My parents are bound for Chicago by now. They left for the airport around 8:00 this morning with enough Euros for cab fare and a phone call (should they need it). I’m sure they’re ready to be home after a month away. We were so pleased to have them here and hope their tales will encourage more visitors. Here’s a rundown of their last days in Ireland:
The travelers were fairly non-stop in England and Scotland, so Friday we were pretty relaxed. Also, we were going to a Hooley that night and needed to conserve our energy. Hooley means “party,” and the Hooley at Johnnie Fox’s pub in Glencullen is supposed to be the Hooliest. We arrived for dinner at 7:30. The Hooley guests sat at long tables and enjoyed a three-course meal. The music and dancing started at 9:00. It was a little like being at a wedding reception with a great band that got everyone singing along and clapping, even if you didn’t know the songs or anyone else at the party.
Even though it’s impossible to sit still to Irish music, the real dancing was left to the professionals. However, just watching Irish dancing can wear you out. The festivities lasted until midnight. We expected a slight traffic jam upon leaving, but most of the participants were in no hurry to go. We had an hour drive back to the North side of Dublin, so with regret we piled into the Polo and headed out into the cold night.
After sleeping off the Hooley, we drove North of Dublin to Drogheda. One of the oldest towns in Ireland, Drogheda sits on the River Boyne. Although the town is steeped in history, we were primarily interested in finding lunch before heading to Monasterboice. So we joined the throng of Saturday shoppers wandering the streets and found some Irish sustenance. I ordered lasagna, and when asked if I wanted chips with that, I was so struck by the ludicrous question, I just said, “Sure.” “And cole slaw?” “Of course!”
I know it’s no worse than garlic bread and pasta, but it seems worse. You really have to shake off any latent adkins aversions to the simple starch to dine without horror in Ireland. By the way, lasagna with chips–delicious!
(Looks like I could have been at Ryan’s.)
Monasterboice is the site of some of the best examples of Celtic (or High) Crosses in Irleand. The site of a 6th century Catholic monastary, Monasterboice has crosses and a round tower from the 10th century, and some other ruins from the 13th. The High Crosses at Monasterboice are carved with biblical scenes and were used to teach scripture in the absence of written texts.
Round towers protected the church valuables and the community from the Norse raids of the 10th and 11th century. Part watchtower, part vault, these tapering towers were typically over 100 feet tall, with a door 15-20 feet from the ground accessed with a movable ladder. The tower at Monasterboice was constructed around 968. Bill and I visited Monasterboice on our trip last Fall. Visiting again, I was particularly amazed by this tower, the perfect construction that has stood against every affront for 1000 years.
Sunday morning we set off for the West Coast. We took a taxi to Heuston station in Dublin, and a train to Ballinasloe, where due to railway works, we boarded a bus for the remaining hour to Galway. The scenery on the way to Galway is as green and sheep-filled as one has come to expect. In Galway we had a nice lunch, looked across the Atlantic and thought of home, and again, wandered city streets full of shoppers and fellow wanderers. We saw the Spanish Arch, which I learned later was part of a bastion built to protect the docks from the Spanish in the 1580s when England feared a Spanish invasion of Ireland.
Our departing train was the first full Inter-City train I’ve been on. The last train to Dublin on Sunday is full of students, and a few card sharks. Or one at least. Dad beat us all at hearts after claiming to have not played for 40 years.
Monday Mom, Dad and I headed into Dublin for a last bit of shopping. Bill met us for dinner, so finally, Mom and Dad had their visit to the Chipper. This was Bill and my first visit to this location of Leo Burdock’s. It’s not quite the same eating off of plates instead of out a paper bag while walking, but neater and more comfortable, and still quite tasty!
We took a stroll to Raheny Centre for breakfast and to buy chili makings. We thought we should start acclimating Mom and Dad’s American palate. The chili was gloriously accompanied by CORN MUFFINS!!! Gastronomes take note, Irish cheddar goes quite well with buttermilk cornbread.
Mom and Dad should be back in Arkansas by 5PM CST.
We’ll miss you!