15.04.2013 - 15.04.2013 15 °C
Our day began somewhere between 2:00 and 3:00 am. From outside we heard the sound of some tipsy revelers in the street. Unfortunately, they were staying in the same hotel apartment as us. Within a few moments we heard carousing in the hallway one floor up accompanied by some angry yelling. It eventually died down and we slipped back into our slumber. Several minutes later our bedroom door opened a crack casting a feeble ray of light over our bed. Abby was running a fever and had the chills and a roiling tummy. Even teenagers need some parental doctoring in the middle of the night now and then. After a pain reliever and some rejigging of bedding, Abby was slightly more comfortable.
Sleep, wonderful sleep was soon to return. I rested in the satisfaction that I had set my iPhone alarm for a civilized 8:00 am so there was plenty of time to get some good winks in. No less than ten minutes after helping Abby, the smoke detector in our apartment began emitting a shrill call. Within moments our entire apartment was ablaze in light, and all of us got up to investigate what the hullabaloo was about. There definitely was no fire in our apartment. I pressed the reset button but the banshee call would not let up. I popped my head out the door and realized the fire alarm was sounding through all the smoke detectors in the building. We donned our day clothes along with raincoats and waterproof shoes as it was raining cats and dogs outside. I went out to scour the hallways and get a read on what was happening. I saw no one. I went up and down a few stairs looking for signs of fire or commotion but found nothing. I went downstairs and saw no fire truck or apartment personnel. When I went up the stairwell a third time I saw a family and one guy in shorts and t-shirt who looked more than a few sheets to the wind. It was evident what was really up. Finally a security guard stormed into the building talking up a storm in an Irish accent so thick I couldn't tell if he was swearing a blue streak of giving me information. After examining the alarm panel he ran off to the offending apartment and returned within moments, saying there was no fire but also announcing he wouldn't be able to shut off the alarm. The occupant of the offending apartment had ripped the entire smoke alarm out of the ceiling, thinking it was the sole source of the noise. As we were being told this, another drunk young man teetered down the stairs and dramatically motioned to all of us to stay calm, saying, “There is no fire, there is no fire, there is no fire”. The security guard gave a few choice remarks in his thick Irish drawl which I did not understand but which really required no translation. The mother of the family gave the young man a look that would have turned grapes to raisins in a millisecond. He instantly stopped speaking although his mouth continued to move in a speaking motion for a few more seconds.
Eventually the alarm was turned off and we all returned to our apartments. It was difficult to get back to sleep but eventually slumber did come, only to be cruelly snatched away once more when the alarm went off briefly as the system was reset.
Needless to say, when our alarm did go off at its appointed time there was nothing civilized about it. When we checked out we were greeted by a very apologetic front desk clerk. She had been called in at 3:00 am to help deal with the problem. Apparently the drunk young men wanted to party with an apartment full of girls and tried to force themselves in their suite. Somewhere in the midst of this incident the fire alarm was pulled. The men did not finish their stay in the apartment hotel, and there were still police on scene as we checked out.
Being a little blurry eyed, we decided to shake the sleepiness by checking out the grounds of nearby Muckross House in Killarney National Park before hitting the road. It is a huge 65 room estate house established in 1843. It is beautifully situated next to Muckross Lake and the wilds of the hills that are now the national park. Its gardens were substantially improved and expanded in preparation for a visit by Queen Victoria in 1861. In fact the investment was so large that it ultimately led to its owner’s insolvency a number of years later. It changed hands a few times and finally was gifted to the Irish state in 1932. It is such an idyllic spot and would have been a magical place to grow up and live in. Today it is not only a favourite with tourists and jaunting cart drivers (horse and buggies for hire), but also for locals since access to the grounds is free.
After a brief stroll of the grounds (Abby stayed in the car and rested), we felt invigorated enough to hit the road. Our halfway stop was to be Adare. It is often called the prettiest village in Ireland. For a village of 2500 people it has a lot going for it. It is home to a friary, priory, abbey, manor, castle, thatched cottages, and a gorgeous civic park. All of this is augmented with two private schools and a couple of prestigious golf courses. It is a popular locale for weddings and conferences. Needless to say, it was an ideal location for a picnic lunch. Even though the skies were mostly overcast, the mercury was still at a balmy 15 degrees.
Muriel and I wandered the village a little and took in the interiors of the abbey and the priory before heading back to the car, where Hannah and Abby were trying to cope with the results of their largely sleepless night. Another hour and a half in the car got us to our seaport destination of Kinvara. We drove by our vacation rental home to see if the owner was home. He was not, but his more than eclectic ramshackle home was an overwhelming introduction in itself. The place has several doors and entrances in various stages of installation. There is a tree house out back and half a boat in the driveway. An unfinished wood frame building is attached to a whimsical stone out building, the outline of a brick pizza oven set underneath. The yard is littered with piles of wood, sand, stone, brick, and wine bottles. Two Corinthian columns planted at random set the whole display off. This all sits below several unconnected rooflines. Imagine a house and yard created by a hurricane out of repurposed building materials and you start getting the idea. The inside of our suite is a bit better in that it reflects the work of a semi-artistic but unskilled carpenter with attention deficit disorder.
Our view of the inside and introduction to our landlord did not occur until a couple of hours later. We went to a coffee shop in the village to wait and process what we saw. All the online reviews of this accommodation had been heartfelt endorsements of the place and very fond tributes to the extremely quirky owner. It was this that had caught Muriel’s fancy and sparked her desire to take a walk on the wild side. After all, how bad could it be?
After two return visits to the house we finally found another trailer load of reclaimed wood sitting in the already crowded driveway, announcing that the owner was home. He greeted us at the door of the suite saying he just arrived a moment ago and had not yet prepared the suite after last night’s visitors. However, he assured us, “I am on top of it. Just give me 20 minutes”. I am not sure what we found less reassuring: the fact that the place was not ready or the fact that he thought a 20 minute cleanup was sufficient preparation for the next customers. We assured him we would give him longer than a mere 20 minutes and drove off to the beach to wait. When we returned, our peculiar landlord started to count us on the tips of his finger as we emerged from the car. His mouth was somewhat agape when he exclaimed, “There are four of you?” This was not music to our ears. He did assure us he had plenty of bedding and then proceeded to wrestle with an ancient couch that turned into a bed, but had a mechanism that was more like a complicated Transformer toy rather than a simple hide-a-bed.
Let’s just say we quickly noticed that we only got 20 minutes worth of cleaning at best. In addition to this, the entrance to the bathroom is only covered by curtains and our bedroom door is missing the window that constitutes half the door. By now it was getting close to seven in the evening, and there really was not much to be done. There is plenty of firewood and a wood stove. The place has wifi, a dishwasher, a washing machine, and all the other appliances of a regular kitchen. We will see this evening what actually works and decide in the light of day if this walk of the wild side is actually a just a fun detour from the mundane or the onramp to the highway to hell.