Cross border motorway to cut half hour from Belfast-Dublin journey

Just 14 Kms long, but the new motorway link (opening today) between the A1 at Cloghoge in Co Armagh to the N1 at Dundalk will cut out that circuitous/tortuous journey through and around the north Louth border town. At 2 hours, the road link now rivals the rail journey for speed, if not convenience.

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  • Gareth

    I do not believe that Irish road signs should be erected everywhere, but I do think we should have all townland and town/village names put up bilingually as well as an explanation of what the Irish actually means, e.g.

    BALLYMENA

    An Baile Meánach

    (The Middle Town)

    I think that local people of any persuasion could take ownership of their placenames by understand where they came from and that they are to be shared.

    BTW – again, it’s a dual carriageway not a motorway!

  • DK

    Gareth – nice idea, but good luck with Cookstown!!!

  • Sean

    You all miss the point. there is 1 very good reason to put up bilingual signs!

    Tourism! the one growth industry clearly opening up in northern Ireland. We tourists eat that crap up, lets us appear cultured and wise when we get back to our new world hovels

  • Ulster Gael

    Irish is the indigenous language of our land- Ulster. All nine counties. And has survived with the help of many great Protestants and Catholics in the past.

    Again, nice site: http://www.ultach.org

  • mnob

    Ulster McNulty

    There is no Standard English – there is no standards authority.

    English is constantly evolving – words appear and disappear in English dictionaries with every edition. For example American English spelling color, ize … actually comes from an older form of English.

    So whilst I understand what you are saying and can appreciate your point that English may have been forced upon unwilling speakers in the past this is the 21st century and most within and without Ireland learn English by choice. Indeed being English speaking and in Europe is one or the ROIs selling points for business.

  • RG Cuan

    DK

    Cookstown – An Chorr Chríochach, ‘The Boundary Hill’. Of course there’s a diferent etymology with the Plantation name.

    SEAN

    Agree totally.

  • Jamie Gargoyle

    At the risk of being drawn into the quagmire, do Welsh and Scots not have some official status? IIRC persons seeking British citizenship have to prove a working knowledge of English, Welsh, or Scots…

    Sorry Mick – I know a long time ago this was about how there’s a new road that cuts the travel time if you’re driving from Belfast to Dublin… might’ve been nice if the thread that emerged could’ve concentrated on the relative merits of car vs train, how the new road might improve the journey times of Ulsterbus/Bus Eireann/AirCoach to the point where it’s a close call as to whether it’s actually worth paying extra to catch the Enterprise, etc.

    Ho hum.

  • Dewi

    “would be good to hear from any Welsh readers about how billigual signs came about throughout the whole country. My guess is that Welsh never quite built up the same degree of political animosity that Irish clearly has in NI.”

    LOL – it wasn’t easy though Mick – thousands of English only signs painted over or destroyed. Many went to prison. only fairly recently (within last ten years) do all local authorities put up bilingual signs – Welsh first in Western half of Wales – English first in East

  • Dewi

    At the risk of being drawn into the quagmire, do Welsh and Scots not have some official status.

    Without a written constitution the concept of official is not quite as clear as in the Republic fr’instance – however there have been a number of acts recognising the rights of speakers in both countries.

    Those stupid new citizenship tests can be held in English, Welsh or Scots Gaelic.

  • slug

    Why are we talking about Irish Gaelic?

  • slug

    Will the following sign be erected at the border?

    “Northern Ireland”

    followed by

    “UK speed limits are Miles Per Hour”

  • slug

    The labelling of the jurisdiction is a matter of practical importance, and not just at this border road, especially given the number of tourists.

    Without this information a southbound tourist could have a good defence against speeding charges.

    It would also be important to point out that all distances will be in miles so that tourists do not run into problems underestimating distances.

  • Reader

    Ulster Gael: Irish is the indigenous language of our land- Ulster.
    Land doesn’t have a language, people do. Guess what language most people speak here in Ulster?

  • RG Cuan

    If the sign ‘North Ireland’ appears on the new A1 it will be taken down or else ‘Tuaisceart na hÉireann’ will be written on/beside it.

    This is South Armagh we are talking about, not South Antrim.

