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A Weekend in County Kerry

Ballybunion, Co. Kerry

Ballybunion, Co. Kerry

This past Saturday was hot and sunny. So was Sunday, and Monday, and today. I can’t quite articulate how happy this weather makes me. nor how lucky I feel as it’s my first summer in Ireland and the last few have, apparently, been so awful weather-wise.

We had been planning to visit Patrick’s Aunt Bridget for the last few weeks and finally got the chance last weekend. We didn’t have any other plans, we weren’t needed in Tipperary and we even convinced my father-in-law to join us. Bridget lives on a farm just outside of Listowel, County Kerry and a visit to her house always means ending up well-fed and taken care of – she is an Irish domestic goddess. Her house and the grounds are beautiful, her dogs are adorable and she lives close enough to take day trips to Ballybunion (the best Irish beach I have ever visited) or the lakes of Killarney (a day trip we took a few years ago and one I’ll never forget).

Patrick and I took the long way to Kerry from Waterford, going through Lismore (have you BEEN to Lismore? It has a huge freaking castle and the town is gorgeous!), Fermoy and eventually reaching Listowel after following a meandering country road for some time. It was a beautiful drive, made even better by the weather and as soon as we arrived at Bridget’s she announced we would be dining “Canadian style” – aka, out on the patio, to soak up as much sun as possible (we have very short summers in Canada, hence most meals are eaten outdoors when the weather is pleasant, as Bridget found out when she visited us in Cape Breton last summer).

Bridget is an avid gardener. Her house is full of blooming blossoms.

Bridget is an avid gardener. Her house is full of blooming blossoms.

Dining al fresco was lovely, but I have to admit it was my first hot roast dinner eaten outdoors (we had another roast dinner outside on Sunday – can you see why I love visiting Bridget? I don’t get cooked for very often!). In the evening Bridget and I went to Ballybunion for a walk and ended the day with a drink outside.

Coke for moi, and a "glass" of Guinness for Bridget.

Coke for moi, and a “glass” of Guinness for Bridget.

On Sunday we went to mass with Bridget. I don’t have too much experience with Irish mass, but being a Catholic I was, more or less, able to follow along. The church in Listowel is beautiful – so old and ornate compared to the simple wooden churches we have in Cape Breton.

Farmdog, Toby, tried his best to stay in the shade all weekend. Poor fur ball!

Farmdog, Toby, tried his best to stay in the shade all weekend. Poor fur ball!

After the second roast dinner (preceded by tea and cake and followed by tart and ice cream… and tea) we packed up and headed home, this time taking the shortest possible route through Limerick and Clonmel (it still took about 3 hours to get back to Waterford). This route may not have been off the beaten path, but it was still beautiful. I love driving through Tipperary on sunny days with The Galtee Mountains in the distance.

County Kerry is arguably the most beautiful county in Ireland. Patrick likes to tell this joke:

A man was visiting the United States and went to mass. He saw a pay phone with a sign that said “Direct Line to God”. He asked the priest how much for a call and the priest told him “$30,000 per minute”. The man thought that was a bit steep and so avoided making the call to God. He then went to the UK and, at mass, saw another pay phone, again with the sign saying “Direct Line to God”. He asked the priest how much for a call and the priest replied “10,000 pounds per minute”. The man still thought this was a very steep price and went on his way. He was visiting County Kerry and, again, saw a pay phone at mass with the sign “Direct Line to God”. He tentatively asked the priest how much it would cost him per minute and the priest replied “10 cents a minute. Sure, it’s a local call.”

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