April 3, 2023

Ireland: photos, a city a day, & reversing

Rock of Cashel chapel

Between the stress of life and the distractions that popped up before our trip, I really had very little time or energy to get excited to travel to Ireland. I knew the trip was coming, and despite the fact that I packed a carryon bag (even succeeded in packing VERY light) being there was a bit of a shock.  

I was in Ireland! 

This was us:  3 Guinness
 for Tank, Nick, and Coach.
A glass of wine for me.
I hadn't been there since my brother, Pat, got married to Aunt Leprechaun over 20 years ago. I was 7.5 months pregnant with Tank then, and so gi-normous that the airline personnel almost didn't let me board the plane, thinking I was due any day and had plans to drop the baby on 'home' soil. 

NOPE, I JUST GROW 'EM BIG. Tank was born 6 weeks after our trip, a few days early at 10 lbs 3 oz. 

Anyway, Coach and I enjoyed our visit. I have stories. 

Tank and Nick - 
the Ring of Kerry.
Where am I? We stayed in a different city every single night for a week - which left me a tad disoriented a few mornings. There are mornings I wake up slightly disoriented in my own bed, so this wasn't a huge departure for me. 

Storing our stuff in our rental car made our nomad existence possible. With so much time spent mapping out and reserving Airbnb's for Ed and Mini's trip and a lot of time fretting over Tank's health and unsure which days he might be able to travel with us, I didn't schedule our stays until the week before our visit. 

With low Airbnb inventory, I ended up reserving actual B & B's using alerted me about what date I needed to cancel by in order to get a refund. Since I can use all the help I can get, that website has won me over. I'd wondered how actual B & B's operated since the advent of Airbnb's, and I discovered several were listed on 

*this sounds like a commercial, but I'm not making any money for getting preachy about them.

Daphne was very good to us.
We were supposed
 to choose a hot meal,
but Coach couldn't decide. She made
 him BOTH the porridge and the full Irish
 breakfast. He's eating the porridge here
 with a fruit mixture. She
 wouldn't take extra for the additional
 food request. Coach was in heaven.

We encountered lovely, amazing ladies at each of the B & Bs. Their places were very clean and comfortable. We were served delicious, hot (usually) breakfasts with GF options, and they offered great suggestions as far as where to eat or what to visit. 

Full throttle REVERSE! (bonus points if you know what movie that line is from) Coach can drive stick shift, but hasn't driven it in years. Add wrong side of the road dangerousness and I believe a few years have been shaved off of my life. When we got in the car, we sat there for a few minutes while he oriented himself, muttering under his breath several times:  drive on the left.

We needed sleep. We had to pick up Tank from the train station at 10 am. We landed at 5 am, but by the time we rented the car and the WIFI candy* it was about 6:30.

*this portable WIFI device rented at the airport was a life-saver, since our phones had no service. We communicated using what's app and were able to use GPS, and email during the entire trip. 

GF bread was common as was tea.

We drove to Phoenix Park in Dublin near the train station so we could recline our seats and nap until it was time to meet Tank. After Coach drove out of the parking garage, GPS instructed us to turn left. We turned left prematurely and ended up in a dead end area- picture a t-shaped road. 

The 'T' ended in a few little lanes that required a card to raise the gate - maybe airport employee parking? Coach had to reverse the car out of the lane. He COULD NOT REVERSE. 

There was an R on the stick shift, but each time he put it in R gear - the car went forward, much to our shock. Cars were trying to get into the lot, fortunately there were a few other lanes in addition to the one we were blocking. 

Coach had me google how to reverse the car. Um, that wasn't helpful. Finally at my insistence, he opened the door and waved to an older fellow who'd probably just parked his car and was walking into work. He came over, poked his head inside the car, noted our American accents, and said:  RIGHT? WHAT'S THE TROUBLE THEN? He reached in and fiddled with the stick and declared, AH, SO YOU'VE TO LIFT A BIT, SEE? YOU'RE RIGHT THERE, SO Y'RE. 

