Whether from tiredness, travel fatigue or personal history, I felt no connection with Ireland, none a’tall a’tall. None of the place names rang the slightest bell, I had no idea where anything was or should be, and less idea what I should be seeking out to ogle.
Nor for that matter, the wish to ogle anything. Travel fatigue, I guess. With this car we also hired a GPS. Without a doubt it got us out of the Dublin airport carpark, where we would otherwise still be. And saved us from divorce. Bas has thoughtfully purchased a compass; so we know which way is north! Amazing difference and a surprising comfort. I was nervous about ending up in Belfast by mistake, especially as the very first newscast we heard on the shuttle bus to the car hire place was entirely about men being arrested in Dublin for being in the IRA and possessing firearms. Two different lots this week.
The freeway could have been anywhere; we knew we had to get off it and into the country. This we thought we were doing when hunger overcame us at 3.00 and we slipped off it and into a town with an impossible name, which took us an hour to get out of even with the GPS. But Ireland’s charm started to manifest ….. the houses were no longer the grey of Scotland, but painted white with red bits, and yellow and some other colours, and with heaps of flowers in flower boxes.
And the first people we have met are absolutely lovely. Gentle, and friendly, and solicitous. So far this has held true. On the streets and in the pubs they say ‘hello’ and mean it. Even the children look at you and say ‘hello’. It’s extraordinary how such a cultural difference is so obvious and widespread. And enchanting.
The landlord at the small B&B where we eventually found a bed in the medieval village of Fethard in Country Tipperary (no pubs in the previous tiny villages as we would have expected in England and Scotland, and we were starting to get worried by 7pm that we would be sleeping in the car) would still be in our room talking if we had let him. Paddy, his name is, of course. But we eased him out and fell into bed after another fish’n’chips meal down the street – which will probably be my last. I think I’ve satisfied that craving.
And we completely accidentally ended up 7 minutes from tomorrow’s destination, Coolmore Thoroughbred Stud. Amazing.