We wake up still broken and feeling hungover without having had anything to drink. Our bodies paying the price for our epic 14 hour adventure yesterday.
Aingel makes us another fab breakfast and we hug her and say goodbye to her like an old friend and head into Galway for coffee. I have once again done my research for a good coffee but it is a bit of a fail. We walk through Galway city and comment on how cool and busy it is, and we jump in the car ready for our next stop – Donegal.
As we drive through the countryside of Galway, it has a beautiful, ruggedness about it. We stop to walk around, the earth is spongy under our feet and there are spring lambs everywhere – how delicious! I mean, cute. As we drive into Mayo, another Irish speaking town, the green returns and the landscape changes once again. We drive through a town called Cong, a tidy little village with a river running along the side, and the usual suspects – book shop, cafes, chipper and a pub.
The drive up to Donegal is amazing, more incredible scenery, more getting out to ohhh and ahhh and take photos, more talking about how lucky we are to see this – and of course, the weather is on our side once again and there isn’t a cloud in the sky. Smug AF.
We arrive at our Air B&B and after driving around in circles, getting wrong directions and information from the owners, and an initial terrifying moment where it looked as though we had actually been booked into a hostel, we finally got our key to our apartment, which had beautiful water views – and not a backpacker in sight, thankfully.
We have dinner in a town called Aradarra at a place the Nisbett Arms Hotel with Tony’s nephew Noely and his wife Fiona, who live up in this part of the beautiful country. Lucky ducks. We eat a brilliant meal, Tony has a steak, and I have chicken. Tony’s steak was amazing, he lets me taste it and I get food envy because even though my chicken was delicious, he has clearly won dinner so we vow to come back tomorrow so I can get my head down into the one that got away. We eat, drink and laugh a lot over dinner, and I quickly forget that I am a new to the gang, they are so friendly and familiar which makes me soon forget about my plan to be on my best behaviour and I drink many wines, because you know, I’m even more hilarious and adorable when I drink. We go to a fantastic pub afterwards that plays Irish music and I drink more wines that I don’t need, we stumble out and get a cheese burger that I don’t need, from a street van and we head home with sore cheeks from laughing, and I love Noely and Fiona, and I love Tony, and I love Ireland, and I love wine. Hiccup. Sleep.
I wake up feeling every single one of those wines that I sunk last night. Owch. Tony gets word from Noely and Fiona that they kept drinking a whopping 3 hours after we left and I instantly feel disappointed in myself. I have let myself go in my later years. I used to be the queen of this shit. In my hey-day I would have been there til the end and started the party again today. Not so. Instead, it’s Panadol, an ugly head and a fair bit of moaning from me up until we decide to set out to find “The Pod” a gorgeous little coffee van that we found on Instagram that sets up at the top of a beautiful big cliff in Donegal with a bullshit view and the promise of amazing coffee. If ever I wished anything to be true, it was today.
We were not disappointed, the coffee was incredible and the view was even better. This moment – this coffee and this view are literally worth every single watery, shit coffee we have had since we arrived.
We sit there drinking our coffee and taking it all in, we are little later to get moving than usual today because we are hung-over, old and slow, but over coffee, Tony says “do you want to do the Giant’s Causeway today?”….now nothing really is lining up for this to happen – it’s late morning, we are drinking coffee with hangovers, and the Giant’s Causeway is hours away, we haven’t packed or planned anything, and we don’t really know any details … so naturally we both say “why not?” and jump in the car and head off. This is classic Jaynie & Tony behaviour, and it has worked a treat for us every step of this holiday, so we are sticking with this unplanned holiday behaviour strategy.
On the drive, we pass a field of rapeseed flowers – those bright yellow highlighter flowers that I had vowed to run through before the end of the trip, so we stop to get among it. It is so so beautiful. Bright, yellow, happy flowers literally everywhere and it is literally impossible not to smile. We walk around in them, we take selfies and I tick it off my Ireland bucket list.
It is a little weird driving into Northern Ireland, especially when Vodafone sends us text messages welcoming us to the UK. We talk about how this part of the country part of the UK, which seems weird, a little sad and makes absolutely no sense to me why one chunk of a country belongs to another. We talk about the history behind it, and the unrest that filled the country for so many years. As soon as we cross the border we immediately notice subtle changes in road signs and surrounds which now have a UK flavour.
