Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Irish Cannonball Run

I recently read a review of one of my books where the reviewer deducted a star because I had a fictional character drive from Donegal to Belfast in 90 minutes. She said this was frankly impossible because Google had told her that that drive takes 3 hours. Hmmmm. Let me just say that I have done that journey considerably faster than Google thinks is possible. In the wee hours when the peelers are asleep is the time when you can really fly...But let's leave that to one side. Complaining about that kind of thing in a novel is rather silly to me. In the fictional universe that these fictional characters inhabit one of them drove from Donegal to Belfast in 90 minutes. It happened. It just did and it says so right there in black and white. For more on what 'mistakes' matter and won't mistakes don't matter you can read this. But that's not what I wanted to talk about here. What I want to talk about here is the Cannonball Run Record. 
Google also tells you that the time it takes to drive from New York to Los Angeles is 42 hours. But in fact, the current holder of the Cannonball Run Record, Ed Bolian, has done it in 29 hours. Ed did this by modifying his car with a bigger petrol tank and buying sophisticated speed trap radar. The American Cannonball Run Record has a venerable tradition going back nearly 100 years but as far as I can see there is no record anywhere on the internet for the fastest crossing of Ireland, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Irish Sea. Without encouraging or condoning any illegality whatsoever and emphasising that dangerous driving can cost lives I'd like to maybe suggest a little Irish version of the Cannonball Run.  
There are many different ways to cross Ireland from the Atlantic to the Irish Sea/North Channel. The shortest route, of course, is to cheat and go from somewhere like Ballycastle to Cushendun or Kilmore Quay to Rosslare but that's, uhm, cheating. For this to count you have to drive right across Ireland from sea to shining sea. As the inventor of this contest (again without encouraging any wrong-doing, violation of traffic laws or dangerous driving) I'm going to say that three routes and three routes only are acceptable: Bundoran to Belfast, Galway to Dublin or Tralee to Wexford (Limerick to Wexford doesn't count I think because Limerick is not really on the Atlantic). Probably the fastest route is Galway to Dublin. When I drove this route a few years ago I started by throwing a stone into the Atlantic at Nimmo's Pier, Galway and finished it by throwing a stone onto the beach at Sandymount, Dublin 2 hours and thirty minutes later. I didn't authenticate my drive the way the Cannonballers do so I'm not going to claim this as the record. And its a crap time anyway, slower even than the Google time. I drove the route in a 2009 BMW 320i, leaving Galway at 5.45 in the morning hoping to avoid rush hour traffic in Dublin (I didn't). Almost certainly you can do better.