Last Friday November 19th, I attended a book launch and AMAI standing council meeting in the Mansion house in Dublin. As we have been renovating Catherine’s mother’s house in Drumcondra over the last year I took the opportunity to go to the house after the meeting to collect some of the equipment in the house to bring it back to Lismore. To park in front of the house one has to pay a parking fee. By the way, the sign informing a potential parkee has annoyed me since it was put up, as it reads “pay and display, Mon to Sun, 7.00 am to 12.00 pm. It annoys me for two reasons, basically the hrs one has to pay for parking either force those who live in the street to come home after midnight and leave before 7 am or purchase a resident parking permit. These permits are only available if you register your car for that address, which prevents people like ourselves from having a permit and so we need to pay for parking when we visit our son, who is taking care of the house or park our car around the corner in St. Patricks Parade. The second reason is probably a bit pedantic from my side, but why put on the sign Mon – Sun instead of just stating the need for pay and display. Monday to Sunday means all days in a week and the extra clarification is a waste of taxpayers’ money.
Anyway, back to the crimes. As Martin would not be home before 6 pm, I loaded the equipment I could load without his assistance in the van and went over to the parking meter to buy a parking permit until around 6.30 p.m. Unfortunately, the machine gobbled up my money but refused to produce a ticket and when I pressed the refund button it also refused to give back the money. The thing went on the blink just when I put in the money. Is this crime 1? No, it is not a crime for a machine going on the blink, but it is certainly a nuisance. So, instead of wasting more money I decided as it was about 4.30 pm to park the van in St. Patricks Parade instead and collect the van when Martin would be available to load the heavier equipment. He arrived home at about 6.10 pm and I went to collect the van. By this time it was dark, but the street has a few streetlamps and is beside the railway, so I was not worried, also I have parked the van on a number of occasions overnight without any difficulty. Coming around the corner I suddenly realised from a distance that the space where I parked the van was empty. I still went to the space and recognised the car I had parked behind, but no van. I walked around the corner to see if I had gone senile and parked in a different place, but of course could not find the van. There was no sign of glass in the space where I had parked the van, but am 100% sure I locked every door of the van as I am, to use the words of one of my children, very peculiar about locking the car/van in Dublin. So this was crime 1. So after having reported the theft to the Gardai, which by the way don’t accept reports of theft by phone any longer, one has to go to the Gardai station to report in person. The garda on duty was very pleasant in taking the details, but basically said that I would be contacted when the van was found as he had put the make and number on the “system”. He actually said that I would know that the van was found before he did, and so not to contact him for updates.
I stayed in Dublin for that night with my son, and contacted the insurance company to report the van missing. After the claim department of the insurance company informed me the next morning that they would contact the gardai for the report and that all was taken care of, I started planning to go back to Lismore. There are a few options, one can either take the Aircoach from Westmoreland Street at a cost of €16.00 to Fermoy and spend around 4 hours visiting every town between Dublin and Fermoy or take the train in the direction of Cork for €15.00 to Thurles or Limerick Juntion, according to the Irishrail.ie website . As there are absolutely no public transport connections between Fermoy and Lismore, or for that matter between any train station and Lismore one has to arrange for a pick-up by friends or relatives. Having looked at the options I decided to go by train and ask Catherine to pick me up in Limerick Junction. Trying to book online I was informed that this was not possible as the train I wanted to take was departing in less than 90 minutes. So I took a taxi and went to Heuston station (€12.00), and proceeded to purchase a ticket at the ticket office. The lady in that office was very pleasant and nice and informed me that that would cost me €44.00!!!!!
When saying that the online price was only €15.00 I was informed that that was the online booking price. I would regard this as crime number two. Why does it cost nearly three times as much to purchase a ticket in the station than online. Does this mean that those who do not have the knowledge or opportunity to book online are being penalised by Irish Rail? I think so; I think this system is a total rip off. I could have phoned my son to book online for me for a later train, but as it was after 10.30, I would have to wait for the 1 pm train, waiting for 2.5 hrs while I intended to go on the 11 am one to be home before dark. Seemingly I also could have purchased a return ticket for less then I paid for the single trip ticket, why is that, why would a return ticket be cheaper than a one-way. The mind boggles even thinking about this, Irish Rail rips off those who travel one way and those who cannot purchase online. And these types of rip offs will help us to get out of the economic quagmire we are in at present? I don’t think so.