"O Scotia! my dear, my native soil!
For whom my warmest wish to heaven is sent;
Long may thy hardy sons of rustic toil
Be blest with health, and peace, and sweet content"
Robbie Burns

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Irish Weekend

Typical Irish Cottage/New Furry Friends

Opps! Sorry I'm late in posting this but the holidays and all it entails got the better of me this week.  
One of the really enjoyable pluses of a trip such as this is that one gets to meet people they would might never have encountered. Staying in Bed/Breakfasts allows this to happen in a friendly non-threatening way. At breakfast Saturday morning we had the pleasure of sharing our meal with a woman who was in from London who had come over to Ireland house hunting. Seems she was selling her business and getting ready to retire. Quickly it became apparent she and my husband, a former USCG Coastie, had much in common: she was a sailor. But not just any sailor, her business was running barges on the Thames River. Not only did she own the business but she skippered some of them herself. We had a  very interesting morning meal to say the least. At the end of the meal we wished her well in her house hunting trip, envious we weren't here to do the same. But we had plans to meet our daughter's friend Cathy and her family in Bray, which is down the coast in County Wicklow.

Our daughter,while attending graduate school at Gallaudet University in Washington DC, became friends with Cathy, an Irish grad student who was there on a Fulbright Scholarship. You may not know it but Gallaudet is our national school for the Deaf (our daughter is not deaf).  Cathy, an occupational therapist in Ireland, was taking a year off of work to obtain her graduate degree. For Cathy's this was a wonderful experience to be finally in a school whose whole purpose was to accommodate the unique educational needs of the deaf. In Ireland, Cathy didn't have a sign language interpreter in elementary and secondary school and wasn't  until she fought the Irish gov't.  all the way up to the European Union did she finally get one in college.  Not only has  she been successful as an Occupational Therapist, but Cathy was able to complete her graduate degree in one year, remarkable even for a hearing student.  Cathy is q  now a lecturer in OT at Trinity College in Dublin.  We were eager to meet her and her family  after hearing about them after our daughter's trip here last Christmas. Of course  I couldn't wait also to meet her wonderful dogs (above).  Aren't they cuties, a better behaved than most children at leas the ones at our B/B.

We met Cathy and her mum Mary in their sunny Irish kitchen for tea and scones and had a good chat about our kids, our trip over  and  they helped us a plan a trip (later in the month) to the village of Avoca where the TV series BALLYKISSANGEL was filmed. Then Cathy took us down to Wicklow to see her new cottage which sets on a wildlife reserve right on the water; her views of Wicklow Bay and the Wicklow Mts are incredible.  After that I headed back to my B/B to read and do some prep work for my family history archival work while in Scotland while  Mark and Cathy were off for the afternoon of golf and dinner with her dad and brother at her course up in the Wicklow Hills. My husband enjoyed the fact someone else was driving as most roads thru the hills are extremely narrow. He did have to chuckle more than once because even if it was a track for one car they painted a white line down the middle of the road. Irish hope is eternal.  He returned late that evening tired but charged up with experience of playing golf in Ireland. I had a PBJ sandwich and some crisps while watching Irish tv, though I didn't have a clue what was going on because of the language. 

The next day we were up bright and early and leaned that our B/B wouldn't take our EURO travelers checks ( dumb idea, won't do that again) so off to the only place that had a money exchange open on a Sunday, the airport.  The drive was pleasant until we reached the outskirts of Dublin and the traffic became horrendous. Add to this is was raining, not the gentle mist that makes those famous fifty shakes of green in Ireland, but a downpour that our windshield wipers could barely keep up with. After an hour at the airport, we decided to take a Greyline tour of Dublin and just chill out the rest of the day as we were to leave for Scotland on the morning tide and it would be a long day of driving through  four countries until we settled in for the night somewhere near Durham, England.