    Agree Slug about the distance/speed issue. Though it should be bilingual, just like they have at other European border crossings.

    And ok then Reader – Irish is the indigenous language of the native Gaelic people of Ulster.

  • Gareth

    slug & RG Cuan

    Cross-border roads already have information plates below speed-limit signs when going northwards to inform people that speed limits are in mph. In the other direction, distance signs and speed limit signs display the unit. And I haven’t seen any ‘Northern Ireland’ signs for a long time. There used to be some which asked ‘Is your insurance valid for Northern Ireland?’ Hardly offensive.

    BTW, recently the Sinn Fein minister for regional development stated in an Assembly written answer that there was no business case for having dual unit road signs.

  • Séamas An Rapaire

    Reader – People do have languages but not indigenous ones – places do.

    Guess what the indigenous language of Ulster is? Yes, you got it.

  • RG Cuan

    GARETH

    I know there are already speed-limit info signs on other border roads, we were talking about the new A1.

    And you you have any extra info on what Conor Murphy mentioned in the Assembly? I haven’t heard this anywhere else.

  • Séamas An Rapaire

    I wonder who asked the Minister the question?

    There’s currently an online petition on the issue and i’m guessing he’ll come under quite a bit of pressure from his own constituents on this one.

  • eranu

    “how the new road might improve the journey times of Ulsterbus/Bus Eireann/AirCoach to the point where it’s a close call as to whether it’s actually worth paying extra to catch the Enterprise, etc.”

    ive been on all quite regularly and its definately not worth getting the enterprise.

    ulsterbus buses are pretty crap. crap seats and limited leg room. bus eireann are a good bit better, but air coach seats are really comfortable and look like leather (im sure they’re not though). and theres plenty of leg room. they are much more comfortable than enterprise seats too.
    dont get ripped off on the train when you can have a cheap comfortable ride (ooo er) on the aircoach.

  • slug

    The issue of road signage.

    It is my view that we should EITHER go for no Irish Gaelic on our road signs, or we should have all road signs in Irish Gaelic; i.e. we should have a consistent policy applied across NI.

    This is because in my view it is extremely important to ensure we in NI unify and integrate as a society rather than fragment and divide. In particular the concept of “nationalist towns” and “unionist towns” must be eschewed and eschewed firmly; to differentiate in this way is unattractive and potentially dangerous.

  • RG Cuan

    That would be great in an ideal world Slug but can you really see Irish Gaelic signage surviving in areas of Ballymena, Coleraine, Kilkeel, Newtownards etc?

    A big education push would be needed to illustrate that the language is for everybody here but there will be some elements who will just not want to listen.

    The truth remains that parts of NI do not want to associate themselves with what they see as an alien culture.

  • Gareth

    RG Cuan

    I was only stating the policy, anyway, the questions were asked by Cathal Boylan about introducing ‘deaths per year per county’ signs (not going to, Republic phasing these out too) and dual distance unit signs. They can be found in the Written Answer Booklet for 6 July on the Assembly website.

  • Ulster Gael

    “The truth remains that parts of NI do not want to associate themselves with what they see as an alien culture.”

    Its sad thats the way it is, for a language enshrined with Ulster (and denied any rights in six of its counties) and native to Ulster.

    Here is a link (especially for Protestants):
    http://http://www.ultach.dsl.pipex.com/resources/P.%20Irish%20Learners%20Eng.doc

  • Ulster Gael
  • Dave Hamilton

    If driving to Dublin from Belfast is there anywhere decent/cheap to park? I love the enterprise but it is pretty costly.. would def consider the bus too.

  • joeCanuck

    Dingle anyone?

  • Cruimh

    “Tourism!”

    To be blunt – Cobblers to that – Aside from the fact that the language and literature has it’s own inherent dignity and beauty, I don’t want my country to become a twee disney theme park for visiting plastics. Chocolate box Ireland is long gone – and sticking a few gaelic signs around the place won’t hide the ghastly sprawling suburbs, the polluted rivers and lakes, the bungalow blight, industrial estates and all the other signs of ‘prosperity’.

    I remember that crap from 60s and 70s killarney – kids in fake clothes stinging the tourists for dollars to have their pictures taken with donkey and cart loaded with turf.

    Thanks but no thanks.

