Mother’s Day in a five-star by a slaughterhouse

Ross’s daughter drops a bombshell


The weekend away was my idea. I knew Mother’s Day was coming up and I saw an ad in the paper for one of those beautifully appointed five-star destination spa hotels that no Irish industrial estate would feel complete without. According to the bumf, Fitzronan House is “the gate lodge to the Garden of Ireland” but in the real world, you’ll find it opposite a slaughterhouse just off the N11 south of Arklow.

The kindest thing you could say about it – like so much else in this country – is that it probably seemed like a good idea at the time.

You know the deal. Nama-owned. Skeleton staff. Two adults and one child: two nights accommodation, two evening meals and two breakfasts each, plus one complimentary holistic treatment, all for 400 snots. And don’t come crying to us if the infinity pool is cold.

So, roysh, Friday lunchtime, we’re pulling into the cor pork of the place. Honor looks up from her iPhone, checks out the view with her mouth just open and goes, “Okay, who the fock would build a hotel in the middle of an industrial estate?”

I often think that if we let six-year-old children run Ireland, we wouldn’t be in half the shit we’re in. I go, “A lot things happened during the Celtic Tiger, Honor, that are very difficult to understand now. But we just have to accept that they did happen and move on as a people.”

Sorcha smiles at me. I hate patting myself on the back, but I really am an amazing, amazing father.

Two minutes later, we’re standing at the desk and checking in. Honor is holding her phone above her head, going, “Oh my God, a five stor hotel and no focking signal?” while Sorcha tells the receptionist that she’s probably going to have the billabong bodybath with the honey exfoliant and yoghurt cocoon experience.

I’m looking around me and getting the definite impression that the place is pretty much empty ? That’s when I spot Traolach Canniffe getting out of the lift, a dude I played rugby with in UCD – one of the worst scrumhalves I’ve ever seen, but a sound goy all the same. I mention it to Sorcha and she acts all disappointed. She hates when we go away and run into people that we know from home. She says it makes it feel less like an escape ?

“It’s nice to see him treating his wife to a weekend away,” I go, out of the corner of my mouth. “He’s been having an affair with Jenny Marcus for the last six months. JP saw him in Chapter One last weekend, feeding her forkfuls of that amazing loin of rabbit they do, with the light farce of pata negra, across the table.”

Sorcha goes, “Ross, I really wish you wouldn’t tell me things like that. We’re probably going to end up bumping into them all weekend and I won’t be able to look his wife in the . . .”

“Ross!” Traolach goes. He’s walking in our direction with his wife, Rebecca – who isn’t great looking, if you want an objective view – and his daughter Muireann, who’s about Honor’s age. Introductions are made and there's a bit of bullshit talk about how it’s even more important, with the way things are out there, to get away and de-stress and how you can actually get, oh my God, amazing deals.

Honor turns around to little Muireann and goes, “Have you got coverage?” and this Rebecca one goes, “Oh, Muireann doesn’t actually have a mobile phone,” and she says it in, like, a really, really smug way? As if she’s expecting a round of focking applause.

“Traolach and I just don’t think they’re a good idea for children. We also limit her internet time to15 minutes of supervised access a day.”

I can see straight away, roysh, from the expression on Sorcha’s face, that she’s taking this as, like, an implied criticism of her mothering skills? On this of all weekends.

I go, “So what does she do in the evenings, just watch TV?”

Rebecca laughs, like I’ve just asked does she run with the focking bulls in Pamplona. She goes, “We don’t even own a television. No, we just sit around in the evenings and either talk or read books.”

They’re one of those families. We’ve all met them. Honor stares at Muireann and goes, “Your life sounds lame!” and she’s speaking for me as well.

Rebecca goes, “I’m just going to ask the receptionist for a room on the other side of the hotel. Muireann and I are both vegans and we’re finding the sound of the pigs being slaughtered a bit distressing.”

“Dude,” Traolach goes, “we should get together and watch the French match. What do you think of the Rog situation? I know you’re a mate of his.”

I’m there: “If Declan Kidney walked into this hotel now, I’d deck him. End of.”

Honor’s holding her phone up again, going, “What is the story with the focking signal?” and that’s when Rebecca comes back from reception and goes, “Another thing we don’t tolerate is swearing,” and she says this straight to Honor.

“Would you mind tempering your language around Muireann?”

And Honor, out of nowhere, goes, “Your husband is having an affair with a woman called Jenny Marcus. They had dinner in Chapter One last weekend.”

I turn to Sorcha and I’m like, “Er, will I bring the bags back out to the cor?”

And Sorcha’s like, “That’s probably the best idea any of us will have this weekend.”

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