Covid-19 restricted travel this year. My usual annual getaway to sun, sea and foreign exploration had to be scrapped. For much of the year, travel was actually designated by Government decree-often limited to a set number of kilometers from home. For a newly mobile person, this was not a huge constraint.
Naturally, I was disappoint to have to cancel a planned week in Lanzarote (of recuperation!) but as it meant staying well, exploring my town on foot was (almost) as good a foreign venture – so much to see for the first time and a freedom to be relished. The weather in March, April and May was glorious and conducive to neighbourly gatherings albeit across a garden fence to share coffee and sometimes something stronger!!! So isolation was not a problem.
‘Released from captivity’ in June and July, I savoured the joy of travelling to Cork to spend time with my beautiful grandson – it was tremendous. I loved the days spent ‘fishing’ and building dams in the Lee, hurling in the park, paddling in the garden pool, arty activities, make-believe stories with toys (learning paw patrol character names) – all the activities a granny dreams of!
It was short lived however and Kildare soon went into lockdown again in August. This time it was not so easy. So by the time September arrived, cabin fever was beginning to set in and a break to anywhere was needed. A travel planning sister organized a trip to the sunny south east which had to be cancelled at short notice as Covid numbers in Waterford rose.
However, undaunted she explored more private and easier regulated destination and at the beginning of October we headed off to the East Clare Golf Village outside Bodyke.
DAY 1: South Clare was the destination today – Loop Head Lighthouse. The lighthouse is located at the furthest point west on the Clare coastline on the Wild Atlantic Way, with the rugged and wild Atlantic on one side of the peninsula and the more sheltered Shannon Estuary on the other. The weather was wild but that didn’t stop us walking around the point and taking photos.
We continued up the coast, visiting Kilkee, sneaking over the dunes to see Donald Trump’s Doonbeg Golf Club (as ostentatious and lacking in class as its owner) and stopping in Quilty for lunch before cutting across county to get home.
I spotted this mosaic work along the sea wall in Quilty.
DAY 2: It was another wet and wild day for today’s visit to the Cliffs of Moher. But maybe this is exactly the weather when the cliffs should be viewed – a gale that would almost take you off your feet on the cliff walk and a surging sea below. And while there was only a glimpse to be had of the Aran Islands (no five county view today!) it was invigorating to experience what existence might be like on this western seaboard. The Visitors Centre is a unique structure, set into the hillside and offers an insight into the archeology, flora and fauna of the cliffs.
We travelled on through Doolin and Lisdoonvarna and talked about the memories we had of younger and hardier days spent here, pre camp sites and their facilities. The music and the craic sustained us.
DAY 3: The country went into Level 3 Lockdown today – no pubs or restaurants open unless for outside dining or take-away, and travel restricted to within your own county. This did not disrupt our travel itinerary for today, a lake drive around Lough Derg. The weather started off pleasant enough and allowed us to view the lake from a number of lookout points on the eastern shore. Stories of a brother’s trips to Drumineer prompted a stop there and allowed a leisurely walk on the pier and by the lake. The place is so well maintained, clean and with facilities open to the public it was a pleasure to be able to stroll around. The weather quickly changed and we hit back for home.
DAY 4: Although we knew Covid restrictions would limit the extent of the visit, we continued with our plan to visit Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. Our sat-nav got a bit confused with our choice of the “shortest route” and decided to extend the tour. However we arrived safely at our destination. Despite the restrictions, we had a lovely visit. There was only one guide on duty, dressed in medieval attire and he gave a wonderful historical description of the castle. He also whet our appetite for a visit to one of the medieval banquet nights with his stories of the merriment and song one can experience there. We had a great walk around the Folk Park which is a living reconstruction of the homes and environment of Ireland over a century ago. Rural farmhouses, a village street complete with school and shops and Bunratty House with its regency gardens are all recreated for the visitor.
DAY 5: Homeward bound, refreshed after a lovely stay – accommodation, tourist sites and take-away meals were all excellent. Best of all, however, was the company – after so many months of lockdown the chat and banter was great.
Only one Garda Checkpoint on journey and as I was “going home” it posed no problem!