A Few Wrong Turns

A  Few Wrong Turns

As a general rule, with some notable exceptions, the male of the species is prone to be rather proud of his map reading abilities. Finding the right track has been a great macho ego booster since the days we hunted elk and mammoths and such like. In fact, our evolutionary progress has, I surmise, been directly linked to our ability to find alternative routes to where sabre toothed tigers lay in wait for human bones.

Last week, in Tipperary and what is now deemed “Ireland’s Ancient East”, my ego evolved a little in the opposite direction as I humbly succumbed to using the infernal sat nav.

On our last outing to North Donegal, we barely needed to consult Sheila, the lady with the funny American kind of voice in my wife’s I phone’s App.

But Shelia must have been on a respite this time because we had a male voice who shall remain nameless (though I called him a few choice names) as we meandered the vast bewildering web of roads which constitute middle Ireland south and east. Ancient and modern.

Maybe the Northern roads are better sign posted or maybe I am just losing my navigational touch as my middle age spread continues to spread.

I first took the wrong turn at Portlaoise trying to find the Midway plaza, home of several fast food emporia to which my stepson, Pauric, is quite partial.

Luckily, we recovered quickly as I knew the M7 well from memory or so I thought. It would defeat me terribly a few days later….

Then I took the exit for Johnstown off the M8 as advised by my neighbour Ronan, whose father in law, Pat Slattery, is a Tipperary born legend.

I have always found masculine directions to be slightly more reliable than the fairer gender or should I now say, genders?

I could see from my battered and trusty Ireland Ordnance Survey map that we needed the R689 to Fethard, our destination.

And the sign comfortingly pointed out that the 639 turned into the 689 in the Killenaule direction.

But I inexplicably missed the turn for Killenaule and took the 639 all the way to Cashel where the road to Fethard was blocked resulting in a long round trip which I really did not need as I was just coming off night duty.

Anyhow, Sheila the sat nav with the transatlantic nasal twang got us safely to Burke St where Winnie, from whom we were renting our lodgings, had told us to look for a pink door which was quite elusive.

You can’t put ‘pink door’ into a sat nav search, you see, but thank God, we found it eventually.

A quaint if poky little house which made up in charming quirkiness for its pokiness.

I could go on and on in detail about our explorations but let me stick to the exciting bits.

Maura, my wife, took over the driving next day to Tramore but came a cropper in Waterford. She has unlimited faith in the sat nav as it has got her out of many a dark corner when she drove the country servicing the houses of the reverend Christian brothers as a nurse visitor. Maura, until she recently got her cataracts done, was quite challenged as regards map reading and signpost analysis which are my forte, or so I thought.

But to cut a long story shorter, we arrived in Waterford and as navigator in the powerful passenger seat position, I advised Maura to take the 675 for Tramore along the quays as signposted clearly.

But no, Sheila the sat nav contradicted me, so Maura obeyed Sheila and not me. Blind obedience to my commands is not one of Maura’s strong points so we drove all around Waterford until we came to a cul de sac.

Again i advised Maura as tactfully as I could that it might be wiser not to drive up the cul de sac but the sat nav knew better as sat navs do.

It’s their authority I find irritating.

“At 400 metres, take a U Turn”

This became kind of a motto cum mantra for our touring holidays.

How many times we heard those words and

“At the roundabout, take a U turn”

Things went from bad to worse when we tried to find the Cloughjordan Eco Village.

The sat nav clearly said take a left for Birdhill off the M7 heading for Dublin but then said to head back for Limerick by the same M7.

Maura said I did not listen properly to the sat nav who said take a left when that left was already past. This happened twice and then it again said those words which will be forever burned into my longest term memory

“At 400 metres, do a U turn”

But, anyhow, we found Cloughjordan and enjoyed it and departed homeward refreshed  though with conflicting advice from different ladies of the town as to how to get back to the M7 the quickest way.

At this stage, I was back to following my gut instincts pigeon-like and ended up at the Barack Obama plaza near Moneygall where Pauric always had wanted to go.

I knew the M7 would bring us back to the M8 and home

But we got distracted listening to an emotional David Walliams audio book and somehow missed the turn for the bloody M8 and ended frustratingly back at the Midway plaza near Portlaoise which necessitated yet another humiliating U turn.

“At 400 metres, do a U turn”

You may be worn out by all these rural manoeuvres so I will leave it at that as regards wrong turns in Tipperary.

I could describe the pleasures of negotiating Clonmel of the many exits but as the good Apostle John would say “many books could not explain all that is to be told”.