Slouching Towards Bantry

A journey is a hallucination. -- Flann O'Brien

Friday, March 17, 2006


I'm calling it the St. Patrick's Day Massacre, although that might be overstating it a wee bit. The above shot was taken on Feb. 16 at about 3:30 p.m. at a park next to the new Shannon Bridge in Limerick City, County Limerick, the Republic of Ireland. I was supposed to meet Irish anti-war activist and plane spotter Tim Hourigan at that location and time so I could go plane spotting with him. But he didn't show up. In subsequent emails, he said that I was the one who didn't arrive on time and that, after waiting 45 minutes for me in the rain, he departed. Maybe we got our times mixed up. It did rain that day. But it wasn't raining obviously when I took this picture.

As a result of the missed rendezvous, I stayed the next four days in County Clare instead of heading back to County Cork, where I had a free place to stay. This cost me a few extra bob and generally messed up my last few days in Ireland. I made the best of it, though, by visiting the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren, which are both spectacularly beautiful.

The snafu was fading from my memory already, when I received an email earlier today from another Irish anti-war activist, who graciously hosted me while I was in Ireland. She was excited that Hourigan and the Shannon (Airport) plane spotters had managed to get a spot on the CBS Evening News. The segment highlighted the plane spotters' efforts to expose the use of the airport by CIA "extraordinary rendition" flights. This, of course, is why I was supposed to meet with Hourigan last month.

The timing of the activists' media coup with CBS was perfect. Ireland's leader, Bertie Ahern, is at the White House today as part of his annual St. Patrick's Day visit. By coordinating the spot to immediately precede his visit, the activists have put more public pressure on Ahern to address the issue of the CIA's use of Shannon Airport. Obviously, my interest in covering the issue for a fledgling publication -- Ireland From Below -- was eclipsed by the activists' strategy of getting CBS to cover the issue.


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