Travels in Ireland

September-October 2014

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One week in the South of Ireland based in a holiday home
in Dunmore East near Waterford.
(Below) Postcards of views from Dunmore East from original watercolour paintings by Helen Nicholson
Saturday. Landed at Dublin Airport. Shuttle bus from terminal to car rental office. Shuttle bus driver: "Take your time but hurry up"; commenting on the sunny weather: "It's a powerful day." Drove our rented Kia Cee'd from the airport to Seacliff Holiday Homes in Dunmore East via Bray, Wicklow, Gorey, Ennisworthy, New Ross and Waterford. Admired the views of the Wicklow Mountains and the River Suir Bridge. Stopped for a bite at Wicklow service station. Dinner at the Strand Inn in Dunmore East.
The Strand, Dunmore East
Sunday. "Full Irish" breakfast at the Bay Café above the harbour and a show of genuine interest with travel tips from the owner.
(Above and below) Harbour, Dunmore East
Effect of jet lag. In order to start the manual-shift engine it was necessary to depress the clutch pedal (with left foot while the right was on the brake pedal). There being a rest pad for the left foot to the left of the clutch pedal, I put my left foot on it - we were down in Dunmore East harbour at the time - while my right was on the clutch pedal! The result was a badly dented passenger-side corner at the back of the car and a torn tyre caused by the stopping impact of a bollard. Fortunately for us a very obliging young Romanian sailor-fisherman called Victor put the spare wheel on for us. Into Waterford to find a place which sold tyres. We found one but it was closed, of course. Food shopping at nearby Supervalu (see bunny basket below). Supper at home (roasted chicken from Supervalu).
Monday. New tyre and fast change from Advance Pitstop. Went to Kilmeadan and had a ride on the Suir Valley Railway, including stopping at the Magic Wood to see the leprechauns and fairies in the trees.
(Above and below) Suir Valley Railway
Then along the Copper Coast from Tramore to Dungarvan, where we had a late pub lunch.
Dungarvan Harbour
Tuesday. It was raining as we set off so we went to City Square, a covered shopping centre in Waterford. Had a pot of tea, with blaas and jam in Debenham's, also bought a knitted top for Clare's baby. CDs of Irish songs from the next-door music shop. Dinner at the Haven Hotel in Dunmore East.

Wednesday. Drove to Passage East. Ferry to Ballyhack in County Wexford.

Drove past Dunbrody Abbey
on the way to Kilmokea Gardens. Several acres of beautiful gardens, with a gift shop in the tea room selling essential oils (the co-owner is an aromatherapist).
Down the Hook Peninsula to the lighthouse.
Back up to Tintern Abbey.
Stopped at a Centra in Arthurstown to buy a can of peas. On driving off I found that the Kia's power steering had ceased to function. Managed to get onto the Ballyhack ferry and went to the nearest pub on arrival at Passage East to ask where the nearest public phone was. The publican of Twomey's Snug Bar said there wasn't one, then proceeded to use his own mobile phone to contact Kia Assist. He offered us coffee and biscuits, and refused any payment for the phone calls or refreshments. He and his two local customers kept us entertained while we waited first for the removal of the broken-down car by Kia Assist, then for a taxi to take us back to the cottage.
Thursday. Phone calls from nearby Dunmore Golf Club to Enterprise Dublin and Waterford. Georgina at the golf clubhouse, helpful and generous, and typical of all the Irish we encountered: "You've got enough trouble already" when I offered to pay for the phone calls. Picked up by Kevin of the Waterford office of Enterprise car rentals about 12:30 p.m. Paperwork at the Waterford office. Then we drove off in a Skoda Superb. The intermediate-size Skoda was much easier and smoother to drive than the compact Kia.
    Over the River Suir Bridge to Jerpoint Abbey near Thomastown. The abbey is only partly ruined; one can walk around it easily and appreciate it for what it was before the Dissolution and is now.
The ticket-seller recommended the Blackberry Café in Thomastown for lunch. At the Blackberry everything is made that day and is delicious. For example, the extremely light lemon drizzle cake is made by hand with unsalted butter and Irish white flour; the open sandwich I had contained Irish ham, Irish cheese, coleslaw and salad.
Overheard in Thomastown: "How are you today? - I'm grand." Kilkenny needs to be visited on foot; its streets are narrow and difficult to park in. St Canice's Cathedral was closed by the time we got there.
We returned to the Haven Hotel and our kind waitress for dinner. The highlight of the meal was the dessert: we both had a Haven mess, an Eton mess with delicious strawberries, meringue pieces and cream.

Friday. Breakfast at the Bay Café. Drove to Cashel going past Granny Castle on the way. Even in heavy rain the Rock of Cashel and its buildings are spectacular.

Refuge, tea and cakes at Spearman's Tea Rooms. A very impressive son et lumière of Cashel in the 1640s at the Heritage Centre. Purchase of a lambswool scarf, linen tea towels, postcards and Wacky Woollies items at the Cashel Woollen Store.

Saturday. Departure at 6:50 a.m. M9, M7/N7 and M50 to Dublin Airport. Au revoir, Eire.

Rooks. Rooks everywhere, the ironic black inhabitants of the ruined abbeys. Henry VIII may well have had power over men, he was powerless to control birds.

Irish character. The Celtic Tiger may have come and gone, but the Irish remain the same. Everyone we met was kind, welcoming, friendly, solicitous, generous: the shuttle bus driver, the owner of the Bay Café, the man at Advance Pitstop, the employees of the Suir Valley Railway, our waitress at the Haven Hotel, the publican and customers of Twomey's Snug Bar, the lady at the golf club, the staff of Enterprise Waterford, the ticket-seller at Jerpoint Abbey, the staff of the Blackberry Café, the woman at the Cashel Woollen Store.