  • joeCanuck

    Sorry, disagree Cruimh.
    Of course it’s a load of crap but if the kids are smart enough to separate the tourists from a few of their bucks, fair play to them.

  • Daithi

    Does anyone have a link to a map which would show the new Beechill to Cloghoge (Cloughoge?) Roundabout bypass?

    I’ve tried Google but haven’t found anything that helps.

    Any help would, of course, be gratefully appreciated.

  • RG Cuan

    Think you’re going a bit over board with the whole tourism issue Cruimh.

    We’re not asking for all that cac you mention. It’s just that bilingual signage adds to the experience in any country – it illustrates that the placenames have meaning, life and that you’re visiting a culturally diverse country.

    Dáithí, there are few Anglicised versions of Cloughoge. It comes from Clochóg (stoney place) and is pronounced that way (East Ulster Irish with the -ch- sound left out, bit like Clog).

  • Cruimh

    RG – it wasn’t aimed at you. It was aimed at the patronising guff

    “Tourism! the one growth industry clearly opening up in northern Ireland.”

    from Sean.

    I don’t have a problem with your points. I do strongly object to the idea that we should pander to the Darby O’Gill fantasies of outsiders.

  • The Third Policeman

    Aye I think you’re approaching the tourist angle wrong Criumh, don’t get me wrong though, I hate the whole Darby O’Gill nonsense as much as anyone (Shay and begorragh). But surely by your logic wine and cheese festivals in the south of France are pandering to a stereotype of French people. I think there’s a difference between promoting what is essentially a quite racsict stereotype and then promoting your culture and heritage.

  • Dewi

    All road signs should be bilingual and Gaelic should be taught in all schools – it’s not a sectarian issue and the language should be embraced by all – “run away now…….”

  • Cruimh

    You can look at in a number of ways TPP

    It’s insulting to the dignity of the language and culture to introduce a spurious venial advantage.

    If things are to be done they should be done because

    1)it’s right for the locals who want them

    2) It’s a right OF the locals

    3)the language and culture is worth saving for it’s own sake as a thing of beauty

    4) It’s part of our shared heritage

    Those 4 are points for serious discussion

    Hamming the paddywhackery up for a few tourists should be neither here nor there. And for all the cobblers about tourism , the tourist industry hasn’t done a hell of a lot for the Gaeltacht areas which are on their uppers.

    The wine and cheeses festivals is a red herring.

  • dewi

    Cruimh – what on earth has come over you ? – you make sense !

  • latcheeco

    No more motorways to nowhere..autobahn north to south,…. right boys panzers forward..crap we don’t have panzers….dammit..ok then business men forward

  • Guto

    Welsh is not an “official language” in Wales, but it will be within the next year or so. The new Labour/Plaid coalition government has agreed to draw up legilsation giving it official status.

    This whole argument is very similar to stepping back in time to Wales 20 years ago. The anti-bilingualists gave the same arguments then, and were found badly wanting. There’s still a couple of them around today, ready to write their letters to the Western Mail telling us how “dangerous” these bilingual menaces are. All in all though the argument was one a long time ago.

    Of course, the argument was only truly won AFTER bilingual signs were erected. The signs would never have become commonplace if it wasnt for the Welsh Langage Society painting and stealing thousands of road signs for years, many of them sent to jail for it too.

  • Cruimh

    LOL dewi – it’s a subject dear to my heart.
    I’m passonate about the culture and heritage of Ireland and the other British Isles. I’ll bet you go daft when you see the Welsh equivalent of the White Heather Club tartan nonsense – it’s toe-curlingly awful.

  • Turgon

    Dewi,
    Are you disappionted no one has denounced you yet?

    I do think the most important part of this whole discussion is being ignored.

    Why is the train to Dublin so rubbish. The Enterprise takes two hours to get 100 miles. Surely it is possible to get something which would make it in 90 minutes?

  • Dewi

    Yn wir Guto – Nos Da i ti

  • Turgon @ 10:18 PM:

    Why is the train to Dublin so rubbish. The Enterprise takes two hours to get 100 miles. Surely it is possible to get something which would make it in 90 minutes?

    At last! After hours of pointless airhead-hockey, someone has got back to the essential question!