We arrive at The Giants Causeway which lies at the foot of the basalt cliffs along the sea coast on the edge of the Antrim plateau. It is made up of some 40,000 massive black basalt columns sticking out of the sea and is freaking ridiculous. There is a beautiful walk along and throughout the rocks and the whole thing is crazy beautiful. Seriously – hexagonal rocks, some creating staircases that you would swear were man-made. Nothing makes sense – it is nature at its most ridiculous.
Today is hot, like short-sleeve kind of hot and even though we’re right along the coastline, the only wind I can feel is Tony’s.
After the Giant’s Causeway, we drive to the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge which had a view that almost didn’t seem like it could belong to Ireland. We could have been in the Mediterranean or the Whitsundays with the incredible blue turquoise colour of the crystal clear ocean around us. The walk down the rope bridge is picturesque, and I think this is probably the most beautiful part of this country (Ireland, to be clear) that I have seen so far – and is most certainly the best cure for a hangover because I feel brand new.
At the end the beautiful walk down, and connected to the cliffs by a rope bridge across the Atlantic Ocean is Carrick-a-Rede Island (home to a single building – a fisherman’s cottage). Suspended almost 100 ft (30 m) above sea level, the rope bridge was first erected by salmon fisherman 350 years ago. And yes, I am as impressed as you that I just used the word ‘erected’ in a grown up sentence, even though I was smirking as I typed it.
The view is so clear that we can actually see Scotland in the distance. Scotland! For real. We walk across the bridge, and are annoyingly smug because once again there are hardly any tourists here and we practically have the place to ourselves. Golden I tell ya! We. Are. Golden.
After the bridge, we wander down the other side, there is a big open area where some big fight scene from Game of Thrones was filmed, neither of us have ever seen any episodes, of the show but we are pretty sure it’s a big deal. The track ends but we keep going and climb along the rocks, where we find sea caves. There is a beautiful marble sheen within the huge bolders that sit on the edge, just sitting inside them like raisins in a muffin – although prettier. And less delicious.
We hang out there for a while on our own, exploring and climbing rocks and while I pretend to be coordinated, I secretly can’t believe that I haven’t injured myself so far on this trip.
We head home and we drive past another incredible view so we stop for a better look! Excitement overwhelms me, and I do a cartwheel … landing in poison ivy on my other foot. Don’t. Even.
I had shoes on this time, and the bitch got me on the teeny tiny piece of exposed skin between my shoes and my jeans. Tony of course finds it hilarious, as I limp to the car frantically scratching my skin and swearing. You’ll keep Storey, you’ll keep.
Beautiful Ireland lays yet out another golden sunset on the way home. Pink skies, with sheep and windmills in the distance and we realise once again this holiday is just Ridick!
We stop at the restaurant we went to last night, and I get the steak that I had been obsessing about … and it was everything I had dreamed it would be. I wash it down with potato, and we go back to our little apartment, for minstrels and debriefing and bed.
We wake, and are excited that we now know a fantastic place for coffee and a view, which are pretty much my two favourite things in the world….except for my children, obviously. And Tony. And my family and friends. And puppies.
Anyway, we head to the Pod, and it is every bit as awesome as it was yesterday.
We head off for our first adventure for the day – Ards Forrest Trail Walk which comes highly recommended by Noely. There are a number of trail walks to choose from, a few 3km, 3.5km walks and a Red Trail walk which is 13km, which of course we decide to do. We park at the gate and can’t find the $5 Euro in change to get through the boom gate (we find $3.20) – so we park at the front and have to walk to the main car park to get started…which adds a nice 2km each way to our walk. That’s 17km for anyone playing at home. Lucky the day is beautiful, as is the scenery and the company so we don’t care where we are walking or how far it is.
There are parts of the walk that looks like we are literally in the middle of an Enchanted Story children’s book, beautiful tall Forest trees, green, green everything, and heaps of those old Oak trees that look like they should have eyes and a mouth and will speak to me in a slow, deep – yet friendly voice. The whole place feels like a Fairytale and it gets more beautiful with every step we take…it’s the forest and the woods and then, it’s a freaking beach! Yep, white sandy beach, with the bluest clearest water, and it literally kills me that it’s so clear and blue, and I can’t dive into it. Well, I could, but I’d freeze. And, well, my hair.
