Saturday, July 10, 2010
How Are They Going To Keep Me Down On The Farm Now?
We flew from Sacramento to Chicago with a bunch of rowdy vice presidents from Jelly Belly, who maybe had eaten too much of their product.
In Chicago, we got a pizza from the Pizza Nazi, then got on a plane with a shamrock on the wing. I think they put the shamrock on the wing to make sure we got on the correct flight. The only thing we might have woried about was that bratty volcano in Iceland. But I put a hex on it and that was the last we heard from Eyjafjallajokull.
As we drove up to the Hotel Fitzwilliam in Dublin, my sister noticed that there was a TGIFridays next door. “We are NOT eating there!” She avowed.
We checked in, slept for awhile, then went out to explore. We met our friends, who had been there for the past week, and had driven all around Northern Ireland. We followed them to have dinner...at TGIFridays. Oh, well, sometimes you just have to give in to the crowd.
The “crowd” consisted of three girls I taught school with. One of them brought her sister, and another one brought her daughter. Also in the group were John and Joseph, two delightful LA guys. It was the perfect group to spend the coming week on the Shannon River.
“Cead Mile Falite!” Which means a thousand welcomes! (And apparently also, “Here, have some champagne!”)
The boat was lovely and comfortable. It was crewed by the owners, Ruairi, his wife and spectacular gorumet cook, Olivia, and their precocious ten year old son, Ross. Olivia's food was a work of art and I took more pictures of it than I took of the castles and such. Two girls rounded out the crew, Flavia and Hannah, who waited on us hand and foot and treated us like rock stars.
We started out in Killaloe, the town that was once the home of Brian Boru, the High King of Ireland. High King? Was there a low king too? Or was Brian a drug user? Nobody seemed to be able to answer my profound questions.
We had a delicious dinner and sat around the table telling funny teacher stories. Oh, yes we did. If you were a brat in school, there is at least one teacher somewhere talking about you at dinner.
That night I dreamed that I was putting on a play with my students and one of them kept making up plot changes in the middle of the play. The others didn't know what to do and the audience was confused. I woke up exhausted.
We begin our cruising and visiting ancient ruins of castles and abbeys. There were also re-creations of Celtic life during the ice age, restored, (sort of) castles, peat bogs, and pub lunches to enjoy. (Although peat bogs didn't really do it for me, my sister liked the way they smelled.)
My favorite field trips were to the lavish kitchen gardens inside the walls of Portumna Castle, and the trip to Tipperary to visit Leap Castle. This castle was owned by, and LIVED in by, one Sean Ryan. The collector (hoarder?), Mister Ryan told us some far fetched stories (“Half-eye Ty” for example,) and played the penny whistle quite well. His daughter played the harp like an angel. They performed a lovely piece for us and then his daughter danced a genuine Irish dance. She just happened to be home between touring around the world with a troup called the Ragus Dance Troupe. She was fantastic, and unlike the “Riverdance” people, she really tapped.
(I was front-row-center at a Riverdance show a few years ago. Imagine my dismay to discover that the dancers had on little ballet slippers, and the tapping was on the soundtrack.)
Our cruise took us through a couple of locks and a gigantic swing-draw bridge. While we were waiting in the bow of the boat, for our turn to go through the bridge, our captain drove the boat into the trees and reeds on the side of the river. We sent someone up to see if he'd had a heart attack, but he was just messing with us.
There were many beautiful homes along the river. I took pictures of them. Graceful swans were everywhere, swimming about with their Ugly Ducklings. The villages we moored in were voted “Tidy Towns” and they were just that. Everything was perfect; Except when we moored in Galway, where I lost a five million dollar bet with my sister when we were discussing the location of a certain store. I hate when that happens.
The whole cruise left us awash in luxury, so my sister, Barbie taught the group to say something our daddy always said when we were engaging in something lovely. He always said it in his best French accent.
“Je me demand ce que font, les pauvre gens”
It means, “I wonder what the poor people are doing.”
Now we await the husbands. The luxury is over.