roots of van tour – episode three

It’s Friday and we’re back on the bus, this time heading down to co. Down for the better part of the afternoon. The bus has left downtown with everyone on it, except Maurice and me, who hop on in East Belfast, and off we go. On our left, we drive by the very grand-looking Stormont – the parliament house for Northern Ireland. It doesn’t look at all like it, but the expanse brings me to mind of the beauty of Jefferson’s Monticello: big spaces, spectacular architecture.

We don’t stop until we reach Killileagh – a wee town that is dominated by its castle, so we get out for the photo op.

Ireland is made for black cats – I’ve seen them everywhere I go, and Killileagh is no exception. On the way back to the bus, we interrupted a cat and mouse game. Thanks to us, the mouse won.

From Killileagh it was on to Coney Island and Ardglass. Coney Island doesn’t really exist, at least in terms of an island; it’s just a spot on the map. I suspect it’s a townland, which is as small as you can get here in NI and Ireland. Here it goes, in terms of size: county, city, town, village, hamlet and finally townland. But there is a beach and water and there’s a sign, and then you’re past it in a blink of an eye. If you want to go to Coney Island, you have to go to the west coast of Ireland, on the Atlantic side. It’s just off Rosses Point in co. Sligo. But I don’t think that’s the one Van is referring to in song. This is it!

Then it’s off to Ardglass ….

and a leisurely lunch at Curran’s Bar …

… where we all get to pull our own pint of Guinness before sitting down to eat. We were famished.

From lunch, which went beyond leisurely, it was back on the bus and beetling it back to Belfast, so we can get to, you guessed it, dinner at the Odyssey before the show. It was a lovely day out in the country, sitting back, letting someone else do the driving, listening to caledonia Van piped through on the bus sound system. For the first time today, but not the last, it was like Van singing to me …. I’ve been thinking seriously of coming back to Ireland, I like it here, it feels like home. Got to Back was like Van confirming it for me …

Got my ticket at the airport
Well I guess I’ve been marking time
I’ve been living in another country
That operates along entirely different lines
Keep me away from porter or whiskey
Don’t play anything sentimental it’ll make me cry
I’ve got to go back my friend
Is there really any need to ask why

We got back to town in plenty of time. Tidy up a bit and head over to the Tapas restaurant, and my insides are all anticipation for the show. It’s been too long since I last sat down for a Van show – October 2009. I am more than ready for this one.

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