Excuse me Sir, Where am I ?
When Huttonian was a lad the travel from Norn Iron to south of the Border was tedious if not hazardous. You had to actually import your car into the Republic even if you were off to Dundalk for the afternoon to top up your meat ration-8 pence worth -old money- per person in the UK a week. Across the wild frontier meat was widely available and no hint of rationing.Later on with the Troubles in full swing there were military check points and road blocks to contend with. Customs stations, production of passports and often thorough searches of your vehicle.Any suspicious looking Paddy would often get the full treatment from a British squaddy. Most of the minor roads were 'unapproved' and in several cases bridges crossing streams on the border were destroyed and /or physically blocked. One other indication of what country you were in was the state of the roads. Up here good; down there awful.
Now all that has gone. No visible frontier.No customs (EU of course) and only indication is when post boxes change from Red to Green, the speed signs switch to kilometres and the signposts have Irish as the primary tongue; also fuel prices in Euro and much cheaper than the UK, and, oh yes,the trunk roads dramatically improve once your are out of the Six Counties.
The image above (click to enlarge) is the exact point that Norn Iron in a political sense begins on the Carlingford (County Louth) Newry (County Down)Two give a ways: 60mph speed limit and the graffiti. Nota Bene this area, close to the border is one of the recruiting grounds of the Real IRA; (the reference to British prisons in Lithuania eludes me for the moment)
And I'll try to keep it that way.
So now you know how, when, across the Irish Sea, to work out whether or not you are in God's Own Country.
But which one of the two is that is a different question.
Labels: Crossing the Border, Norn Iron