Note to Australia – first these people have kids with cuter voices than ours, now they are knocking at the doors of our beaches….lift your game Australia, before you know it, they will have a better version of Holden Utes and VB!
After we finish the walk, including the trek back to the car, we decide to drive out to check out Mount Errigal, the highest mountain in Donegal, and an epic climb that we are thinking of doing tomorrow. Tony has done it before once with Noely, and says it is really grueling but worth it for the view at the top. I’ll be the judge of that.
It’s 3.30pm, and we haven’t eaten all day, we have no water, and we’ve just done a 17km walk….and I’m not sure how it happened, but our excitement in the carpark got the better of us and in our wisdom, we decide “why put off to tomorrow what we can do today” and we take off up the mountain.
15 minutes later I have some pretty fierce internal swearing going on in my head, mostly directed at Tony for bringing me here. It is really rocky terrain, first muddy as we trudge through the bog, then as we climb over a surface that is purely loose rocks where it feels like we have roller-skates on, sliding on every vertical step. We take 60 second breaks every 20 metres or so because it is so steep that we are breathless. I am not sure if it’s because the mountain is hard, or because I’ve eaten and drank my fitness away since we arrived, but it’s hard.
I swear my way to the very top, and it is worth every single step. We are breathless for a different reason – it is fucking beautiful up here. 3000 feet of pure beauty. We are in the middle of nowhere, there is nobody here but us and it is so far beyond amazing that I am out of words to describe the view, and the moment.
We sit down, literally feeling on top of the world, looking around at the 360 degree view of beautiful Donegal.
Here it is. This is it. This is my favourite moment so far.
It is one of those times that I start using words like ‘magical’ and sound like a bit of a wanker.
We are so high up that a rescue chopper goes PAST us – at eye level. I secretly wish that they’d throw me a ladder and fly me down as I’m defeated after that epic climb up, but surely down is easier than up right? Wrong.
We start to make our way down the mountain and panic sets in as I realise that roller-skating on rocks DOWN a mountain is even harder than roller-skating up on them. With every step on the way down, our feet slip on the loose rocks, and my whole body hurts from tensing everything to protect myself from falling.
I fall 3 times on the way down, and am once again, thankful for Ireland and its endless offerings of potato, for padding out my booty and making for a softer landing with each fall.
We finally reach the car and within about 20 minutes, the day catches up to us – the trail walk, the epic 3 hour mountain climb, oh and no food – our bodies hurt. We head straight into town and find a chinese restaurant, and order – CHICKEN BALLS AND CURRY SAUCE, and just like that we are saved. We head home to inhale it, with some minstrel chasers and wash it down with cans of coke. Athletes.
We go to bed and sleep in the most hard core way we’ve ever slept.
We wake feeling like we have been punched in our sleep thanks to post-mountain-climbing pain that hurts so bad that my pain has pain. These fitness people have a lot to answer for. Seriously – potato would never make me feel this bad. It really makes you think.
It’s our final day in Donegal, which is devastating because we love it so much, and have had some of our most special moments here, and it’s just so damn pretty that we don’t want to leave. We remind ourselves that all is not lost and that even though the walls are closing in on this trip we still have a week of fun waiting for us in Dublin.
We go to the Pod and say goodbye to the woman who has kept us alive for the past 3 days, we get our coffee and take in the view one more time. We do a drive through Glenties where Noely and Fiona live before we head off, we call by to check out Fiona’s Barber shop, a cool little pad called “The Barber Club” which is as gorgeous as it is genius – A Barber shop tucked away next to a pub, which is effectively her waiting room and she buzzes the pub when she’s ready for her next client. The woman is a bloody genius. I can’t help but consider doing this to make my millions in Australia, but am reminded by a really bad home-hair cut that I did on Fletcher as a 4 year old, and even I can see the holes in my grand plan.
As we drive around, Tony mentions that he never seen the most Northern point of Ireland and it’s somewhere he has always wanted to go, so naturally we decide to go there “on the way home to Dublin” except it is not on the way at all. It doesn’t matter, we have no clock, nowhere to be, nobody to answer to and life is pretty good at this point, we can do what we want.
I decide it will be a great idea to paint my nails on the way in the car, and put my hand out the window to dry them…which of course, at 110km immediately put a wind smudge on them and I realise it may be one of my dumbest ideas ever, right up there with purchasing nail polish without purchasing remover. They look shit.
