"Are all holidays like this, Ted", my teenage son asked me with impeccable timing as we strolled around Inis Mór in the lashings of rain. No matter what the situation, or climate it seems, my Father Ted fanatics can always find a quote to suit.
It was indeed our family holiday. We'd been to Cork earlier in the week, and sampled some of the culture Cork City had to offer. The smallies on the trail, had marvelled at the idea of being able to step inside a prison cell at Cork City Gaol, though nothing brought quite as much pleasure as putting their mother in the stocks. The Dark Lord of the Sith, meanwhile, was decidedly unimpressed at the minor crimes that could land you in prison all those years ago.
The Force is strong in him.
Blarney castle and its poison gardens held equal appeal for the danger-from-a-safe-distance loving dudes. “If I ate that, would I get sick or would I die?” asked the one who views even the tiniest amount of iceberg lettuce on the side of his plate with absolute suspicion, so was in no way likely to consider consuming a dark large-leaved plant. Still, it’s always important to establish the facts.
'Where's the bag with my shoes?', asked I. 'Back in Dublin', said he
Turns out, and no surprise really, my kids are far braver than me. Having already almost had a conniption three quarters of the way up the rain soaked, narrow steps, to the top of the castle, I refused point blank to kiss the Blarney stone. The middle kid did so with ease and little consideration of showing his mother up for the coward that she is.
“Sure you’re here now, you may as well”, the man at the Blarney Stone tried to convince me. “And he’ll hold on to you”, he added, pointing to his colleague.
“He might drop me!” I exclaimed, looking at the lean back required. “Well you’d get your money back then”, he replied.
We settled on a phone photo beside the Blarney Stone. Proof at least that I’d made it all the way to the top, which was an achievement in itself, I figured. Pity I hadn’t noticed in advance of the photo being taken that my fly was fully open.
The thing about holidaying in Ireland, is you can never guarantee the weather. So there's no point worrying about it in advance. Advice I took on board when heading to Galway, later that same week.
“Sure we’ll have the craic anyway” I thought as I packed a little bit of everything into the suitcases, declining any help offered along the way. The packing was planned to within an inch of its life – a necessary when you’re bringing your own small army on holidays.
This way I could be sure nothing would be forgotten.
The next day we took a ferry to the Aran Islands. The heavens opened and forgot to close
I lined the cases and bags up to be loaded into the car – or bus/coach as the tolls on the way to Galway deemed us to be – and left it to himself and the older kids to pack up the boot.
There was huge excitement when we arrived at the hotel as rooms were assigned, beds were bagsied and cases emptied. I was in holiday mode immediately.
“Ooh great”, said I. “I’ll get dressed up for dinner”, thought I.
“Where’s the bag with my shoes?”, asked I.
“Back in Dublin”, said he.
Perfectly packed, upon the couch in the sitting room were my shoes, along with my raincoat of course. Not quite Sleepless in Seattle, more shoeless in Salthill.
Still nothing was going to dampen the holiday mood. Holidays are what you make them, irrespective of footwear. We were in a hotel. There was a swimming pool. There was no dinner to make and everyone was in flying form. It had been a long time since we were anywhere. I wanted to savour every moment.
The next day we took a ferry to the Aran Islands. The heavens opened and forgot to close. It didn’t matter on the way there and back on the ferry when the excitement of a boat trip and seeing the magnificent Cliffs of Moher were enough to distract from the apocalyptic rainfall.
It did matter on Inis Mór itself, with my raincoat safely tucked up beside my shoes on the couch in Dublin.
As we walked in the rain – the curly haired dude’s curls straightened by saturation – we passed a man on a bike with a kids’ trailer thingy attached (I’m sure that’s the official term) who seemed equally enamoured by the weather. “It could worse”, he sighed to the backdrop of his children wailing. Maybe every single moment doesn’t have to be savoured, I conceded.
We turned a corner and to find a small caravan marked “Craggy Island Tourist Office”.
Trolled by Fr Ted. The teen was right.