Republic of Ireland - Round The World Tour 2 2003 Day 173


Monday 1st September

Not too long after finishing last night’s log entry, I was almost fast asleep when the sound of a car pulled up not too far from us in the public library car park. After a couple of minutes, I realised that the car’s engine was still running so I peeked out through a small gap in the curtain only to learn that it was a police car. My heart started to race a bit and I was worried that there would be a knock on the door any minute now from an angry Garda officer complaining about our presence. Fortunately, there was no knock on the door and the car eventually left after about half an hour. Perhaps he was just doing his rounds. Actually, after it left, I felt quite comforted knowing that the streets were being patrolled.

We eventually awoke to the sound of dozens of school kids playing in the adjacent playground. I hadn’t realised that we were parked right next to a school until this morning but at least it gave us the extra nudge we needed to kick-start the day.

The plan was to visit a nearby abbey. Actually, this was the reason we choose Newcastle West as a place to spend the night to begin with. After breakfast, we inched around the couple of streets to where the abbey was located but it seemed quite devoid of life with no open door in sight. I don’t know if it was the apparent absence of any other tourists or the fact that it was so early in the morning but we decided to give the abbey a miss and drove straight on towards Limerick instead.

With the brick’s extreme thirst for fuel, we’ve become accustomed to paying close attention to the advertised prices of petrol at all the filling stations. When the prices are higher, we only put in a few Euros worth and move on to a larger town where competition between garages usually means a cheaper alternative can be found somewhere. The very first garage that we find on the very outskirts of a given town is usually the highest in price and the prices usually drop several cents farther into town. The difference in fuel prices can be as much as 20%. Given that a good chunk of our outgoings is in fuel, this can make a significant difference over a prolonged period of time. Before we left Newcastle West completely, we stumbled upon a filling station with a favourable price and topped up.

Several small towns lay between Limerick and us and one of them, Adare, is one of the prettiest towns in all of Ireland, according to one of our guidebooks, so we stopped there to take a look for ourselves. It was, indeed, a picturesque little place but the fact that the two main tourist attractions, a castle and a priory, were both closed, substantially diminished our enjoyment of the place. It did have one of the best tourist information offices we’ve seen to date.

We arrived in Limerick not long after departing Adare and found a convenient place to park the brick whilst we strolled around town. I wasn’t able to find my DS9 season four DVD set anywhere but Sandy did manage to pick up some new clothes. Walking around any city or large town is strenuous and arduous enough at the best of times but it seemed even more so this afternoon. For some reason, we were both a little tired and irritable with each other. It took a visit to the King John’s Castle to lift our spirits. Not only was it a very nice castle but the visitor centre and various exhibits were among the very best that either of us has ever seen. Throughout the castle grounds and in various chambers, are audio-visual presentations as well as living history depictions with waxwork figures in period costumes. We took our time exploring the castle and picked up some interesting leaflets at the exit. Apparently, just up the road at Bunratty, an evening’s entertainment can be had in the form of a medieval banquet in the castle there. We called the central reservations number on the leaflet and booked ourselves in for this evening’s festivities. We also booked for tomorrow night in the same castle for an Irish music evening.

We found a very secluded spot to park the brick right around the corner from Bunratty Castle and killed some time watching some more DS9 season one episodes before getting ready for a fun evening in the castle. I had high hopes that we would enjoy the evening and I was not disappointed.

Together with about seventy or so other guests, we were all entertained in the castle’s great hall by a very talented ground of people dressed in period costumes. These entertainers sang songs, danced and served out food and drinks also. Together with a couple of very talented musicians (a fiddler and a harpist) they spent the better part of three hours entertaining us with good humour, all the while referring to the guests as ‘my lord’ or ‘my lady’. The whole evening was crowned by a man from the audience, from Florida, who got up onto the stage, went down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend. It was a very entertaining night out and I very much look forward to tomorrow night’s Irish night.