One of the problems with living in town only became apparent to us after we'd been here for a while. At first, we really liked being where we are, just a few minutes walk from the grocery store, the library, the bank, the post office, and even the river walk. It was pretty quiet. Then it started to warm up and we opened the windows. It was no longer quiet. Boy racers speeding down the street, revving engines and squealing tires became part of the regular soundtrack of our daily lives. Sometimes they speed around the loop that makes up downtown Ballinrobe--around and around they go. The traffic noise is annoying--people drive fast here in general, whether they are driving compact cars or large farm equipment. Large trucks come down the main road that is at the end of our street. There are times when the noise outside is disruptive when I am trying to listen to something using headphones. This is one thing during the day and evening. The most annoying time is weekend nights. As I type this, it is almost 1:30 a.m. I am sitting here listening to music from the pub down the street. They do not even seem to start playing until 11 or so. I suppose we are lucky that there is only one pub on our street. Drinking culture is a feature of life here and a culture of binge drinking (whether at "the local" or at home) is a big problem. Downtown Ballinrobe consists of a kind of square bounded by roads that lead into one another. In this small area, I have counted 7 or 8 pubs.
I have always found the noise factor to be one of the unpleasant features of summer, because once you open the windows you do hear people's conversations, lawn mowers and other machines, traffic, fan or air conditioner noise, etc. One year my head was actually humming for a day or two after we put away the fans and shut the windows. This is the first place I have lived where it is people being deliberately rude and behaving badly that causes the unpleasantness. My friend mentioned laws against public drunkenness and I have no idea whether such laws exist here, but even if they did, who would enforce them? Gardai are not even around when the problems are happening. When we took a taxi to Claremorris a month ago, the taxi driver mentioned that one street that was not good to live on because drunk people tap on the windows coming home from the pubs. The buildings are right on top of the sidewalk. Things are worse in larger towns, of course. A woman recently won a judgement against a pub in Dublin because she slipped and fell in a pool of vomit that wasn't cleaned up, hurting her back. Festive.
There went a boy racer--squealing around the loop.
Tomorrow when we go out for our walk, we can expect to find glasses on outside window ledges at the pubs--these may or may not be intact and they may or may not have anything in them. There will likely be broken glass on the sidewalks near the pubs. I am likely to be tired from being kept awake by rude, obnoxious, drunk people.
There's the boy racer again.
I look forward to the day when we can close the windows again and not be bothered by this stuff anymore. By the time next summer rolls around and the windows will need to be opened, we will be living somewhere else. It will not be in the center of town.