It was on the walk back to our B&B from the pub in Dingle that the nerves set in.
We’d passed a lovely night in the fair seaside town famed for its pubs and one apparently friendly dolphin – I say “apparently” because, despite his reputation, I neither saw nor heard Funghi. The night had been filled with romping Irish tunes, a few glasses of Guinness in a bizarre bar-cum-boot shop, and finally, some tasty Redbreast whiskies in a cozy pub.
Around 11:30pm we decided to head up the hill to our home for the night – it was pitch black, and our small torch did little to light our way. The large, dark hedges on either side of the road, and the spooky moon hanging overhead only added to our wariness.
When finally we arrived back at Pax House, we slipped in quickly, afraid to let any boogeymen in the door behind us.
But, when we walked up to our bedroom door, we noticed light shining out from under its frame.
“I definitely turned out the lights when we left,” I said to the boy nervously.
He opened it cautiously, edging the door forward while we huddled together behind.
The lights were all turned on. But, our bed was turned down. And there, on each beside table, was a saucer with chocolates on.
I smiled. This was definitely the best B&B we had ever stayed in.
Pax House B&B sits high on a hill, overlooking the incredible Bay of Dingle. The next morning, we awoke to sunny skies and chickens flooding around the garden. We headed into the dining room and found a bountiful breakfast spread: warm poached-pears swimming in a clove sugar syrup; thick natural yoghurt; fresh fruit; breads and coffee. And this was only the starter. Moments later, the enthusiastic owner John came bustling out, giving us menus to choose our main. Every detail was beautiful, from the kitschy milk and coffee pots to the quirky china mugs. My main of smoked salmon over scrambled eggs was wonderfully presented, while the boy’s full Irish was fresh and perfectly cooked. As we stumbled back to our rooms with bellies full, Rio the dog came bounding down the hall aiming for a pat. It was a lovely environment and I was hardly surprised that it has won awards as one of the best B&Bs in the country.
Pax House B&B: its food and surroundings certainly make it peaceful...
But, sadly, we had to continue on our way. After a long day of driving that included the spectacular Dingle Way, which leads you right out to the tip of the peninsula, and another night avoiding the rain by sheltering in a warm pub in the village of Doolin, we got up early to avoid the rain clouds predicted for later that day. The Cliffs of Moher – famed for their dramatic edges and ability to jut jauntily out into the Atlantic – were our destination.
On arrival, however, Mother Nature had another plan: rain. And mist. And more rain. It had set in early and did little to help us to view the cliffs in all of their glory.
Instead, we had to settle on trying to understand the rather weird signs at the cliffs until the fog cleared.
And, if any of you readers can help me decipher either of these, I’m all ears…
What on earth??
Finally, after thirty minutes of exploring, the mist lifted and we had a brief glimpse of the stunning coastline. The Cliffs of Moher were, indeed, glorious.
However, the delay in waiting for the clouds to clear meant we had to hop back in our Micra and get on our way. We were heading up to Clifden, and wanted to get in before nightfall.
After checking into our sweet B&B in Clifden, we promptly headed out for a night on the town.
This is when we met Kevin.
Kevin has now potentially become my favourite Irishman of our journey. Standing – or wobbling, as he was rather drunk – at a mere 5’4″ at best, Kevin was a small, round, elderly gentleman with only the best of intentions. Kevin had been abandoned by a friend and left to sit unstably on a stool in the corner of the pub, while over-exuberant locals danced nearby to loud, feisty music. We felt it was far from right to leave him on his own and he was more than happy to chat away about anything from food, to his daughter, his grandchildren, the history of Clifden, and much more. Everything about him was endearing – even when he went in for a double-cheeked kiss upon his departure.
“I just had to get two in,” he mumbled, as the boy chuckled.
Our evening was far from over but – due to rather copious amounts of whisky – I am unable to remember much after Kevin’s departure. I’m quite sure it may have involved getting behind the bar to read whisky bottle labels and repeatedly ringing the doorbell of our B&B when we couldn’t find our way in. Ahem.
All in all – incredible Ireland was treating us rather well…but there was still more to come!
Finally, in Part 3, the boy and I finish off our tour of Ireland by making friends with some Connemara ponies, driving through the dramatic Connor Pass and being left breathless by Ireland’s beauty.