Dithering at a bus stop outside Dublin Airport recently, debating the merits of taking a 16 or 41, a bus driver hollered at us from inside his bus.
– Where are ye off to?
– Malahide Road
– That’s a long road, love
– Between Artane and Donnycarney
– Ah – you want that bus there (pointing to the one in front of him). Get off at Annesley motors on Cloghran and hop on the 27b and you’ll be sorted. How are ye paying?
– We have Leap cards [Irish equivalent of Oyster cards – prepaid travel cards]
– Ye know it’s two fares, right?
– Yep – cheers
– No bother
So we get on the No. 16 and ask the driver to let us out at Annesley Motors in Cloghran. Then we sit down and wait.
In comes our friendly guy. He has a chat with our driver and then shouts down the bus to us:
– Tommy’ll see ye right. He’ll let ye know when to get off. Are ye okay so?
It’s been a while since I’ve merited such attention.
We motor on and Tommy finally calls us out. As he pulls up to the stop, he asks us where we are going:
– Malahide Road. Between Donnycarney and Artane
– Ah sure, why don’t you come on down with me to Beaumont and pick up the 14 That’ll take you to Donnycarney
– But then we’d have to walk up the hill instead of down
– Fair point, fair point. I’ll take ye to the next stop – it has a shelter and a timetable so ye can see where ye’re at. No charge. Ye’ll have a wait though. Sure ye won’t come with me?
– Nah. Thanks though. We’re grand
At this stage, the rest of the passengers, all tourists, were trying to figure out who we were and why we were getting such attention.
It was bloody freezin’ as we stood and waited our 12 minutes for the 27B. It was on the screen, getting tantalizingly close only to drop back as it was overtaken by another bus. We watched the countdown. 5 min. 4 min. 2 min. Due. And then it disappeared off the screen and never appeared over the hill. And we were in Cloghran.
A couple of minutes later, a bus pulls up. It had its as seirbhís sign up (out of service). The driver opened the door and the story continued
– What number are ya?, I asked
– What number do you want me to be?
– I’d love you to be a 27B
– Grand so. Hop on.
Not quite believing the randomness of it all, on we got.
– What fare to you want?
– I’ve no clue. I want to go to the Malahide Road. The stop after the turn to Artane Castle
– Yeah, but what fare do you want?
– The cheapest
– Grand so. That’ll be €1.05
We were on that bus for at least half a hour if not 40 minutes; our €1.05 had run out in the first ten. We wandered in and out of estates, passing the same church at least twice. It was like a mystery tour.
I love Dublin. I love Dubliners. I love the irreverence and their ability to knock some craic out of just about anything. And for those who say that the ‘furriners’ or the ‘non-nationals’ moving into the country will ruin it, only one of those three bus men was Irish. It hadn’t taken the others long to catch on. And for this, I’m grateful.