19 May 2024

And, we’re back! Sorry.

We had a fabulous week in a surprisingly warm and sunny Ireland – what are the chances of that?

We started with two days in Dublin with our very good friends Dave and Sue Walton. Dublin is a really lovely city – we’d been once before some years ago and were delighted to be going again. It’s small and sufficiently compact that it is eminently walkable yet still large enough to have everything one might hope a decent city would have.

We spent a very happy morning riding buses and trams and eventually made our way out to the Botanic Gardens which had some marvellous glass houses. The greeting we had as we walked into the gardens was worth the price of admission on its own. Just inside the gate there is a small edifice which looks, to all intents and purposes, to be an admission booth. I walked up to the gentleman manning the booth to enquire about the admission charges for four old and tired seniors. “No charge for admission,” he replied, much to our surprise. He then went on to explain that he was in charge of monitoring the CCTV around the site and all he did was sit in this small booth every day. We suggested he might start collecting entrance charges in a similar way that the apocryphal parking attendant had done at Bristol Zoo.

The story goes that a parking attendant turned up in an official-looking uniform and collected a £3 parking charge to park outside the zoo for up to twenty years. Allegedly, the zoo thought he was collecting for the council and the council thought he was collecting for the zoo. One day the attendant failed to turn up for work and enquiries showed that he worked for neither and had been pocketing the money all along. Rumour was that he settled abroad to live off his ill-gotten gains. Not true, of course, but one of those urban myths with which everyone is familiar.

One of the sites which had been on our “to visit” list was, unfortunately, out of bounds when we were there. We had hoped to walk through Trinity College to admire the buildings and the gardens. As we turned up to enter, however, we were told that the college was closed to visitors. It seems that there was an active student sit-in while we were there – the students were demanding that the college disinvest from Israel in response to the massacre going on in Gaza. After five days, the college administration agreed to the students’ demand and the sit-in was over. Not in time for us to visit, sadly.

After a long day it was back to the hotel for a quick lie down and then off again walking to the Temple Bar region in search of music and then some dinner. Not surprisingly, we found both!

Thursday morning, after a leisurely breakfast, we set off to the airport to meet our friends Sue & Stuart who were flying in from Gatwick and then collect our hire car. Meanwhile, Dave & Sue set off to catch a bus to the railway station – they were off to Cork to collect their own hire car. We were all to meet up again in Inistioge, the tiny village where Stuart’s daughter, Fiona, lives and which also happens to be Penny’s ancestral home – her great grandfather was born in Inistioge (he went to Australia as a young man and, heaven forbid, married a Protestant)! There is a plaque to Penny’s great, great grandparents on the wall just outside the Catholic church.

Inistioge is a gorgeous little village, especially so in the sunshine. It was a glorious day and we were afforded the reception and hospitality that Penny’s connections warranted. The next morning it was off to our holiday accommodation in Kinsale visiting, enroute, Kilkenny and the castle, the ancestral home of the Butler clan.

Kinsale is a lovely (and popular) community on the south coast. It’s a gorgeous little village/town with some very brightly painted buildings, a quaint little museum (lots of Lusitania-related information – it was sunk just off the coast here), a fishing harbour and some lovely restaurants serving delicious food. You won’t be at all surprised that we had chosen three of the best to keep our hunger pangs at bay, The Supper Club, Max’s and Fishy-Fishy. Similarly not surprisingly, the fish and shellfish dishes on the menu were fresh and absolutely delicious.

Apart from eating our way around the town, we visited Charles Fort, one of Ireland’s largest military installations. It was built in the 1670s and guards the entrance to Kinsale Harbour. It was used as a British Army barracks for more than two hundred years (to keep those pesky Irish under control) until being relinquished by British forces following the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921.

The fort is also the site of one of Ireland’s better-known supernatural apparitions – the White Lady of the Fort. It seems that the daughter of the fort commander was to marry an officer, Sir Trevor Ashurst. After the wedding, as they were taking a romantic evening stroll before retiring on their wedding night, the young lady expressed her admiration for some flowers down below the parapets. Sir Trevor offered to collect them for her. She retired to bed to wait for him while he contemplated how he was going to fetch these flowers. As he felt unable to scramble down the parapet to fetch the flowers himself, he enlisted the assistance of a sentry standing guard. The sentry agreed to fetch the flowers but only on the condition that Sir Trevor take his coat and “stand guard” in his stead – if he was found to have abandoned his post he would be executed.

This was agreed and the sentry set off. The retrieval of the flowers took quite some time and eventually, wouldn’t you know it, Sir Trevor fell asleep at his post! He was discovered by the fort commander, not realising that it was Sir Trevor wearing another man’s coat. The commander was so incensed that a soldier would be sleeping on duty that he shot and killed his new son-in-law. When the commander’s daughter discovered that her husband had been killed, she threw herself off the parapets to her death and it is rumoured that she walks the walls of the fort at night.

We didn’t see her.

On Sunday morning we took ourselves off to see the Model Village and Model Railway at Clonakilty and then on to the beach at Inchydoney. I know, a wacky idea!

The Model Village was actually quite something. It is a fully scaled handmade model of the historic West Cork Railway Line with fully working miniature trains and the towns that the railway served during the 1940s. We had a lot of fun.

Penny and I kept thinking how much Max would enjoy it so we put together the following little clip for his benefit. Don’t feel that you have to watch it – watching paint dry might be more enjoyable. But, for Max, here it is:

After the model village we headed a bit further along the coast to the beach at Inchydoney where we stumbled across a group of people creating a large sand drawing. Apparently, they have a WhatsApp group who exchange design ideas during the week and then gather on the beach at low tide on Sunday to carry out their drawing. This week it was a design to draw attention to the genocide being perpetrated in Gaza.

They were a very friendly group who were just finishing up as we arrived. We gave them a round of applause for their efforts and they were somewhat taken aback – they had never received an ovation! They also told us about a friend who wasn’t able to join them on one occasion but who said that she would pop down to see the drawing on Tuesday. Too bad about the tides.

And so, before you could wink an eye, it was time to leave Kinsale, make our way back to Dublin to catch our afternoon flight back to the UK.

And therein lies another tale – too long to go into here but let’s just say our flight was four hours late taking off due to weather. What a surprise! Inclement weather in Ireland. YCNMIU!

We had to wait so long at Dublin Airport that we made new friends!

And finally, a photo or three of Penelope’s garden this week. The photo does not do it justice – the hawthorn tree is glorious in the sunshine. And, I do love aliums – how can you not?

Meanwhile, keep happy, keep smiling, keep exercising, be good, be careful, and keep safe. And be gentle to wasps and bees.

Lots of love to you all,


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