May 12, 2010

How could the last 11 days fly by so fast?

I picked Mom up from the airport Friday the 30th. After a 18 hour flight she was very happy to see a familiar face. To my surprise, jet-lag never seemed to set in. I had planned the first 2 days of her visit to just be resting and catching up. However, she seemed fresh as a daisy and ready to start her vacation. Since I didn’t have much planned we didn’t do anything major, we hopped in the rented Hyundai i10 and drove through Dublin and down on to Dun Laoghaire, visited the botanical gardens which are just up the street from my house and had a drive around Howth. Mom (and myself) was a bit dazed by the crazy driving but we managed okay. I think the first thing she noticed was the houses and how they’re all stuck together like duplex style and also just how everything in general is much smaller, roads, cars, houses, buildings, everything.

Our adventure really started off on Monday, when we headed up to Newgrange and Knowth. This had been my second visit out to them but it was just as interesting as the first. Mom enjoyed it also, as they are older than the pyramids and much older than any structures found in America. They’re something that really need to be experienced, seeing photos of them just won’t do them justice.

On Tuesday we headed to the West of Ireland with Galway as our first stop. We had planned on having lunch at Nimmo’s which came highly recommended. Although when we got there, they were closed for lunch due to ‘chef problems’. We headed around the corner instead to Goya’s where were had a lovely lunch. I’ll have to save Nimmo’s for another time. After lunch we headed North to the village of Cong where I had a little surprise for Mom. I managed to book a night at the 5* Ashford Castle. As we turned down the road to the castle and mom saw the signs she assumed it was just a tourist stop, which I then had to convince her that we were actually staying the night there! The castle was great, very ‘castley’. It had miles of manicured garden walks and plenty of places to snoop about inside. Mom was a bit tired from the day (maybe that jet lag was setting in after all) so I ventured out on my own down the river path into the village of Cong. The walk was lovely along a long river dotted with men fly fishing and the occasional pair of swans. At the end of the path there was an old stone bridge that led over into the village entering through Cong Abbey dating back to 1135. That evening we both headed into Cong for some pub grub.

The next day we packed our bags and headed towards Connemara. After a 4 hour drive on overgrown and narrow roads we had our fill of cows and stone walls. With a short stop at Kylemore Abbey, we headed back to the Castle for High Tea. Tea was fantastic, served with mini sandwiches, cakes and scones. Scrumptious! (Thanks Kathy!) Around 4.30 we figured we better stop pretending we were royalty and head to our next destination. Back in the car and heading south.

We arrived in the extremely small village of Doolin at about 6pm. After finding a b&b for the evening, even though we had plenty of light left we decided to leave our Cliffs of Moher visit until the next morning. To the pub! At O’Connor’s Pub Mom had a dinner of fish and chips while I opted for the Guinness Stew with a side of Guinness all of this was accompanied by a Trad Session (a trio playing traditional irish music). The next morning we were up early to go tour the Cliffs of Moher aka the Cliffs of Insanity! Back in the car and heading south again. We drove the coast line down to Killimer where we got the ferry across the Shannon River which saved us quite a bit of time. We then continued on south until we hit Killorglin where we got some lunch and decided to push on around the Ring of Kerry as it was only 3pm. We decided to settle down for the night in Kenmare at the end of the Ring. We stayed in a lovely B&B and I think we were the only one’s there. Kenmare was a really cute little village and I’d happily go back when I have a bit more time to look around.

Once again, up early Friday morning to head back to Dublin. We made a few impressive stops along the way. I figured we started our little trip west with a castle (Ashford) so we should probably end with some. First we stopped off at Cahir which is home to one of the largest castles in Ireland, built in 1142. We had a great tour guide around the castle, learning of all sorts of medieval and norman traditions, such as catapulting dead animal carcasses over walls as a form of ‘biological warfare’. After lunch in the town we headed just down the road to Cashel. This would be my third visit to the Rock of Cashel, the first being in 2001 with Sarah and the second in 2007 with Emily and Christina. Cashel is very impressive, but not to be confused with a castle, it is actually a church, only a ruined one on top of a hill making it look quite castle-esque. After we had our fill of norman history we hopped back in the car and hit the motorway all the way back to Dublin in time for dinner.
Saturday was filled with cooking, eating and laughing with friends. Mick and I decided to have a little BBQ so Mom would have a chance to match some faces to names. Even though we managed to overwhelm her with 15 people who spoke with accents I think she still enjoyed meeting everyone. After a bit of a clean up the next morning, we picked up Orla and headed down to Powerscourt Estate in Wicklow where we met Susan for lunch on the garden terrance. With full bellies we headed on over to Glendalough for one last look at some old ruins and a walk through the park.
With Mom’s last day upon us, there was nothing left for us to do except go shopping! Neither one of us would be your typical shopper, however when you’re shopping for gifts it’s another story. I took Mom to the renown Grafton Street to find a few souvenirs. After we were shopped out we met up with Mick for a late dinner at my favorite Indian Restaurant, the Green Chilli. Once again with full bellies, we headed on back to the house for one final late night chat before Mom’s flight the next morning.
As I watched her disappear through the security doors I realised that I already missed her. It was absolutely fantastic to have my Mom come for a visit. I guess I just didn’t realise how much I miss her every day. She knows me better than anyone else, loves me unconditionally and is very proud of her little girl.
It’s hard to see my Mom grow older but it’s even harder to be so far away and to realise that time is just flying by so quickly.
Thanks for coming to visit Mom, love you!
Pictures to come…

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Ireland, Life, Travel


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