    Try this for size:
    The success of the “Enterprise” service illustrate[s] the benefits of investment in high quality public transport. … upgrading of this service will be needed in the future to maintain competitiveness with an ever-improving road network. Over 100mph running or even electrification should be considered in a strategic sense and could be considered for Public Private Partnership.
    Source: Irish Planning Institute (“the professional body for qualified planners in Ireland”) submission on the future of Northern Ireland’s railways. http://www.irishplanninginstitute.ie/document.jsp?document=1

  • Turgon

    Malcolm Redfellow,
    Do you know anything about trains? I do not except that my son is obsessed with Thomas the Tank engine. How quick would a decent modern train be? Surely even an Intercity 125 would be quicker let alone a 225 and they are not exactly cutting edge technology any more.

  • Dewi

    Turgon – I’m writing Gaelic poems to the fair Elenwe so just watch it !

    ..and i work on the railways !

  • TOT

    i drove from dublin to belfast on tus in 2 hrs, damn sight quicker than that over priced, over crowded, over heated train.

    The think that by calling it the “enterprise” it makes is sound all grand, its a train that stops in two many places and goes two slow.

    Birmingham to london 1 hr 10mins. elfast to dublin 2 hrs – if your lucky.

  • Turgon

    In all seriousness Dewi do you work on railways?
    How long does it take to get from Cardiff to London and how far is it? Is 100 miles in 2 hours rubbish or I am just expecting far too much?

    I know this is a bit mad but I wonder if things like the Clougher Valley railway or Derry Central line could ever be revived. We have a terribly car orientated culture which is not really a good thing. A line to Aldergrove would be a good start.

  • Turgon

    TOT,

    1 hour 10 minutes and the various manifestations of British Rail are not considered very good. Am I right in saying London to Birmingham is about 10% further than Belfast to Dublin?

  • Cruimh

    ” my son is obsessed with Thomas the Tank engine. ”

    Turgon – Thomas is great, but Ivor from the Merioneth and Llantisilly Rail Traction Company Limited is the greatest!

    http://www.whirligig-tv.co.uk/tv/children/ivortheengine/ivortheengine.htm

  • slug

    “A line to Aldergrove would be a good start.”

    It’s already there – that’s the good thing.

  • dewi

    It takes 2 hours to London – dunno how far it is. We should open every single line we stupidly shut down.

  • Maybe if the lamentably bad Translink laid on regular commuter trains to the the capital from Newry and beyond, then we wouldn’t have to wait with such bated breath for developments like the opening of this stretch road.

    There is also, of course, the continuing bottleneck going into Dublin not to mention the damage to the environment of single-driver commuting by car, both of which would be solved to some extent by having a decent train service.

    I wouldn’t hold my breath though.

  • Turgon

    Cruimh,

    Yes I remember Ivor the engine (it is the same thing isn’t it) I loved it especially the dragons!

  • Dewi

    a high speed railway from Belfast to Dublin would be so cool. They are doing this in the Basque country.

  • Cruimh

    Yep – Idris the dragon lived in his boiler!

    If you click on the colour picture you’ll end up in a site that even has links to hear his little whistle peep! Happy days 🙂

    I wonder if Dewi looks like ” Jones the Steam” ?

  • Cruimh

    “a high speed railway from Belfast to Dublin would be so cool. They are doing this in the Basque country. ”

    How does that work ? 😉

  • dewi

    Cruimh – Fuck off !!

  • Turgon on @ 10:39 PM:

    I know two-sevenths of point nought five of a smigeon about engineering or railway operations.

    However (Absolute ignorance has never checked me before):
    We’re talking five foot, three inch gauge, which ought to be a bit more stable than the standard gauge of 4ft 8-and-a-half.
    We are also talking about one bit of twinned track, linking two major cities, about 100 miles apart. It’s pretty flat, and pretty straight.
    Straighten out any wonky bits (and none of that is likely to be in high-maintenance, middle-class high property values).
    There’s lots of lovely Euro money and other funds floating about, doing not a lot to any obvious effect. Fond as I am of canals and waterways …

    So:
    Electrify it.
    Buy in five train sets (oh, pricey!)
    Operate a one-hour, hourly service (easily possible at 100mph+ running).
    Support that with a “regional express” service between the intermediate towns of importance.
    Let Deutsche Bahn run it, if the Swiss Travel System are too snooty.

