(Ed. note: I still have a trio of posts (The Safari, Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and African Tales) to write but they will have to wait until our return from Ireland.)
Well here we are in Skerries, Ireland with good friends Lynne and Martin, two days into our Irish adventure. So far we have had too much to drink, a lengthy power outage, multiple rejections and a scolding. Gotta love the Irish.
Our home for the next few days. It is, apparently, very common to name your home in Ireland. Ours is Ithaca and we are one third of a house exchange. Skerries is Lynne’s hometown (18 miles northeast of Dublin) and Pat and Mary, who own this home, are staying for a couple of weeks at their place in Coquitlam and then going up to ours for a week. We’ll be here for a week then travelling with Lynne and Martin for a week and then two weeks on our own.
We had a 3 1/2 hour nap on Tuesday morning after arriving in Dublin at 7am. We then went for a walk around Skerries. In 2016 Skerries was named the tidiest town in Ireland and it is a very, very tidy town. Almost no litter on the streets (with the exception of the wrapper the elderly man across the street refused to pick up off the sidewalk, trying repeatedly instead to knock it onto the street with his cane).
Eventually we found our way to The Gladstone pub (one of 13 pubs in town) where Geoff had his first ever Guinness in a real Irish pub. (Ed. note. – not first ever Guinness, just first ever Guinness in a real Irish pub). The Gladstone dates back to 1865. My theory is that it had its name changed to honor English prime minister William Gladstone since he was in favor of and indeed proposed Irish home rule in 1886. Who knows – nobody there did.
While we were at the pub there was a thunder and lightning storm which caused the power to go out for a couple of hours. Nothing stops the Irish from enjoying their pints though. Candles of all sizes and types – short, tall, fat and tea appeared throughout the establishment – including the toilets. You haven’t lived till you enter a windowless restroom all lit up by tea lights.
Did you know that a pint of Guinness followed by a glass of wine and then 4 more pints of Guinness and then several more glasses of wine with dinner can help you sleep through the night?
Surprisingly, Wednesday had a slow start to the day. We eventually went for another walk around the Skerries’ harbor and came across Wally, a friend of theirs. He is in a group of about twenty people (The Skerries Frosties) who go for a swim every day of the year. Not a long one, but it is the Irish Sea – not known for its warm tides. In May 2016 Wally and a few other Frosties were swept away by a rip tide and had to be rescued by helicopter. Pretty sure you wouldn’t have found me going back in…
It’s one thing to wear some kind of body covering suit, but to go in in just a pair of trunks – I wonder just how many Guinness it would take.
A couple of years ago I was on a golfing trip to Ireland and we were staying quite near Skerries. Lynne suggested I visit it just to see the village. I went online and used Google Earth to get this screenshot and pretended that I had really been here. I certainly had Lynne fooled. It turned out that I had chosen a spot which was 4 houses away from Lynne’s childhood home and right next to their very good friends. What are the odds. Anyway the first “photo” was the screenshot and the second was the actual photo taken yesterday morning.
After lunch it was off to Newgrange. Newgrange is a prehistoric monument in County Meath, Ireland, located about 30 minutes northwest of Skerries. It was built during the Neolithic period, around 3200 BC, making it older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids. The site consists of a large circular mound with an inner stone passageway and chambers. Human bones and possible grave goods or votive offerings were found in these chambers. Rejection #1 – We arrived around 1:30 only to be told the next tour was at 5:15 – we didn’t wait but did go through the visitor interpretation centre which had a small but life size replica of one of the passageways. Not sure Geoff could have gone through anyway, since the passageways were quite narrow and confined and he might have freaked out.
Rejection #2 – Since we couldn’t get in there, we decided to go for a tour of Ardgillan Castle, one of Ireland’s hidden gems.
After a wee drink (No no – tea and coke) and pastry we were informed that the last tour had just started and that we were too late. Sigh… We did get to see the rose garden – would have been fantastic a few weeks before but they were mostly past their prime. Sigh, sigh…
As we were leaving I heard this woman yelling at her little girl. The wee thing was having a quiet tantrum and was just sitting in the grass. “GET UP! This behavior is totally inappropriate. You have ruined the entire day for all of us!” A moment later she was up.
As we started to back the car out of its parking spot, the woman, her two kids and another woman and her two kids (all friends) arrived behind us. We then sat for a minute or more while they did whatever they were doing, letting the four kids run around behind our car. Finally Martin gave a short toot on the horn and we were scolded with “A little patience wouldn’t go astray,” repeated several times. It has become our phrase of the week.
Now, the title of this post. The area of the Irish coast between Drogheda in the north and Bray in the south was once called The Pale. It was generally the domain of the landed gentry. If you travelled outside its borders, into the land of the wild Irish, you were considered to be beyond the Pale.
And thus endeth the lessons for today.