Mammy, is this a little strange?” This question was posed by my eight-year-old daughter as we stood in Anna Casey Donoghue’s shower outside Kinvara. It was a fair question considering we had only met Anna a few hours earlier.
To explain: you might remember a few weeks back I wrote about Anna’s Burren Explore tours as part of our holidaying at home series.
During our walk around Anna’s beautiful Sliabh Ghairbh mountain trail, the heavens opened and the rain fell in a torrent.
As myself and the children were not close to our accommodation that night on our Wild Atlantic Way travels, Anna kindly offered to save us from “getting our death of cold” with the offer of a warm shower while we waited for the lunch part of our tour to arrive.
You can look at this particular experience in a number of ways. Firstly, by cursing the weather and applying the retort often trotted out about an Irish holiday. “Ireland would be the greatest country in the world, except for the weather.” Secondly, as an admonishment of my mothering ability – “an epic parenting fail”. Thirdly is “where else in the world would you get that kind of kindness and hospitality?” I think the third one is what I will remember the most, as will the children.
On our trips west, I could not but realise that my children are always “starving”. Their insatiable appetite more apparent during our holidays, whereas at home, it is somewhat veiled as they can help themselves to food. This constant starvation led to my second example of “epic parenting fail”.
On page 15, I have written about the off-road experience that we did with Padraig Hernon on the Aran Islands. This trip followed a lovely (warm, dry) day cycling to Seal Cove, via Joe Whatty’s bar where we had lunch. The cycle was followed by a trip to the beach and, ultimately, time snuck up on us.
It was 6pm and time for our off-road adventure “without a child in the house (glamping pod) fed”. We, naively as it turned out, thought “be grand, we will grab chips or something for them later.”
At the end of the tour, I asked Padraig where one might get food for the two, who were as per standard practice – “starving”. He looked a bit ashen and replied that at that time, there was nowhere really.
Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain
But once again, the hospitality and kindness of the Irish was evident. Padraig pulled over at his parents’ house and made a dash up the lane. About five minutes later, out he came with his mother – a Gaeltacht “Bean an Tí”.
In her hands; a bag of satsumas, a half loaf of brown bread, six scones, a half-pound of Kerrygold and a slab of cheddar. There was no gingerly accepting it. I apologised for my lack of parenting skills; her reply “will you stop, sure I reared six of them myself, I know how it happens”.
These were not the only epic parenting fails on holidays. There were also forgotten swimmers, one sandal and very high wind mountain climbs but these things are “character building”, right?
There is a saying that hangs in our kitchen which seems to be particularly fitting for an Irish holiday “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain”. I want to thank all the wonderful people we met during our holidays in Ireland. It was you who made it great.