    And:
    Robert is definitely your dad’s brother.

    I’m an Iron ‘Arry and Iron Bert fan myself, but as for Thomas — which was based on the railways of Furness (“Sodor and Man”, I ask you!) — keep reading the books (with “voices”). Any child started that way will love books, stories and whatever for life. Remember the kid who preferred radio to television “because the pictures were better”? Precisely. [Sorry: that’s forty years in the classroom taking over.]

  • Cruimh

    Dewi – was it the 11.08 or the 11.09 ? 😉

  • Turgon

    Malcolm,

    Thankyou

    Re Thomas: Our cars have been named by our children as Gordon and Emily from Thomas. My mother’s is called Edward. All the adults now refer to the cars by these names which is a bit sad I know but it is easier than number plates or makes.

  • Turgon @ 11:21 :

    Heck, you’re doing everything right. Don’t let the trick-cyclists know: they like screwed-up kids short on imagination.

    When crossing France (1000km of long road) for summer camping, I diverted my three with:
    1. Postman Pat (and got told off whenever I got the word or voice wrong);
    2. Voting for the worst rat-wagon seen daily, regionally, in total (those corrugated-sided Peugeot vans counted double). Later, driving across Mitteleurop, this was adapted to spotting Herr Blob (with regional and national championships).
    3. Every French dog had to be triaged, on size and hair quotient, as a “rat”, a “rug” or a “demi-cheval”.

    As for naming vehicles, my first motorbike in 1961 was “Morticia” (thank you, Charles Addams). I think the present one is “Morticia XVIII”.

    Now, I’m trying desperately to see a link back from this to the thread (don’t want to be “off topic”). The only one I can see is to reflect on my first ever excursion from Dublin by motorbike across the (then, strictly-policed) border, on those less-than-well-maintained roads. Somewhere into the County Armagh, leant over as far as the bike (and my nerves) would go, and distinctly dubious about coming out of the bend alive, I registered the helpful, unofficial, and definitely-in-English road-side notice … “Prepare to meet thy God.”.

  • páid

    The trains are shite in the South for the same reason the phones were shite, Aer Lingus was shite, the Health Services are shite and local govt. is shite.

    No-one gets sacked ever and they are run primarily for the benefit of the people who work there.

  • Harry Flashman

    In a desperate attempt to drag the thread off topic again I just got my wee fella’s UK passport (still waiting for the Irish one, boy those embassy people in Singapore are slow!), and I noticed that in the inside page, the “European Union, United Kingdom Passport” stuff is written in block capitals in English but then also in lower case in Scots Gaelic and Welsh, so it would appear that these languages do indeed have some ‘official’ standing, though not Irish, why not? Irish is of course used elsewhere in the passport along with all the other eleventy million languages of the EU.

    Now, trains. When I travel through Europe on trains I always get the same queasy feeling, especially in central Europe. I look out at the pine forests and plains as we rattle long and I just can’t help thinking of who rattled along these same tracks sixty years previously and where they ended up.

    I know it’s irrational but whenever people witter on about the marvellous efficiency of civilised European train networks I always think aye but a wee bit less efficiency and a bit more humanity might have served ‘civilised’ Europeans and their fancy trains a bit better in the not so distant past.

  • Donnacha

    Harry, I get that same feeling when I travel by rail in Europe. Not in such eloquent terms, but I do feel ghosts in the carriage sometimes.

  • Blue Hammer

    //Harry, I get that same feeling when I travel by rail in Europe. Not in such eloquent terms, but I do feel ghosts in the carriage sometimes.

    Posted by Donnacha on Aug 03, 2007 @ 02:12 AM//

    It’s much the same on the Enterprise. I shudder as we pass through South Armagh and think of the hundreds murdered by Republicans in that stretch of beautiful countryside.

    Isn’t it ironic when your Irish speaking “heroes of the revolution” continue, as they have done for decades, to bomb the railway line which would link the two main conurbations on the island which they see as one country?

  • Fraggle

    seriously, I give up with this site. I really cba reading the same shite over and over in different threads when I’m actually interested in the topic at hand.

