|Sunday, 9 September.
Easy days, indeed. This was the first quiet family Sunday for quite some time. We got up late, had a very leisurely breakfast and headed off to Rathkeale, a nearby village, for mass. This church is very beautiful, but I can't post any pictures because I was in such a relaxed mood, I forgot to take my camera!
We enjoyed one of Mary's famous roast Sunday lunches and then had a debate about whether to go for a stroll or take a snooze! Although the armchairs were inviting, the stroll won out and so we went to the Castle Demesne, which in earlier times was the private hunting ground for the local lord. The walk was very pleasant and we really enjoyed the quiet grounds and the blackberries that grow in profusion in the wilder sections.
The rest of the evening was spent in the house, watching Ireland toil away against Namibia in their opening match of the Rugby World Cup. All in all, a non-event from a tourist perspective but an excellent family day.
Monday, 10 September.
We had a long discussion over breakfast on what to do for the day. Angela's Mum was not up for a long trip, but wanted us to go and visit the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren, two beautiful scenic areas in Co Clare, across the Shannon. Angela didn't want to leave her Mum at home on our last day in Ireland so we tried to get Budget to swap me for Angela as the authorised driver, for the day, so that I could take Marie on that trip - nothing doing. We ended up deciding on a trip to Killarney, which is just an hour away, so that Marie could take a ride on a pony and trap and we could just generally gawp at the town. Although we had been to Killarney early in this trip, we hadn't had time for much of a look. This was a satisfactory solution for all, so off we went.
Weather-wise, it wasn't promising with intermittent showers all morning. However, our good fortune favoured us again and, by the time we arrived in Killarney, it was improving. I went off to an Internet Café to upload another update while the rest of the gang went shopping (this journal has been very useful in more ways than one....). By the time we rejoined, the weather was threatening to turn sunny and we decided it was now time for our pony and trap ride.
We spent a little time haggling with the various drivers, but really it was just 'pennies and dimes'. Compared to similar rides we have seen in many cities around the world, the prices were very reasonable. We negotiated a half-hour trip through the parklands for €30 for the five of us (having persuaded Mary to join us), climbed aboard and off we went. The ride was very pleasant and our driver, John, kept up a good commentary, delighting Marie with his colloquial Irish, even though she understood less than half of what he said. Although John probably puts on the Blarney for the tourists, he was very engaging and knowledgeable about the sights we passed and he made the ride very interesting.
After the ride, what better than to retire to a nice pub and sink a Guinness. It was somewhat spoilt by the drunk who tried to weasel into our conversation by claiming to be something of an expert in dialects. Despite hints (drunks don't seem to get those) this Professor Higgins wannabe persisted and placed Jim in Birmingham (broad Waterford brogue) and Marie in South West Melbourne - at least he got the right country! I'll just put it down to being part of the day's entertainment.
We returned to Newcastle West and after dinner, everyone settled down to watch - not one, but two!!! - episodes of Coronation Street. I can't abide Soaps at the best of times and Coronation Street is at the top of the list, probably because it was force-fed to me during my youth. Our US readers don't know how lucky they are.... Anyway, it gave me an excuse to retire to the kitchen and write more updates!
Until next time, "slán abhaile". Marie, Angela and Ray.