Saturday, 4 July 2009

A nice, relaxing drive on the Military Road

Somewhere in the Manor resides a copy of "The Military Road", by Michael Fewer. I say somewhere, because I've been looking for it for the past half hour but can't find it anywhere, inspired as I was earlier by a spin out in that direction.

The Military Road runs from the foothills of the optimistically named Dublin Mountains right into the wilds of Wicklow, over the boggy shoulder of Kippure on to the Sally Gap and out to Laragh (near Glendalough) before twisting on towards Glenmalure and beyond.

If I could find the book I could sound very authoritative here and give you some interesting little snippets, but sadly it is not to be. A quick google tells me it was constructed by the British military between 1800 and 1809 to flush out the remaining participants of the 1798 rebellion who were hiding out in the wilderness of the Wicklow uplands at that time.

It's not often that I can say many positive things have been achieved by rebellions in Ireland over the years, but the Military Road is one worthwhile consequence. Many were the times in my youth I'd head out that way on my trusty old mod scooter and be gobsmacked by the isolation of it all. Even now, after years living away, it still holds a fascination of its own, both for the vistas it reveals at every turn and for marvelling at the feat of engineering of its time that it was.

But hold on... this sounds too much like a Bord Failte article for comfort. So let me add that you are best going up there in winter time - as there are still far too many natives about in summer, despite the Redcoats' best efforts. If you venture up there on a day like today, you can be sure it will be populated by half-wits capable of spoiling the Zen-like composure of the Dalai Lama, inducing in that personage mouth-foaming fits of road rage akin to the ones I suffered earlier.

Examples? Try the following...

Pretend 4x4s coming around blind corners in the middle of narrow roads at breakneck (literally) speed, where two cars can hardly pass without sampling the flora and fauna of an obliging ditch.

Other "drivers" doddering along at 20 km/h with a serpentine trail of cars behind them, either oblivious to their presence or simply not of a mind to let them pass.

Cyclists going along two abreast - subjecting one to prolonged observation of their sweaty, male, lycra-clad arses (fine, if that's your thing, but it's not mine... Gwen Stefani's lycra-clad arse might just be about tolerable).

Verminous little brats spilling out of MPVs onto the road ahead of you, forcing you to test your anti-lock brakes (my car's work very well, by the way... and so does the horn, showing no signs of fade even after constant use).

And why, oh why, do the authorities insist on locking the carparks shut, so that people have to park on the narrow roads instead? And what does the guy driving around in the Jeep that says "Ranger" actually do?

A relaxing drive in the countryside? Don't get me started.

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pema said...

Ah, the rebel road. I have a book on it somewhere in the muddled mysteries of my bookshelves. Wasn't it the area where some Irish gal refused to betray her rebellious, though protestant master to the English? And was killed by the English? Sweet memories.

Not mine as a rebel girl though but driving there and feeling deliciously lost and close to romantisized Irish history, hoping to meet some wild Irish rebel with blue eyes and soft hands, a man I would defend with my life for his fight for freedom ... sweet youthful dreams ... sigh...

Last time I've been there it actually felt like Paddy Disney Park with all mod cons. But that's the way the world goes.

Go there in the winter or even better get out of the pale and up to Donegal, the Derryveagh Mountains where the wilderness and lonelyness is simply overwhelming.

And it's okay to sound like Board Failte. Ireland is a great and stunning country - if only it wouldn't be populated and ruled by small minded people who don't appreciated the assets this island has to offer.

Bernd said...

You forgot to mention that memorial to the side, where Irish rebels took another Irish rebel and shot him, thus proving who the real rebels are and who is more Irish ... or so. The history of Ireland in a nutshell.

By the way - be thankful that you did not encounter a stry "gipsy caravan" populated with a German teacher couple and their brood named Torben-Malte and Orla-Ciara. Happened to me on a blind corner in the area once. Only the tinker pony stayed cool. And I earned heaps of constructive criticism like "You no you are to travel slow here, enjoy ze landscape, not scare ze childs, zis is a tourist era ..."

Always refreshing to wnswer with "Schnauze und den Wagen an die Seite, sonst stirbt das Pony und wird Pferdewurst!"

Ella said...

Hi GM, LOL here, good posting, perhaps you should ask the missus where your book is, she'll probably open the press and there it will be. I say this because if you are anything like Mr Ella, well that kind of thing happens all the time in our house. It is afterall a universally acknowledged fact that women always know where things are!

Bernd said...

@ Ella:

"It is after all a universally acknowledged fact that women always know where things are!"

True ... because they consciously put it in the wrong place in misguided attempts to "clean up", i.e. making a total mess of the male's optimized storage system.


The Gombeen Man said...

I'm afraid Bernd has a very valid point there, Ella!

Ella said...

Bernd, GM, if you can't find something because you don't remember where you left it, there is no need to blame your women folk.

I've had a scout at "Why Men Don't Listen and Women Can't Read Maps" and the research in the book concurs with my own sentiments that "Men and women are different. Not better or worse—different. Just about the only thing they have in common is that they belong to the same species. They live in different worlds, with different values and according to quite different sets of rules. Everyone knows this, but very few people, particularly men, are willing to admit it.

Women can always find the missing set of car keys but rarely the most direct route to their destination.

Men are amazed at how a woman can't see a red flashing oil light on the car dashboard but can spot a dirty sock in a dark corner 20 feet away. Women are bewildered by men who can consistently parallel park a car in a tight spot using a rearview mirror but can never find the G spot.

If a woman is out driving and gets lost, she'll stop and ask for directions. To a man, this is a sign of weakness. He'll drive around in circles for hours, muttering things like, "I've found a new way to get there" or "I'm in the general area" and "Hey, I recognize that gas station!"

Men and women evolved differently because they had to. Men hunted, women gathered. Men protected, women nurtured. As a result, their bodies and brains evolved in completely different ways.

As their bodies physically changed to adapt to their specific functions, so did their minds. Men grew taller and stronger than most women, while their brains developed to suit their tasks. Women were mostly content for men to work away as they kept the cave fires burning, and their brains evolved to cope with their function in life.

Over millions of years, the brain structures of men and women thus continued to change in different ways. Now we know the sexes process information differently. They think differently. They believe different things. They have different perceptions, priorities, and behaviors.

To pretend otherwise is a recipe for heartache, confusion, and disillusionment all your life.

Bernd your comment about women "because they consciously put it in the wrong place in misguided attempts to "clean up", i.e. making a total mess of the male's optimized storage system" is simply not true. Women don't deliberately hide things so their men folk will waste time looking for it. In general, the said book will be exactly where the man left it. There is nothing wrong with that but you do need to acknowledge that's it's a dfference between the sexes, nothing more.