Monday, August 20, 2007

Turas Éireannach

(with apologies for my Gaelic)

Just over two weeks ago, I posted about my washing disaster that resulted in a very soggy passport, but I haven’t as yet blogged about the trip itself.

It was a trip to Ireland in celebrations of my parents’ Golden Wedding Anniversary, which was earlier in the year. Undecided where to take them, having taken them to Paris for Dad’s 70th and Amsterdam for Mum’s two years later, I asked them where they would like to go. They choice Ireland, but didn’t want to visit Dublin, so we settled on Ennis in Co. Clare. Since His Highness didn’t want to sully himself on a no-frills airline (and the arrival times in Shannon were cack) we flew into Dublin and then drove.

I know, I know.

It doesn’t look that far on the map, and in reality is only the same distance as Cheshire to Oxfordshire, but I stupidly assumed that a national trunk road would be a dual carriageway…

We stopped in Limerick for a break in the afternoon and those of you who have been around here for a while may recognise the tourist peering out over the Shannon…

Yep, this trip became another case of Travels With A Bear, as Theodore attempted to get into every photo. Here he is enjoying the first Guinness of the night at The Old Ground in Ennis…

..and here he is again after several more in Ciaran’s and the Diamond Bar, where he would have enjoyed the music if he hadn’t passed out…

On the Friday, we set out to explore the Burren, which is the most magical place. A and I want to go back and explore it properly, on foot. Mum and Dad can’t trip the light fantastic over geological wonderment much any more. We visited Ailwee caves, which were great. I don’t like caving and pot holing, but the path that is open for visitors is quite tall, so I felt fine.

Once you get into the Burren itself, there are all sorts of nooks and crannies with unusual plants and it was a bit like a lunar landscape. We also came across the Poulnabrone Dolmen a megalithic tomb. Stunning!

We finished the day at the Cliffs of Moher, which mere mortals cannot hope to capture on camera.

When we booked the trip, I hadn’t realised it was a Bank Holiday weekend in Ireland. Our landlady in Ennis, the magnificent Mary from Glenomra House (which I would recommend at the drop of a hat), wanted to get away herself, so after a stroll around Ennis Friary...

... we headed back out on the road, back across the country to Co. Wicklow. On the way, we stopped off at the imposing Rock of Cashel.
I love ruins and I’m running out of adjectives to describe the ones in Ireland. Along the road we would come across crumbling buildings reminiscent of Peel Towers in the Scottish borders and more poignantly, skeletons of churches, open to the elements, possibly all that is left of a settlement wiped out by the Famine.

So why Wicklow? Well, my Mum was a big fan of the TV series Ballykissangel, which was filmed in Avoca. “40,000 tourists still flock to Avoca every year”, my guide book confidently informed me, so I thought it might be quite nice to have at least a drink if not a meal in Fitzgerald’s. We rolled up on the Saturday night to find that Fitzgerald’s was … well, I can only describe it as minging. It was shabby - not in a “shabby-chic” kind of way, more in a “can’t be bothered to decorate it” kind of way – and the floor was sticky. Ick. The other choice for food was a Greek taverna that made Fitzgerald’s look positively sparkling. We got back in the car and drove away as fast as possible.

“Well, that was a one-horse town”, I commented as we pulled back onto the main road. “More like half a donkey”, my Dad replied.

And it didn’t look much better on Sunday, when the weather broke and we got a full show of Irish rain. Avoca is also the home of Avoca Handweavers, (open from 10am every day) and we thought it would be interesting to look at the weaving shed.

Probably would have been, if they had been open, but they weren’t. Even though the girl behind the counter said they would be. We just gave up on Avoca at that point, and set out to drive back to the airport.

I want to go back and explore Clare, visit Galway, the Ring of Kerry… but next time I’m going to the West of Ireland, he’s going on Ryanair to Shannon whether he wants to or not…
Meanwhile, we (and Theodore) set out for Scanadanavia tomorrow. In an amazing stroke of good fortune, A's laptop has broken, so he cannot take it away with us, so I am confident that he will have a real break this time. I doubt we'll get to an internet cafe, so until we return, dear reader, until we return...

Soundtrack: Naked in the Rain – Blue Pearl; Born to Run – Frankie Goes To Hollywood; Blue Monday – New Order; Four Seasons in One Day – Crowded House; I can’t Dance – Genesis; Planet Earth –Duran Duran; Beautiful Day – U2;Excerpt From - Seal


Lou said...

I'm glad that you and your parents had a good time. It also appears that Theodore had a good time. I am so silly that I laughed out loud at the picture of him passing out holding an empty Guinness glass!! It is no wonder that I chose teaching as a profession!

Cecily said...

Your bear looks SO cute in those pictures! :)

I just sent you a very important email, if you could respond, I'd really appreciate it.
~your SP11 hostess