We pass a town with a giant sign that says “welcome to Muff” – we laugh and spend about 30 minutes making jokes about Muff town.
We arrive at Malin Head, Ireland’s most northern point, and with its dramatic cliffs and dark blue water smashing up against the cliff face, it was worth the detour. We sit at the top of the cliff and watch it all happening around us. We talk about our trip, and our favourite parts so far, we talk about how beautiful this country is, and how lucky we are to have this time together just cruising around exploring it. We are gripping this holiday so tight that our knuckles are white.
We drive to Ballyhillin Beach and get out and walk along the beach. Now I haven’t mentioned anything in this blog about my rock collection yet, because I’ve been trying to work out a way to do it without making me sound weird, but I now realize that it is impossible: soooo somewhere along the way during this trip, I started picking up rocks at special places and putting them into my pocket, as a memento (or free souvenir) . Long story short, I have about 3 kilos worth of rocks now from every place we’ve been to along our travels and I have basically become a crazy rock lady, always on the hunt for the perfect rock . Anyway, Tony – always supportive of all of my freaky shit, helps me find the perfect rock at the beach and we get back on the road to Dublin.
Tony stops to get me some prawn skips and minstrels, without me even whinging about needing them – he just does it because he knows it makes for a happier Jaynie – that’s love right there folks. It also makes for an easier drive for him when I’m too busy eating and can’t sing or talk shit, and also I’m fairly sure that the car is powered by me chewing at this point.
As we drive, I swig laxatives from the bottle that I keep in the glove box, which Tony affectionately calls my ‘crap juice’ – I send photos of myself sculling it to my girls back home, who message me their fond memories of my constipation from our NYC trip. Fun times.
We arrive back into Dublin, and we stop in to see Fran and Noel (Tony’s sister and brother in law) and we tell them about our travels, show them photos and stay for a while chatting to them before we head home to Tony’s parent’s house. We’re excited to be home when we get there, I’ve missed chatting to his mum and dad, they are really clever, funny people who have an endless archive of interesting stories that I have become addicted to. They have missed the company too and are pleased to have us back making noise in their home again. I just love them.
We get up early and head down to Clontarf for a coffee, then we drive down to Howth for a walk, it is freezing and windy and sea gulls are letting themselves been blown across the sky over the water. By the way, the Sea Gulls here are taking the same steroids that the Irish bees are – they are bloody enormous and look more like spray painted crows.
We spend the day with Tony’s parents and it’s lovely – perhaps one of my favourite days. Pottering at home, it’s lovely in the garden with his dad as he builds his amazing bird houses, going to the shops with Tony’s mum, talking, laughing, making endless cups of tea and really loving a ‘nothing day’ that is anything but nothing.
We treat ourselves to an afternoon nap and wake with sheet creases on our cheeks. We decide to go out for some drinks and we head out to Malahide, a really cool little town not far from Tony’s parent’s house. First up, we go to a place Gibbeys, which has cool décor and an even cooler vibe, we have a few pints and laughs. We move to the next pub, and meet a lovely Irish couple and we stay for some more drinks and a few laughs. Tony tells me about his old haunt, a grotty old place called the Goblett, where he would go when he was 18 and where all the messiest nights happened (we all have one of those places), he had some great stories about it and I decide I want him to take me so that I can have the full Ireland experience! He laughs, and we head off to the Goblett! He was right, it is pretty festy in here, but it is a People Watcher’s delight and I literally cannot get enough of my surrounds. My brain may actually explode tonight. You know things are pretty grim when I am the poshest person in the room! Seriously, I am Dutchess Kate among this crowd.
We sink pint after pint for hours, telling stories, playing games and laughing so hard that our faces hurt. We are as pissed as fools. I would attach a photo of this night, but there simply aren’t enough filters in the world for that to happen. Think red eyes, sloppy heads and harsh lighting.
Tony tells me that after he would stagger out of the Goblett as a gangly teenager, he’d go down the road and get Chicken Balls and curry sauce and devour them when he got home. So in the interest of not taking any shortcuts in this authentic experience, we head off to put our order in, we stagger home and inhale them in about 5 seconds, and while I’m elbows deep in balls, it’s safe to say that Dutchess Kate has left the building.
We fall into bed after what has been one of the funniest nights of our trip!
We wake with hangovers, and breath that smells like armpit after a long walk on a 40 degree day.
