When planning this holiday, apparently I ignored two things: that Tim hadn’t met any of my friends from my time in Ireland, and that we now have a small child in our lives. The resulting itinerary was pretty much a trip down Wendy-memory-lane, done in a style that perhaps suited us better when we were sans child/ren. After our stop in Ballymaloe, we had several days driving along the Cork coastline and the Ring of Kerry, which included visiting a bunch of my old workmates who had very considerately relocated themselves within easy drives of each other.
We followed the coastline through Kinsale (to visit Trish), Clonakilty (Mandy and John), up through the coastal section (debating constantly as to whether it was north or south or east or west or even remotely like a compass) of the Ring of Kerry to Killorglin (Ann), and then across the country via the town of Tim’s forefathers to Kilkenny. We had four nights on the road, in three different locations, and in hindsight probably should have stayed a little longer in some of them as we short changed a few lovely wee towns. However, pre-family Wendy and Tim loved this type of travel, and it was a delight to roam the wild, wet and windy Irish west.
Last year, the south west of Ireland boasted 301 days of rain. This percentage held in our experience, with much of our road trip being splattered by varying degrees of downpour. Whenever it cleared, we’d try and jump out and explore (slash enjoy refreshments).
For two nights we stayed on Caragh Lake in County Kerry, a random internet pick based purely on the neck of the woods in which it was located. An old estate turned into a garden lodge, we arrived in time to take a stroll around the property, glimpsing the lake and easing into afternoon tea (slash gin) and relishing the time off the road.
We continued tripping around the Ring of Kerry…
…enjoying returning to the homestead the following night (and wishing we’d booked longer. I suspect the other guests, once hearing our girl’s piano skills, were relieved we were moving on).
On our way to Kilkenny we decided to swing by Rathkeale, in County Limerick, the town from which Tim’s ancestors hail. Tim was aware his forefather* had arrived on the 17th fleet*, and for years had understood that it was due to having stolen a loaf of bread and being sentenced to hard time in the colonies. However, as his family undertook research it emerged that the crime was actually far more significant: Purtell Senior* was actually part of a rebel group that undertook the Rockite Rebellion*, bombing a series of churches* before being caught, secretly tried* and deported.
* Please note several of these facts are sketchy and somewhat vague; not because of their factualness so much as my listening ability. I’m fairly sure this is how the tale went, but given I can’t even get my beloved’s last name correct in the snap below, I’m not sure how much I can be trusted.
Rathkeale itself is a settled travelling community, and this time of year was quite desolate. We drove through the boarded-up town stopping only to photograph the nearest-to-Purtell sign we could find.
The family history jaunt complete, our final stay in rural Ireland before heading back to the capital was just outside Kilkenny, in an organic apple orchard. Unbeknownst to us while booking it, the farm is also a micro distillery and makes its own apple based gin; something that cheered Mr Purcell no end. He and the little miss wandered the grounds – Motsy sampling the wares and Ads practicing looking nonchalant.
Our road trip over, we made tracks for Ireland’s capital. As we drove the rain cleared, and we got increasingly excited as we approached Dublin where we were due to meet Tim’s sister and her partner for Fun Weekend Times.