The worst was on those busy winter nights when it would already be full by the time it got to Prussia Street. You knew well it was full of fuckers from Castleknock who had just missed the 39.Worse yet, going to school in Blanchardstown for 6 years meant I either had to get the special school bus or the 70 on Wednesday half days.

It improved slightly over time as the single deckers where taken out of commission and a new 270 service was deployed in the late 90s. This was to provide transport to the newly built Blanchardstown centre. Now noisy little yellow red mini buses went up and down the motorway. No matter what ideas you had about yourself, any passenger on these looked a bit ‘special’.

There was never any real novelty value going on the bus. It was good seeing friends or acquaintances on there that might break up the long journey. It was even better to sometimes feign sleep when you saw someone you didn’t to see getting on at the next stop.

A fond memory was the quiet man. He was a lad of maybe 25 and he’d sit down the very back of the top deck and roll himself a lovely joint. He’d have about half of it, never say a word and then offer it to whoever was sitting beside him before he got off at Littlepace. I wonder what became of him.

I finally managed to move out in my early 20s, free now from the grip of those dusty green(then blue) seats. But I still get shudders when I think of all the time wasted waiting around for that bus, or worse yet having my life dictated to by its questionable scheduling.

I never even mentioned the epic adventure that is the 70 Nitelink service or the old 70X that ran from UCD belfield for many years.

Nowadays there’s a train that goes from Dunboyne into the city, though it doesn’t impress me much. It’s a long walk back into the village but I guess it’s better than nothing!

My advice, get a car, or make lots of friends with available couch space in town.

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Hi, my name is Ray and I live in Ireland. I am slowly learning how unfair life is and dealing with it accordingly. Currently I live at home with my parents at the tender age of 32, having decided that success and a nice abode of my own was all too predictable. I presently work as an Intern, which in Ireland means, the same as everywhere else in the western world (no job prospects!). My principle interests include observing soccer players secretly laughing at the rest of us, wrestling with the reality that sometimes you’re better off not trying, wrestling full stop oh and fast food, consummation and critique thereof. I don’t like long walks along the beach, Monday is my favourite day of the week and if there’s an American TV show out there that you love and can’t stop talking about chances are I probably despise you.

Seamus Heaney


Seamus Heaney died today. He was 74. By no means a young man, but in this day and age it cannot be denied that one of the world’s greatest poets has left us early, and this is to say nothing of the feelings I can barely imagine his family and friends are suffering under as we speak.

I was once in the same room as him. That is the best that I can say of my personal relationship with him. It was in UCD and he was presenting on a reworked version of the Antigone, where he spoke about the challenge of translation and representing the Ancient Greek classic in the twenty first century. To tell the truth, I can’t recall if we went up and introduced ourselves or not. He struck me as I did not expect someone of his significance to strike me; down to earth, honest, and light hearted, with a deep and warm voice from which words seemed like they were happiest coming from.

I wanted to post a poem that I thought would symbolise how I felt about Heaney. One that would allow me to think of him and his place in the world, and my position next to him. I don’t really know much of his poetry, and by much I mean probably about a percent of his thousands of published works.

When these unfortunate situations come around it’s always appropriate to find the right poem, and maybe the right poem is the one we always remember first when we think of a poet, or artist, novelist, or whoever it is to be remembered.

The poem I remember is Digging.

As I read this poem I read about a man who could not match his familial talent for digging. Potatoes. Turf. Earth. These were all buried deep his background, but he found himself buried deep in books and writing, struggling to see how he could emulate his father and grandfather.

When I was thirteen or fourteen we read this poem in school. I enjoyed it and understood it, but perhaps that was all. Little connection with this seems to have been made between the poem and the man who wrote it who won the Nobel Prize for Literature a couple of years later. This connection was not established until many years later.

In the poem, what Heaney teaches me here is that it doesn’t matter how distant or untraditional your direction in life may find itself verging. Always do your damnedest and dig deep always for the good turf and your labours will be rewarded. If you feel you are not doing them justice by not following in their footsteps, there are fewer finer displays of gratitude than dedicating your success to the influence of family who went before you.

It seems like a simple message because it is, that’s why it is so effective. The idea behind this has not been lost on me despite being so far away from Ireland and my own father and grandfather. We all take different paths in life but we need good guides to show us where best to tread or footsteps.

Rest in Peace Seamus Heaney, you have finished digging. And the hole you dug is good, very good.

Digging

by Seamus Heaney

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with.

(poem courtesy of the Poetry Foundation)