Tony asks if I want to try black pudding but I make an educated guess that a dirty hangover may not be the best day to try a blood sausage for the first time. I play it safe and eat toast while he cooks up fry up.
We head to Clontarf for coffee and a treat from the Butlers Pantry, and I tell Tony that I think I want a lemon meringue but they are pretty big, without hesitation he says “you can do it, you have a big mouth”. I don’t think anyone has ever believed in me the way that he does. It’s really quite beautiful.
He was right. I nailed it.
We decided to head out to New Grange in County Mead, when we park, we see the most enormous crow (what is it with this country and giant birds?)…Tony suspects it may be a small child in a crow’s suit.
We see Slane castle and are heading to an old ruins of an Abbey, we take a wrong turn and end up way off track but it looks pretty so we park the car, and start to wander into a forest-like park. It’s beautiful, we climb over fences, under barriers and over about 5 no trespassing signs, it was around this time Tony mentions how farmers used to shoot off their guns to scare trespassers. I immediately lose my excitement about our unplanned adventure and wish we were in the safety of a tourist-filled Abbey.
It’s beautiful here. There is not a soul around and we clearly are not meant to be in here, which makes it even more fun – once I forget about the fear of being shot. We come to a “secret garden” which has a freaking maze made from giant hedges, and it’s mind-blowing. We go into the maze and follow it into to the middle where a giant beautiful oak tree awaited us. This story sounds so made up, and I can admit how ridiculous it is that our days just seem to get better when things don’t go to plan.
On the way back, we get to take in the amazing countryside – green, green, green! We stop at the old Mellifont Abbey and it is really is incredible to walk around something steeped in such rich history, wondering what happened here, and what it was like all those hundreds of years ago. It is just so cool that there is so much of this history still here in this beautiful country that you can touch and feel.
We stop at McDonald’s on the way home, because we’ve seen so many cows in this country, we’re keen to try us some Irish beef, oh and because we are McHungover.
We head home for a power nap, because we have to back up tonight for a night out with Tony’s friends.
As I blow dry my hair and try to make my face look presentable, I kick myself for having a Category 4 hungover on the day that I am to meet about 15 of Tony’s friends in one hit. This is the story of my life. Ask any of my friends; you can bet your house that I will always ruin myself before something important. So I’m hungover. I feel 50 years old. I’m ugly, my eyes are actually itchy and my brain is so tired that I appear have no words for intelligent conversation, and off we go.
Even with a hangover, we have a brilliant night. Tony’s friends are amazing, and they all make me feel so welcome. They are friendly and funny, which made it easy on my somewhat fuzzy social skills, which slowly come back to me after a few beers and a potent Mojito! There were lots of laughs and it was so much fun I didn’t want it to end; and it’s so lovely to see Tony with his mates. He is happy, and I’m happy. We get home about 3am and I’m proud of us for backing up!
We woke slow, feeling 2 hangovers ganging up on us. We head out for coffee and breaky in Clontarf. It is 18 degrees today and everyone in Ireland is losing their minds – people are coming out in droves in singlets and shorts. They don’t waste a minute of sunshine here, because they are worried it might not come back. We sure take this sunshine business for granted in Australia.
We go to St Anne’s Park, which has become such a special place for us here. We’ve come on quiet, cold mornings, we have come at sunrise, we have come for brisk walks and slow wanders – but here, on an 18 degree day, it is a completely different place. There are people literally everywhere! It’s like Disneyland without the rides.
It is picture perfect. Birds are singing and 2 ducks nearby start doing it in the lake, right in front of us. It did not look consensual to me, but I overlook it because I am not familiar with animal law.
We sit on the grass and watch a Hurling game, a traditional Irish sport, and get this – it is the fastest game on grass and most skillful game in the world. Legit! I did not even make that up.
It is also one of the oldest with its traditions set in the mists of ancient Irish history. It is a stick and ball game, played by teams of 15, oh yeah and it is AWESOME to watch. The mother in me worries about them getting hit with balls and bats, but the athlete in me (cough), appreciates how skillful and fit these guys are!
We lay on the grass looking up at the sunshine and we wish this holiday would never end, and we talk about how we somehow surprisingly don’t miss our real lives just yet and how we wish we could stretch this indulgent, special trip out just a little longer. Like another 6 months or so.
