Isle vacation takes us to castle, golf course, whiskey distillery

The Ireland trip is in its 7th Day on Sept. 4 as we pick up the Smiths and Gareys at Waterford Castle. This morning we arose from a restful sleep thanks to the wonderful bed, the cool temperatures and the quiet surroundings, far away from the city hum of cars and trucks. It was down to the Munster Room again for another of those scrumptious Irish breakfasts of poached eggs, bacon, sausage, juice, cereal, prunes, fruit, and coffee, tea or milk. Remember, we have left the black and white puddings in their place. . .on the plate. That morning the boys would be on the golf links for their third time on the trip while the girls would be driving up N10 to Kilkenny which was a mere 30 miles away. But before they left Waterford, I realized in the pro shop at the golf course that they would have to make another stop at Fitzgerald’s, a men’s shop downtown, to retrieve my credit card. The previous day we’d gone shopping and I’d purchased a light jacket. The gentleman who waited on me forgot to give my card back to me, and I was so excited that my wife let me buy the coat that I’d neglected to ask for it. ALENE AND MARY Ann graciously went back and got it, and I was eternally grateful’and they made me pay for it the rest of the trip by doing little things. The Waterford Castle Golf Club was one of the more fancy courses that we played. It took up most of the 320-acre island and was a nicely manicured parkland on an estuary of the River Suir. Since it is located on the former estate grounds of the Fitzgerald family, it has mature trees with rolling hills and a particularly interesting view of a large tanker loading up down the river that has access to the ocean to the south. With lots of bunkers and tall grass off the fairway, we had some big holes when hacking the ball out of the rough. I sliced my drive out of bounds on the last hole, taking a triple bogey seven, while Richard had a par four. We tied at 88s. We played fairly well on the front side, each shooting 43 but ballooned a bit with 45s on the back. Meanwhile the girls took in the sights of Kilkenny. A brief visit to the town and lunch at a pub named “Paris, Texas” was all they managed as they were intent on returning to the Waterford crystal factory where Arlene made some gift purchases. After our round was completed about 2 p.m., we enjoyed a Guinness on the veranda then took off back west to Youghal and the Walter Raleigh Hotel, our headquarters for the next two days. The highway between Waterford and Youghal is the major thoroughfare from the capital of the Republic of Ireland, Dublin, the largest city, to the second largest city, Cork. Therefore the roads we travelled were outstanding, although only two-laners except on hills when there was an occasional passing lane. The country between Waterford and Youghal is beautiful with rolling hills, farm land and an occasional wooded area. Cows and sheep dot the countryside. I must stress that the small towns in Ireland are exceptionally clean and well kept. Every one has flowers adorning the buildings which are all freshly painted in vibrant colors. THERE ARE NO suburbs in Ireland, at least not any we saw. And everyone shops in the downtown area. It’s difficult to find a parking place, regardless of the day of the week. Richard and I had discussed that we felt that the Irish are about 20-30 years behind the United States in technology, fashion and communication. But, we were enjoying it all as the days continued to be bright and sunny and in the mid to high 60s. The girls got in to Youghal about 6 p.m. and we ate in the hotel pub that evening. Mary Ann’s steak was too well cooked, but I thought mine was outstanding. Day 8 Another beautiful day was Wednesday, Sept. 5. This was another “you go one way, and we’ll go another” type day with the girls making a small circle, leaving Youghal and heading up north about 20 miles to the picturesque village of Lismore. The boys headed back east to near Dungarvan and the Gold Coast Golf Club for our final round of golf in Ireland. The girls went to Lismore, the site of another castle and the namesake of a 50-year-old pattern of Waterford crystal. Lismore castle is presently occupied by family members. So Mary Ann and Arlene had to be content to purchase a ticket that let them roam the grounds and gardens. They then headed southwest to Midleton, the site of the historic Jameson Distillery, the makers of Jameson Irish Whiskey. The girls learned a great deal about the procedure for distilling whiskey in general and Irish whiskey in particular’why Irish whiskey tastes so different from scotch or bourbon. (Just ask them and they’ll give you a complete rundown.) THE HIGHLIGHT of the tour for Mary Ann was being chosen as “official taster” at the end of the presentation. She even got a certificate proving her distinguished status. This is kind of a joke because Mary Ann has only tasted whiskey a couple of times in her life. Meanwhile, our tee time was at 9:30 a.m. and we arrived at Ballinacourty, which is just east of Dungarvan. The Gold Coast Golf Club is associated with a large hotel complex. It was another parkland-type golf course, but it was located on the ocean with plenty of great views of the jagged coast line and shear cliffs. We found the course to be the toughest one we played, maybe because it was so long being well over 6,500 yards with wiry seaside grass off the fairway, where we played most of the time. The greens were large and undulating and difficult to read. I shot 93 while Richie carded a 96. We played fairly well on the front, but with the back side being mostly along the ocean, we suffered a bit. I double bogied the last five holes, much to my chagrin. After the round, we relaxed and had lunch at a restaurant on the grounds then drove back to Youghal and went out to the golf course there to enjoy the view of the Irish Sea and visit with the bartender and down a pint of Guinness. He was a friendly sort, and I got into a conversation with him, asking what the annual rainfall was there on the seacoast. “I don’t have any idea,” he replied. “I just know we get a lot.” I said we averaged about 25 inches of rain each year in the Heart of Texas. He smiled and said, “We get 25 inches in a month here.” AFTER THE GIRLS returned from Midleton, we dined that evening at a pub in downtown Youghal and had several conversations with two Irish couples there. One man was a farmer from over near Dublin. They were in Youghal on “holiday.” He said he was a “dirt jockey.” I had never heard of that term for a farmer, but it certainly is fitting. Richard asked him why we didn’t see many pickups on the highways and streets in Ireland. He said most of them stayed on the farm and that most of their pickups were foreign, Japanese trucks. The Irish have to conserve their gasoline consumption. It’s every expensive, as is just about everything. Gasoline runs about 0.67 pounds per liter which is about $2.80 per gallon, according to my calulation. The next day is Day 10, and that is when we head out west to the coast and the Ring of Kerry. We’ll catch that and wind up our stay in the Emerald Isle next issue. (To Be Continued)

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