Daughter Gillian came to visit over Easter along with an Argentinian friend who also works in Dublin.
Her friend had previously seen a little of Donegal so this time I took the visitors to the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and Portstewart.
After Portstewart, on Monday afternoon I left them at Coleraine station to return to Dublin. That was a mistake. There had been a band parade in Coleraine. The platform was crowded. Drunk and noisy young men, some without shirts, and girls wearing little but Union Jacks were juxtaposed with older, quieter people.
A six carriage train arrived in from Portrush. A couple of minutes later an already well-filled three carriage train arrived in from Derry, bound for Belfast. By this stage many from the longer Portrush train had joined the throng on the platform waiting to board the shorter Derry train for Belfast. By the time it left, around ten minutes late, it was dangerously overcrowded.
Around 15 minutes later, a badly shaken Gillian rang. There had been, “a riot” when even more people tried to board at Ballymoney. Bottles were thrown and passengers got off for their own safety. Minutes later police arrived, took trouble makers away and then the train continued its journey, even later. Gillian and her friend were then able to get a seat, although they missed their intended connection in Belfast.
Thanks to loyalist ‘culture,’ a visitor had been left with a dreadful impression. And, could Translink please note; six into three “won’t go” as teachers used to say.