KITCHEN SINK DRAMA
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.