Monday, March 10, 2008

Motoring In Ireland

In a land famous for tea drinking and beer by the pint, you'd not want to down too much liquid before hitting the road.

There was a time when few people had cars and not many people did much driving around the island. Back then, there was little need for rest areas and public toilets. Things have certainly changed in Ireland, but there still isn't any place to pull over and answer nature's call.

The National Roads Authority has come to see that driving with one's legs crossed and one's mind focused entirely on prayer (or locating a patch of scrub in which to find relief), is downright dangerous. An average, healthy human being cannot drive from the south end of Wexford all the way to the border without running out of petrol or running out of bladder space.

As Ireland enters another phase of its growth, the motorway rest area will soon be added to a fine list of accomplishments. Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey has signed the order, and no less than two service stations will be built on the M1. Ten more are said to be coming for other major roads.

What was a nightmare before, driving for miles with small children and their small bladders, will become a joy. Families running up to Belfast to take advantage of the lower prices will not have to bundle the brood in nappies. No need to dehydrate before attempting a trip north. As they do in every other civilized and motorized country, you can pull into the service station area and make a mad dash to the jacks, rather than water the roadside flora and hope that no one can see you.

Pity that the cost of fuel is so high. Who can afford to drive at all these days?

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