Republic of Ireland - Round The World Tour 2 2003 Day 178
Saturday 6th September
As it turned out, the night passed without incident or disturbance and we both slept relatively well. It has to be said that the majority of places we’ve found to park the brick overnight have been pretty good ones. We always seem to stumble into an out of the way spot where we aren’t bothered. It wasn’t completely plain sailing this time, however, as we immediately realised after we opened the curtains in the morning. We parked about fifty metres or so inside the main gate and under some trees along the avenue leading up to the house. A barrier about two metres high had been swung into place between the pillars at the main gate and was now padlocked solidly into place. We were essentially trapped inside the grounds with no means of getting out. Cars could freely pass beneath the barrier but the brick was way to high to get through. We were planning on going back to the house to complete the tour that we didn’t get to see completely yesterday so we weren’t initially overly concerned about an immediate departure but the thought did occur to me that it was now Saturday and I was worried that the barrier might now remain in place until Monday morning. The Dúchas staff at the house might have a key to the obstacle so we took a ride up there only to discover that the house was closed with nobody in sight. A sign near the door revealed that the opening time for today would not be until one o’clock in the afternoon so we decided to take a meander into town – we certainly weren’t going anywhere with the brick for a while.
The time eventually rolled around to noon when a passing car stopped and a cheerful and friendly local asked us how we managed to get the van into the grounds and through the barrier. It turned out to be the grounds-keeper. At least we now had a means of escape. The nice old man told us that he had a key for the barrier and that the soon to be arriving staff would open the barrier anyway. Ironically, the sign on the main door that posted the opening times also listed a phone number to call for just this type of situation but we had overlooked it.
We joined the first guided tour of the day at around one thirty. Castleton House is an enormous eighteenth century manor house with many rooms spread out over three levels. The place has been under refurbishment for the past ten years or so with another ten planned. The guided tour was by far the longest, at over an hour, and most thorough we’ve yet encountered. It was fascinating to hear the various storied about the furniture, wall and floor coverings, structural additions and modifications and so on that the owners had commissioned throughout history. It was well worth the temporary captivity.
After the tour, we drove around the immediate area, once again enjoying our freedom, admiring monuments and other related buildings to the manor house. We got to see the strangest looking helter-skelter like building that turned out to be a grain store. With a narrow, spiralling stairway wrapped around the outside of the building, it reminded me of the lighthouse tower at the entrance to the Universal Studios Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando.
Having seen all that there was to see in and around Celbridge, our next major objective for the day was to find a camp-site. The battery needed charging and we needed to empty the chemical toilet and top off the water tank. It turned out to be quite a task and one that would occupy the remainder of the day. Thorough interrogations of the map revealed just one camp-site anywhere near the Dublin area in all directions. At least we wouldn’t have to make an agonising decision over where to go. Celbridge is just West of Dublin and the camp-site we were after is just South of the city so we took the major arterial routes to get to it. However, the main road we were driving along seemed to stop abruptly and we were forced to turn in towards the city itself. It seems that our map is a little ahead of itself with a substantial chunk of the route that we were going to follow being a ‘planned’ road. Stress levels increased when we both started to argue about just which direction we needed to now follow to get to our intended destination. Neither of us had the first clue where to aim for so we both just made it up as we went.
After a significant detour through the suburbs, we eventually found our way to the general vicinity of the camp-site but simply could not locate it. I stopped to ask for directions and was told that the place we were looking for no longer existed. Once again, our trusty map let us down and this did nothing to help reduce the stress levels in the cab. The next closest camp-site is another thirty or so kilometres farther South of Dublin. This location would make it difficult for us to use the camp-site as a base for taking in Dublin itself but it was relatively close to another historic landmark that Sandy was keen on seeing so off we drove again. It was about half way that we got lost, again, and had to ask for directions for the second time today. We spent the next forty minutes or so traversing some very narrow country lanes before stumbling into the camp-site. It is the most expensive place we’ve stayed in yet but with pretty much no other competition for the Dublin bound camper community, there really isn’t much of an incentive for them to charge competitive prices. Finding a parking bay that was even close to being level was also a task in and of itself. Perhaps tomorrow will be a more enjoyable day.