The Dublin launch of Journey to Hopeful Futures: a Handbook was not Manchester but across the Irish sea! The first challenge was how to get my books to Dublin! I sent two boxes of books using a delivery company – post Brexit, a complicated procedure involving completing custom forms, finding the codes for importing books, printing labels out and securely attaching to each box.
Although the plane journey Manchester to Dublin now takes most passengers, it is heavier on my carbon footprint. Instead, I caught the boat train Manchester to Holyhead, a beautiful scenic route along the North Wales coast right next to the sea, over the Menai Straits and across Anglesey. Countryside with trees, green fields and only the occasional road and house and the Snowden mountains always in the distance. Arriving at Holyhead the trains go right into the ferry port and check in, a short bus ride right on to the ferry – next stop lunch (pie and chips) and then a trip to the upper deck and a coffee. It was a calm crossing and we came into Dublin Bay sailing close to the hill of Howth.
We got in at 5.30, through passport control – also not needed pre Brexit – then bus and the DART, which travels all around Dublin Bay, my journey taking me south along the sea and looking back across to Howth. My destination, Blackrock station, where as you climb the stairs, you have the sea and the whole of Dublin Bay at your feet. So too are the ruins of the outdoor swimming pool, still with sea water coming in, waiting to be restored and for the children to come back.
Throughout my youth the boat and train were the main routes to Ireland from England but for most they have been replaced by the plane. They could easily return to being the main route with some upgrading and improvement of the train services; a straightforward way to cut our carbon footprint if we were all encouraged to reduce our short haul flights as has happened in France. The journey from Manchester to Dublin is not only beautiful by land and sea, it is surely a prime candidate for such action.
I urge visitors to our house to travel by boat and train where possible. When Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim , who’s work I reference in my book, arrived in Manchester to present the film Journey of the Universe and offer two workshops a few years ago, I persuaded them to take the boat train to their next destination, Dublin, rather than fly. They remarked on how beautiful the route is. I can only agree!