Young boys have strong opinions and high expectations. Five year old Patrick wanted space for football and “running about”, while his twin brother Thomas wished for “sandy beaches”. Michael’s surprisingly refined seven year old palate required “a good seafood restaurant”. Every year Helen and I invite these diverse and occasionally impossible requests and each year I disappear into cyber-space, on a quest for the perfect family fortnight away.
The boys chose Ireland. I told them about the weather; I told them about the journey on terrible Irish roads; I told them about the best seafood in the world and we all agreed. This would be our first time “abroad” together.
Patrick uses a powered wheelchair, so we need good comfortable and accessible accommodation and we need to be totally confident before we arrive. Kilmore Cottage appeared early in my search. I should have booked immediately but, afraid I might miss something better, I wasted many hours before I called Helen Cousins to discuss the details. The call convinced me that all would be well and possibly even better than that.
Manchester has rain. We set off in the rain. We’d had rain for weeks. We expected more rain. I won’t say we felt cheated, but as the Holyhead ferry neared Dublin, the rain stopped and we saw sunshine. The sun shone for two whole weeks. The boys told me that I was wrong about the weather. As we headed south from Dublin on brand new (possibly controversial) motorways, the boys reminded me that I was wrong about the roads too.
Despite the best efforts of the “Sat Nav”, which amused the boys, as we seemed to drive for miles, “off-road” through open countryside, we arrived only slightly late. Our cottage was “Teach a Trí” and we dined on fish and chips the first night; no ordinary fish and chips, we had lemon sole, haddock and scampi. Don’t mind the queue in Kilmore Quay; I was right about the seafood. We went back …and back…and back.
THE DAY TRIPS
Someone said, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes”. Consequently we brought twice the luggage we needed. We headed for the beach at Duncannon, perfect for Patrick, since we parked on the beach. The annual sand sculpting was on show, but the boys built waterways the Romans would be proud of. Michael got slightly burnt and I felt very guilty to have missed a spot with the factor fifty. We later found miles of deserted local sandy beaches and Thomas was happy.
There are more possible “days out” than two weeks allow. The excellent Dunbrody Emigrant Ship and the Irish National Heritage Park are highly recommended and we tried to lose the boys in the mazes at Dunbrody Abbey and the beautiful JFK Kennedy Arboretum. The Hook peninsula and Hook Lighthouse are worth a full day at least. In addition to pebbles from the beach, the discovery of fossils at the Hook, means we now have a large bag of “the loose bits” of Ireland.
Waterford via the Ballyhack ferry was popular, especially with the promise of ice cream, but disabled parking with no drop curbs, meant we had to battle the traffic just to get Patrick out of the car park and onto the road in Waterford. This was one of a very few problems, but the ice cream was worth it apparently.
The boys respect a healthy obsession with sport, so Kilkenny won them over, even if the sport was strange and new. We bought hurleys and now they play in the local park, attracting some interest from passers-by.
In truth, we could easily have stayed in and around Kilmore. We found we had good neighbours and could have stayed “home” for most of the first week while the boys played “hide and seek” and football with the girls next door. The house was perfectly suited to our needs and Helen and John Cousins made us welcome, without ever being “intrusive”. John and Conor, (their son), showed us round the farm and Conor also got roped in for even more football. The house was clean and fresh; though I’m afraid we cooked mackerel on the last night, so I hope it returned to freshness quickly enough. Our boys were never ever “at a loose end”, which meant that Helen and I could relax totally. We’ve stayed in a fair few holiday homes and I’d say Kilmore Cottage is top class for facilities and value.
Kilmore Quay has a special charm; from the seals in the harbour, to the thatched roofs. We spent the odd evening out at the pub and even had time to take in a movie in Wexford.
I’ve travelled in Ireland many times and the changes over the last twenty years are amazing, but I’m always surprised by the time people take and the welcome they give. Thankfully, this is still true today.
So, “was Michael satisfied with the seafood?” He says he was, but even this pleasure was surpassed by a high speed motor boat ride from Wexford, which he described as the best thing he’s ever done.
There’s a BBC TV show called “Give us a Break”, or something similar, where children who feel their holidays are less than perfect get to pick their family’s next holiday destination. We asked Michael, Thomas and Patrick what they would do if ever they were to appear. They told us they’d come back to Kilmore. It may not be next year, but with three available houses; we saw the opportunity to return with friends or extended family.
Three satisfied boys makes two satisfied parents. Thank you to Helen, John and Conor.