24 Aug 2004
Just got back from my ten days in Eir land (yesterday). I was lovely and only deepens my conviction that I would some day love to move there. (1 I want a house with a garden in the country 2 the Irish are so friendly 3 the climate suits me perfectly 4 the countryside is so beautiful and 5 Dublin is "grand").
Got there on the 12th. Anne Kennedy, Gareth's friend from Girbaud days came and picked us up that the airport. We drove straight up to her house : a charmingly converted onion shed on a big farm in a little town called Whitestown on the Louth coast (East of Dundalk).
Her brother bought the big two storie barn next to her house and that's were we stayed. They had just finished converting it into a large spacious modern house. All the work was done, but there was only a couch and a bed for furnishings, otherwise it still wasn't painted, but that was fine, because the walls were a beautiful soft red from the plastering and if it were up to me, I wouldn't paint it at all.
Big windows overlooking the fields and mountains (and lighthouse)... high vaulted ceilings. It felt like we were squating, but luxurious squating.
Most days spent reading, making endless cups of tea. Did some gardening. Got a sunburn.
Drove-up one day to Northern Ireland, (as it's only about 25 minutes away)... Anne works there two days a week in the Ulster Weavers giftshop in Newry (otherwise, she freelances for the Irish Crafts Council or in designing gardens).
The trip to N Ire was to see the McGINNIS homeland. Apparently the name comes from Rathfriland, in County Down. The countryside is green (what isn't in Ireland?)... rolling and very picturesque. Rathfriland sits on a big hill overlooking a valley surrounded by mountains. (The Bronte sisters' father came from this part of the world too).
We ate at a Pub overlooking the whole valley... chilly with the wind, but sunny, then drove south to Rostrevor, which was the seat of the McGINNIS family before they lost their lands. There was a McGINNIS castle there, which now, no longer exists. Then we drove West along the river/inlet to Narrow Water Castle. This was also owned by McGINNISes, but was lost as well. It still stands and dates to around 1600. A big square stone box, sitting right out in the river (which was mostly mud at low tide). Apparently hasn't changed in all these years. It was closed on Mondays, so I couldn't visit it but I got photos.
Among other things, we spent a day in Newry, drove along the eastern seabord and walked along the beach. After Gareth went back to Paris on Tuesday, I drove with Anne to her brother's house in Tipperary. Ate great indian food in Abbeyleix. Her brother's house was a sort of retreat. Spacious, big garden, well layed out and well decorated. I spent my time there, just reading (finishing MY LIFE, Bill Clinton's very enjoyable autobiography)... It rained buckets this week. Apprently Charlie blowing itself out.
Then back through Dublin, where I stayed a day, saw my friends Sid and Celine and then caught a redeye (7am) back to Paris yesterday (Sat);
Really needed the break. Spent most of my time relaxing, napping, reading, or going on walks.
I had a Guinness every day that I was there except one. It doesn't travel well, so is best when drinken on the Emerald Isle. So silky, smooth. Kilkenny, which they call Smithwicks (pronounced Smithics), is very good as well.
Didn't see any four leaf clovers or Leprichauns, but saw lots of clover and many a castle.
Sad to leave.
Today, I will get as much done to get ready for the start of a new year.