Ok – so I thought I would be the perfect tour guide for my brother and sister-in-law who came to the Irish homeland for a 2 week visit. Imagine my surprise when the number 1 tourist attraction I took them to ended up being something similar to the Bataan Death March. What seemed like such a great idea for a leisurely stroll down from the top of the Cliffs of Moher to the little town of Doolin, along a spectacular coast line trail, turned into a mud filled death march of 15km where I almost killed my brother. Now in hindsight I should have realized that a walk of this magnitude for my 69 year old brother and his 70 year old wife was perhaps not my brightest move, but come on, the sights were just spectacular and it was almost all downhill after all.
I will say, it did start out as a very easy little walk while we were on the grounds of the Cliffs visitor center enjoying the spectacular vistas across the Atlantic Ocean looking down a 200 meter plus drop off (that’s over 600 feet for you metric-ly challenged individuals out there). What happens next was perhaps my first warning sign – as we left and saw a sign stating we were entering the area at our own risk. I guess at that point I should have started to rethink the whole thing. Let me digress here…I did actually take this same path from the Cliffs to the town of Doolin a couple years back with my wife Kathy. For those of you who know Kathy she is not necessarily the most outdoorsy of people. She prefers the easier things like staying in nice hotels vs camping for instance. Now I figured if Kathy was willing and able to do this walk, it shouldn’t be an issue for my brother and his wife as they are both in good shape. A good friend of ours has developed an acronym for Kathy when it comes to planning things, WWKD (what would Kathy do) and it’s something that I’ve decided is a good thing to follow when planning things. So in this instance I was certain that in following the WWKD credo, I couldn’t go wrong. Well….it turns out that mother nature had been busy the last week or so before we took the trail and turned what was once a fairly nice trail into a mud filled abyss. My poor brother slipped and fell not once but 5 difference times and the end result at the bottom of the trail was a mud packed, tired little puppy with a shoulder injury for his troubles.
To make matters worse for these intrepid trailblazers, there were spots along the trail where we were literally 1 or 2 feet from the edge of the cliffs and my sister-in-law, unbeknownst to me, with a strong fear of heights. Did I say the sights were spectacular??? Ok – the good news throughout the day and probably my only saving grace, was the fact that it didn’t rain a drop. About half way through, my brother and I looked at each other and basically said the same thing (thank god – no rain) since being Murphy’s, if anything can go wrong, it will! Long story short (or short story long), the march ended with a motley trio of hikers picked up at the trails edge by my wife in our car, which from a distance, was like a mirage in a desert where we were dying of thirst. If we could have clicked our heels when we saw her blinking the lights from a distance at us, we would have. Needless to say, there was first water and then alcohol in the not too distant future that night.
Speaking of alcohol, one of the other adventures on their vacation odyssey was a trip to the Jameson Experience in Midleton, County Cork. It is a great little tour where you get to see how they make the whiskey that was started out by the Murphy Brothers in 1825 (sadly, no relation that we can find). After an informative tour around the now retired portion of the distillery, it was on to what is usually considered to be the best part of any alcohol related tour, that being the tasting room. But first, 8 lucky tourist got to sample 3 different whiskey’s from around the globe, Jameson’s (of course), Jack Daniels and Johnny Walker Black. Turns out the best part of the tour was when an American taster was asked what he thought after tasting the Jack Daniels. His reply, it tasted like college. So true. I could probably say that about most liquors having drank and gotten sick on most all of them. It’s no wonder college is such a blur:-) I will say that the Jameson’s was actually pretty good which for me is saying something since I usually gag when drinking any kind of whiskey.
Onwards and upwards as they say. And this time, we were off to the town of Lisdoonvarna for the annual Matchmaking festival. Yep, they still have matchmakers in Ireland to help those out who might not be able to find a suitable mate. Other than stating the obvious about matching people up with common interests, I would highly recommend watching the really funny Irish movie “The Matchmaker” made in 1997 with Janeane Garofalo, to get the full flavor of the matchmaking process. We did enjoy an afternoon of Irish music and dancing in the town before we headed off to the Ring of Kerry the following day for more sightseeing adventures. My wife, Kathy, did have a nice dance with a local gentleman who may very well have been there looking for a match. The matchmaker was nowhere to be found.
The Ring of Kerry as described in an earlier blog about Our First Adventure is the middle peninsula on the southern coast of Ireland sandwiched between the Dingle Peninsula and the Beara Peninsula. The normal starting point for the Ring is the town of Killarney where we just so happened to stay the night at get this, the Murphy’s B&B. If you can’t feel at home in a country where your name is probably the most popular, where can you? Killarney is one of the more touristy towns in Ireland with a pub on every corner playing traditional Irish music most evenings. We, of course, ate and drank in Murphy’s Pub where we enjoyed some good Traditional Music. This after a long day of driving from the Cliffs of Moher around the Ring of Kerry and through the beautiful Kilarney National Park. Happily there was no mud to contend with that day, only some low hanging clouds around the mountain tops that limited some of the views. All in all, the weather for their Wild Atlantic Way visit was great for Irish standards.
Having been to the West Coast to visit the Cliffs of Moher and the Ring of Kerry, I am happy to report that the sights in and around Waterford are just as nice if not nicer, especially given the close proximity to our house. The Copper Coast and Waterford Greenway, both high on our touring hitlist (in addition to meeting the WWKD standard), got high marks from our visitors to date. Add to that the reduced rate of tourists overall in the area, makes the travel out west not really worth the effort unless you are interested in taking someone you don’t like on the Cliffs of Moher mud trail from hell…
Finally, a recap about the last couple weeks as relates to visitors. We arrived in Dugarvan in March of this year and did not have any visitors until the last part of August. Then all of sudden, the dam breaks and we get visitors left and right. First my sister arrives for a couple days, next my brother for 10 days or so, next a couple from Australia we met on a cruise ship a couple years ago, and last but not least, a good friend of the family from when I was just a kid. While there were quite a few other things done on this packed whirlwind adventure the last couple weeks, the most important of which was to spend time with family and friends and open up people’s eyes to the beauty of Ireland and help them to understand just why we like it here so much. I think on all counts it was a complete success.
Well – some good news this week. I got another poem from a friend at the local Men’s Shed I thought would be appropriate since we visited the very windy Wild Atlantic Way. But first, the Irish phrase of the week.
|PHRASE:||Ní hé lá na gaoithe lá na scolb|
|PRONOUNCED:||knee hay law nah gwee-heh law nah sculb|
|MEANING:||The windy day is not the day for thatching|
“Untitled” by Gerry Dalton
Cool winds share your wild embrace
Temperature’s high, I ask you chase
Your bracing touch, now bring this way
Cool and chilly, I ask you stay
Down the lane, I ask you blow
Bring flake upon flake, the purest white snow
Blow wind blow, cool and free
Your embrace I ask you share with me
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