In my life, I’ve encountered few buildings grimmer than the one which houses Monaghan Bus Station.
Thankfully, Translink have now shortened what used to be a 15 minute break at the place to a five minute ‘toilet stop only’ affair. Last week, en route to Dublin to an event (I am not yet brave enough to drive in Dublin) I took the Derry to Dublin bus.
On the way I wondered if, by now, the Monaghan stop had brightened up any. In case you’re wondering - it hasn’t. I wondered if maybe I wasn’t being diplomatic enough in my attitude to the station which is a throwback to Cold War type architecture.
I tried to take a step back and say maybe it’s not the station’s fault, It’s positioned in the middle of a journey which, for the want of the A5, has echoes of the trip the Okies probably took in Oklahoma during Steinbeck’s time. I tried not to blame the bus station in Monaghan for the numerous 10 mph tractors we’d been stuck behind on the winding roads which are the Guantanamo Bay of the travel sick community.
I did, briefly, consider all these things and then I stepped inside for the toilet stop. This place has to be seen to be believed and most of us here in the North West will have seen it at one point or another.
Last Thursday and Friday, on the two stops on the outward and return legs of my journey, the sun happened to be shining on Monaghan. It’s a pleasant enough town in fairness, but even in the sunshine the bus station sits under a cloud.
I am not exagerrating in the slightest when I say that the decor resembles something you might find in a prison, and having watched a fly on the wall prison documentary on RTE recently, I can safely say at least one of the detention centres was ten times the facility that the bus station in Monaghan is.
But this isn’t about saying that the bus station needs the money more than the prisons. It’s just an observation. On the bus, last week, there were people from Australia, America and England, many on their way to the airport in Dublin and other tourists travelling from North to South and vice versa. A part of me thought, this journey and this bus station is one of the reasons Hollywood still thinks we live in thatched cottages and get around using horses and carts,
The only positive were the actual buses themselves, one operated by Translink, the other by Bus Eireann. Comfortable seats, air conditioning, very clean and generally pleasant to travel in. The drivers too were great, considering the traffic. They had the patience of travel weary saints.
But I cannot believe that from bust to boom, to bust again, Monaghan Bus Station still looks the way it does.