Well here we are and this is the view out of the window as I sit trying to create this blog. It’s a struggle, in fact from worrying about whether I could publish a blog this week at all, I have moved into ‘a feck it, this is Ireland, it’s too much trouble’ mode. I partially justified this attitude by saying that I wouldn’t be able to find any wi-fi connection in this remote part of the world. And then I did. You can just about make out where I am (the white building in the distance, photo above) when it comes to posting the blog as opposed to writing it which I’m doing from the cottage. Confused, well never mind. As you probably know Ireland was known for a long time as The Celtic Tiger on account of its sudden (compared to how we knew it in past times) prosperity. The number of new builds – houses – is remarkable and we assume they are completely new because there is no evidence of the old family house nearby. When we were here before an Irish family might build a new house but also keep the old family home whether out of nostalgia or just couldn’t be bothered to knock it down, I’m not sure. But in these parts – County Kerry, right on the coast – they’re just new.
And the place where the wi-fi is to be found is further evidence of the prosperity of the area. It’s possible the prosperity has disappeared, certainly that is the general view of Ireland as a whole but any place like this is – Dingle, for example – full of largely American tourists can’t be completely on its uppers. As I was saying the place I’m posting this is the Museum of the Blasket Islands – that’s one of the islands right out there in the photo, 3 miles, so I’m told, across the Atlantic Ocean. It is a remarkable and beautiful building (see below and end)just as the islands are themselves remarkable and beautiful. If I can I will try and give some sense of its beauty. It has been built to commemorate the lives of the Blasket Islanders and the irony is that this building which must have cost a fortune, marks the lives of some of the poorest people in this area which was poor in its own right. That said and without thinking about where the money came from, the end result is outstanding – architecturally interesting and noble if that doesn’t sound too pretentious.
A large part of the areas beauty is its remoteness (although the presence of huge coaches on roads hardly wide enough for two cars somewhat undermines this sense of being a long way from anywhere). It’s definitely a long way from Dublin. We broke the journey to make it more enjoyable. We had intended to stay in Limerick, which is where my father was born although he moved with his family to India on account of his father being a soldier in the regular army, but this is where he was born and I had hoped for the first time to maybe find out a little bit more about him. He died when I was five and my mother has always been incredibly vague about his life before she married him. I suppose I cannot complain because, until now, not coincidentally after my mother’s death, I haven’t made any great effort to find out more. Although to be fair to myself we did a few years ago travel all the way to Oregon to meet up with my father’s remaining sister so I could find out a bit about him. Sadly, on account of her age and memory (lack of) we found out very little.
So I thought we would stop in Limerick and maybe find out a bit more. The Travelodge at Castletroy thought otherwise. Despite coming up near the top of dog-friendly hotels in Limerick when I googled, as you do, and despite the fact that in ‘special requirements’ I wrote that we were bringing two dogs (they didn’t reply but did find my email when I pointed it out, obviously they don’t give a flying fuck about people’s special requirements, no room at the blasted inn for us. The people behind the desk were totally unhelpful and wouldn’t let us stay. I’ve just received an evaluation request for the hotel, can’t wait to fill it in. We couldn’t find anywhere else to stay in Limerick at short notice and so drove another two hours to Killarney. I just want to make one point here – a huge thank you to the Irish people (the unhelpful ones were not Irish) who helped us in our time of trouble. The lady at the library who helped us look for other hotels, the unbelievably lovely lady who offered us a place to stay in her house (and the dogs in the stable because as she said she’s kicked the donkey out into the field) and the man who we met in the park walking his dog who let us use his mobile to book a hotel in Killarney (our phones did not seem to work so we were dependent on the kindness of others), A big thank you, these were the Irish people we remembered. To those non-Irish people at Travelodge, well, I won’t say any more or I’ll end up sounding like Nigel Farrage.
Anyway, we moved on, Killarney was lovely and we found a magical place to walk the dogs around the area of Ross Castle. We had always thought that Scotland was the country that reminded us most of New Zealand but this area and the waters of Lough Neagh were just beautiful. Unfortunately I can’t show you them yet because the photos were on Mrs Summerhouse’s phone and I can’t download them, not at this point anyway. It did make us wonder why we insisted on flying 13,000 miles when this kind of beauty if not actually on our doorsteps, more out the door and at the end of the street, was so easily available to us. So up and off from Killarney, Saturday morning, from our dog friendly hotel and the drive to Dunquin – a mere couple of hours as against the 9 hours yesterday. Hopefully I will write more about the area we’re staying in another blog if this one posts alright. There’s a lot I have to say. We stopped off at Inch Strand, another part of Ireland that reminded us of NZ. We drove our Land Rover along the beach (not the beach in the photo) and started to relax. We must be on holiday.
Talking of relaxing on holiday, a strange thing happened to me yesterday – I was lying on the sofa and I realised my mind was a blank. I had my eyes closed and instead of thoughts crowding my head / brain I looked and saw only the inside of my eyes – an orangey wash of colour – and I realised how easy it was to fall asleep when your mind is blank. Don’t suppose I’ll be able to reproduce this state but it seemed like Ireland had worked some kind of magic which had affected my over-loaded brain.
On the way back from Ballyferriter this morning (the nearest village with a shop), Mrs Summerhouse said of a building we passed, I think that’s a cat shop. I said do you have any idea of how ridiculous that sounds. Well, she said it says cat hostel. I said do you really think the people here put their cats in hostels, send them off with their rucksacks to sleep in bunks? Well, we thought, this is Ireland, anything’s possible. So that’s our first retirement holiday so far.