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Published: June 24th 2011
As unfortunate as the circumstances were which brought about an abrupt halt to our initial travel plans, it has allowed us to share some great times with friends and family whilst being back home. Before we finally said goodbye once again to the UK for another year, we took a short ferry over the Irish Sea headed for Dublin. Fortunately, our time at home coincided with a family wedding as my cousin was to marry in the small Irish village of Bunratty. It was also the ideal way to say goodbye to my parents in such an idyllic little village.
Having not been to Ireland in quite some time, I found Dublin had changed quite dramatically since I last visited the city. The banks of the River Liffey which meander through its heart have been transformed, blending in the character of early 20th century architecture with more modern developments. Appropriately, at the mouth of the river is the ‘Point Theatre’ where so many musical greats such as U2 and Bob Dylan have mesmerised so many. Music flows through Dublin every bit as much as the Liffey itself and is every bit a part of Dublin and indeed Irish heritage.
After we dumped our belongings in our hotel room, it was late afternoon and so we headed into town for the Temple Bar area, the centre of Dublin nightlife. Here we visited numerous pubs and were treated to local bands picking the strings of their banjos and guitars and playing their fiddles to old but never forgotten Irish folk tunes. The pubs are not short of willing listeners and the atmosphere around the city is something to experience. Whilst not being naive enough to believe everyone there is a saint, there is a real feeling of camaraderie and everyone is made to feel welcome. It is a refreshing change to some of the local places in England! In the true spirit of things, Amy sampled her first taste of Guinness...and surprisingly after an unsure start seemed to grow to actually enjoy it!
An early start the following day had us heading South West towards Limerick. Once off the busy roads surrounding the Dublin area, one can really appreciate the real Ireland...the meandering roads winding through the countryside, the encountering of sporadic and small villages; indeed it seems as though we had only just entered into the territory of a
particular village and we were no sooner on the other side headed out into yet more greenery.
Eventually, we reached the town of Bunratty, a tiny village residing between Limerick and Ennis. This picturesque location is more home to hotels, guesthouses and pubs rather than residents. Indeed Bunratty Castle and Country Park act as a significant tourist draw, as does one of Ireland’s oldest residents – ‘Durty Nellies.’ Durty Nellies is a pub situated not 10 meters from Bunratty Caste itself and is home to a good atmosphere, cold pint and a not too shabby pub lunch. After finding our accommodation and changing for the night, the girls were sent off to a bar the other side of town with the bride, whereas the men headed for Durty Nellies. After a party which lasted late into the night, some of the girls eventually made it to Durty Nellies once the Bride had gone to bed for the night. Here we sang in the shadow of the castle to old Irish Ballads, acoustic renditions of Backstreet Boys and even a song in honour of Jeremy Kyle!
The following day, the wedding finally took place. The weather again was perfect
as we made our way to Cratlow Church. The church itself was oddly quaint despite the fact it was able to fit over 100 people and the ceremony itself was equally beautiful. After the “I do’s” we headed to Bunratty Castle Hotel for the wedding reception...which only began at 6pm! With speeches scheduled for 9pm, it was looking like another party which would last well into the early hours and it didn’t disappoint!
After some spectacular Irish dancing performances and lots of beer, we listened to some more traditional songs before finally saying goodnight and goodbye to a good deal of our relatives for another year. My parents drove us to the airport the following morning and goodbyes and well wishes were exchanged. Further goodbyes were said in England with Amy’s family before we were headed for their airport once again. It has been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster in the 12 weeks we were back in the UK and we would both just like to say a huge thank you to all our friends and family for all their help and patience.
We will miss you all very much...
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