Now, Irish road signs. There'd be one...Yield...it said firmly whenever you happened to reach a cross roads. And that was more or less the extent of our road signs.
Then we were given loadsofmoney 'cos we were so poor and still more or less in the Dark Ages and local councils went to town with shiny new signs...Yield was tossed into the nearest ditch and Stop put in its place...a new dual carriage-way was built and that had a lovely sign...Stop! You Are Going The Wrong Way...Turn Back!
So some drivers simply made a u-turn in the middle of the road and went back the way they'd come against the flow of traffic.
And we had two roundabouts. Well, the trouble they caused...people drove over the top and round the wrong way and cut in front of the vehicles going the same way round and got into an awful muddle...locals insisted on calling the by-pass a motorway and everyone stuck so rigidly to the speed limit that it took hours to get to Sligo...
A few villages decided they'd have signs to say what they were called but the one at the entrance to the village is often spelled differently to the one at the other end...if you're in unfamiliar surroundings and look on the map it'll be spelled another way entirely ...it was decided to make all the signs bi-lingual and so they should be, but Irish can't be translated directly into English and a few places found themselves with an English place name and the same English place name where the Irish ought to be...
You still come to junctions without a single sign in sight...staggered crossroads which have signs for the same place directing you both left and right...
But the new tourist signs are absymal...they are brown with white lettering to denote a place of interest. Caves of Kesh...8 kilometres, and that will be the one and only sign you will see. Drive 8 kilometres and come to a small town...now look to see which road to take to see the Caves. There aren't any more signs at all and the Caves are still twenty kilometres away and you can ask in a shop or the post office until you are blue in the face 'cos no local will ever have been there and won't have any idea what you're going for but will try their level best to sell you a cottage they know of and if you'd just follow their tractor they'll take you there now...
When the Americans came over and I took them to the Caves and was directing them up hill and down dale and they were saying, but it's much further than the sign said, and I was grinning like a loon...the signs in Ireland lie in their teeth.
But some places are signed left right and centre and when you reach the place it is quite the biggest waste of time. St Patrick's Chair is a good example...he sat there one day and no-one has ever forgotten about it, with it being the man himself. We dutifully followed the signs which were placed every few hundred yards so you couldn't possibly miss them and found a mossy covered rock. A small mossy covered rock. Actually it was a very small mossy covered rock. It had an empty baked bean tin hanging on a bit of string for you to make a contribution to some home for fallen Nuns and a tiny hand-written plaque, which stated rather grandly, that St Patrick rested on this stone while travelling from here to there.
We stood and looked at the stone and then at each other and plodded back to the car in silence...Teresa said brightly...Well, that was interesting!...and we all rounded on her and told her sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.
Then there are the hundreds and hundreds of ring-forts and castle ruins and such like...do they have a small explanatory notice telling you roughly how old this mound is or who the castle once belonged to...they do not. They have a standard sign which says 'This monument is in the care of the Office of Public Works '...I've lost track of the times we've met tourists at the cairns on top of Carrowkeel who are totally bewildered by what they're looking at...so, if they are receptive...and most are...I give them a brief rundown of what to look for and which cairn is safe to enter and explain about the solstice and the funeral urns found there.
They stand there in a little huddled group with an occasional hand shooting up to ask a question and I feel so awfully sorry that they've climbed a feckin' mountain and got frozen with the cold and the only information available is ...This Road is Unsuitable For Vehicular Traffic...
Of course, were you to be anywhere else in Ireland but the far North West, you'd have proper road signs and such like...it always takes us longer to catch up you see.
Just as a matter of interest...one of the reasons by-roads and so on don't have signs indicating where they go to dates way back to the days when the first Ordinance Survey was conducted...by Englishmen on horseback. The Irish didn't much care for having their country thoroughly mapped out so removed all the signs and told outright lies when they were asked how far is it to Creggane...they just gave the first number of miles which came into their head.
Later, during the War of Independence when most of rural Ireland was bandit country, the signs remained hidden in barns and sheds so the British soldiers didn't know where in the country they were...