Athlone: up the road a bit from hell?

…possibly. Maybe not, but right now me and Athlone… we ain’t vibin’.


Prior to coming down here I had claimed jobseekers allowance. Ending up on the dole right before a major planned move isn’t a good situation but circumstances were somewhat out of my hands. Since coming down here all job leads have fizzled out, I even had a prospective job were the employer got the sack before she could give me the job.


As Ireland is one of the most expensive countries in the EU (honestly, I don’t know where the students in Athlone get all the wealth they seem to like to flaunt on a regular basis) everything is more expensive than up north, more-so than I had thought. The fact that the TV license people have been haunting us from the day we moved in based on the fact that we have a rather aged and possibly broken TV aerial on the roof doesn’t help. Indeed we don’t even possess a TV. We have a TV card for the laptop but it doesn’t even pick up dust. I don’t mind paying a TV license if I can watch TV but at the moment I can’t. Its virtually impossible to pick Up TV down here with a set-top aerial. All this matters not a jot to the TV license people who work under draconian laws to catch evaders who shove their TV’s into cupboards when the inspectors call round. The fact that we have TV reception equipment means we need a TV license. Same goes for the old sky dish. Currently we are trying to find someone who has an old sky box that we can borrow/steal. I’ve had a few offers but they haven’t really come to anything… as usual.

Either We get TV sorted or I pester the landlord to take the aerial and dish down. He probably won’t be happy and he’ll probably go on holiday to Galway again like he did when the heating wasn’t working. I’m just hoping to avoid the €650 fine for not having the license. I can’t afford any of this at the moment.


We have no net access at the house. It’s a reasonably nice house. Old, bt refurbished. The reburbishment has been done on the cheap though and fairly half-arsed. There is a ancient phone line. Eircom will charge us about €150 to reactivate it. They’ll do this within 4-6 weeks. Welcome to Ireland: It’s expensive and slow and probably doesn’t work anyway.

Cable-internet wasn’t come around this way yet. Wireless works if you have a direct line of unblocked sight between your roof and the mast. I don’t. I have a load of trees and an army barracks in the way. I’ve thought about one of the recent o2 or Vodafine jobbies but I don’t know if they’ll be suitable considering my leeching and they seem to require me to sign up for an 18 month contract. I don’t think either of us plan to be here that length of time.

Inbred Muppets

Yes, it might be suprising to learn that, in my estimation, Athlone is no-where near as cosmopolitan as Lisburn. Ys it has far more international students and immigrants, but they all seem to get assimilated fairly quickly and the pubs are full of young staff with hybrid polish/spanish-irish brogues and chinese and korean people who refer to unknown objects as “yolks” and end statements with the word “so” . they aren’t so bad, it’s endearing in a weird way. The problem lies with the locals. We live across the road from a housing estate. It’s full of paranoid twitchy men and red-faced youths in hoodies. there are much more of these people than Lisburn. The national dress for “lads” seems to be a pastel striped hoodie or GAA shirt with the clar turned up, gold chains, faded blue jeans or trackie bottoms and a pair of trainers. Without excetion this is what 70% of young men between the ages of five and twenty five wear here. Anyone else gets stared at or jeered at demending on the time of day and how drunk the locals are. And they can be very drunk sometimes. There is little else for them to do. Like most other towns in Ireland every other building is a pub. So people drink a lot, and they get abusive. For the locals it’s just a bit of “craic” for everyone else it’s intimidating and hostile. I’ve no patience for this sort of behaviour. I know I shouldn’t come to another country and belittle the way of life of the locals but, honestly, that’s a shit way to live. These people need some proper culture. Apart from the pubs and the local cinema playing the hollywood fodder it seems there is sod all for them to do except hang about destroying their brain cells with booze and whathaveyou. I haven’t even found a leisure centre here.


You don’t need to worry about traffic laws here. You can park where you like, drive where you like. You don’t need to even know how to drive or have a license. It’s great. Except it’s not. Double-yellow line means nothing. I don’t know why they bother with them. I come from a town with a one-way system with two lanes, Athlone has a two way system with one lane. No, don’t ask me how that works. I don’t understand it either. It shouldn’t be physically possible. It’s like living in an MC Eisher painting, or the twilight zone. Speed limits mean nothing, neither do zebra or pelican crossings. I should be dead, the fact that I’m not just adds weight to the belief that I’m living in some weird parallel dimension.



Seriously though… I’m hoping Athlone grows on me. Right now Pirita and myself are on the edge of our nerves. We’ve only been here a few weeks and there are nice things about it, it’s just hard to see them when you are so stressed.

We do at least have a reasonably nice house, and we have a spare room if anyone wants to come and visit.

Something to say?