Having had a very successful dinner at the cousins’ B&B the previous night, we developed a plan to go on a cliff walk to the beach just across the road. The fathers would drive towels and picnics to the beach and the mothers would shepherd the children along the cliff path. I instantly felt that the fathers were getting a far better deal. Somewhat to my astonishment, this turned out not to be the case. The weather was beautiful, the children were cheerful and the walk was pleasant. We spent the day at the beach and the Princess got the chance to walk up the road and renew her acquaintance with the shopkeeper who had given her a lift the previous day.
That night all the children stayed in another cousin’s house and six of the grown-ups were able to go out to dinner together. Let joy be unconfined.
We collected the children from their cousin’s house and went for a walk in the damp.
Reaction had set in, they were all tired and cranky. We trudged back to the house. The day was redeemed by an evening trip to the merries in the driving rain. The children had a fantastic time. Almost certainly the highlight of their summer. I felt mildly ill after a ride which should have been called the whiplash and knew myself to be as old as time.
The children and I spent the morning in Dingle’s really excellent library. We all read books peacefully and I actually heard lots of Irish spoken though one of the librarians was from the North which meant that a fair bit of it was impenetrable to me. On a whim I asked the librarian whether our Dublin library cards might work there. They would not but they would issue temporary cards for our stay. Too late, alas, for this trip but filed away for future knowledge and may some day be useful for you to know also, gentle reader.
We met an old friends of mine from college and her family for lunch. During our college careers I had often visited her in Dingle. This time was, however, the first time I had actually been able to see the mountains on the Dingle peninsula. We reminisced fondly over the endless rain that had been a feature of our youth. Her four children and our three bonded and Daniel continues to speak with a midlands accent (where they now live) as a tribute to this encounter. They also bought us lunch – what’s not to love?
That afternoon, using the local knowledge from lunch we went to the beach where, some 20 years previously, I had swum with the Dingle dolphin. I very rapidly turned tail; dolphins are enormous. Of course, Fungi was not then the celebrity that he is today. I brought the children and the cousins to the same cove but Fungi chose to bond with the dozens of boats driving tourists round the bay. Some of us saw him once in the distance. Not, regrettably, Michael, who was inclined to cry.
That night, Mr. Waffle and I went out to dinner while my saintly parents-in-law babysat. All very satisfactory.
And do you know what? The weather was so fine that we never got to visit the aquarium. Saved for next year.
Our lovely landlady came to say goodbye. We had a long chat with her (as Gaeilge, very thrilling). She knew a number of the teachers from the children’s school who also come from that neck of the woods – further thrill. We brought her out to the car to meet the children (they were already strapped in for the journey) and finally they spoke some Irish. Not much and that little not grammatical but, you know, it was something. Our landlady and her husband are both local native speakers who moved to Dublin. They spoke Irish to their children but our landlady said that her mother always said what odd accents the children had. She also said that there was a lot more Irish spoken 20 years ago. A former colleague of mine from this part of the world, who has now retired, told me how when he was 12 he won a scholarship to a school in Killarney (this was before free-second level education). A lot of the local clever boys did. This was a school near the Gaeltacht which promoted and supported the Irish language. Yet, somehow, the boys from the Gaeltacht didn’t feel happy speaking to each other in Irish (although this was strongly encouraged) in front of their peers. He described to me the huge sense of relief the boys from the Gaeltacht felt when they sat on the bus home together at the end of term and could relax and speak Irish again. It’s all a bit depressing, really. However, on a cheerful note, have a link to the cups song and “Wake Me Up” in Irish just in case you are the only person who hasn’t seen them.