The Party’s Over
Well, after two months, one trip around the country, a very large christening party and countless dinners with friends and family, my mom and dad have started their journey back home to Canada, leaving me and Maeve in a very quiet house.
Maeve doesn’t seem to mind, she’s enjoying a sound sleep (although she will miss her Canadian peeps, I know) but to me the house seems extremely quiet. I’ll get over it in a few days, but I really hate saying goodbye to my family – especially my parents.
Still, life goes on. We had such a wonderful visit with them, and with my brother, who was here for a week in early September. What was especially nice was that Patrick also took two weeks off work so he could spend some quality time with them and Maeve. We had a great time in Tipperary, Galway, Kerry and Cork before returning to Waterford. Here are a few highlights from our vacation:
Maeve’s Christening: This was my first Irish christening. At home we christen the baby then go to someone’s house for cake. Here, we rented out the party room at Fitzpatrick’s Pub in Clonmore, Tipperary and after the christening enjoyed soup, sandwiches, tea, finger foods and a delicious cake I had ordered from a bakery in Kilkenny.
After lunch we all crowded into the adjoining pub (baby included) and socialized til well into the evening. I made an early departure with the baby, but many of the guests continued to party til the wee hours of morning (my brother included – I think he had a good time!). It was such a great day. I loved catching up with all the friends and family members we haven’t seen in awhile.
Cava Bodega, Galway: My timing sucks. I planned to make reservations at Aniar in Galway, but since we were only spending Sunday night in the city my dreams were dashed. Many restaurants choose Sunday and Monday to close up shop, and Aniar is no exception to the rule. I was slightly heartbroken since I’ve been planning to eat there for ages and don’t get to Galway very often. On the bright side, Cava, another restaurant by Chef JP McMahon (a human being I greatly respect) had reopened only days before we were due to arrive.
Unlike Aniar, which is still on my to-do list, Cava is open seven days a week. I was slightly concerned about bringing my “meat & potatoes” dad to a tapas restaurant, but I had no reason to be. Salt cod cakes? Scallops with black pudding and lardo? We tore through the menu and my dad devoured everything, even the manchego & figs, claiming it was one of the best meals he’s ever had. Dessert is recommended – we had velvety toasted hazelnut ice cream, crema catalana (redolent with orange and spice) and a rich chocolate mousse.
The Connemara: This ruggedly gorgeous region of the country is found North of Galway City and runs through the county and along the coast. I didn’t want to go this far North, originally, since we were due in Limerick that same evening, but I have to admit – the scenery was so worth it. And, as Patrick loves to remind me, I’m never impressed by scenery coming from Cape Breton. The Connemara is really something. My parents were blown away (almost literally; it was a blustery day). My dad is now itching to return with his fishing rod. We’ll be back for sure.
The Listowel Races: This was something my parents had been looking forward to. Pat’s Aunt Bridget graciously took us all into her home (which was already full of visitors) and we went racing the following day. Again, traveling with a six-week old, I wasn’t keen on going. But we brought the baby, who slept the entire time, and spent the day gambling. Annnnd I’m a bad mother.
When I don’t have an infant I will be returning to Listowel for race week. We weren’t being high rollers or anything, and the race tracks in Ireland are far classier than the ones in Canada. It would be fun to sit in the stands with a beer and cheer on your horse of choice. Of course, I didn’t win a thing all day and I really just wanted to get the baby back to the house, but under different circumstances I would have had a blast.
Blarney Castle: This might sound odd. I mean, Blarney Castle in Co. Cork is possibly the most tourist-ey place in Ireland and not a place I would choose to visit (not to cause offense, but there are lots of places in Ireland I want to see!). That said, my dad wanted to kiss the Blarney Stone. So we planned to drive back to Waterford from Kerry via Cork. I’m so glad we did.
The day was one of those perfect autumn days where it’s warm and sunny and the leaves are beginning to change – it was beautiful. The village of Blarney is very picturesque, as well. I’m sure it’s well taken care of as it sees so many visitors every day. The castle itself is impressive. It’s massive and built into a cliff face. I assumed the inside would be all “safety first” and visitor friendly, but actually – I don’t know how some elderly folk make it to the top. Oh, and if you’re handicapped I’m not sure you can get up there at all.
The stone is at the very top of the castle and the only way I could see to get to the top was by taking the worn-down, winding stone staircase. Taking those stairs is actually more like rock climbing (there’s a rope!). I actually had a claustrophobia-induced panic attack halfway up.
The stone itself is precariously set over the side of the castle. There’s a guy who fondles your waist while you hang over the side of the castle (with no safety equipment) as you kiss it. I can’t believe I did it. And what’s more, it was FUN. I understand why so many people visit.
After, we had the most awesome fish and chips I’ve had in all of Ireland. This was at The Blarney Castle Hotel, in the pub. Follow that with a half pint of Guinness and you have the perfect day.
It was a great vacation but we were also really happy to get back to our house. Maeve is getting back into a routine, my parents are gone and Pat’s back to work, so I’m hoping this means I will be able to make time to cook and blog more regularly. Til next time…