This morning we thought we would do the more scenic/nature tour of Ireland, plus Libby wanted to run with the sheep. My sister decided to drive today, and except for the one time when she hit a car, she did really well. Yes, she hit a car with the passenger side mirror, but it didn’t fall off or anything and no one was injured so it’s all good. We head to the sheep farms first, but decide to take a short detour when Libby sees a wooded trail she wants to explore. We start walking through the forest, and my first thought is to wonder what animals are indigenous to Ireland. This does not feel safe to me, especially as each step I take seems to conceal some marshy underbelly. There are these big holes in the ground, home to only God knows what. It was beautiful, but treacherous things often are, so I was relieved when it was time to head back. Mom did take one for the team by marking our territory (yes, she pee’d in the woods). To get back to the car, we had to hop this fence bar thingy, I went under it on the way in, but had the brilliant idea to try and go over it on the way out. Unfortunately, I was blessed with really short legs, and I didn’t have enough momentum to carry me over, so I kinda just got stuck straddling it. It really wasn’t a good look for me, but mom got a good laugh and I did eventually slide off.
So, now we head to the sheep farm; however, upon arrival we discover it is closed. Drats. We head back out to our next destination which is the Lismore. On the way, we see some sheep with babies running along the fence, so we pull into a smaller road and get out of the car. These sheep are surrounded by a fence and locked gates, so mom decides to jump the fence. After my incident with the bar gate, I decide to walk down the road a bit and see if there is a better way to get in. We get about halfway to what looks to be a gate, when this truck turns down our road. We try to look all nonchalant because after all mom is stuck in the pasture of someone’s farm, probably trespassing (although there were no signs posted, which was going to be our defense had we been arrested, plus we were going to claim that this fence jumping and sheep tipping is a common custom where we come from in Texas). I snap pics and the truck passes, then Libby and I take off running behind the truck for the gate we saw. It didn’t occur to us that chasing after the truck on foot, might look a tad suspicious until the truck slammed to a stop. We heard yelling, and then all of a sudden a man on a horse emerges! OMG they’ve sent the calvary after us!!! Libby yells run (a common refrain with her) and takes off, but where should I run I ask you?!?!??!?!? So I stand there and wait for him trying to formulate my very good story and hoping he doesn’t see my mother in the pasture in her bright red sweater. I am actually starting to sweat. I don’t want to go to the gaol! He actually just says good morning and keeps going. Whew! I look to the car and the little ditcher Libby is hiding behind the car! She just left me to face the firing squad by myself!!!! So, now she thinks it is safe so she runs back with my sister in tow, and we head back to the gate. We stand there for a minute pondering our next plan of attack (the sheep ran from mom, so she jumped back over the brambles fence and was now standing with us) when all of a sudden we hear what sounded like a stampede.
The guy who passed me on horseback brought back friends…on horseback….a bunch of them!!!! We all stand there stupidly trying to look busy and not guilty as they pass (some of them were quite cute). We bid them good morning, and smiled and watched as they went around the bend. All of us breathe another sigh of relief and then my sister and Libby jump the fence. At last, her cuddling and running with sheep dreams has come true, except they were scared to death of her and kept running, so we risked life and limb for essentially nothing. As they are walking around trying to corral the sheep in the pasture in order to get closer to them, mom and I think we hear another car so we start yelling for them to hide while we pretend to take pictures of the nice sheep. The only problem is that there really isn’t a place to hide, so they both quickly run to the gate and vault over only to find that it was a false alarm. No car. Mom and I were a little jumpy obviously. After our sheep adventure, we decide to continue on to Lismore.
We ate lunch in the quaint town of Lismore after visiting the Cathedral and attempting to visit the castle there. The castle didn’t officially open for the tourist season until tomorrow, but when we got there, a group of people were walking into it so we followed them down the very long lane to the castle doors at which point they turned to us and said “sorry, this is as far as you go” and shut the big castle doors in our faces! I personally thought it was kinda mean, but whatever. We even told them we were leaving the area, and wouldn’t be able to come back tomorrow and since they were already there why couldn’t we take a quick peak, but nooooooooo! So, we moved on to the Cathedral. After lunch, we head to the Monastery at Mount Monterrey. One of the priests from my retirement village told me to visit there, so I was excited to see it.
The monastery is home to Cistercian monks. The contract for the church and the land says that monks may own it only today and tomorrow. Therefore, they own it forever. Their day begins at 4 am with prayer, and they continue praying every hour for 7 hours. They live mostly in silence. The church does hold mass, and the monks are available to hear confession. There is a guest house that is open for anyone of any creed to find rest should they need it. It was peaceful, serene and absolutely beautiful. Plus, I got to see my first true monk! The gardens were pretty except the part where we kept getting dive bombed by bees. We were surrounded by mountains and the view was incredible. After leaving the monastery, we head towards The Vee. The road traversing up this mountain is ridiculously small, luckily we don’t meet many cars going the opposite way. It feels just like it looks in the movies. We are driving along and all of a sudden these angora goats just appear, roaming free, crossing the road and dotting the hillside. We pull over, but of course they run from us. We spend a few minutes taking pictures and doing a little mountain climbing before heading back to the car and continuing on to The Vee. The drive at this point is just amazing. The landscape literally changes about every 5 minutes. We finally make it to The Vee, which is an overlook of the entire valley. We have pictures because words just can’t express how spectacular the view is from here. After soaking that in for a few minutes, we continue driving until we see this little brook and Libby decides she wants to stop and do some exploring. We are walking around and she announces she has to pee. I tell her to go, there is no one around. I point to the ground and I say, go right there. She looks to where I am pointing and says “what is that?” I am looking around when she says “OMG is that a dead cow?!?!?!?” I finally see what she is point at and omg it is a dead calf, half eaten and rotted! We both scream and run to the car. Libby still hasn’t forgiven me for telling her to pee on it. I truly didn’t see it. Truly.
We make it back to our haven of Youghal, and after resting a few minutes, we head down to the bar for some drinks. I decide to go straight for the hard liquor, so I ask for a whiskey sour. Apparently, they have never heard of a whiskey sour, but the bartender tells me she will find out how to make it. Before I can tell her it’s no big deal, I can order something else, she has run off in search of help. She asks one of the other ladies, and she has no clue either, but apparently someone in the back that we can’t see will know how to make it, so they run back there to ask. Well that person didn’t know either, so they decide to call Mary. I don’t know who Mary is but apparently she must know because they begin putting together my strange American concoction. I am a little concerned when they break out the Martini glass. I can’t really see what she is doing, but she dumps a bunch of stuff in the shaker and pours me a whiskey sour martini. She gives it to me, but the look on her face does not inspire confidence to try it. She says “well, there ya go”. I take one sip of this cloudy yellow looking concoction and OMG. The drink actually gave me heartburn, but she told me that while she wouldn’t charge me for it, I had to drink it all because of all the effort they took to try to make it. My sister asks what they actually put in it. Are you ready for this?
Jim Beam Whiskey
The juice of half a lemon
I did valiantly finish it, but it was rough going and it really did give me heartburn. Poor woman behind the bar was driven to drink after that fiasco. Mental note: apparently the Irish only drink their whiskey straight up.
Afterwards, we head to our favorite pub to eat and where I safely stick with rum and coke. Libby has discovered a new love (sorry Joey), it’s goat cheese. Then we head back to our rooms to fall into an exhausted sleep. We must get our beauty rest because tomorrow is St. Paddy’s Day and we are headed to Dublin!