In my Pfizer days I was a regular visitor to Ireland as we had our Central European distribution site in a tax haven adjoining Shannon airport and not too far away in Limerick a large manufacturing plant.
I think it was sometime in early 2008 when I returned for a brief holiday with Debbie on her first visit to Ireland. We flew to Shannon airport from Heathrow and hired a car heading for the Blarney Castle hotel where we planned to stay the night before heading off to Cork.
On the way through some beautiful countryside and picturesque towns along straight, narrow roads we listened to the local radio and one phone-in programme will always stick in our memories with a smile.
The weather in Ireland had been unseasonably warm for some time and there was a lot of discussion about the source of millions of jellyfish that had been washed up on the Irish shoreline. This discussion seemed eternal but the surreal part came when the then Prime Minister of Ireland (Taoiseach) Bertie Ahern phoned in himself to talk in excited tones about the invasion of the jellyfish too!
We could scarcely believe what we were hearing and I laughed so much I nearly crashed the car. I don’t think that would happen in the U.K. with our PM, more’s the pity!
Eventually we arrived at the hotel and checked in for the night followed by a lovely evening meal. Next day after a full Irish breakfast we headed off to the famous castle and proceeded to climb to the top surrounded by other tourists, many of whom seemed American.
Debbie’s father “Popsy” had been here before us in the mid 1930’s and got there the hard way by train to Fishguard, ferry and onwards by bike that he’d brought across. Debbie remembers that he used to have a piece of stone from the castle on his mantelpiece in Merthyr Vale with Blarney painted in gold with a shamrock below in green. Like us he ended up in Cork but got the ferry back to Fishguard.
On arrival the was a small queue leading to a man sat down next to a hole in the parapet with what looked to me a rather inadequate set of metal bars to prevent an unfortunate “kisser” falling to their death a hundred feet or so below.
The reason for the man squatting at the edge of this precipice soon became clear as each person in turn lay on their backs and with this chap clinging onto their legs slowly moved backwards until their hands gripped the bars. Then with one last metaphorical leap of faith they pulled themselves down underneath to kiss the stone!
Dear readers you will know from reading this blog that I personally already have the “gift of the gab” and had no need to enhance it further, due in only a small part to an unfortunate fear of heights, but Debbie launched herself towards oblivion without a care in the world and was relishing the opportunity to kiss something else apart from yours truly.
After a successful “non-marital snog” the leg-holder viewing my rather pale and pinched face beckoned me over with a slight sneer and curled lip and I edged towards my impending doom. As my lips touched the venerable artefact I couldn’t help thinking about the millions that had preceded me and wondered, just for a moment, if any had cold sores…
Eventually we wandered back to the car and headed for Cork airport, while stopping on the way at the Waterford crystal site where we did some mooching before heading off for the flight back to London. It was only a brief visit to the Emerald Isle and I’ll scan in some photos we took that are unfortunately packed away once we’re settled in Llanfoist. We really enjoyed our time there, the people were so friendly and it was great “craic”!