Last week we had a fabulous family holiday in Ireland with my dad. We went to a cottage belonging to a friend of his on the Hook Penninsula and we got our ferry tickets courtesy of Tesco Clubcard so it was pretty much a guilt-free break. The cottage was lovely, a real home and it had been in her husband’s family for many years. I love reading about the history of the area when we are away and there were plenty of books and opportunities to find out about the struggles and the Catholic/Protestant divide over the years.
We did many trips out starting with the Lighthouse itself on the SUNDAY. It was very dramatic and the image of three families living together in a tiny space in order to keep the light burning will stay with us I think.
The next day (MONDAY) Joth needed to stay behind as something had cropped up at work.
The rest of us went to the ruins of Dunbrody Abbey which was a very laid back affair where they just gave us the key to the site and told us to make ourselves at home. There was rather a good maze there too and Oscar typically had a system for getting round it which worked first time (just keep your hand on the hedge to your left and walk smugly round and come out the other side) then Grandad helped Anton keep up with the boys at Pitch and Putt. We were almost the only people there all day. In fact the roads were very quiet and the whole week felt very peaceful. The only noise was the wind which was pretty gusty earlier on in the week and you could see why there weren’t many trees on the Penninsula itself.
(at the centre of the maze)
On the Tuesday we went to the Dunbrody Famine Ship which was quite an experience. We were shown where whole familes slept on a bunk together on the 6 week voyage to America. Sometimes only half of the ship’s passengers would be alive at the end such were the conditions with poor sanitation, illness and hunger.
We drove back to Duncannon afterwards to have lunch at Roaches which was to become our regular. Joth and Dad could check the internet there and they served good guiness and were very family friendly. They weren’t alone in that. Every Irish person we met was friendly. In fact it became something of a standing joke to see if we could find a grumpy soul in all of Ireland. From shop attendants to passers by on walks, everyone seemed to be more friendly than we expected. I don’t usually like to generalise like that but it was remarkable.
Happiness all round!
We went to Duncannon Fort after lunch which was a little lack lustre. I wasn’t quite sure what it was they were taking our money for (and they even asked whether it was OK to be charging 10 euros which should have alerted us!) but we were very happy just wandering round.
We went back home for Goats Cheese Salad and gambled with jelly beans. We were pleased to get the boys away from their TV for the evening.
The house suited us very well and was beautifully decorated with lovely bathrooms and all luxuries. The best thing for us was a big kitchen where we could all sit easily around the table to eat and play games. There was also a big gravel pile in the garden which the little ones spent hours in and Lucas and Anton spent hours running around too.
On WEDNESDAY we went back to the lighthouse as they were running drop in art sessions. Anton, Lucas, Oscar and I all did a painting on a slate. They were really effective and I thought the artist was really helpful. Lucas and I learnt a few watercolour brush techniques and both Oscar and Anton worked really well on theirs. I made sure I painted my own so I didn’t get opinionated about theirs.
That afternoon we went off to the Irish Heritage centre which we all loved. It was exactly the sort of historical theme park the boys and I had always designed in our heads and it worked really well. We walked through different sites through different centuries until Viking times. It was all beautifully done and apparently they have plans for workshops, actors and artists to all be part of it but for now we walked around with audio earpieces.
We had a wonderful beach day on the THURSDAY, the last day. We spent much of the morning cleaning and packing and by then the wind had dropped and the sun was out so we went to Booley Bay. It was almost deserted and we settled down to a relaxing afternoon. Joth just thought he’d move the car…
We were parked on the sand as the road had run out without anywhere to turn but Joth thought he’d move it in case we found it was stuck later. He moved it to a new spot on the track and got stuck. Damn! Poor Joth’s afternoon was spent conversing with several more friendly Irish people and running up the road to find the chap with the jeep who regularly pulls people out apparently. Joth was so hot and bothered when he returned he went straight in to the sea to join the boys who’d been floating around on their inflatable surf boards in the shallow water for hours. Anton for some reason got all bothered about the sea. I think he must have heard me saying to the boys that they needed to stay within their depth otherwise they might get swept out. Anton wouldn’t even paddle. I hope it’s worn off by the time we go again. Dante enjoyed himself digging in the sand although he seemed a little unsure of the sand to start with. He’d been doing a lot more walking during this holiday so he wasn’t having to crawl on the sand which helped.
Such style! He must get it from his mum.
We finished off our day, and our holiday with a last meal in Roaches. Anton ate really well and then one minute he was sitting up talking and the next he was fast asleep on the bench!
And on FRIDAY we had to go home. We left very early in the morning and swept up to the ferry just in time. Both ferry journeys were thankfully calm and restored our faith in them as a way to travel. We said goodbye to dad in Wales and drove home on the hottest day of the year so far which didn’t help the mood of the little ones so we were glad to reach home.
I felt really recharged after the holiday and raring to go again with getting in to our new home ed routine with Oscar! Hurrah!