I can imagine the laughs he got telling that story at the pub later. When I studied in Ireland, our friends eventually admitted that they used to play a game called SPOT THE AMERICANS. Our white tennies gave us away. Today anything goes, so Tank has not felt like he stuck out as we did.

There were SEVERAL CARS trying to pull in by the time we sorted out reverse mode. Coach was about to explode. I offered to direct traffic. Coach said sure. I'd hoped he had a better solution. 

Room inside Kilkenny Castle.
 I'm thinking of
 transforming our family
room ceiling to this style.
I hopped out waving and motioning a bit until there was space for Coach to get into reverse and I waved him backwards. Note:  we were VERY tired. 

The 20 minute ride to the park took close to an hour. Coach missed a few turns, etc. By the end of our trip, I grew accustomed to saying:  OK, YOU MISSED THE TURN. JUST GO AROUND THE ROUNDABOUT AGAIN. There was fun to be had, but this part of the trip - not so much. 

I napped in the car for almost 2 hours. Coach had less success, but we got to the train station early and then WE SAW OUR GUY. It was great to have him in the car with us. He shared that he'd started taking the medication. I was grateful that he'd made that decision. He seemed to be feeling like himself.

We had a great time with Tank and his best bud, Nick, who is also on the program. They traveled with us from Thursday - Sunday, when we stopped back in Limerick to take them to dinner Tuesday before we headed towards Dublin so we could fly home on Wednesday. 

My travel buddies at the bar. Kilkenny.

It was hard to know if Tank asked us to go out of our way to see him on Tuesday  because he enjoyed our company or if he really just wanted us to treat him to yet another meal. Hmm.

Upcoming stories include:  stepping in it. Mini and the converter. And time spent with one of my bridesmaids, who witnessed the beginning of the Coach/Ernie romance. (If I haven't shared how the romance began, let me know and I'll fill you in - it's a good story.) Bridesmaid and I hadn't seen one another in over 20 years. Getting to see her was a highlight of the trip for me. 

Have you been to Ireland? Do you drink Guinness? Have you ever stayed in a legit B & B with breakfast? Have you ever rented a car and then not known how to work it? 


Bijoux said...

That sounds like an action packed trip. Great news that your son is doing well. To answer your questions, no, I’ve never even been to Europe. I’ve never had a Guinness, but I’ve had plenty of stouts at craft breweries. We stayed at a B&B in the Finger Lakes once, but I didn’t like the innkeeper. Too opinionated (advised against some of the things we had planned - so glad I didn’t listen to her!) and braggy. We’ve stayed at some other places in Napa and Sonoma that were similar to a B&B, but the owners didn’t live on site. Yes, we’ve had issues with car rentals, like when cars became keyless and we’d never driven one before and were very confused. LOL!

Nance said...

I am exhausted just reading this, and you even took naps.

I've tried Guinness, but I dislike beer, so I didn't care for it, either. Rick tried to teach me to drive a stick shift on our honeymoon, and I made up my mind then and there that I would never drive anything that had more pedals than I had feet.

Ernie said...

Bijoux - It was a packed trip. I do enjoy visiting a place where I've already seen so much, I don't feel like I need to see everything. We based our itinerary on where we could take the boys that was tough to get to on public transportation, so they could get there in our car. Getting to visit with my old friend and her parents was very important to me, so I'm glad that happened.

I'm blown away by the B & B experience that you had. I've never had anything but great experiences at B & B's in Ireland. I feel a bit bad that I didn't organize for our kids to stay in at least one B & B while they were traveling, but I didn't find them listed on until after their trip was planned. Not sure they would've been big on waking early enough to have the hot breakfast.

Keyless cars take a bit of adjusting. They should be easier, but I'm forever misplacing the fob.

Ernie said...

Nance - Guinness takes some getting used to. I drank it when I studied there, but of course I can't drink beer anymore. I don't miss it.