We go home and get ready to go for lunch at the Millennium Bar in Swords with all the family. It’s bloody massive – nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, kids everywhere – it is a Storey fest, and it is a beautiful, happy chaos that is easy to fall in love with. I eat meat and potatoes hoping it will cure my hangover, when it doesn’t I just drink pints instead. We eat, we drink, we talk and it feels so lovely, easy and normal, and I feel so grateful that Tony’s family have opened up their arms and absorbed me into their family.
We go home full of beer, meat and potatoes. We are tired but with only 5 days left, we want to milk every drop of Ireland that we can before it’s over. We decide to do a night drive into the city. It is beautiful under the lights, and is still pumping with atmosphere, music and people. We walk around and point at everything! We go into the Long Hall, a lovely old little whisky bar in the streets of the Dublin and have a pint each before we drive home.
We are tired, happy, and a tad hung-over from last night so we figure that it’s not overkill to get chicken balls and curry sauce… again.
Feeling human again, we get up early and go out for breakfast and head into the city and walk around. We meet Tony’s friend Paul for lunch in Merrion Square, and we all talk and eat sandwiches in the sun. Another beautiful day means that the park is full of Dubliner’s laying on the grass soaking up the sunshine.
We say goodbye to Paul and we wander around after lunch, and Tony takes me into Christchurch Cathedral, a huge, beautiful church in the middle of the city, as we walk in – a choir of about 30 people are singing and the acoustics, along with the sheer beauty of the inside of this building is overwhelming. I almost cry again. It is just beautiful. We wander around the inside of the cathedral taking in the history and the beauty of its structure. The choir finishing singing, and it’s so quiet inside that it is almost eerie. The only sounds are our shoes hitting the ancient shiny tiles beneath our feet. That is until, being as graceful as ever, I trip and leap forward about a meter before catching myself one second before a full face plant. I make enough noise for people to look over. Or perhaps the noise was Tony’s laughing. Hard to tell.
We leave and head to the Guinness Brewery. It’s huge! I hadn’t anticipated it would be so enormous. We walk around on a self-guided tour, checking out the giant vats and all the love that goes into making Guinness. It was really interesting and the building itself is industrial and cool.
The last stop on the tour is the Sky Bar which is a bar surrounded by glass and a 360 degree view of Dublin city. It’s so light inside I have to wear my sunglasses, acutely aware that I look like a tosser but my old eyes can’t handle the glare, so I basically stand there like a much cheaper version of a Kardashian. We get a pint of Guinness each and stand in the bar looking out over Dublin and pointing out all of the things that we have seen. It’s bloody beautiful, not the Guinness but the view sure is. The Guinness is a little like drinking a loaf of bread.
We keep wandering around the city and we walk back into Grafton Street for dinner, and drive home. On the way back we go to Dollymount beach, the sun is still out and it’s 8.30pm, it is such a beautiful night and there are people everywhere. We walk down to the water and breathe it all in, these moments – this trip just keeps on giving.
We go home for TV and talks with Tony’s folks before bed, which is the best part of every day for me. More stories, more laughs and usually some fantastic commentary over a variety of TV shows, it’s like the live version of Gogglebox and it is brilliant.
We get up and head back into the city, we do breakfast and a great coffee with Tony’s friend Ken – who I have a bit of a weird crush on – he’s really awesome, and kind of looks like he could be my brother. OK, that brother/crush thing sounds weird, and gross. Anyway, point is – he is tops and I love him, in a totally non-weird way. He works in the financial district, so the awesome café that we go to is in a place call Docklands and it is like a completely different part of Dublin, it’s new and surrounded by cool new buildings and architecture but there’s history there too. Dublin is just full of surprises. As much as we love the old buildings and history soaked part of the city, Tony and I decide that this new, trendy part of the city is for us, and when we win lotto, this is where we will buy our waterfront apartment. We say goodbye to Ken and we around for a bit afterwards inhaling Dublin town, we wander past U2 ‘s studio, which is an unassuming garage door with graffiti from fans all over it.
As we get in the car and start to drive home we get a text from Ken asking if we are still around in the city for some cocktails, we instantly wish we were – so we decide to come back on Thursday as that seems to be a perfect way to say goodbye to this city we love. We drive back for a late lunch with Tony’s parents; we chill for a bit, we take his Mum to the shops. Now this woman is 84 and walks to the shops each day, walks to the hairdressers when she needs a blow-dry – she’s pushing her little trolley and motoring around the streets like a boss. She has a sharp comeback line ready to go at any moment and the woman can still rock a red lipstick, let me tell you. I love her.
