Thursday, 20 November 2014

Irish Roadtrip - Where is the Fecking GPS??

I was privileged to have gone on a Road Trip this past May, watching my beloved and his beloved Da, navigate their way around southern Ireland.  My Da-in-law had some things to which to attend in Dublin and he was looking forward to seeing friends and family.  Derek thought it would be an amazing experience to accompany  him. I fancy myself a amateur travel agent, so I started planning their adventure.

 As it turned out, I did such an amazing job on the upcoming trip, that I succumbed to my inner desire and I asked to join them. My father-in-law, Pat, graciously accepted me on their trip, though I really feel he had little to no choice.

Pat has been to home many times since The O'Rourke's emigrated to Canada 1967, with 3 little
Ireland 1988
hooligans and a princess on the way.  Derek had returned numerous times. He and I visited Ireland early in our marriage when I was "flying for 2".  The 1988 trip I have more deeply etched in my mind, as mind was young and sharp and of course, less fogged by cider.  Our 1988 trip included visits with Derek's Grandmother, Aunts and Uncles and long-lost cousins.  I shopped for hand knit baby paraphernalia for my Kate, who I had not yet met.  I was a useless designated driver, though sober, I was unskilled driving the left-hand side of the road.  I was chastised for a short trip on a dirt bike, but otherwise welcomed into this new extended Irish clan.

Auntie Lila
On this trip, our time spent near Dublin was busy and filled with some of the same characters from
Some O'Rourke's
1988.  Our home base was, as always, with Lila.  As a former
 B and B host, Lila just knows how to do it right.  She is a treasure.

On different days we traveled from home to home, and I got a glimpse of the road trip yet to come.  Pat knew his way around. Derek was the driver and we had been loaned a GPS from our now favourite cousin.  It was like having a sexy irish tramp with a brogue guiding us around.  Soon it became evident that there were too many cooks in the front seat.  From where I sat, quietly, I was watching Derek navigate the left side of the road, the GPS falling off the dashboard and my Da-in-law guiding Derek circa 1956.  Both were challenged by right vs left.  We always seemed to arrive at our destination without any spats.

Our hosts at each home were amazingly welcoming and many family
More O'Rourke's
members were gathered together to meet their cousins from Canada.  There were many questions and comments, but my favourite was from a young cousin who asked, with astonishment in his eyes "In Canada, do you really have milk in bags???"

We saw the home in which Pat had grown up, as it is still the home of the eldest O'Rourke brother, Leo.  Leo's has pigeons so some of our visit was in the coop in the back garden.  The pigeons have been a hobby since Leo  was 6 years old.  It was wonderful to see a passion that lasted some 80 years.  
Leo has sired a large group of wonderful people and we enjoyed our night with them immensely.

And more O'Rourke's and the Farrell's
In an area called Rush, we saw a different side of Ireland.  Beautiful seashore, beaches, boats and later,  a moon over the water.  It was here that we joined with another set of O'Rourke's and the "close as family" Farrell's, who we have been hearing about for years as dear friends of Pat and Ethel.  We spent the evening with cousins that were new to me and a distant memory for Derek.  Although I have met them virtually, (facebook) it was another thing to sit and chat. Another warm Irish welcome and a lot of laughing.

So many O'Rourke's so little time.

Father/Son and Grandson Tattoos.  Missing Kevin
The 3 of us spent a day in the city on the Pat O'Rourke Tour of all that is Dublin.  It was not a regular red bus tour of the Jameson Distillery or the Guinness Brewery.  It was not a trip to Temple Bar.  No, it was a tour that beats all others.  We were given a
 glimpse of Dublin that very few tourists will ever get.  My Da-in-Law led us to nooks and crannies of the city relaying memories of his past.  He knew all the hotspots, but with a perspective and with a history than only a true Dub would know.  It was the only time we wore the old man out.  He was determined to show us every interesting spot in Dublin from O'Connell bridge to  Grafton Street. We wandered from pub to pub. We ended up at Madigan's where I learned than anything is tasty if there is enough gravy on it.  It was at Madigan's that Pat was nicknamed "the milkshake man" as he asked for blackcurrent in his Guinness.  How embarrassing.
 What a great day.

