By Patrick Markey
Three Dubliners are set to party like its 1999 and recently began planning for their millennium party with an all-out assault on duty-free shopping.
Armed with industrial trolleys used for transporting heavy gas cylinders, the three travelers bought booze in Ireland, wheeled their cargo off the boat into Wales, and then right back on again. They did this four times in two days in a bid to buy enough booze at bargain duty-free prices to see them into the year 2000, reports the Irish Independent.
The serious party will be held at Brian McLoughlin’s home in Dublin, and McLoughlin and two friends began preparing last week when they realized duty-free was to end.
McLoughlin, and friends Conor Burke and Gerry Clarke, made a turn-about trip on the HSS Stena Explorer and snapped up 40 cases of beer and lager, together with a couple of bottles of spirits.
"I reckon we spent about £500, but it was worth it," McLoughlin said as they recently pushed three heavily laden trolleys past amused officials at Dun Laoghaire ferry port.
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"We only had to get off the boat at Holyhead and roll the beer down into Wales and then bring it back on again for the return journey," he said.
The trio came with credit cards, mobile phones and a huge roll of industrial-strength clingfilm.
"This is a serious art form of shopping. It’s good value and it’s going to be gone very shortly," said Gerry.
A bug’s life
Bugs may be the toast of Hollywood these days, but it seems Ireland wasn’t ready for the latest from Asia — the long-horned beetles from China.
The Irish Independent reported that the pests were discovered in the wooden packing on Chinese granite at a Dublin city construction project.
Large numbers of the beetles — which can cause massive damage to forestry — were found in a spot check by forestry inspectors on the containers.
The containers were immediately fumigated, but that wasn’t enough to halt these horrors.
Inspectors from the Department of the Marine and Natural Resources found more live beetles in timber at a storage depot. Containers at Dublin and Cork port were also inspected and fumigated.
A department spokesman said that any further shipments from China would be reported by the Customs service and treated.
Russian mutiny, continued
In the latest in the Russian mutiny saga, the Russian ambassador was drafted in an effort to resolve the dispute involving a crew that mutinied on a ship docked in Waterford.
The Munster Express reports that the 18-man crew of the Russian vessel "Firyuza" refused to sail out of Waterford, claiming they were owed more than £13,000 in wages. A number have also asked they be repatriated.
The Ukranian nationals made their position clear at a meeting facilitated by officials representing the crew and the local agents for the ship’s owner, a Moscow-based company.
Following reports of threats of serious violence to the crew and to their families back home, negotiation officials faxed the Russian Ambassador in Dublin, asking him to dispatch a senior official to Waterford urgently to meet the crew and to take whatever steps are necessary to protect them and their loved ones.
One for the road
One of the great institutions of Irish culture may be at an end — patrons trying to flee the garda swooping on after-hours drinking sessions.
Stories abound of tipplers piling out the pub toilet window to avoid gardai. But, reports the Examiner newspaper, these tales could pass into folklore because the days of the gardaí clamping down on stay behinds are almost over.
Inspector Michael Scanlon, of Gurranabraher Station in Cork, said while the law has not changed, the climate has. Pubs were simply staying open later and there is less pressure on gardaí to investigate after-hours drinking.
"There is a different approach by the gardaí. Publicans are not closing until 12:30 or 1 a.m. and there is a general laxity in the whole situation. A few years ago every person found on the premises after hours had their name taken. Guards do not take their names anymore. There is a whole new approach," the inspector said.
Meanwhile, a Garda spokesman said he could not comment on individual opinions, but they were on duty around the clock to enforce the licensing laws.