AND so, in mid-morning, the curtain finally fell on Ireland's version of the Japanese Noh play (a piece of theatre that notoriously goes on for hours and hours and hours) that is the public sector pay talks.
This time around, the long, drawn-out performance took place in the more mundane surrounds of Lansdowne House in Dublin 4, an unlovely office block plonked amid the area's posh, red-brick piles.
And sure, a change is as good as a rest – or it could be the case that some of the proud keepers of the keys to the pay talks' last venue, Croke Park, weren't in any particular hurry to roll out the red carpet. After all, since the contentious deal was struck in 2010, the words 'Croke' and 'Park' are in danger of becoming synonymous with strife rather than sliotars.
Although the location may have changed, some elements remain the same – the last-minute, all-night pow-wows, the gaggle of media waiting outside for white smoke, the inevitable early departure of some union heads in that lofty vehicle, high dudgeon.
And thus it came to pass. The haggling went on through Sunday, apart from an 80-minute lunch break (coincidentally, the Scotland-Ireland rugby match was on Sunday lunchtime, too), and then in mid-evening there was a walkout by four of the unions, the Irish Nurses' and Midwives' organisation (INMO), the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), Unite and the Civil and Public Services Union (CPSU). The talks were on a knife-edge. Again. These talks are on a knife-edge more often than a knife-thrower's assistant.
It was all looking a bit gloomy. And then, just before 7am, Brendan Howlin materialised and hustled into Lansdowne House, a clear sign white smoke was in the offing.
Just before 10am, the Public Reform Minister emerged, his visage arranged into a suitably grave expression. Habemus a deal, he intoned (though not in those words, alas).
He wouldn't dish the details, but announced that the proposals, which "meet the targets we set out", would now go to the unions for the thumbs-up or thumbs-down.
Brendan was still doing the hard sell. "No individual sector of the public service is in any way targeted," he said. "Everybody is asked to make a fair contribution and I've made it clear this will be the last contribution people will be asked to make," he added.
Brendan looked stern. Tough But Fair is his motto.
Shortly afterwards, a trio of ICTU officers filed into a press conference in the adjacent hotel.
Their motto was Tough But As Fair As We Could Get. Like Brendan, they weren't turning cartwheels of joy, but they insisted that it was the best deal to be had, under the grim circumstances.
"It's a very difficult agreement, there's no point in sugaring the pill," said Shay Cody. "Today we're pleased we're sitting here with an outcome," said Sheila Nunan, adding the proviso, "now clearly there's a very long road for us to travel with our executives and members".
Tom Geraghty pointed out it was the lesser of two evils. "Public servants will have to measure the outcome of this agreement against the potential alternative," he said.
So it's a bit of an unloved document, this proposal. And some unions look likely to reject it. It's made nobody happy – save perhaps for some officials in the vicinity of Jones's Road. The Croke Park Agreement is dead, long live the Lansdowne Agreement-Of-Sorts.