    Now I’m off to drive to dundalk on the new road.

  • eranu

    the TGV is the best rail service ive been on. a proper ‘high speed’ train service. in UK terms the enterprise is at best a fairly slow performer. i think i remember it being advertised as 95mph. many people driving down to dublin are doing this on the southern M1! it started off years ago at 1h 59mins, then it went to 2h 10 mins. not sure what it is now. to have any sort of pride in the enterprise is like being all chuffed with your new second hand 1991 fait panda, when everyone round you is driving new 07 Mercs 🙂
    a high speed rail link from belfast to dublin would be excellent. the problem is that (at the minute) it will never get done. it would take alot of time and hard work to plan and organise and make such a project happen. look at what the 2 main parties (and this thread) are spending their time and effort doing…. arguing about words. have you ever seen anything so ridiculous?…..

  • Fraggle @ 11:06 AM:

    Help the few sane contributors to maintain some kind of decent argument?

    Blue Hammer @ 11:00 AM:

    You have, of course, matched hammer to nail-head precisely. The Competition Commission report of 1990 (I think I’ve mentioned this previously, perhaps in another posting) is on-line and of more than historical interest [http://www.competition-commission.org.uk/rep_pub/reports/1990/290northern.htm]

    At that point the “book-value” of NIR was £56M, with a turn-over of £16M. The Government subsidy was £11.5M. Go figure.

    Your point is adequately made in the Report: Both management and staff have coped remarkably well with the dangers and frustrations caused by terrorism and hooliganism. Incidents peaked in the year to March 1990, during which services were disrupted on no fewer than 172 days.

    At that time, NIR identified three priorities: the Cross Harbour Link in Belfast between York Road and Central Stations, the building of a new station nearer the centre of Belfast at Great Victoria Street and the upgrading of the Belfast-Dublin line.

    On that basis, we can identify real progress over the last 15 years.

    Since then there have been more comings-and-goings: the Railway Review Group and the Booz-Allen-Hamilton independent review, together with the (more positive) responses by the political and other interested pressure groups. I notice, for example, that the “Labour Party (Northern Ireland Labour Forum)”, under a startingly-happy piccy of Pat Rabitte, argues that: The existing track, if properly repaired, would permit the new trains arriving on NIR to operate express services from Londonderry to Belfast in around 1 hour 35 minutes, as opposed to the present journey time of around 2 hours. This express service, if extended to Dublin, could permit a through Derry – Dublin express journey time of around 3 hours 15 mins.

    My previous argument, based on other sources, is that the “Enterprise” could be a one-hour service, if the electrification programme of Iarnród Éireann could be extended north to meet a similar programme going south from Belfast.

    I trust that’s not too much of the “same shite over and over”.

  • … even if I can’t type “startlingly”.

  • Jamie Gargoyle

    IIRC when they first tried testing the “high speed” Enterprise it made the verges fall onto the freshly relaid track, so they had to move them back a bit. No doubt some more of that would be required if they put in a quicker service.

    Meanwhile, back with the road… I know AirCoach do a good service, but it’s a bit of a pain to change at the airport. It’s also a shame Ulsterbus don’t mention the late buses that now apparently depart up to 3am on their online timetable…

  • Reader

    RG Cuan: Irish is the indigenous language of the native Gaelic people of Ulster.
    For an argument over the word ‘indigenous’, push button 1.
    For an argument over the word ‘native’, push botton 2.
    But if you can define the phrase ‘native Gaelic people of Ulster’ – in the context of 2007, 400 years after the plantation – then I think you should tell everyone!

  • eranu

    jamie, have to agree with the airport change being a pain. the plus for me is that the aircoach stops at various places around dublin. i can get off around baggot street and walk home instead of paying for a taxi from the city centre.

    the late night ulsterbus services are a good move in my view. not sure if its a joint bus eireann ulsterbus timetable or just ulsterbus.
    im usually driving in the car these days, but i did get the bus at about 12 a few months ago. if theres any ulsterbus peolpe reading, a welcome upgrade would be onboard toilets. it doesnt matter how many times you pee in the pub. as soon as you sit down in the bus you are bursting again 🙂 …

  • Valenciano

    Another point on all this – why is there such a huge difference between the price of the train and bus? A return on the train I think is about 32 quid and the bus 13.50. With such a huge price differential for such a short journey it really doesn’t seem worthwhile getting the train. Hardly encourages people to leave their cars behind either does it?

