Posted by in Features.

Rose tinted glasses, that’s what we’re wearing when we return from Qatar to immerse the kids in our mother culture for a few weeks of the summer.

We get off the plane, turn our backs on the sweltering heat of Qatar, the dust and the restrictive nature of life in a Muslim society. Sick and tired of the sterile feeling forced fun of a day out in public in Doha, we can’t wait to the trail of family fun in Ireland, which wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Dublin Zoo.

See thing is, we long to expose our children for the freedom of a day out in Ireland, to show them a little bit of our history. They are born in Qatar and just visiting Ireland and we would hope that some day, they will move to Ireland and start to consider it home, so every summer, we reveal a little more of lovely Isle and hope that we are making memories that will remain until they are parents and hopefully they live in Ireland and bring their kids to the same old haunts. Failing that hopefully they get sufficiently well educated in a private English school to secure a job in the Middle East, earning tax free money and be able to send their kids with a Uber Driver to the Intercon for pool days.

Holding out for the former, Dublin Zoo tops the bill this week. It’s not only part of the entertainment bill for summer, it’s part of a lot of our childhoods, an annual trip to the zoo.   Starting with that unique smell of the train station which has us brimming with anticipation, the excitement of the train trip to the big smoke, could it be off to a better start? Despite it being serviced now, the promise of the fresh ham sandwiches in the cool bag, the tayto, the mandarins and the strip of snack size chocolate bars as desert.

As the train arrives in Dublin, the buzz of the capital adds anticipation to the day and strolling around the zoo and as usual it doesn’t disappoint. Knackered and slightly bloated from two loaves of sandwiches, you make your way back to the for the long journey home.

Little did I know just how long the journey home would be. Kids, cousins and stuffed Koala keepsakes , we take our seats on the train home, and start to get out the Dublin Zoo playing cards for a few games of snap.

But snap, across the aisle there’s a group of people whipping out their playing cards too. They don’t have stuffed Koalas with ‘I’ve visited Dublin Zoo’ on, instead they have naggins of Vodka with ‘Russian Standard’ boldly printed across the red label.

As my little zoo goers waned, little feet tired from long walks, our fellow riders, proceeded to get a little rowdy. After a few bars of ‘I’m loving angels instead’, they began to disagree on whether Oasis were the best thing ever or the worse mistake of the 90’s. Unable to agree, they poured on and voices got raised.   When someone voiced my opinion a few seats back and told them to ‘shut the fluff up’ I was delighted. Until the pro-oasis side stood up and called for a fight. Needless to say the remainder of the journey was a moving train wreck!

Not the memory I hoped to make. The atmosphere grew more menacing, they proceeded to get served more, drink more and top up more from their on-board stash. With no other seats available on the train and children too young to stand, we had no choice but to endure the human zoo

Afterwards, the official word from Iarnrod Eireann informed me that it was unfortunate we were uncomfortable but they were fully entitled to drink in public, ‘most of the time it doesn’t impact other passengers, when it does get out of hand you just have to suck it up’…. more or less.

Certainly a lesson in just how liberal Ireland is these days, seems if you feel like doing it, then you’re entitled to do it, perhaps not the place to cultivate childhood memories anymore.