In the afternoon, we head back down to Kilkenny to see Dee and Dave, and I have mixed emotions – I’m beyond excited to see them again, but I’m sick with dread about saying goodbye, for real this time.
We have the greatest night with them; it is the easiest fun for all of us. Champagne flows (like a tidal wave) and I catch it all with my giant gob. Dave makes cocktails, because I mustn’t have been loud and obnoxious enough already. We eat more delicious food prepared by the hostess with the most-ess. We play “Speak Out” where you wear the ugly mouth-guards and try to speak, which is even harder when your speech is challenged by alcohol consumption. We laugh a lot, and we realize at 2.30am that we should have probably called it a night around midnight. Pissed. Ugly. Again.
Surprise, Surprise – we wake up ugly. I literally have a head like a foot.
We are hungover like dogs. I never really understood that saying, but I’m guessing now it may have something to do with how hairy my teeth are.
We say a sad goodbye to Dee and Dave, and my heart sinks and I desperately wish I had her in my life every day like this – in the flesh, rather than texts and Skype. She is everything. Tony’s heart breaks as his bromance with Dave comes to an end, I console him as we drive away.
We go into town and walk around Kilkenny one more time. It is definitely one of our favourite places, it’s such a cool city, exploding with the perfect blend of history and trendy shit.
We buy our boys fidget spinners from a teeny shop that reeked of the worst B.O we have ever encountered. You could almost see it. We literally held out breath for the entire transaction. I don’t know why this is blog worthy, perhaps because it is the closest to death that we have ever been, so it therefore deserves a mention.
We drive over to Wexford to see Tony’s friend Miley and his family. His wife puts me to shame as she dishes a delicious fresh apple pie from the oven, and I’m reminded of what a shit host I am, and would be unwrapping a half open packet of Digestive biscuits for guests and thinking that I’m Martha Stewart. Miley’s daughter is possibly the cutest kid alive – at 3 years old, with Shirley Temple curls and her adorable Irish accent, she can pretty much have whatever she likes. She takes a liking to me and asks me to go outside to play on the swings with her and see her animals …she had me at swings and I’m out pushing her on repeat listening to her voice never wanting her to be quiet (first time ever for children). Cutest ever.
After we say our goodbyes, we drive over to Kilmore Quay as Tony had never been there and wanted to see. We get pies for lunch and sit together by the sea and eat them. We wander along the pier, and search for a rock for my collection.
Afterwards, we drive into Wexford and look up the street that my great grandmother grew up in. It was a weird and wonderful feeling of loveliness knowing that somewhere down the line, us Moloney’s started somewhere as beautiful as this.
We head home tired after another long day (and hangover). We sit up talking to Tony’s brother Andrew and his parents and finally, we sleep.
We wake up and come down to hang out with Tony’s mum and dad and have tea and toast. It’s a shit feeling knowing that we’re going home tomorrow. Tony’s mum is sad, and every now and then says how much she will miss us. It makes me sad. I hug her just about every time that I walk past her today.
In the interest of milking the last day of our holiday, we go for lunch and passion fruit Mojitos at the Marker Hotel in our favourite part of Dublin, with Ken, Paul and another friend of Tony’s – Cyril, a lovely French man (whose girlfriend I fell in love with at our night out). I am sitting in the sunshine, surrounded by lovely men, and sinking Mojitos. Life is good for Jaynie.
I’m so happy that Tony got to see his mates again, and I love listening to their banter and seeing Tony’s happy head.
We go to Marks Models, an old model shop in the city that Tony used to go to as a 10 year old and stare at the model airplanes that he couldn’t afford. The shop smells old and Tony says nothing in it has changed as he wanders around reminiscing. He buys a model airplane and I think about how cool this moment is, that he’s back here, as a grown man, embracing the little boy inside him (who is never far away) and buying something he always wanted. It’s a nice rare moment seeing him do something for himself, and I love him a little bit more as he walks excitedly up the stairs with his new toy.
We go off for chocolate, coffee and people watching. It is sad saying goodbye to Dublin, it weirdly feels like home. This trip has been so special, and we don’t want to let it go just yet.