  • Guto

    Harry – The tri-lingual Passports are a brand new thing, your son would be among the first to receive them. It still doesn’t make the languages “official” as such, no more than bilingual roadsigns or having all [public material biligual make them official. They only become official when London says so (or Holyrood). Welsh is about to become official using the new mess of a Government of Wales Act where Cardiff get to draw up their own laws, but have to get the Welsh Secretary and London Parliament to agree before it passes.

  • Jamie Gargoyle

    Another point on all this – why is there such a huge difference between the price of the train and bus? – Valenciano

    That’s a point I was driving at originally – if the road gets so good that there’s no difference in the time it takes to get there by coach or train, will it impact the train service either inasmuch as it’ll lose (more) passengers to the coach services, or that NIR & Iarnrod Eireann will upgrade the line and rolling stock to preserve the train’s Unique Selling Point: it may not be cheap, but it’s the fastest journey.

    We already know that AirCoach must be taking customers off the Enterprise coz it costs a quarter of the full ticket price for a not-that-much-slower service – I imagine the train leaving Central station would be almost empty if there was no time advantage in taking it. Are there any plans (or rumours about plans) to speed up the trains?

  • Harry Flashman

    *The tri-lingual Passports are a brand new thing, your son would be among the first to receive them.*

    Well I wouldn’t exactly call it trilingual, the two minority languages get two lines on one page so I think you’re right that it smacks of tokenism. There is more Greek and Polish than Welsh and Scots Gaelic in the passport.

    Come to that how come the second language on the passport is still French? Why not Spanish or German or Mandarin if it comes to that? Come on there are more Indonesian speakers in the world today than French, what’s that about?

  • Fraggle

    Just back from Dundalk. The new road extension truely is the polish on the turd that is the newry bypass and the cloughogue roundabout in particular. Travelling north, it was worse than leaving the M22 for the dirt-track to derry. The traffic was backed up for about two miles simply because the roundabouts on the bypass haven’t the capacity they need. I expect this traffic jam to be a fixture for the next two years.

  • runciter

    Fraggle

    The galling thing is that the good people of Newry made every effort to point out the inadequacy of the bypass before it was built, but they were predictably ignored by the powers-that-be.

  • Fraggle

    Seems to be a perfect example of false economy. The inadequacy of the bypass is exposed by having a decent road attached to it. Now it needs replaced a few short years after it was built.

  • slug

    Is that M1 road in the south a two lane motorway or a three lane?

  • Fraggle

    2 lane.

  • RG Cuan

    READER

    It’s easy to define the ‘native Gaelic people of Ulster’.

    They are the descendents of the Gaelic-speaking people of Ulster who were living here at the time of the Plantation.

    Some are still Gaelic-speaking, some are not. The vast majority however still identify themselves with Gaelic culture.

  • RG Cuan @ 04:46 PM:

    Only three slight initial problems with that. Indeed with the whole argument each time it repeats itself on Slugger. Let’s hope no professional archaeologist or ethnographer comes along.

    “Gaelic” is a description of a language, a sub-branch of the Celtic group. It does not describe the ethnic group of its speakers. Would one similarly describe an English-speaker, born of Chinese origins in (say) Hong Kong as “English”, “British” or “Chinese” or even all three depending on the context?

    Second difficulty: to what group do the despised persons of “planter” origin belong? They are definitely not Saxon: the invaders of the 5th century AD and afterwards into Alba were (I believe) largely Anglic. So try calling a lowlands Scotsman “English” and see what you get for your pains. However, I know of no evidence that the “native” Celts of the Lowlands (see next problem) were simply eradicated or dispossessed. In which case, the Anglic/Celtic migrants (many of whom arrived before the official plantations) have as much affinity to the Gaelic/Celtic people of NE Ulster as to anyone and anywhere else.

    Third difficulty: your definition limits the “native” Gaels to the Goidels, the Q-Celts who arrived from southwestern Gaul about the 7th Century BC (as I recollect my history textbooks). They were only the last wave in a series of arrivals. By your definition, Newgrange is not an “Irish” product. Try that on Bord Fáilte.