Kinsale Harbour
After a few days of imposing on family and friends, we launched on our journey.  This time there as a proper highway, a "dual carriage way" to take us from Dublin to the south coast where we stayed in a small village.  In Kinsale, we spent 3 nights at the Triton Hotel and 3 days going from pub to fish and chipper by day and on the search for live music by night.  Pat is a fan of the a night out with traditional Irish music and good old Irish chatting.  He was probably not terribly surprised that we were hesitant, as Derek and I are forever yawning by 8pm.   We would try to prepare for a night spent out past 10pm with our much loved naps.  Pat tolerated us.  "Come find me in the pub when you wake up".  It was a bit humiliating.

We did some sight seeing in a small town called Clonakilty. We happened on to a beach the likes of which I have not seen.  I sent photos and texts home remarking that we were frolicking at Inchydoney.  Bridget has since renamed it Itchy Donkey, but refuses to believe we frolick.

Following Kinsale, we traveled further west, and stopped in Killarney.  I wanted to sing, but Derek reminded me that it was not Christmas here and that I sing very poorly. We took a car ferry and then drove through the Burren.  It seemed like an Irish wasteland, until  the flowers are noticed growing within the rocks. Finally we found our bed and breakfast in County Clare.  This small town, with a population of about 15 people and one intersection seemed at first site to have little to offer beyond a few stores and pubs and this amazing B and B, the Ballyvaughan Lodge.

However Ballyvaughan's claim to fame is its whisky bar. I had had a full day and night and after our gravy dinner, I wanted to head back to our home away from home. I was, however, dragged to this whisky bar.  I was convinced because the barkeep made the "Best Irish Coffee in Town".  We saw pictures of Steven Spielberg and the actress I like to call "1 of the Desperate Housewives".  Derek's Da was very familiar with the Irish Whisky.  Derek not so much, as he "doesn't like hard liquor".  He was convinced of it's benefits. I stumbled and dragged the 2 of them back to the quaint Ballyvaughan Lodge as now, after my Irish coffee, I was an alert drunk.
Breakfast - Ballyvaughan Lodge


This is where my father in law gave me my favourite memory.  "Where is the next pub" he asked, to which Derek replied "It's 1 in the morning and you are 80.  The next pub is in your bed".

Where's the Next Pub

Ballyvaughan is close to the Cliffs of Moher. We took a ferryboat under the cliffs.  It was a cold, rainy day, but I was fully, yet embarrassingly dressed for it.  Neither Derek nor Pat acknowledged that I belonged with them.  I found this confusing because not only was a dressed in green, I was sporting the red rubber boots I found at the back of an army surplus store in a dodgy part of Dublin.  I know they were really proud of me.

Red Boot Diaries

Under the Cliffs of Moher

Shopping here was a mad search for perfume made locally, as I purchase a new scent with any trip..  After the trip, I am reminded of the good times every time I smell my new scent.  I was excited beyond belief to find out that there was a perfumerie that we could visit AND TOUR, on our way to Galway.  It was difficult to convince my road trippers that this would be time well spent.  Derek stopped at a chocolate factory instead, knowing that I would be satisfied with this compromise.  Whenever I smell chocolate now, I flash back to Ireland, as well as all the other millions of places I have stuffed my face.

On the boats again

Galway was a nice surprise as we had not seen this cool city before.  After much circling and back- tracking around and around the one-way streets, Derek could stop for a brief moment so that we could find and check into our hotel. Off he went to find the Car-park. Pat and I dragged our suitcases across the cobblestones and dragged them up the front steps of the Skeffington Arms.  It was with pleasure and delight when we saw the faces at the reception desk as Mr and Mrs O'Rourke checked in.  My father-in-law, my sugar daddy, the man who cheered me through my first Guinness.

A half pint of Guinness, done

Where's the music?
We had a perfect end to our road trip with an extra day in this lovely city of Galway. There were outdoor pubs and music everywhere and street buskers and shops galore.  The on again / off again rain to which we had grown accustomed at this point of our trip, was especially troublesome in Galway.  As it is best to see Galway on foot and we had been soaked enough times, we finally resorted to an umbrella from the hotel  Because umbrellas and rain gear (and might I say, red rubber boots) are the standard uniform in Ireland, it is commonplace to grab an umbrella at one spot, get where you are going and then just leave it at the next place for someone else to use.  It is a great custom and imagine it is the honour system that dictates the practice.  We were lucky enough to snag just the right umbrella.  However, this  particular umbrella, I wish I could have kept.

Derek and his Da

It was honestly, the best trip I have ever taken.