Confused debates, tired drivers - Ireland, Day 1
Trip Start Oct 04, 2011
4Trip End Oct 24, 2011
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Where I stayed
Ard Na Greinne B&B
What I did
Bunratty, Cahir Castle and a soft bed
We’d just had dinner at the Galileo Café in Cahir. It’s a cute little Italian place with no candles. Seriously, no candles at an Italian café? Anyway, the waitress, a sweet woman who had somehow stolen my college girlfriend’s face (dude, it was eerie), managed to forget part of our order and deliver a cup of tea to me without the tea
Nothing really looked warm and inviting on this cold night but Irwin’s had that “I want to own an Irish pub” look to it. There were stone walls, dusty book shelves filled with dusty books that no one had ever read and a sign telling us “My daddy told me condoms don’t work”. That seemed inviting enough at the time and the cold wind seemed to shove us through the door. The pints were poured and we found a seat by the window next to a huge disheveled man that consumed two pints in the time it took me to cover a half. I’m not new to beer drinking though I do like to let it go down at a speed that I can taste it.
So the two women stumbled in and glared at us as if we had stolen their reserved booth. The conversation that followed eventually helped us determine that they just hated foreigners, all foreigners and in fact, to refer to someone as an expat was the greatest of all insults. The one had a rack of silver in her mouth that made her a bit scarier and meaner than Jaws form the James Bond movies and she said Feck more than the expat bartender
We hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before we left. I’ve gotten comfortable enough with these travels that I can be pretty laid back about the whole packing in advance thing … until I have a 13 hour work day the day before liftoff. So with an hour and half of sleep, we head to Denver International Airport. The flight to Boston gave us a bit of time to nap and at Logan we decided to do a tour of Airport breweries. . That plan died when we discovered we were going to have to go through security at least two more times. Airport beer just isn’t that good. The one time through International Security was quick and the aged ex-Marine thanked Jenny for her service and asked me if I was proud of my daughter. I scowled and he realized his error and sheepishly sent us on for the usual disrobing for TSA.
The Aer Lingus flight arrived 2 hours early thanks to a 200 MPH tail wind
The early arrival and the easy pass through customs was going to force an extra day of car rental but I didn’t care that much as I just wanted to get out of the airport with cash in my pocket. We arrived at the Dan Dooley lot and the attendants couldn’t figure out where our car would be coming from. They would each press the remote and then jump up and down looking for flashing tail lights. Eventually they realized that our Fierce Ford Focus was in the Alamo lot which was finally delivered to us for inspection, giving the attendant an opportunity to vanish again.
I was relieved to discover that we had been given a bit of a beater. Nicks, scratches and dent adorned the exterior that had endured roughly 70k km of tourist driven torture. In the dark mist, we surveyed the damage, marked up the form and tracked down the attendant who was having a smoke with his buddy. He was pretty much willing to sign anything and added “Just try to bring it back without any huge dents and you’ll be fine”. We were sure it would take a significant collision to have a noticeable impact on the appearance of the car. I was comfortable with that.
Off into the misty darkness we drove with nowhere to be in a hurry. So, with virtually no sleep for 36 hours, I decided to head off in the opposite direction of Cahir, our goal for the day
I’ve managed to avoid tourism central, Bunratty with its 40+ BBs, since 2005. Business has slowed down a bit since the Open Skies Agreement eliminated the requirement for planes landing in Dublin to also land in Shannon. We were early and the tour bus assault had not yet begun on the village. The cost to visit the folk park and castle is €15 which was more than we wanted to spend that morning so we viewed the castle from afar and then headed south.
The tunnel on the M18 avoids everything Limerick and that’s all good with me
It was noon and way too early to be checking in to a B&B but I saw Breda just as she was leaving to take her mother to hospital (we learned that later). She insisted on showing me the room and offering us tea and by the time I got back out to the car, Jenny had fallen asleep again. Opening the door nearly caused Jenny to leap through the windshield as if she had awoken to find Freddie Kruger tapping his nails on the window. After she got her wits about her, we declined the tea and then broke the cardinal rule of overseas travel. Don’t sleep on the first day! So we had a long nap, but two days without sleep made it a requirement.
Ard na Greine is a nice B&B on the N24 headed towards Clonmel. It’s an older building that has been remodeled to a cute B&B with a comfortable dining area. The rooms are rather small but the beds are very comfortable. The shower pressure is standard and though the rooms seemed cool, they warm up significantly under the comfortable blankets. Breda is a wonderful hostess and took excellent care of us. A long stay in a room this small would be uncomfortable but Cahir always strikes me as a stopover village and Ard na Greine is a perfect place to stay with that in mind.
We pried our eyes open so we could find our way to dinner and decided to wander around Cahir first. Like any good tourists, we snapped pictures of the castle and the River Suir and peeked in the windows of the pubs and restaurants. We passed Mary Condon’s Pub, another great example of Irish cross marketing. Mary also acts as a funeral director and it may seem like an odd marriage yet it’s must be a good combination because they’ve been doing both for six generations.
In the end, we found our way to Galileo’s and then Irwin’s and then finally back to Ard na Greinne to get a little more sleep.