Coach taught me to drive stick when I first graduated from college. It was an old junker car and I'm surprised that our relationship survived the lessons.

Kari said...

This sounds exhausting. I don't know that I could do this. I would be in a very bad mood. 🤣

My husband's family is from Ireland, and I'd love to take him there someday. We'd like to include his father as well, but time isn't on our side, so we'll have to wait and see. It sounds beautiful there. 

Beth Cotell said...

I don't think we've heard the story of you and Coach so, do tell! I've been to Ireland twice. Dan has been a million times (ok, slight exaggeration) for work. He rents a car every time and even though he can drive a stick shift he INSISTS with on an automatic. He said there aren't that many of them but they do make have them there. Just be sure to request it when you are booking it and do not let them tell you they don't have one for you when you go to pick it up. Hopefully you will make it back to Ireland and can use this tip.

I'm so glad Tank started the medication! Hopefully the rest of his sememster will be enjoyable.

Kara said...

23 & Me says I'm 74.7% British & Irish, central/southern Ireland. I've never been. I'd like to go, but haven't made it happen yet.

Don't drink Guinness, but I cook with it sometimes. Never been to a legit B&B either. I have rented a car and had no idea how to work with it, and I've borrowed my Mom's car and had the same issues. It's so annoying when you have no idea how to open the trunk.

I can't even imagine having a 10+ lb baby! My biggest baby was only 6 lb 12 oz. I grow them small.

Ernie said...

Kari - It sounds exhausting, but we really weren't all that frazzled. We relaxed over a cup of tea or during lunch or dinner. Most of our trips in the car were an hour or two - it's a small country. We did add some time in order to get to see my friend, but it was well worth it. The towns are so full of character and friendly people. You could go, see a few sights, hunker down in a pub for dinner and a pint and you'd feel relaxed. You wouldn't be in a bad mood. The people are wonderful. I urge you to plan a trip there. I'll offer suggestions of the best things to see. Don't wait.

Ernie said...

Beth - I was thinking about Dan's job while I was on the plane, wishing I had more space in my seat, or more legroom. Isn't that included in his job description? I sat in the wrong seat on the way there and had to move. That was embarrassing. No idea if I will ever have time to share all the funny stories from our trip.

Coach saw automatic cars, but stick was cheaper - no way was he going to take the easy route.

What part of Ireland does Dan work in and would you ever go back and hang out while he is working? I'd be all over that perk.

Ernie said...

Kara- Oh, I hope you plan a trip to Ireland soon. I can give you my 2 cent on where to visit. I highly recommend B & B stays. Quaint and delightful. Chatting with the owners makes such a great start to the day. We found our hosts very kind and friendly.

I've been driving the Honda minivan since end of June and I still don't understand why the trunk won't open at times. Is it because the car is on? No idea. I once borrowed Becky's car when she was over for a playdate with her daycare kids. She was parked behind me and I had to run over and drop off something at the high school. When I got to the high school, I couldn't get the car started again. I was in a PANIC. It was simple - maybe I had to wiggle the steering wheel? I don't like driving other people's cars.

The flight to Ireland while expecting Tank was the most uncomfortable I've ever been. My legs felt like tree trunks. He was breech and the doc was going to try to turn him when I got back. He turned on his own while we were in Ireland. I was like YEAH- I THINK THAT HAPPENED OVER THE ATLANTIC.

Pat Birnie said...

It sounds like an amazing & jam packed trip. I'm so glad that Tank is doing better.
Yes on all of your questions!
I went to Ireland in 2003 - when my husband & I got married (we were first running friends) we did the Dublin marathon for our honeymoon, then toured around that beautiful county.
I will drink an occasional Guinness, but can only handle one.
I've stayed in several B & B's (before Air BnB) and mostly had good experiences with interesting hosts & amazing breakfasts. We did stay at one while hiking in England. We arrived early (that happens sometimes with hikes) and the owner/farmer literally yelled at me for coming early! Charming fellow. There were 6 of us, we went to a pub for several hours and believe me we did not try to be quiet when we returned haha.
We rented a car in Mexico a decade ago and couldn't get it into reverse. My teenage boys were with us and one of them jumped out every time and pushed us out of our spot. We did figure out the reverse but didn't tell him at first - we would all be laughing when he got back in the car.

