Thursday, November 03, 2016

Across the Pond in Ireland

Ireland is a magical place. It can also pluck your every nerve if you have flown for six hours in the middle of the night and then, at 6:30 am Ireland time (and God only knows what time it would be in Boston...or San Francisco!),  have to negotiate not only driving on the left side of the road when the right side is the usual side to be on, but you also have to go around a number of roundabouts just to get out of the airport.

Fortunately there were three of us in the car; myself, Sweetie and our amazing daughter Kate. Among us we handled it all (although they handled it better than I did), tried to find sunglasses (since I had left mine in Boston by mistake!), struggled to find the road to Glin once we were near Limerick, and eventually sped through a light rain, often parallel to the Shannon river, to the beautiful and comfortable Old Castle House B & B in Glin where we were staying. 

Below is a photo of the ruins of a part of the castle, which is right near the driveway of the bed and breakfast.

Glin is a village on the Shannon River not terribly far east from where it joins the Atlantic Ocean. The Shannon is the biggest river in Ireland and large ships head up it past Glin at least as far as Foynes, which has a deep water port.

Main Street in Glin is perpendicular to the river and heads uphill. At the end of the street are the Catholic Church on the right and the Protestant Church on the left. Go a little further and you drive into the demesne of the Knight of Glin. That property is currently for sale for about 4 million.

Our innkeeper, Ester, graciously allowed us to check in early and she cooked a magnificent full Irish breakfast for us, too. In case you are unfamiliar with that, it includes eggs, bacon (which is more like ham), sausage, blood sausage, broiled tomato (and sometimes mushrooms, too), juice, fruit, coffee, tea, and lots of delicious home made brown bread and good Irish butter. I skipped the butter but otherwise enjoyed it all. Never took a photo, but this is sort of what it looks like.

We had about an hour to rest and freshen up and then drove the few blocks to Glin's Main Street to O'Shaughnessy's Pub, where we met Cousins Shayne and Barbara. They are cousins from my Mother's side of the family. Her Dad used to live in Glin as a boy. Here is a photo of my Mom, her Dad, my daughter Kate and me from more than a few years ago.

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon. We were delighted to meet some of Shayne and Barbara's good friends and there was lots of talk and laughter and a few drinks taken. O'Shaughnessy's, just outside the castle walls, is really old, one of the finest pubs in Ireland according to those who go there, now in it's sixth generation of family ownership and there is a nice outdoor section that might be a bit younger than the interior. It was too chilly to enjoy the outside part on the day we were there but I took a picture anyway since it looked so inviting. Have to come back when the weather is warmer.

After the pub we were invited back to our cousin's lovely home for dinner. Their beautiful daughter Sonya was there and she added to the fun. Kate really enjoyed the time with the cousins! Sweetie and I had met them a few years ago when we first visited Ireland, but this time we were able to spend quality time with them and were honored by the beautiful and delicious meal that Barbara made. Joan, Ann and Tom were delightful and we hope to see them next time we are in Glin.

I would love the recipe for Barbara's plum cake. She served it with a pitcher of heavy cream mixed with pastry cream and at that point I so wished that I could consume dairy.

That night we really slept well and Sweetie loved that you could hear the water rushing in the stream that ran right by the B&B, down to the Shannon river a short distance away.


  1. Ahh, the bravery of driving on the wrong side. The whole time we lived in Scotland we didn't drive - 5 full years of not driving (except when we went to Italy, or back to the US). We had a car for about 5 days, last time we visited ... and that was enough, never going to catch me driving on the wrong side again, it was so nerve-wrecking!

    Looks like you had a blast!

  2. David, I don't think I would ever try it, but Charlie did just fine...and then had to switch mental gear and drive on the right side of the road in France just about when he had gotten used to the left side of the road.
    We did have a blast!

  3. Marian9:29 PM

    When Virginia and Mom and I went to Ireland, one of my strongest memories is of driving toward roundabouts with Virginia saying "Left, left, left!" We made it for those weeks without an accident, but it definitely took two of us to drive.

  4. Marian, It's not just to go left into the roundabout. I remember the first time we had to leave the roundabout that remembering to go into the left lane of the exit road was a head-spinner, too. After a while we just laughed, but at first it's a real challenge. I used a finger pointing left a lot this trip. Katherine was much better at directing Sweetie as we went along than I was.

  5. For me, the roundabouts weren't a problem, really. It was the turns which were problematic.

    When you think about it, you know that in our system you make tight right turns and wide left turns. Getting that out of your head is more difficult than the roundabouts, I thought, but maybe that was because I'd been riding about in them for years, whereas I'd never had to make the turns. The other thing, at least in Scotland, was the lane width. In the US, we sometimes even have 12-foot-wide lanes, frequently have 10-foot-wide lanes, but in Scotland we routinely encountered 8-foot-wide lanes ( see for discussion).

    And it didn't help that they'd "upgraded" us to a much wider car than we had been driving here in California, either. Oy.

  6. David, I know what you mean. In Ireland there are often narrow lanes with rock walls at the verge...sometimes partly obscured by shrubs. Scary. I think the roundabouts throw me each time because we have so few of them here. I think Sweetie was thrown by the turns, just as you were. Try it with an older brain and you will have lots of sympathy for us.