Phantom Village

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There’s a village near us called Carrickmines. At least I think there is, because I have visited a new shopping centre nearby called “The Park”. Just once, a couple of years ago. I know it’s close to the new M50 ring road. The first time we went I got hopelessly lost and stumbled on the place by sheer accident after a couple of hours driving up and down the motorway.

At 2 pm yesterday we set out to find it again. As I drove toward the motorway, my trusty navigator switched on our newly-acquired satnav.

“What do I do?” she said.

I was less than helpful at this point, I admit, mumbling something about how “intuitive” the thing was. Let’s face it, we hadn’t used it for months and neither of us could remember how it worked. I pulled over and went through the various menus searching for Carrickmines. Couldn’t find it anywhere. I tried to key it in, but the stupid thing insisted that any address we might want to go to must start with a house number.

“Never mind, I’m sure we’ll find it easily enough,” I said, foolishly.

Heading north on the motorway, we passed exits 16, 15, 14 and 13, checking all the signposts along the way. There were lots of them, but not one mentioned Carrickmines. I began to think that the place didn’t exist, that it was a ghostly figment of someone’s imagination, a phantom village that no one had ever found. Or perhaps it was a cursed place that devoured anyone who did manage to find it.

At exit 12, I left the M50, stopped at a petrol station, and asked the man behind the counter for directions. “I’m not sure, but I think you need exit 15,” he said in a strange accent.

I asked a small customer wearing a green suit. He scratched his head. “I know where it is, I have a picture of the village in my mind. But I can’t remember how to get there, sorry.”

Back on the motorway, I headed south. Exit 15 was signposted Leopardstown. I took that exit and we found ourselves on an empty road leading to a deserted racecourse. I did a u-turn.

That was when my navigator spotted a small directional sign that read “Carrickmines”. We both cheered and I followed the sign. We went through a couple of sets of traffic lights and several roundabouts. One of these had 5 exits, but no signposts. I chose one at random.

The roads became narrower and narrower.

“This doesn’t look right,” said my navigator, taking the words out of my mouth.

I stopped and asked a couple of corporation workmen packing up for the day, and they gave us precise directions that took us to the opposite side of the motorway where we found the shopping centre.

It was 4 pm.

We took a moment to register the location in our satnav. Hopefully, we’ll find it the next time.

When we got back to base, my navigator said she wondered where the village of Carrickmines might be. I told her to put it from her mind. It doesn’t do to dwell on such matters.

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