Sunday, June 13, 2010
A Bit of Craic in Ireland
Here I sit in Dublin Airport quite possibly experiencing the worst service I’ve ever had in a restaurant. Well there simply isn’t any service. I just waved down a waitress and she just waved back!
I guess this is the ying to the yang of a week of every whim fulfilled, every wish granted and every order taken in the speed of light. Since last Sunday the good people of Tauk Tours have carted mother and me around Ireland. We have been thinking about Ireland for quite some time and I was making every effort to plan the week myself, but with deadlines abounding mother suggested we make it simple and just book a tour. I have to admit I’ve become quite a tour snob after traveling with Rod and Philip over the past 10 years, but I surrendered to mothers idea and with a couple of clicks we were booked on ‘A Tour of Ireland’.
I’ve always wanted to visit this Emerald Isle. I am such an anglophile that its been top o’ the bucket list for quite some time. Without researching a thing we arrived in Shannon to see where the week would take us.
Day one in Ireland I was hooked. It may have been because we were plopped off at a castle where we would spend our first three days. Dremoland Castle is my idea of doing it right. We arrived at 9am and since rooms were not ready for several hours we were deposited in a drawing room with tea bubbling, fire crackling and windows cracked to hear the faint sound of the fountain splashing. Yes please.
Everything about this place suited me just fine. They offer riding, rowing, bikes and the most magical, mysterious trails where every tree looks like little Alice could pop out a hole at the trunk. Highlight? The Falconer! There he is, in his gaiters, cords and Barbour coat just meandering the manicured grounds with his trusty Peregrine.
The first evening we met the rest of the rather large group of guests and we luckily fell in with a fun crew. Our posse for the week included some highly amusing adults who often had me choking on my wine when they surprised me with their racy thoughts and quotes. There was a lesbian joke running all week between two women! Also there were some damn funny kids on the trip too. Two were 18 and 19 and made me feel very old when I heard when they were born, but Daddy Cator pulled his Mame magic and introduced them to their first gay bars and many a new dance move. Mother really enjoyed everyone and it was fun to meet up every night for dinner in a castle or pub and recount the day’s events over the national drink, Guinness.
After falling in love with Dremoland, I fell in love with the Irish countryside. Yes, it’s not too far off that that of England and Scotland, but nobody can beat its intense green! I mean, I simply couldn’t get my head around it. Everything is just covered in green and if it’s not green then it’s a pink rhododendron, my favorite plant. The Cliff’s of Moher were simply enchanting and gazing out over their tops and watching the waves crash and the gulls swoop made me yearn for a Bronte book (or Yeates as it were). While touring the ring of Kerry I welled up with tears of happiness when we gazed over Ladies Lookout where Queen Victoria’s Ladies-in-Waiting decided to picnic in another gilded era where the mountains, mist, moss and rivers all came together in a picture perfect landscape. I was rather annoyed that the weather here was to be cold and rainy the entire week but I don’t think one should see Ireland any other way. To make the day even more perfect, at one stop an old drunkard had tottered out a herd of little lambs for tourists to touch for a Euro or two. I had a cuddle moment with a two-day-old lamb and held him tight as he snuggled into my Mr. Nils sweater and I listened to the wind and watched the glittering sea. Nope, can’t get much better than this dear Lord.
I had a hard time leaving Dromoland but Dunloe Castle wasn’t too bad of a place to land. Sadly it’s not a castle you stay in but a very well done 1960’s resort. There is a twee castle on the property but the real highlight is the hotels cows and horses that graze all over the property and render the television pointless when the foals are prancing about in front of your room.
In case you are wondering, yes I did kiss that bloody Blarney Stone. Not on purpose mind you. I needed a bit of exercise and decided to climb to the top of Blarney Castle. But when I got to the top, the only way to get back down was to line up to kiss the stone. So I took off my glasses, laid on my back, held onto the rails and gave that stone my best pucker. But the real excitement at Blarney wasn’t the castle but Blarney House, a 19th century pile that is still lived in by the family who own the Castle (if the young man who’s picture I saw on the mantle ever reads this, I’m available!). Apparently it’s rarely open to the public but we lucked out and got a tour of the elegant estate. It’s so refreshing to see an old home like that lived in with a flat screen in the grand bedroom and L’air du Temps in the loo.
We did enjoy Dublin but as my cab driver said, a city is a city! And the temptation of bars and dancing lured me and my sprightly friends out till a tad too late two nights in a row. But it is a lovely city and I feel like I am just a little bit more whole after paying my respects to Oscar Wilde’s birth home. I also feel that my closet is a bit more whole after the purchase of my first kilt. I did a story on one of Dublin’s oldest tweed shops and couldn’t resist the purchase. Needless to say I wore it all over town and yes, underwear was definitely an issue. If I wore it I was yelled at, if I didn’t then I ended up getting drunk and doing cartwheels, forgetting I had forgone the drawers. Yes, in honor of the World Cup draw between the US and England some of us got drunker than Cooter Brown. I pray there are no pictures (and Karen if there are DO NOT post on Facebook!).
Alas our time here has come to a close. I have fond memories, major mom time and new friends to boot. One thing I wont miss, potatoes.