An early start saw us leaving the B&B at 8am. Our night was a little disturbed by the other people staying at the B&B. This was probably mostly caused because we’d had the place to ourselves up till last night. Sean, meanwhile, gave the other guests a right bollocking for the noise, talking to us like we were family. A lovely guy who makes a mean loaf of bread.
The bread was his first attempt and very successful. He was concerned that his five brothers would hear about it and call him gay. Because of this, we called it Sean’s gay bread. We also promised to keep it to ourselves.
Anyway…we had an early start because the car was due back at Cork airport by 12:30 and we wanted to see the legendary Cliffs of Moher. Sean gave us an excellent set of scrawled instructions, incorporating words, drawings and Celtic knots which we tried to follow but ended up finding our own way quite easily and regardless.
The drive through the rocky, hilly yet strangely green in parts, countryside was beautiful in a stark sort of way. And when Galway Bay suddenly appeared by the side of the road (ignoring the fact that everything was very grey and dismal), the picture was complete.
We were making for Doolin because we’d been reliably informed that this was the best place to see the cliffs from. If you journey to the actual cliffs you are standing on them and, therefore, not really seeing them. You also have to pay.
The ultimately bestest view is from a ferry but we didn’t have time for such luxury (always good to leave something for the next time) and so parked where the hundreds of boat companies are situated and walked to the edge of the rocky land.
The Cliffs of Moher were pretty much invisible in the grey gloom and not what you’d call any kind of impressive. However, the hardy souls aboard the ironically named Tranquillity, certainly were.
As we walked away from the fabulously non-descript view of the cliffs, a young chap wanted to sell us a ticket on his ferry but his boss assured him that we were Australians. I’m not entirely sure why this was relevant but it seemed to please them both. We laughed and enjoyed the shared international relations style joke before climbing back into the car to continue our journey south.
We didn’t get very far, stopping at the very pink sweater shop where JJ bought postcards and I grabbed a rather fetching Irish t-shirt to replace one that will have to be disposed of when I get home.
We were almost tempted by the café but JJ decided the coffee would probably be as bad as the ones we had at Kynemore so we backed out swiftly and left town without any caffeine.
The scenic qualities of the countryside continued unabated as we headed for Ennis and the more roomy and express like N road to Cork. A little way down the road, we held our breaths as we managed to skirt Limerick for the second time this trip and were well on our way towards Cork.
It was fairly obvious we were going to be late but we figured they operated on Irish time and all would be well. Interestingly, the car hire place wanted the car returned with an empty fuel tank so, to facilitate this desire, we put a small amount of petrol n the tank in order to just get us there. This was fine until the low petrol light came on.
JJ claimed when this happened in her car she had about 70 kilometres left in it. This was not the best yardstick because the car was different and the driving conditions were variable to say the least. Still, it was the only benchmark we had so we went with it. I checked the car manual which said when the light illuminated it indicated the fuel was pretty low but if it started flashing we had to fill the tank immediately. JJ’s eyes were frequently checking the light after it started shining.
At one stage we were stuck behind a rather ungenerous Dutch lorry driver who didn’t let anyone by. It slowed us down somewhat but there wasn’t a lot we could do about it. Eventually JJ flashed her lights at him and he begrudgingly moved across just enough for us to crawl by him.
A little further down the road, we spotted a petrol station and flew in, just to put €2 in. All the bowsers dispensed diesel. We were about to swing back out onto the road when JJ spotted the Dutch truck approaching rapidly. Panic set in as we quickly raced to get back on the road before he reached us. And we did. It was almost an Olympic moment as we saw him slowly disappear in the distance in the rear view mirror.
Everything was going well as we followed the plane symbols through Cork. It was still going well when we reached the final big roundabout. It then went a bit bad when we took the wrong exit (my fault entirely) and found ourselves on a motorway headed for the ferry port at Rossclare. The last place we wanted to be with a low fuel light preparing to flash was on a motorway with no hope of getting off it. We managed to dive down an anonymous slip road and headed in what we thought was the right direction.
Fortunately this holistic approach worked perfectly and we were soon entering the final approach to the airport. As we followed the signs for hire car returns, the low fuel light started frantically flashing. We held our breaths (again) knowing any false moves now would spell the end for us. It was with great relief that we pulled into a car space and turned the engine off. I’m not sure how they were going to drive it back to wherever they store their hire cars. Still, we returned the keys and then went out the front of the airport to wait for Bridget.
It was then off on a short detour to Blarney for a drink and shop, which gave me a lovely bit of reminiscence from seven years ago. I even pointed out the B&B where Denise and I stayed.
As we neared Doneraile, JJ pointed out all the relevant houses along the way until we pulled up at Bridget’s house.
Doneraile is a lovely town, a bit smaller than Farnham and with a great community feeling. This week is the beginning of the literacy festival and all the houses along the main street have been dressing up their windows with memorabilia and old photographs. It all looks great although it does mean lots of people walking by will stop and stare into your front room.
After a few days without the Internet, it was a matter of blipping and blogging and trying to get back in touch with the world as JJ drooled over the Olympic coverage, much to Bridget’s chagrin.