Caution Signs Ahead

My family is a bit strange. When we travel, we focus a lot on two things: signs and bathrooms.

It’s weird, I know, but we see a lot of interesting interpretations of both, from a bidet/toilet to “Before to open the central bed, to make sure the inferior bed is open.” Even in the United States I’ve found some gems. Driving up I-93, there’s a sign by Exit 2 in New Hampshire to alert drivers to “Truck Crossings” because you never know when a construction truck will pop out from behind a bush. Got watch out for those sneaky big rigs.

The Champlain Abroad group has been in Dublin for about a month, which is long enough for us to see some signs that are fantastic to say the least.

To the right is a photo from Dublin Zoo. It is a quite expansive area and children probably get lost all the time, so it’s pretty important to let children and parents know where they should go if they’re separated.

But let’s take a look at the pictograph.

Naturally, there’s a little boy and girl alone in the picture because they’re lost. They seem to be lost in a grass patch, which is possible since children gravitate towards green spaces and WiFi. Then there’s the little girl’s arm, and that is what I find striking about this sign. It’s as if the little girl is meant to be standing there, holding up her one hand shouting, “Yes! I am lost! This little boy is lost too! I don’t know him, but we are both lost! Can I please go to my mother?” Either that or it’s a child depicted with his mother and the mother has her hand raised saying, “Yes! This child is mine. I lost him, but he has been found at the lost child area.”

I’m mystified. Let’s explore more.

Of course, road signs are the most common type of signage, and there are plenty in Ireland. As the Champlain Abroad group drove across the country in a coach bus two weekends ago, on the West of Ireland tour, we saw quite a few. A toll booth wished us luck by telling us to “Arrive Alive” as we drove through. The next day we passed a sign that told us the narrow road along the mountain had a “dangerous edge” as we headed towards a hairpin turn.

My favorite of all signs is to the left.

The Champlain Abroad group took a trip to the Aran Island of Inis Oírr (pronounced in-ish ear). At the dock from the main island of the country and Inis Oírr there was this sign, warning drivers not to drive off the dock into the ocean.

We talked amongst ourselves and decided, yes, someone had done so and the warning was therefore necessary. The Irish don’t mess around. That car is at a serious angle and there is no saving the vehicle. I’m a bit nervous for the people who see the sign when it’s too late.

Because the Irish don’t mess around, they have to broadcast their rules, and Irish men and women are polite to a fault (except a group of Irishmen we found in Galway at 3AM, but I’m pretty sure they were Americans in disguise).

On the Western Ireland tour, we took a pit stop in Lisdoonvarna where the largest singles festival happens to be taking place all through the month of September. What a joy!

Being that it was 12:30, not much was happening outside of this one venue we walked by. This pub (which I cannot remember the name of for my life) had music streaming out the door and the sound of feet hitting the dance floor. A few of us went to investigate.

Inside the pub, we found a packed room and an almost empty dance floor that men and women were polkaing around. A quick look told us we were at least twenty years younger than everyone else there, which prompted a swift escape.

As we gathered around the front door, I noticed this list of incredibly polite signs. I couldn’t understand it though.

How are you supposed to have fun without a cowboy hat?

Kara Joyce
Champlain Abroad Dublin, Fall 2014
Champlain College, Professional Writing, Class of 2016