Ernie said...

Pat - Running a marathon on your honeymoon? Hang on a second. How is that a thing? ;)

How about the guy hollering at you for showing up early. It was a bit stressful at times to stay in B & Bs because sometimes they wanted to know what time I would arrive and I didn't know.

Pushing the car and then not telling the son once you figured it out - so funny.

Busy Bee Suz said...

I SO love that you finally got back to Ireland. For some reason, I thought you'd been there more recently; maybe with a dance competition? Or perhaps that was canceled? Or maybe I just think your family goes to Ireland a lot.

I DO want to go there one day!!

I have anxiety just thinking about Coach trying to get the car in reverse. (I don't know the movie-SNAP!) I was thrown into a driving situation in New Zealand, the left side of the road, right side of the car and then BAM: BLINDING SNOW for hours and hours. I had such a stress headache after we finally got out of the car. I did learn to love the round-abouts though as they had mostly those and not regular intersections with lights.

Yay for you getting good GF food; that's a freaking bonus after your last big trip. I love a B & B and I'm glad yours all worked out.

Nicola said...

I'm glad it was overall a good trip. And I agree, it can be nice not to feel like you *have* to cram in all the 'must-see' tourist sights (ha! I could use both sites or sights here and either would work!).

I have stayed in bnbs in York, Brighton and Bath in England and Bruge in Belgium. All were wonderful. Especially when you are traveling alone and/or not staying in one place for at least three days in a row an air bnb isn't always helpful or needed. I can understand an air bnb is more economical for a family though, both in terms of cost of stay and being able to minimise food costs by prepping food yourself. I wonder what bnbs are like in America?

I hope Tank continues on an upward trend since starting the meds and doesn't struggle a lot again now that there aren't any more visits to look forward to. When does he return home?

Ernie said...

Suz - You have a good memory. I was SUPPOSED to go there with the girls in 2020 at Easter time. That was world championships for Curly, but it was cancelled, rather last minute cancelled at that. Poor Curly. We were supposed to stay with my friend's parents as they are only 30 minutes from Dublin. Coach and I stayed with them the night before we left. They haven't aged. Great people and we really enjoyed spending time with them.

That's right - no one guessed my movie quote: FULL THROTTLE REVERSE is from On Golden Pond. When the kid accidentally floors the boat and it hits a rock. Love that movie.

That drive in New Zealand? Yikes, that sounds SO stressful.

I wish I'd arranged for the kids to stay in one B&B. Next time.

Oh, and let me know when you decide to travel there. I might have a few recommendations. ;)

Ernie said...

Nicola - I really tried to focus on taking Tank to places that would be tough for him to see utilizing public transport and then also hoping to see my bridesmaid and her folks. All three goals were met and we got to visit a few cool places, even though we'd already been there. It was a good trip indeed.

You're a seasoned B&B'r I'd say. I don't know of B&Bs in the states, but I assume there are some - maybe in more touristy places. I'm guessing the east coast, like near the coastal towns of Maine, might have some.

Thanks for your good wishes for Tank. I appreciate that. I do hope that he continues to stay the course. I think he'll be fine. Only 6 weeks left. Mini and I will be assisting with a paper for him over Easter, hopefully that will help him relax a bit.

He finishes class mid May and then is supposed to travel over to Budapest and maybe Croatia and Germany after that. So maybe home early June, or even late May.

Bibliomama said...