We head back home and Tony’s niece, Louise, and her kids came to say goodbye to us. Louise has 6 children, all ridiculously gorgeous and annoyingly well behaved. She is like some sort of mum-god, who is totally nailing this shit and putting us all to shame, well me anyway. I quietly hope that she writes a book so that I can figure out how this parenting gig works once and for all. We sit with them all, talking and playing with the kids for a while. Louise cries when it’s time to say goodbye to Tony, and my heart breaks for them both. I hug her goodbye, she tells me that said she has never seen Tony so happy and that he’s like a totally different person. My heart is full. He has brought the same happiness to my world.
At night, we decide to go for a drive through the city in the rain. It’s the first time I’ve seen it rain properly since I arrived as we’ve been blessed with sunshine every day. I’m happy that it’s raining because I like how everything looks different to how I’ve already seen it. We drive up to Howth and park the car and sit and watch the city lights in the distance, we talk, and we head home for bed – sad that it’s the last time we’ll tuck ourselves into our bed in Ireland (until next time).
It’s our last day in Ireland and we are determined to jam as much into this day as physically possible.
We head off to St Anne’s park nice and early to go for a walk. This place is just magic at any time of day, and every single time we have been here we have discovered different parts of it that we hadn’t seen before. Today we found a huge flying fox, which I try out and Tony flings me up and down the wire.
We wander over to Clontarf afterwards for Breakfast, we are a little flat at the thought of going home. I quietly feel heartbreak for Tony about having to leave his family, and I think for a moment how hard it must be for him to live so far away from them. And how hard it would be for them to live without a Tony Storey in their day to day world.
We drive into city for some last minute gifts. That, and because the jersey that I bought Nate still has the bloody security tag on it, so I need to take it back to have it removed. God knows I don’t need any more attention at the airport as I try to smuggle my rock collection through customs.
We say goodbye to our beloved Dublin city and drive home to spend the rest of the day with Tony’s parents.
We need to return the hire car at 12pm so Tony drives it back and I follow him in his dad (Tommy)’s car which Tommy tells me has a sticky clutch, so I’m not filled with confidence for my first time driving on Irish roads, and with good reason;
OK, Attention Ireland, I have a little feedback….firstly – a roundabout is not a painted circle on the road, and if it is, you can expect me to drive over it. Secondly, do any of you know what is actually going on, on your roads, because you all seem a little confused? Thirdly, I am sorry about the red light that I went through in 2nd gear, but it just seemed easier than stalling the car with the sticky gears in traffic.
Tony’s brother Robert, along with beautiful Fran and Noel come over to say goodbye to us, so we sit with them all and have lunch, chat a bit and then there are some more sad hugs and goodbyes. This day sucks.
Devastatingly, the day slips away from us, and before we know it, our suitcases are waiting out the front of the house. It is a very teary farewell to Tony’s beautiful parents, my heart breaks for his mum as I try to imagine how to say goodbye to your child who lives on the other side of the world. I have fallen in love with both of his parents, and I wonder how quickly we can come back to see them. I consider that his mum is quite small and may fit into my hand luggage. If only.
Ireland, you are so many more things than I thought you would be – you are rugged, savage, beautiful, picturesque and surprising all at the same time.
You are more beautiful than anything I’ve ever seen, you have given me the most incredible memories. You have shown me ridiculous scenery and breathtaking sunsets.
You have given me chicken balls and curry sauce.
You have given me Tony and I will be forever grateful for that, and I score all of his wonderful family as a fantastic bonus. You have given me a place that feels like home. You have given me a fatter arse and a fair sized muffin top, but I forgive you because you have literally given me the time of my life.
I have fallen hard for you and I can’t wait to see you again. Thank-you Ireland.
Photos by the talented Tony Storey
More stuff here: https://flipagram.com/f/18mBJcf9xj0
OK, so the trip and blog ends here……but on the flight from Dublin to Abu Dahbi, I thought I’d drop not 1 but 2 sleeping tablets, and I thought that I’d take it with wine, not water. This idea was right up there with drying my finger nails out of the window of the car while travelling 100km. I don’t remember any of the flight, I missed all the meals, and after the 9 hour flight, I slept in the transit lounge for another 3 hours while we waited for the final leg of the flight, poor Tony basically was travelling alone. He likens it to Weekend at Bernies.
Next time, one tablet with water. Noted.
An adventure til the very end.