    In all truth, there are no simple definitions here, so why bother? Most “experts” whom I have taxed on the issues here are less-than-categorical in answering your problem. As more evidence becomes available (perhaps as a result of DNA-based studies) the interpretation may alter, but never be definitively settled.

  • RG Cuan

    MALCOLM REDFELLOW

    While i agree that this is a more complex issue than it often appears here on Slugger, it is clear that you are mixing up genetics with cultural associations.

    Ethnic groups are not only defined by their common genetic background, in fact this is increasingly difficult in our ever-changing world.

    While Gaelic is a linguistic term, it is also perfectly acceptable, and appropriate, to describe the majority of Ireland’s population at the time of the Plantation – they are culturally Gaelic, no matter what their genetic backgrounds are.

    Some Scottish Planters were culturally Gaelic, most were culturally Lowland Scottish. While it is true that a significant P-Celtic population once existed in Lowland Scotland, they assimilated into later Germanic cultures and their only ‘affinity’ to the Gaelic people of Ulster was perhaps through their DNA, nothing else.

    Your third difficulty is a nonsense. I use the term Gaelic to describe the cultural ethnicity of Ireland’s native population at the time of the Plantation. Many Celtic peoples came to Ireland, mixed with whatever people were on the island before them, and over time, the population as a whole assumed a Gaelic identity.

    Of course Brú na Boinne/Newgrange is Irish, it’s in Ireland. While not built by Gaelic – or even Celtic – tribes, the descentants of the people who built Newgrange were certainly culturally Gaelic from at least 1,800 years ago.

  • RG Cuan @ 12:40 PM:

    Chapter 6 of [Alice] Through the Looking Glass seems to cover the impenetrability of this argument.

    As to the Gaels arriving around AD200, I’d like clarification, please. The usually-accepted date seems to be 400-800 years previous to that.

    What all this has to do with the communications links, rail and road, authentically Gaelic, Planted or not, between Dublin and Belfast defeats me.

    However, in an attempt to link the unlinkable, to unscrew the inscrutable, I offer:

    Since the Ulster, D&D and D&B Junct railways linked the two cities in the British-occupied 1850s, I assume that asserts the non-Gaelic nature of the railway. That leaves us the products of the truly-Gaelic Roadstone Ireland (in collaboration with its apparently wholly-owned subsidiary, Fianna Fáil) upon which the native and only-true-Gaels can drive their truly-Gaelic Hondas, Nissans, Volkswagens, Fords …

    Oh, for the wit of Flann, the pen of the Nolan, the wisdom of Myles to unravel this! And on the Day of Rest, too.

  • RG Cuan

    MALCOLM

    Yes, Gaelic ‘tribes’ arrived here before AD 200. What i said was that Ireland was “culturally Gaelic from at least 1,800 years ago”.

    I said this because it is possible that a P-Celtic language survived in parts of Munster until just before this time.

  • RG Cuan @ 04:14 PM:

    Thanks for the clarification. As I now understand your definition of “Gaelic” Ireland, it is only fully effective from circa AD207, when the last pre-Goidelic elements were assimilated. It must therefore have ended in circa 840-2, when the first Norse “over-winterers” made shelter in Lough Neagh and Dubhlinn.

    Does that mean Waesfiord and Hylmrek (and all those other Norse settlements) are for ever non-Irish? Or do we award the descendants (the O’Rourke, the O’Doyles, the McAuliffes and others) bonus points for assimilation?

    Or, just possibly, can you conceive in your heart that extreme definitions like that are more reminiscent than is comfortable of Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Füh…? If so, be consoled by the notion that such culturally-based and linguistic nationalism worked quite well for some years among the Afrikaners.

    Alternatively, join the human race and stop fretting about meaningless distinctions that are mere inventions of later politics. Worry instead about transport policies across the two jurisdictions, which was the original thread.

  • Oilibhear Chromaill

    I’m back from a brief southern sojourn and have to say that while the journey down was quite simply brilliant, the trip back was a nightmare due to the roundabout mess at Cloch Óg. I think we lost all the time gained on the motorway on both legs of the trip during that tailback – and this was on a Sunday. It’s an awful mess…..