FIONA LOONEY

KITCHEN SINK DRAMA

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - NEWS - Don’t miss Fiona Looney’s bril­liant col­umn, with her unique take on mod­ern Ire­land, only in the Ir­ish Daily Mail ev­ery Wed­nes­day.

So this is the col­umn in which I’m sup­posed to say that we en­joyed our Ir­ish hol­i­day as much as we did our Span­ish one (yes, we took two, which I un­der­stand is an in­dictable of­fence in the newly pru­dent Ire­land, but there you go: I’ll bet I still have fewer shoes than you do). And you, in turn, are sup­posed to doubt very much whether I’m telling the truth and to de­mand, im­me­di­ately, that I deal with the W word.

Yes, it is true that I ut­tered the tra­di­tional Ir­ish hol­i­day mantra of ‘Oh, for f***’s sake’ far more on our stay­ca­tion than I did when we were in Spain, but the God’s hon­est truth is that when it did rain — which it did, a hell of a lot of the time — in­stead of sit­ting around in shock, as we tend to do when the skies open in Spain, we did a lot of things that we prob­a­bly wouldn’t have dreamed of do­ing had the sun been shin­ing.

Some of them you can prob­a­bly fig­ure out for your­selves. We went to a lot of cof­fee shops. We had large lunches an hour af­ter swal­low­ing down the last morsel of huge break­fasts. The aquar­ium in Din­gle, that peren­nial favourite, re­ceived yet an­other visit, and we’re de­lighted to re­port that the pen­guins seem a lot hap­pier than they did a year ago.

We vis­ited Der­ry­nane House, where we all stared at the pis­tol Daniel O’Connell used to kill an un­for­tu­nate mem­ber of Dublin Cor­po­ra­tion in a fairly point­less duel. On Clogher Beach, we chased the pound­ing waves with our jeans rolled up and our rain­coats flap­ping around us.

But we did mad things as well. We went fish­ing in the rain, in a swell that made the boat­man think us marginally in­sane. He warned us that we’d catch noth­ing apart from a cold, but he didn’t brief the shoal of pol­lock that swam right un­der our boat and threw them­selves on our hooks. On the way back to the har­bour, we paused to play with Fungi, who is now about a thou­sand years old and who has been very quiet this year. We won­dered if we’d see him again next year.

And then, on one of the pre­cious days when The Hus­band and I aban­doned the kids in Bal­ly­fer­riter with The Sis­ter and The Granny while we headed for the sin­ful in­dul­gence of the Muck­ross Park Ho­tel, we trav­elled through the Gap of Dun­loe on a pony and trap, in the rain, and then jour­neyed on down the Lakes of

‘We did mad things on our stay­ca­tion. We went fish­ing in the rain, in a swell that made the boat man think us in­sane’

Kil­lar­ney on a small boat with a cocker spaniel called Char­lie.

It may have stopped rain­ing briefly that day but, to be hon­est, I can’t say for sure. We were too busy be­ing bam­boo­zled by the sheer beauty of the place, ren­dered all the more dra­matic by the brood­ing skies.

As he nav­i­gated the nar­row river chan­nels be­tween the lakes, our boat­man sud­denly launched into a pas­sion­ate di­a­tribe about all the peo­ple ‘who come to the pubs and the ho­tels and the restau­rants and think they’ve seen Kil­lar­ney’. ‘ They haven’t seen it at all,’ he con­cluded. ‘This is Kil­lar­ney,’ and the shiver down my spine wasn’t caused by the rain at all.

And for what it’s worth, we’d plenty of good days too. We vis­ited Valen­tia Is­land in the sun­shine, tak­ing the car ferry across to see the te­tra­pod tracks on the rocks — the old­est foot­prints any­where in the world, right here on our shores.

And then there was the stuff that just hap­pened, re­gard­less of the weather. The lunch in the res­tau­rant in Water­ville that used to be­long to my great grand­fa­ther; the wan­der around beau­ti­ful Sneem, where my grand­mother grew up; the frankly bonkers trek through the woods at Park­nasilla so that The Youngest could find and enu­mer­ate all the gor­geous lit­tle fairy houses while her brother did his level best to wreck her buzz. Most of it was kind of rainy, and it was all kind of great.

So I hope you’ll for­give me if I re­serve the right, for as long as the fi­nances al­low, to take a sec­ond hol­i­day. My body needs sun­shine and my kids need to spend hours in the wa­ter with­out risk­ing hypochon­dria — which is why we will still fly south in the sum­mer.

But my soul needs Kerry with its im­pos­si­ble beauty and its hope­less weather. Other women swear by Bo­tox; I just need an an­nual in­jec­tion of an Ir­ish hol­i­day.

And if you don’t be­lieve me, then so be it. Right now, with the rain jack­ets still damp on the peg, I am so de-stressed that, frankly, I don’t give a damn.

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