They want free food or they want your love - whatever, I'll always take it gratefully.
"I napped in the car for two hours but Coach had less success" - wasn't he driving? If so, good thing he didn't manage to nap!
Once when I tried backing in to my parking spot at Bluesfest, a man tried to help me (this was not helpful - it was a straight line spot in a curved parking lot and my brain would not cooperate and I just needed time on my own to figure it out). When he saw me down at the festival later he actually pointed and laughed again (in a friendly companionable way, but still).
Looks like a very cool trip.

Ernie said...

Ali - I'm laughing out loud. Maybe I didn't make it clear. We parked at a park and reclined our seats and napped there while waiting for Tank's train to come in, so Coach was not driving.

I struggle to park while people are watching me. I hate pulling into a spot in the great white van if people are sitting in adjacent cars. They always have a fear of death on their faces, which is NOT helpful.

The trip hit all the boxes.

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

I have never been to Ireland and have only had Guinness once (I think that was enough). Sounds like a great trip! I am glad you found gluten free bread, too -- seems like that would be potentially scarce overseas!

Your story about your pregnant plane trip made me giggle. And I'm glad you figured out how to reverse that car!

Jenny in WV said...

It sounds like you had a good time and enjoyed some good food and drinks! I've never been to Ireland, but I think it would be an interesting place to visit. (I am 0% Irish, so no connections to there). I don't like beer so I've never tried Guinness.
I've stayed at a B&B once. I was 15 and it was a trip for a church youth group conference. It was a really nice place. Must have been a little pricey too, because the next year, we couldn't afford to stay there so instead camped in tents! I preferred the B&B.
I have no idea how to drive a stick shift. My Dad tried to teach me once using an old tractor, but I couldn't get over the idea that I couldn't just hit the brakes to stop but also had to downshift! Driving a rental car is always stressful for me. The first one I drove had a key that flipped out from the fob with the door lock buttons etc. on it. As I was leaving work one day the little connection pin fell out and the key part detached! I had to have a co-worker drive me over to the car rental place to get a spare key.

Nicole said...

Yay, sounds like a fantastic trip! Those long flights plus time change are hard though! I'm just catching up from my own trip - look forward to more Ireland stories!

Laura Pearl said...

I’ve never been to Ireland but would love to go one day! My husband is a retired airline pilot, and he flew over there numerous times because of work. I wasn’t ready to travel overseas until our boys were grown. And although I finally went to a number of places with him, Ireland wasn’t one of them. I’m feeling a little jelly of your trip—it sounds just wonderful! ☘️

Ernie said...

Suzanne - I hear you on the Guinness. I was surpirsed to learn that Mini liked Guinness, apparently a lot. This info came to me from her brothers.

I wonder if the airport security cameras caputred me directing traffic in order to aid the car reversal. It was comedic.

Fun fact, celiac is very common for Irish people, so I think that is why they had GF bread available.

Ernie said...

Jenny - I highly recommend a trip to Ireland, whether you've Irish blood or not. Beautiful place and the people are wonderful. Truly.

The B&B vs a tent thing - who fell down in the fundraising goals that year? Yikes.

Learning stick is hard enough in a car - in a tractor? No thanks. The sheer size of the vehicle would remind me of all the damage
I could do if I wasn't careful.

Why are there so many more challenges with car fobs than with keys? I never lose my car keys but the number of times that I cannot find my fob? It's just silly.

Ernie said...

Nicole - We weren't aware that we'd be going through a time change there after having done one here. Just what we needed. I hope you went somewhere fun. Irealnd was great. A week flew by.

Ernie said...

Laura Pearl - I imagine being married to an airline pilot had its perks. Ireland is a great place. Pack a raincoat. I just found a file my dad gave me last year. It is full of letters and notes that I wrote them over the years. One letter is very interesting/entertaining to me. It was when I was about to graduate college and I was stressing about what kind of a job I would find. I wrote a few of my plans, one of which was to visit Ireland on a regular basis. Oops. That didn't happen, but never too late to get started. I'd like to get back again soon.