It’s finally time to turn the Ford’s nose back towards home. The girls have strenuously resisted any suggestions from Murray and I that we need to head to Blarney and kiss the famous stone (“you both have enough Blarney“) and we have either seen or imagined through fog all of the other well known sights and sites. We pack the multitude of bags into the car one last time, wondering why it’s getting more difficult rather than easier each time. “Hey, your bag was smaller last time I saw it.” “And where did that little blue shopping bag come from?” This mystery is not new to the two long-term husbands, so we silently nod and agree to pretend not to notice the bags have new bulges that look suspiciously like items we thought we had bypassed in the souvenir shops.
It will be a relatively short run to Dublin along the motorway (yes, a real one with two lanes each way and exits and stuff!) We’ll be in Dublin too early for the B&B! Oh no, we need to kill a couple of hours somewhere. Quick as a flash, tour guide Nanette throws in a suggestion. “It’s only a short way to Tipperary from here.” She keeps a straight face as she tosses this obvious bait, and most of us start humming the well-known tune. “If we don’t go, it’ll be a long way later” chimes in Murray, who is a little slower on the uptake. “And it’s an even Longer way from Australia – get it – long way?” (Editor’s note – this isn’t a completely accurate record of the conversation, but I just wanted to make sure the tune is playing endlessly in your heads by now.)
We hit the road and assume the positions of four travellers of a certain age who have seen a lot over the last few days. One is driving, another is reading a book on her iPad, yet another is checking Facebook on her iPhone and the final member of our motley crew is working on a laptop building the photo book which will stun and amaze the relatives back home. You will need to guess who each of these are.
Tipperary is a little disappointing, with nothing special to distinguish it except being immortalised in a song that was allegedly written for a five shilling bet and later became known as the song of World War I.
We keep on rolling, and shortly come to the smaller town of Cashel. Our plan is to visit Carraig Phádraig, better known as the Rock of Cashel. This unassuming little hill was the seat of the kings of Munster (Southern Ireland), until they handed it to the church about a thousand years ago. It’s now cold and threatening rain, so we gratefully duck into the entry of what once was a majestic cathedral and chapel. There’s a guided tour already underway. Great! It has just moved outside to look at the cross with what might be an image of St Patrick. Oh, you mean back out into the cold?
We brave the elements and learn a lot about this important site, including a small clue about the tensions between the Irish and the English (OK, so burning 2000 people alive inside a cathedral in the 1600s was really nasty). At the end of the tour I ask our guide why the rock is also called St Patrick’s rock. “The old almanacs seem to suggest he came down and visited here once.” He didn’t sound convinced, but it was along time ago and nobody can prove otherwise.
Well, it’s still a beautiful overcast sub-zero summer’s day, so we decide to have one last traditional Irish meal before we head for home. We head to Fahy’s, a quaint local which promises authentic atmosphere and free wi-fi for Murray to check the Wimbledon scores. Today’s special is lasagne. Not very Irish, but it looks good, and, it’s warm! We reckon that, as long as we finish off with hot apple crumble, we can still claim we have done it like a local. Now, we just need to slip up the M7 and we’re ready to start the next adventure.