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29 April 2005

very solid steel

time to leave the united kingdom, a wonderful beginning for my travels. i wondered if there was any type of border station. out of the land of the pound sterling and into the euro. from 1.9 to 1.3 and yes it matters. in belfast i had made contact with david nesbitt, a minister of a church in ballybay, ireland, and the manager of the property where stands the church in which my great grandparents were married on valentine's day in 1898. the research had been done by a distant cousin and i knew the name of the church and the name of the county... david nesbitt's website helped me find the rest. i exchanged a couple of emails with david and we finalized the details on the phone. i'd be taking a bus down to monaghan (the 'g' is silent... 'monna-hen'); he would pick me up, drive me out to the church, and then back to the bus station so i could catch a bus down to dublin. what a nice guy. so nice.

as the bus drove away from belfast, i had a twinge of regret for not taking one of the black taxi tours, apparently the best way to see the religiously and politically charged murals in the areas around the catholic falls road and the protestant shankill road. i'd made a call but as i wasn't with a group, i would have had to pay the private rate of around 25 pounds. a little too pricey. tourism is slow in belfast in april, so it seems... no other groups were going for me to tag along with.

random fact: the titantic was built in belfast in the harland and wolff shipyards. the large yellow h&w cranes can still be seen.

i arrived in monaghan with an hour to spare before i was to meet david. explore and mission: withdraw euros. mission accomplished quickly. monaghan is a very cute little town. a few photos for home and a turkey sandwich with a deliciously crisp baguette. my first euro exchange... and the belfastian turk said _american_ money was like monopoly money? wow. i don't think you can get more monopolian than the euro notes. i'll take this turkey sandwich, a coke... and oh, i'll buy two hotels for boardwalk and park place. there are 2 euro coins and 1 euro coins and 50c, 20c, 10c, 5c, 2c, and 1c coins. the notes are different sizes and colors. non-europeans can check them here.

i met david at the bus station and made the mistake of walking to the wrong side of his car. blah. my very first ride in the other side of a car and on the other side of the road. strange at first. david was an incredible guide... telling me a little bit about the church and the surrounding country as we drove out. absolutely beautiful day with bright sun. cahans church is very large. first observation. the current building, built in 1840 to replace two older buildings, is slowly decaying but funds are being raised for renovations. i took many pictures (see the gallery). HISTORY. my great grandparents... my grandmother's parents... were married in this building more than 100 years ago.

back to the bus station and then down to dublin. in irish gaelic: baile atha cliath. you see it on all of the license plates. i'm always concerned about the initial walk from the bus station to the hostel... how far... through what... will i be able to find it. in this case, not far at all... the hostel was located very near the bus station. very solid steel bunk beds. i met david, an italian, who woke up groggy from his sleep when i entered the room. his friend, nico, was sleeping as well without the wake-up part. i think it was around 6pm or so. the hostel looked solid. i booked an extra night and went out for the new city walk.

posted by paul on Fri 29 Apr 2005 at 00:00:00 est (-05:00)

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