Entering the Temple Bar area we were surprised to see so many people on the street, many of whom were in green and gold. Well it was a Sunday in Sept, and back home wearing  green and gold was the rule rather than the exception: Packer fans !!! But what really surprised me was people were standing on the sidewalk three and four deep as if waiting for a parade, but these people also were drinking, and not from brown paper bags. We couldn't find a place to park as the crowds along the street seemed to grow and finally we pulled off and asked a local Garda (police) what was going on. He just grinned when he heard our accents and told us it was the Gaelic Football Championship,  think Super Bowl here in the US and you have an idea of the craziness that was going on. Apparently Kerry ( green/gold) was playing Cork for the title.  We scrapped our plan to stay in Dublin and headed back to Dun Laoghaire for dinner at wonderful local pub, one Cathy told us about as she frequented it in her youthful party days. The food was wonderful, I had the most incredible fish, the best of our entire trip. As this was a bit of family pub too they had a big screen tv on with Rugby on and a few of the locals at the next table were kind enough to help  us understand the rules. I have to say, the whole trip when ever I could, I tried to catch a game on tv.  I could easily become a Rugby fan: think soccer meets American football and deliciously buff men in tight shorts who aren't afraid of a little piling on .  After this great meal we headed back to our B/B to have a quiet evening but apparently our hosts teenage son and daughter had other ideas. For two solid hours they had screaming fits with their parents and each other. I was shocked at the behavior of the hosts who were equally yelling right back at their kids, it was embarrassing as all the guests hid in their rooms. We wouldn't be returning to this place at the end of our trip when we returned to Ireland before heading home.

We started this trip for new experiences but our experience in this B/B could have put us off Ireland, thankfully we had days at the end of the trip to redeem the Irish portion of the trip. In my next post its Wales, and England with Scotland around the corner, hope you can come back. Anyone want to share  a horror  story they have had in a B/B or hotel while on holiday?


Beachreader said...

When Kristin went to Ireland in March she missed her connection from Bristol and got into Dublin too late for the bus to Kildare so she didn't arrive at the B&B until early AM, quite tired after having spent all night at the Dublin airport trying her best to sleep. She was exhausted and finally arrived at the B&B mid morning only to be met with an irritated "where we you? We expected you last night?" Kristin was very apologetic, offered to extend her stay by a night but the proprietor was making her pay for the night she wasn't there anyway. There was no way she could or would so this not only because of her limited funds but because of this woman's treatment of her and unwillingness to help her. She basically threw her out on the street. She went to the tourist bureau who found her another very nice place with a very sympathetic owner. The tourist bureau was also very apologetic telling her this wasn't representative of Irish hospitality. But now I am beginning to wonder.

Fraoch said...

That is incredibly rude and I would venture to say it is atypical for Ireland, but I have say since we were there together I think it has gotten very commercial- all that Celtic Tiger nonsense that they don't have to be mindful of tourists. What made me angry was we paid almost $300 for three nights and at the end in Bray we stayed in a four star hotel that cost us less than that and it was for four nights. We have traveled in the US from both coasts to the Gulf coast and here in the Great Lakes, I have yet to get that kind of treatment here in the US. I hope Kristen's trip was better after that. I think when you get away from Dublin things seem to be more he idyllic, the "Ireland" of history and legend.

Michelle/Eliza said...


My friend and I went to Ireland about four years ago and did bed and breakfasts from Shannon, down south and up to Dublin then back to Shannon.

We had one HORRIFIC stay at a B/B near Dublin. We had been searching for a place to stay, being younger & the fact we didn't get our b/b brochure until we arrived, we were on our own to find a place each night...needless to say, smelly dirty beds, toilets/showers we refused to use (OMG were they nasty) towels that smelled like you know what... the next morning our breakfast dishes were crusty with yesterday's meal, and I watched the owner drop my friends meal on the floor, scoop it back on the plate and serve it! The other 6 nights we stayed at some fabulous b/b's and we had an awesome time.

Great post I'm glad you had fun!

Edie said...

Hey, Jody, I'm enjoying your time in Ireland vicariously through your blog.