04 – Ireland 2015

In 2015 I started working at Ford Credit. It was a contract job, but the pay was good and it looked like it might last for a while. So we began to think of doing something we had not done in many years, to really travel somewhere. We mostly went back to New England every summer to visit family, which is nice, but when you consider we got engaged on a trip to San Francisco in 1979, took a honeymoon to Austria in 1979, and visited England in 1981, it had been way too long. I always said I wanted to visit Ireland “someday”, but now Cheryl put me on the spot to do it and stop dreaming about it. We had a chance to talk with my sister-in-law Deb, and she told us she knew how to do it inexpensively. She would go to Ireland frequently, and she did it with packages she found on Groupon. We signed up to Groupon then, and soon saw what she meant. We first talked it over with Dennis and Lyra, and we deicded to make it a foursome. On May 2, 2015 we pulled the trigger and bought a package for 4 people leaving in November, and the total for four people for a week was $3596. Deb really knew her stuff! Actually, by the time taxes and insurance, etc. etc. were paid, the final invoice was $4997, still a bargain.

This package included airfare round-trip between Dublin and New York JFK. So we had to get flights to JFK, ours from Detroit and Dennis and Lyra from Boston, but that was easy enough to do. And it was red-eye flight that was scheduled to get us into Dublin a 5:15 am, and we could not register at our hotel in Dublin until 3pm, so we took Deb’s advice and booked a couple of rooms at the Maldron hotel at the airport so we could get some sleep as soon as we landed. And on our return we would get into JFK around 6:30 and Cheryl and I decided we would just get a room at JFK and move on to Detroit in the morning. But other than that, everything was covered by the package. We had 7 nights in good hotels, full breakfast every day, rail passes between Dublin, Galway, and Limerick, and passes to the Guiness Storeroom, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and a one-day coach tour to the Cliffs of Moher. So it was pretty comprehensive. And we learned that Groupon was really just the go-between, the company that offered the package was called Great Value Vacations, and we got on their email list, where we found they always have tempting deals available.

Sunday 20151108

Off to Detroit Metro to catch our flight to JFK. The flight was uneventful, but when we got to JFK we found that the International flights were in a completely different area from the domestic flights, so it was a bit of a hike, and we had to go through security a second time. We had gotten our passports renewed earlier this year, and they are good until 2025, when we will have to renew them again. We got to our gate and met up with Dennis and Lyra, and found that Lyra was in some pain from a fall she had taken just the previous day. That would turn out to impact our trip in some ways, but we decided to make the best of it. We got on our Aer Lingus flight to Dublin, and it was quite pleasant for a long plane ride.

Monday 20151109

We arrived in Dublin while it was still dark, and managed to get a taxi to take us to the Maldron, which was about a mile or so down the road from the terminal. We went right to bed, being fairly exhausted from the overnight flight. Some people can sleep on planes, but I don’t think we got much if any sleep, and there was the jet lag as well. We got up just after noon, and went into the restaurant for refreshment. At a little after2 we got another taxi to take us to our hotel in Dublin, the North Star. They were ready for us, we checked in, dropped our bags, and then went for a walk. We were trying to find Trinity College, but we managed to get confused and went a good distance in the opposite direction before we figured it out. It was just the three of us, since Lyra stayed behind nursing her bad back. We did eventually get our bearings, but it was not a day for a lot of sight-seeing. We got back to the hotel, and had dinner. Tomorrow would be the real start for us. But I started a custom of having a pot of tea in the evening to relax before bed.

Tuesday 20151110

Full breakfast at the hotel to fortify us for a long day of walking. We decided we would use our passes to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, as that was something we wanted to see. We never did use the passes to the Guiness Storeroom, as none of us drink and we weren’t really interested. The North Star Hotel (it has since changed its name to The Address Connolly) sat opposite the Connolly Train Station, and about a block from the River Liffey. It was just three of us since Lyra’s back was still bothering her. Our route to the Cathedral had us crossing the river, then walking along the river t the Temple Bar area, before turning south to the Cathedral. St. Patrick’s Cathedral was founded in 1991 as a Catholic cathedral, but has since become part of the protestant Church of Ireland, and offshoot of the Anglican Church. It is famolus as the burial place of Jonathan Swift, among other things, but I was more interested in the memorials to the soldiers who died in various wars, particularly WWI. It is an interesting paradox that at the time that some Irish were fighting for independence from Britain (the Easter Uprising was in 1916), others were fighting Britain’s wars, somne for adventure, some to escape poverty.

After visiting the Cathedral, we retunred to the Hotel to pack up and take a train to Galway, our second stop in this tour. Dennis found a Medical Equipment place right around the corner from the hotel where he could rent a wheelchair to help Lyra get around. On the train Lyra instroduced us to Bananagrams, which is kind of a take-off on Scrabble, where you build words from letter tiles, which whiled away the train trip. We would spend two nights in Galway, then two nights in Limerick, and finally two more nights in Dublin before returning home. Although we were right across the street from the Connolly train station, we had to take a cab to the Heuston station, and were whisked off. We got to Galway, and took a cab to the Salthill Hotel, another very nice hotel. And it was raining. It rained a lot while we were there, in part because that is what the weather does in Ireland, and in part because we were there in November. We had dinner at the hotel, and then Cheryl and I wanted to see something of Galway. We found that the city bus had a stop just outside the hotel and would take us into the city. So we went in, and found a nice little club called Tij Coili (note that there are missing diacritical marks on many of these letters) which billed itself as the home of traditional music, which is just what we wanted. We spent a couple of hours there as various local musicians wandered in and took a seat in the performers area and started to play. Finally we went back to the bus stop, where we met a couple of other people who were also taking the Great Value Vacations tour, and who we would see again tomorrow.


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