Tuesday 2 November
It’s a little before 2.45 am when the ferry sets off from Fishguard on a cold, gusty night with the winds set to touch gale force 8. With Ma sandwiched between Tom and me as we climb up from the car decks, I watch her gamely tackle the steep stairs. Her fragile back is even more delicate these days, but she never falters, never holds anyone up and never complains. And whilst I’m fretting to myself about the after-effects of such a long journey for her, Ma’s as excited as a six-year-old. Despite the terrible forecast, I’m surprised that I barely notice the motion of the ferry, or maybe I’ve been hardened by years of being thrown around in a small boat. The crossing is uneventful and we spill out into a wet, Irish dawn and take breakfast in the coldest cafe in the world. Ma laughs when I invite her to sit by the radiator which, we find is turned off. Then it’s a race to eat our full Irish breakfast as it chills on freezing cold plates.
view from the holiday home
It takes the best part of six hours to reach the Dingle Peninsula which juts out thirty miles into the Atlantic Ocean. Through the drizzle we watch the scenery becoming increasingly dramatic as we head westwards, although we can’t help but notice the ghost estates of brand new, pastel-coloured houses – nearly all of them uninhabited – creeping across the country. We find our holiday bungalow hidden up a very unlikely looking track. So unlikely we try someone’s family home first. We retrace our steps along the track towards what looks like a gravel pit – and there it is; huge, modern and very comfortable. Fall into enormous comfy beds and sleep like logs.
Murphys, an early favourite
Wednesday 3 November.
Our holiday home at Baile na nGall has the most spectacular view across to the trio of peaks known as The Three Sisters, although it’s quite hard to see any of them through the mist. So we go to An Daingean, Dingle, a pretty town and fishing port with hilly streets and brightly-painted houses. Ma spends so much money in the first two shops that I fear her bank will think a mad woman is running amok with her debit card in the far west. She is. Within minutes, Tom is the proud owner of new hairy jumper, and my sister and brother-in-law have crystal glass jug, hand cut by master craftsman Seán Daly (who, incidentally, along with his wife Liz, is completely and utterly charming). Then it’s time for proper coffee and ice cream in Murphys.
Ventry Bay on clear day
The mist lifts for one tantalising moment. Encouraged by a glimpse of The Three Sisters, we dash out for a drive round Slea Head to explore, but chase the mist all the way. Never mind, it’s been a great first day, enjoyed by all. Perhaps the mist will lift tomorrow?