Saturday, July 24, 2010
Part II In Which We Wander About The Emerald Isle
My sister and I had just enjoyed a week of luxury with the girlfriends. Now the girls are going home and we are going to wait for the husbands to arrive. There will be no more looking for fairies in holes in rocks, nor will we play “Guess the name of the movie this song is from.” We shall switch from champagne to beer, from gourmet delights to pub food, and from cruising the lovely waters of the Shannon River to back roads and city streets. We are ready.
They arrived early Sunday morning, bringing with them a little box with a very calm lady living inside. She was going to tell us where to turn and when to go straight. She had no idea what she was in for.
The first thing we did was head for The Egan Guesthouse in Dublin. We chose this because Egan is a family ancestral name. The guesthouse was delightful and we shared the first of many “Family Rooms,” meaning the four of us slept in one big room. We like to hear each other snore and what not. John rewarded us right away. While he was taking a little nap he said, “Barb! Get the ladder! Never mind I’m dreaming.”
The next day we hopped on the “Hop-on-Hop-off” double-decker tour bus and went all over Dublin. Our tour guide/driver was a comedian.
He introduced himself as, “Charlie, Live and Unleashed!” He called the local rail transport, “The snail on the rail.” He referred to a tall, pointy, silver structure as “The stiletto in the ghetto,” and a couple of other rhyming monikers that are unfit for publication.
As we lumbered by a church with a cemetery, He said, “The guy who invented crossword puzzles is buried in there. If you want to see his grave, it’s four across and three down.”
He pointed out a statue of one of the founding fathers, Daniel O’Conner and admired his white hair, courtesy of the pigeons. As we passed by the stately parliament building, he called it, “Disneyland in Dublin,”
When we had had enough of Dublin, we picked up our little red car, sat the calm lady on the dash, and took off for the back roads.
Our goal was to meet the people, visit pubs, (especially the Egan pubs,) stay in small bed and breakfast establishments, kiss the Blarney Stone, tour the Guinness brewery, find the Egan family castle (Redwood), see the cliffs of Moher, and find and photograph the convent that our third great grandmother escaped from in eighteen something when she ran away to America. We accomplished all these goals, and then some.
We drove all the way around the craggy western coast. (Dingle, Bray Head, Ballybunnion) If you look at this area on the map it looks quite windblown. That’s because it is. It was like driving on the edge of the world.
We drove the calm lady crazy. I’ll bet she said, “Recalculating” over one hundred and fifty times. Sometimes, she actually sounded exasperated. The only way to see a country is to get out there and get lost in it.
At one point the calm lady took us right down to the water’s edge. She said, “ Drive onto the ferry.” We looked up and there WAS a ferry! We cautiously drove aboard and it took off. The fee collector came by and we asked where the ferry was taking us. He said without pause or emotion, “France.” We began to make the noises you might expect, and he smiled and said, “OK, Cobh.” I swear. Everyone in Ireland is a comedian.
The roads? Here is how I see the Irish considering their roads.
1. Measure the width of a small car and double it.
2. Add two centimeters.
3. Dump tar in a strip, EXACTLY that wide, disregarding all walls, trees and hedges.
4. Drive on the strip on the wrong side of the road.
5. If another car appears, coming from the opposite direction, make an instant calculation concerning who is closest to a ditch or a driveway and that person will pull over and fold their side mirrors in and wait, without breathing as the other car scrapes the opposite wall while getting by your car.
If you are planning a trip to Ireland, perhaps you should take a copy of this handy information along with you. The calm lady obviously knows nothing of this inconvenience and will be of no help.
Here is some more helpful information. If you want to purchase adult beverages, go to the “Off License” store. If you want to buy cheese and crackers or a hat go to Dunne’s, which is Ireland’s Wal-Mart.
In Cork, we saw a sign advertising an oldies radio station that said, “Music for people who remember when George Michael was straight.”
And another for the same station, "Music for people who held down 'record' and 'play.'"
Comedians, I tell you!