Tuesday, May 12, 2009

To Ireland with the Donovans Part 1

In January, we booked an impressively affordable trip to Ireland. Based in Adare at the Adare Manor Resort & Golf Club Villas in County Limerick in the west part of Ireland, the package included our own full house for 6 nights, a 4-door car, and flights to and from NY. So, in the months preceding, I managed to completely get overwhelmed with all the things we could do. In the end, I only booked 4 things; a pedicure for myself and Brenna, a golf lesson for Liam, a back massage for Mark, and, at the advice of an Irish friend, the day and a special dinner at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. With those activities as a framework, the only other thing we were committed to doing was finding Castle Donovan in County Cork and making a pilgrimage!

The countdown to our departure was complicated by Swine Flu paranoia. In an ironic twist, both children came down with the flu. Not *the* flu, or so the doctor said. But it was flu, and they stayed out of school all week long. We were anxiously monitoring their health in case we had to cancel the trip (for the first time ever, we actually had bought trip insurance). Thankfully, they were well enough, and with extra homework lined up, we prepared for our trip.

Initially, Mark was going to be involved in an SCA event on Saturday. Sadly, we had booked our trip to coincide with an event Mark had helped initiate; he was supposed to lead some instructional sessions on melee work. Our flight was at 6:30pm Saturday from JFK in New York; we decided to drive as it was the most direct way to get there. Mark was going to lead his session, then head straight home and we would leave by noon, anticipate arriving at 4:30, then get on the flight. We nearly always are at the airport just in time to get on the plane, so we were used to moving quickly ;). Instead, Mark opted to forgo his event so we could not feel hurried. It was well he did; while we did arrive by 3:15, finding parking and getting to the airport with kids and luggage ate up any spare time we had, and as a result we got on the plane dry and not sweaty, which is just as well for a long flight ;).

The flight itself, while uneventful, was stressful. Next time we bring eye masks! Brenna would *not* fall asleep; they left the TV on all night long and she would not close her eyes!! I was completely annoyed and grumpy because I kept feeling little elbows and knees while I tried to sleep. Liam, however, snoozed the whole time. Mark and I agreed that we would just have to let him drive first ;). It made for a rough few first days with lack of sleep.

Finally, we arrived in Shannon at 5:45am, local. We waited patiently to go through the single lane for passport control, waited patiently to get our bags, waited patiently to get our hired car. Angela at Dan Dooley Car Rental asked if we'd booked with a MasterCard World, to which I said no. After processing paperwork, I presented my card - a World MasterCard. She then said that we could waive the collision damage insurance because it was a World card. I told her I'd been informed that it wasn't covered. Then we waited patiently while Geraldine at World MasterCard spoke with her supervisor and read every manual to come up with thoroughly conflicting information: Ireland was covered. Only Northern Ireland was covered. Republic of Ireland was excluded. But Ireland was covered. ??? Angela was thoroughly confused and slightly annoyed, as they had been operating under the assumption that rentals with World MasterCard were covered, and had been advising customers they didn't need the insurance. It's a mystery I hope I don't have to solve...

We got our car! Quite respectably sized Ford hatchback. Though, if the children's suitcases had not already been undersized, all our luggage may not have fit... Anyway, Mark bravely pulled out, gear shift in left hand, and we set off for the Cliffs of Moher!

Mark decided, mid sentence, that he needed a nap. I took the kids and started the hike up to the viewing area for the cliffs. What a treat! By the way, the weather was nothing like we expected. It was sunny! And while not exactly warm, it was not in the least uncomfortable. It was long-sleeve, roll 'em up, twinset cool. Naturally, it was cooler in the winds that blew up over the cliffs, but it was still far more pleasant than not. We saw birds and flowers and amazing views. When we finally made it back down to the car, I took over driving and we pointed the car toward Adare.

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