A Tale of the Almost… When Almost Is Good.
Flying to Dublin is cheap for a reason, hotels & touristy bits are not so cheap. With that in mind, and having recently acquired an inexpensive 20 year old little camper van project (fondly christened Dirty Eileen, as you do) the decision to do this #U240 trip by road, and in turn try to visit as many U2-linked place in Ireland as I could fit in, appealed. The shortest distance from my home also takes me via ferry, through the Port of Belfast, and quite close to the last place I saw the band at, last year.
Perfect… make that the first target stop on this ‘sort of pilgrimage’.. take a few photos, summon up the essence of those 2 great nights (when Bono said how good it was to come from a moment of violence (Paris) to this land of peace.. or something like that..).
Call there and try to pick up a trail linking the not too distant past to the present… with maybe some clue to the future.
3 essential things I am reminded of as I follow the free satnav app around Belfast :
1. ‘We must visit the past, for if we don’t we’re condemned to stay there’ (Bono, before Cedarwood Road last tour)
2. Don’t hang around in the past too long or you will get stuck there.. (same guy, paraphrased)
3. Sometimes you get what you pay for. (cheap / free apps)
The very early morning rush hour and the what turns out to be shitty sat nav app finds actually do get me quite close to the Titanic Exhibition, which I know was quite near to the Arena they played… and for a brief moment I think I spot it in the distance.. before other angry drivers beeping horns force me further up the road.. and away..
That closeness will have to do.. Almost..
Dublin of course is way south of Belfast. The road I was on was North-bound, and before I know it I am foolishly following signs that promise me the ‘Giant’s Causeway Trail’. I am not familiar with that other national treasure having any U2 association, but it seems like a good idea to at least stop by and have a gander. Its amazing I hear. I eventually do get right close-by. But, alas, time and shitty satnav become too much of a concern, and I do turn South, with a glance toward the misty north and a wee glimpse of sunshine illuminating the incredible Irish coastline up yonder.
According to shitty sat nav, Dublin is a couple of hours away.. I have a couple of meetings planned for the afternoon.. so time is a plenty, no need to floor it..
I don’t know how I ended up in Slane, it was never on my radar for this trip, but I find myself right by a wall in that village that jumps out at me. Standing next to it after one of the ‘U2 Go Home’ Slane gigs from 2001. Spine tingling unexpected realisation. I see in my head a photo opportunity of me next to Slane Castle, ala Unforgettable Fire.. but am told when I ask directions ‘its closed for renovations’, and more angry motorists behind me urge me to keep moving along the road put pay to that ambition.. Had I been more self aware at that point, and looked down at my own chest I might have actually freaked out at what t-shirt I was wearing (honest, not joking). Oh Lord.
(Those Slane shows were some of the very best ever. Legendary. We walked back into Dublin that night.. 6 hours it took).
Another Almost. I start to get it.. its going to be one of those days.. gonna get close to stuff… no cigars today I am thinking. Sure enough. Meetings have to be postponed, a chance to hear some unreleased Bowie stuff missed... (also turns out that everyone else missed that too but that's another story...)
Ever decreasing circles seems to be the methodology this satnav uses for software. It seems to know me well.
The #U240 tag appeared on twitter very early in 2016. As early as May @U2Valencia were the first fan site to host a party to celebrate the band’s 40th and this weekends celebrations on Dublin were all in the mix of stuff that was happening around the globe, stuff organised by U2 fans, for other fans.
As well as all the fan led things, the band also was booked to play a show at the iHeart festival and at this point none of us knew how much they would be joining in with us in the celebrating… if at all!
(Next bit soon!)