Ireland

Ireland at a gallop

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I’m posting a few more photos from Ireland, because past travel is more palatable than the current situation: snowed in and housebound with three antsy kids.

Ireland is not a popular winter getaway. No one ventures there in February to escape the weather. But I do. It’s good for fox hunting and the tourist population is minimal.

Weatherwise, I dodged a bullet. Martin texted this picture from Maryland.

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While he was shoveling snow, I was kicking around Ireland with Brynn and friends. (Home base was Kilcoglan Castle. My friend Karen owns it. I blogged about it last year, here.)

We spent two days in Co. Cork, near the southern coastal town of Clonakilty. While there, we got a dose of stormy weather and roiling waves.

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When the clouds broke, however, everyone spilled out onto the beach.

What a mob scene. Barely a square of sand to spare.

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Actually, the resort was packed with vacationers. It was mid-term break for Irish schools, and lots of families were on holiday. Brynn had plenty of company. Especially after dinner, when random kids roam the hotel, meet one another, and travel in packs.

They kinda reminded me of rodents: at first you wouldn’t see any, then you’d spot one loitering on the stairs, or one nosing around a bookshelf. They’d band together and suddenly you’d spy a herd of 4- and 5-year-olds. Then they vanish for 30 minutes and reappear again.

By 11 pm, they’d be out of steam.

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Back in Co. Galway, at Kilcolgan Castle, Karen (a.k.a, “Auntie Sheep”) put ‘Zilla to work walking dogs.

 

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There were plenty of dogs to walk.

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On Saturday, Auntie Sheep kindly watched Brynn while my friend Sarah and I went fox hunting with the Galway Blazers. Sarah drew a nice hireling named “Harvey.”

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I wasn’t quite so lucky.

My hireling — a dull-mouthed, chestnut monstrosity named “Jumbo” — pulled me at lightning speed over miles of countryside and oodles of obstacles. When a fox took us for a run, we ran… past everyone else. When riders lined up to jump a wall, Jumbo seized the bit, lowered his head and rushed forward, knocking aside anyone in his way.

“Sorry!” I’d scream over my shoulder. Once his hooves hit the ground, Jumbo was off again, apparently fueled by rocket propulsion.

We hunted for five hours. Occasionally my rubbery arms got a rest and I’d pull out my phone and snap a rear shot.

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All in all, it was a good day. It’s always a good day when you dodge injury.

Ultimately, there was no time to whine about the long drive from Clon, or five hours on a runaway horse. That evening we attended Blazers’ hunt ball.

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Pre hunt ball, in the castle

 

 

Later in the trip we stomped around Galway, Connemara and beyond.

It was a great jaunt. I wish I could be back there again.

Honestly, I’d take a teeth-clenching ride on Jumbo to escape the scene right here, right now.

 

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Backsides in Ireland

 

I didn’t intend to snap so many rear shots, but when you loiter with a camera, it’s bound to happen.

Here are a few photos from the day:

 

Soaking up the view & braving the wind–

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Dog walking done–

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Rush hour in Connemara–

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More Irish updates amárach…

That’s “tomorrow.”

We’ve Run Away

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Maryland has had terrible weather in recent days: record-breaking cold and unexpected snow. It’s been a total drag.

Least that’s what I’ve heard.

I wouldn’t know firsthand since I’m in Ireland… pulling off a repeat performance of last year’s trip.

I didn’t plan my Irish return so soon. The plane ticket was an impulse buy, in the midst of mid-winter malaise. I was bummed out and blue for a few days.

Some people seek prescription treatment for depression. Others self-medicate with booze. There are those who find solace in shopping — watching the QVC network, or bidding on eBay items.

Me? I troll airline websites.

Still, looking at flights is one thing and buying is another. But one dreary day I was feeling exceedingly gloomy — trapped in that endless winter cycle of farm care, kid care, horse care — forever housebound. I needed to get out.

I tried rousting a few friends to grab lunch. But when no one responded, I cracked open my laptop and clicked on the Aer Lingus website. Then I barreled into Martin’s office.

“Can I go to Ireland?”

“Yes,” he answered.

“Are you sure? I mean, are you really sure? You’d have to take care of everything — kids, horses, farm… I’d don’t have to go but I was thinking maybe a week–”

“Yes, please, go.”

“Are you positive?”

“Yes, go! Farm, kids? I can handle it. Go. I want you to go.”

Translation: “You’ve been a moody cow lately. If Ireland’s the cure, I’m all in.” 

So that’s how this trip happened.

One “buy now” click later and I was booked for Ireland — departing the same day that I traveled last year. Afterward, Mom took care of Brynn’s plane ticket, and my friend, Sarah, decided to tag along, too. The three of us flashed our passports in Shannon before sunrise on Thursday morning.

 

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Castletownshend, Co. Cork

 

So far we are four days into this trip, and I’m feeling pretty happy. No longer blue.

Also I can report: there’s no buyer’s remorse, either.

 

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