Thursday, 6 September.
We made it! We survived! Angela and I slept the sleep of the righteous and didn't hear a thing - unless Angela heard my snoring. Marie, on the other hand, had to cope in a room on her own, one floor down from us. She took normal anti-ghost precautions such as barring the door, which seemed to keep the ghosts out - but didn't stop the faint sound of eerie medieval music. Nevertheless, Marie was not disturbed and survived til morning.
At breakfast, however, our host told us the tale of 16th century star-crossed lovers, whose plans to elope were thwarted by a storm as they tried to escape across the lake. He was drowned and she was in a coma for three days. After learning of his , she wasted away and died of a broken heart - in Marie's room. We think it was a very good thing we were not told the tale the night before... After breakfast and packing the car, we made good our escape before our hosts turned into werewolves. Actually, they were a very interesting and hospitable family and we enjoyed our stay at Ross Castle.
The morning was given over to driving to Wicklow, to visit my sister, niece and her family. It was a very exciting time, as close family members will appreciate, but not for broader discussion here. We spent the rest of the day catching up on their doings, comings and goings, and generally just being idle - exactly what we needed after nearly a week on the road.
Friday, 7 September.
We split our forces today. I stayed "at home" and did family stuff, while Angela played tour guide to Marie in Dublin. They caught the train in, as parking in Dublin is notoriously bad, and began with the obligatory visit to the Tourist Information office - perhaps it should be called the Tourist Inhibiting office. A search and then request for a simple tourist map proved fruitless until, after more persistent questioning, the perfect map was produced from beneath the counter... exasperating!
Finally armed with their Marauder's Map, Angela and Marie set off to discover the treasures of Dublin. They started off with a look around the Medieval Area, with its great array of buildings and artefacts from the Viking era onwards. They examined the old city walls, St Audden's Gate and Dublin castle, all of which date from the 1200s. On their way to something a bit more modern, they stopped for coffe in Temple Bar, an area of Dublin with lots of traditional pubs and music. It was a bit too early to enjoy those particular delights, though, so they crossed the 200 year old Ha'penny Bridge and on to O'Connell Street. Along here, they visited the Post Office, which was the centre of the 1916 Easter Uprising, and the new centrepiece of O'Connell Street, The Spire. Funnily enough, they didn't visit the Guinness Storehouse or the Jameson Distillery...
Later in the afternoon, I picked up the intrepid explorers from the train and we all went for a late afternoon visit to Greystones beach. The children and Marie dove straight into the Irish Sea, but they were far braver than Angela and I, who wimped out and stayed warm on the beach. Marie said that it felt quite OK, once you got used to it, but I reckon it was just that she was so numb she couldn't feel anything, anyway. Still, Marie achieved her goal to swim in every sea/ocean that we visited. All right, she didn't swim in the Atlantic on the West Coast of Ireland, but the Irish Sea is an extension of the North Atlantic - and colder - so it counts, doesn't it?
After defrosting, we all went "home" for a well-earned dinner and another evening of family chat.
Until next time, "slán abhaile". Marie, Angela and Ray.