Ireland In 20 Hours

My wife wanted to see Ireland in June. I grumbled, “But summer is the most popular time of the year to go there.” I prefer to see a place during the off season. Besides, it’s always raining and cold in Ireland. Our weather book predicted 16 days of rain in the month and an average high of 63 degrees F. Why not visit Turkey, Belize or Italy? But she insisted.

Good thing I know to listen to my spouse. We traveled to Dublin during the worst drought in five decades. There was no significant rain for three weeks prior to our arrival and only one day during our ten days driving the Emerald Isle had any precipitation. Rivers slowed to a trickle. The situation got so severe that we heard on the TV that over 100,000 fish died in the Thames.

We rented a car and left the capital the second day. We enjoy finding the small towns and the narrow roads in the countryside and it took us three days to get to the southwest corner of the island. We were having dinner in Killarney, watching the sun set on the longest day of the year, when we heard a gentleman lecturing a woman and boy at a nearby table.

Hurry up and order.”
Why the rush?” the woman asked.
We have to make the ferry at 2 a.m.”
But, Dad, we just got here!”
The man took a breath and replied, Look, we’ve got to get to London tomorrow.”

I looked at my wife and raised my eyebrows. I’ve got to hear about this,” I whispered. I leaned over to the other table and said, Excuse me, I overheard you say that you’re catching a ferry. When did you arrive?”

The fellow explained that they had arrived that morning, had driven across Ireland and now had to get back to England as quickly as possible so that they could rejoin friends and continue on to France. We just had to see the west side of Ireland.”

I accepted his explanation and left the group to their rushed meal. Ireland in a day. It might be possible, but I certainly wouldn’t want to spend nine hours making two crossings of the country in the same day.

Every trip has at least one pinnacle moment, the point that defines the rest of the trip. We can look back at that moment and realize, Yes, that’s when I realized that this was a truly unusual time.” It helped to have an anti-matter” opposite so close to us. Surely the universe would explode if we shook hands with our cosmic opposites. Instead of rushing through Ireland, we covered fifty miles in eight hours of wandering between B and Bs.

Indeed, my wife had selected the perfect time to go. We had expected chilly nights (an average of 48 degrees), crowds and rain. The drought kept away most tourists and we Floridians endured a delightful heat wave” (the asphalt in some towns turned to liquid because there had been a week of consecutive days reaching 88 degrees Fahrenheit). The locals who met us complained that we had brought our weather with us, along with the OJ Simpson trial, which dominated the Irish television news.

The day we left Ireland, the sky turned grey over Dublin and we learned that the rivers started running again. I might have wanted to visit the rainforest, I might have been in the mood for a Caribbean cruise. But I wouldn’t trade that unfortunate time linked with memories. After all, not much harm was done. The fishing tourism season resumed and the strange Floridian” weather pattern ended. It was as if the island had warmed up to make us feel at home.

Steve McCrea (an English teacher)

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