Thursday, May 19, 2005

We're all going on a summer holiday..

AS YOU read this I will either be walking along the glorious Donegal coastline praising this wonderful country for its scenery, or sitting staring out at the rain crying with boredom.

Oh yes, this week we are having our first proper family holiday down in the sunny (hopefully) climes of Rathmullan and as I write this I am hoping the good weather gods have shone down for at least three or our seven days.
Having initially dubbed our holiday as a trip to "just Rathmullan", as everyone inevitably wonders why we didn't jet off to some guaranteed sunshine in the Med, I think maybe it's time to set the record straight.
You see I am one of those dreadfully sad people who genuinely believes that if you get the weather, you really don't need to go far from home for a holiday worth remembering, and that belief stems from a number of memorable local breaks in my childhood.
Money was an issue for us growing up; we weren't one of those fancy dan families who jetted off to Spain for a fortnight. But that certainly doesn't mean the breaks we did share weren't filled with loads of memories; and most of them good.
First of all there was an exodus to a house up a hill in Ballyliffen. With my mum's friends and their families in tow, it seemed like there were about six adults and 50,000 children all crammed into a house whose most memorable feature was that there was a goat tethered out the back which used to scare the beyjasus out of us in the middle of the night.
I remember that holiday because it was the first time someone tried to feed me cornflakes with warm milk (Yuck!) and because there was a wee farm down the road where we would go and play with our newly made friends and get covered in hay and cow poop before clambering up the hill again, tired and dirty, all ready to get scared out of our wits by the mad goat.
Next came the week in Gweedore in a caravan, again somewhere up a hill. Four wains, two adults, and a roasting hot week where the sun never stopped made for plenty of memorable experiences. First of all was the wee woman who owned the caravan. She made home made bread and jam and I swear to this day I have never tasted toast as nice in my life! It was like stepping into a time warp to walk up to her house each day and collect the bread. Amid the balmy Donegal evening air (are you getting the picture here?) you would smell the aroma of freshly baked wheaten bread wafting on the gentle warm summer breeze.
Likewise the wee shop at the top of another big hill where the lonely shop keeper would take at least 15 minutes to serve you when you wanted a Kit Kat, is another story which has taken on legendary status in our house. If you want, on any given night, we can act out his mannerisms for you. It's a hoot, but then maybe you had to be there to get it.
The rest of the time was spent with myself and my sister trying to decipher the signs (I don't think my parents had realised it was in the Gaeltacht) with our second year Irish and failing miserably. ("That means beach!"; "No I'm sure it means airport." "Actually it means bin!")

No goats this time
And then it was a week in Spiddle, Co. Galway (the name alone made for much merriment among my friends). This time we progressed to a luxury home, with no hint of any goats in the garden and a rather fabulous pool room on site. (It was still up a considerable hill though).
I think it was that holiday which made me realise what a priviledge it is to live in Ireland as we saw as much of the scenery as we could, and enjoyed craic by the bucketful.
We took a day trip (four wains in the back of the car, two parents, windy weather) to the Cliffs of Moher. Being the "mad Davidsons" as my sister's other half would refer to us, we were more excited about the fact that they filmed that classic movie "The Princess Bride" there than anything else. (Cue us wandering about shouting: 'My name is Inuego Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die!' and scaring a few American tourists in the process).
And we spent days in Galway city (biggest memory; a ride at a funfair in which I literally thought I might die) and at Salthill (best memory; a stall which sold the nicest gravy rings you will ever taste).
Best of all though we drove back to Spiddle one night and stopped to see the sun go down on Galway Bay (on Gaaalllwaaaay Baaaaay). I still remember the sun streaming through the red streaked sky and thinking to myself that so many people, of Irish descent or not, would have given their right arm to be there and see that sight.
I imagine that during all those holidays it rained somewhat. Being Ireland, I imagine it probably rained a lot; but I don't remember that part. I remember the fun we shared as a family and the sunny days where we went out and about decked in shorts and T-shirts and ate chips out of the paper at the beach and went home again thoroughly exhausted.
I hope this week in Rathmullan brings its own happy memories and I hope by the time we get home I will have stopped referring to it as "just Rathmullan" and have realised how lucky we have been to enjoy a break in such a scenic part of the world.

1 comment:

Nics (H/bag) said...

Lola Ive just read your summer holiday article and wanted to thank you.

Thank you for bringing all my childhood memories of caravanning and camping in Cornwall as a child flooding back to me.

I can now stop worrying about being able to take my child to disney world and the like, because I know he'll have a ball, just like I did sleeping under canvas or in a caravan in cornwall!

I hope your holiday went well!

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