Kerry O'Neill
Blog Words : Blog of the week | 08 October

Blog of the Week: The joy of decks

This week's featured blogger, Kerry O'Neill, sings the praises of ferries and the time they give you to think

Having sailed with the Stena Line to Ireland back in February to research Irish B&Bs for Alastair Sawday, it now appears to be six months later. I only came for ten days. County Kerry’s Dingle Peninsula has a habit of doing that to people. Swallowing them up.

I’m just reading a mockthropology book (my new word to mean tongue-in-cheek people-watching) called How to be Irish, by David Slattery. I’m enjoying it. So much so, in fact, that it’s now two months’ overdue to Dingle Library. Only, they won’t charge me because they are so nice, which is how ten days turn into six months (I’ll insist on paying).

How to be Irish has a whole chapter on Dingle and the people that ‘blow in’ and never leave it, henceforth known as blow-ins. There are lots of them here in Ireland in general and Dingle in particular. Poets, writers, painters, sculptors, students of the Irish language, musicians. I’m a blow-in – of as-yet undetermined specialisation. But I think it’s time I blew out, as the tourists dissipate along with the jobs created to look after them. So I’m leaving on Thursday to head for the Stena Lines ferry from Rosslare to Fishguard.

I love ferries because they give you time to compute. To think about what went before and what lies ahead in melodramatic, olde worlde fashion. Melancholic gazes back at the world being left behind, anxious imaginings as to what might await beyond the actual and metaphorical horizons approaching. With planes, it’s all over too quickly. You’re still trying to remember the surname of your holiday romance when you touch down... or are nostalgically reliving a beautiful day on Mount Eagle when Mr RyanAir butts in with talk of sitting down, shutting up and strapping in. It’s just not the same. Your mind needs time to acclimatise to its new surroundings, to work out which memories to stow safely away and which to jettison into the deep.

That’s why boats are so good. They are integral parts, starts and finishes of great journeys and I love them. You can change decks if you don’t like your neighbour. Go for jogs, sleeps and strolls. Watch films, charge phones, buy food. Boats don’t a) nosedive, b) get hit by surface to air missiles, c) pull into the hard shoulder for their engines to cool off, d) lose your luggage, e) charge you to use their toilets and f) I can’t remember the last time I was snarled up in a ferry jam. I’m particularly looking forward to finishing off How to be Irish on the top deck, perhaps with a steaming latte, kissing goodbye to memories of Cork, Kerry, Dingle and the bloke whose surname the ferry journey has given me enough time to recall (though no ferry journey is long enough for anyone to work out how to spell it).

Oh and figuring out how to post the book and accompanying fine back to the librarian at Dingle Library. Bernard, I will. I promise. Trust me, I’m a mockthropologist.

Kerry O'NeillGrand Tour on a Grand | Kerry O'Neill

I'm not particularly fit, or slim, or daring, or athletically minded. I cry at mountains, whinge at hills and grimace at scary downhills. But I like adventure.

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