The sea was choppy and rough; a lot of people were feeling very sick. An hour later and we were arriving in Dublin’s ‘fair city’ for the start of our Irish adventure. We were very excited, as the holiday was one of the few high points in a year when dad had been very ill.
The little I had heard of Ireland was of bombs, shootings, protests, troops and the Eurovision Song contest. I felt very nervous because of all of that but I was also excited and curious of what was going to be there.
Our adventure began straight away; we were staying in a hotel, which overlooked the beautiful sandy Irish beaches. In the bay stood three majestic islands shrouded in the late evening mist. We spent the next three days looking around the interesting city of Dublin, in the rain, and the local countryside in thankfully better weather. Dublin itself was like any city. It was busy, loud and full of people in a hurry. The river was a sludgy green, which the local wildlife avoided as if they knew something we should.
It was really a resting point of the holiday after the long journey from home to here. It was where we got ready for the next two and half weeks ahead of us; planned our routes and worked out how long it would take us to get the places, none of which worked. Nobody had told us about Irish roads and the likelihood that you would wait half an hour while two farmers, in tractors with a flock of sheep, would block the road for half an hour, completely unaware of the queue of traffic building up behind them. The strange thing was that nobody in line of traffic complained or tooted a single horn in frustration.
After the safari south, which took four hours longer than a similar journey that would have taken us back home, we arrived on the outskirts of Clonakilty. This was to be our home for the next week. The first thing that stood out was the vivid colour of the house and the houses around. It seemed strange to us but it was quite ordinary for them. It was a local tradition to paint your house the brightest colour possible; our house wasn’t yellow, not even YELLOW but definitely YELLOW!!!!!!
There were many places to visit, including a brilliant model village just up the road. It was so fine a detail that it was hard to believe they were hand made. Every window had something behind it to look at. It was the little touches that made really enjoyable, that and the guide who was happy to tell us every detail of her town each sentence showing her obvious pride in the place
Mizen Head was strange place to visit. It was a weather station on the top of a remote cliff face on the very western edge of the country. Next stop, if you sailed from here, was America and many from Ireland had gone in that direction. To reach the visitors’ centre you had to cross a very high dramatic gorge. It was quite nerve racking crossing the bridge, which was painted red, and white. It was apparently one of the best in Ireland. From the high advantage point that the station enjoyed you could see the Fastnet lighthouse and the guide told us of the conditions that had existed on the day the famous race from the Isle of Wight. They had encountered the deadly seas of an Atlantic storm. The lighthouse, although thirty metres high had been shrouded in the seas, with witnesses reporting seeing yachts passing over the top of it. The building we were in was along way from the sea and even that had had windows broken by the pounding of the seas that claimed so many lives. It was a great start to the holiday and really got us going and looking forward to the rest of the adventure.
We then travelled up the West coast we broke our journey twice at B and B stops. Calling them B and B is an understatement. One was an 8-bedroom bungalow with showers to each room and the second was entered along a tree-lined drive, which presented a view not unlike the opening title of a film. It broke our journey up nicely and gave us time to see more of the Irish country as well as introducing us to the ‘Full Irish Breakfast’ that was served on plates big enough to feed a king, queen and a few servants.
Some of the places we visited were gorgeous, especially the sandy quiet bays which made perfect picnic areas. Others were historic like a place called Bunratty Castle. We pulled up expecting a plain old car park in front of the castle but instead we were greeted by what looked like a collection of gleaming new motorbikes on the forecourt of a showroom. In fact it was the European annual bike rally for the Goldwing owners’ club. There were one hundred plus, all with there own security guards watching them. It was an unexpected sight. Typical of Ireland, and one thing that we always remember, was that a family entrance ticket was for two adults and SIX children!
We were aiming to spend the last week in County Cavern not far from the north, south border. We were staying with friends who owned a hotel on the banks of Loch Sheelan.
We realised that in Ireland time isn’t really an issue. We realised it when friends, who had driven forty miles, arrived at 11:00pm to welcome us. The night went into the early hours of the morning, but to them it was quite normal to chat until that time. We were accompanied by a local band that had turned up to play at an 80th birthday party being held at the hotel. Granddad sat in splendour as guest of honour and took his turn, like everyone else, to sing his party piece, This had been heard by the family many times before but was greeted with a fresh enthusiasm. It also hit us when we were expecting breakfast early in the morning like most hotels. It was actually served at 10:30am.
For the next few days we met friends who I had never met but Mam and Dad had. It was very enjoyable meeting them and getting to know their children. They were very welcoming towards us as most people were in Ireland. We had lunch in nearly every house we went to. Mam and Dad chatted for ages, as they do, while we played and talked with their kids. The Irish people were always really friendly and fun which squashed all the worries I had before I came of bombs and troops.
The journey home came very quick. In one way we were looking forward to get home but we were also very sad to leave. While we waited for the ferry we had a drink. Dad got talking to a couple of fisherman. We said were we from and how much we liked Ireland. Dad also told them we were travelling back on the ferry. The fisherman then told us what the Irish call the Seacat ferry, “The Commit Vomit”. We unfortunately found out why!
It was a long journey home but the ferry was very comfortable. Dad and I had a wander around the ferry looking at the massive engines, which powered the boat. It was a good ending to the holiday. The unfortunate thing was the prospect of the drive home. It was going to take us about seven hours and we weren’t stopping.