A Long Way From There to Here

by Lou on June 6, 2008

It was a long trip, but a great one. From Palm Springs to London, then a few days in the UK where we spent time in London, Bath, a tour of Hampton Court Palace—where we survived the maze—and a trip to the Tower of London. Then we flew to Dublin for a lap around Ireland, or at least much of it.

It’s been ten years since I last was in Dublin. The thing that shocked me was that it is even more crowded than before, the result, no doubt of the Irish economic renaissance, but that’s come at a price. Dublin is not an Irish city any longer, at least not in the sense that it was before it became a stellar attraction for people throughout the EU. It’s a multinational city now, for better and for worse—much the same as London is and has been for some time now—but it’s lost something along the way. Driving around the city is arduous, even though I had no troubles adjusting to driving on the wrong side of the car on the wrong side of the road.

Once we left Dublin, we headed south through the Wicklow Mountains to Wexford, and from Wexford, we went through Waterford and then on to Klonakilty. We had a five-year-old traveling with us and she loved Klon’s scale model villages at their old railway station.

We skirted Cork City along the way, but went to Cobh to see the Museum of Emigration there, then continued west to Klonakilty and then on to Killarney, where we hiked up to the top of the Torc Waterfall and, wandered around a town full of visitors. We weren’t the only tourists in Killarney. Walking down the streets we ran into Germans, Austrians, Dutch, Spanish … it seemed like the entire world was converging on Ireland’s rural west.

From Killarney in County Kerry, we headed north to Galway and stayed in a B & B down by the beach. We chose that B & B out of a book, but when we arrived we found it had some local notoriety: Chelsea Clinton stayed there a year or so ago, and there was a book full of clipping from local papers about her somewhat off-the-cuff visit to Galway. Although we were all dressed in sweaters or spring jackets, a few people were swimming in the ocean. I guess it’s all in what you’re used to, and coming from the heat of the desert—temperatures had already hit triple digits by the time we left California—we weren’t used to that kind of weather at all!

Our final destination was Sligo, with a side trip to Tubbercurry, a smallish village where my wife was born, before heading back across Ireland to Dublin, then a short flight to England, an eleven-hour flight to Los Angeles, and a car ride covering the last 130 miles home. The hotel we stayed at in Sligo, The Clarion, looks like a castle of sorts. But it’s not. It was converted into a hotel a few years ago from an old mental hospital that was built sometime in the late 19th Century. The street it’s on, Clarion Drive, used to be Mental Hospital Drive, but I guess that won’t do when you’re trying to create an upscale image for a hotel.

We managed a short side trip from Sligo to Drumcliff and the churchyard where my literary hero, William Butler Yeats, is buried. I included a picture of Yeats grave, and his famous quote on the headstone: “Cast a cold eye on life, on death. Horseman, pass by.”

It was a nice trip … or “a grand trip” as the Irish would say. I love Ireland and could have spent a month there as well as another month in Bath, which is a perfect jumping off point for any number of terrific day trips in the English countryside. But during our two weeks there we did too much and squeezed a lot more into the time we had than we probably should have, so we were completely knackered when we got home—never mind the jetlag.

It’s a Long Way from Clare to Here is a tune played by most traditional Irish musicians in pubs and concerts too. The melody ran through my head much of the flight home. And it is a long way, about 6,000 miles long. Part of my head is still there. The other part is in California. My body isn’t quite sure just yet where it belongs, but I’ll work that out.

And now the WSOP’s begun, so I have to focus my mind on poker again. I’ll be in Vegas, but not for a few weeks yet, and I don’t have any plans to play in any of this year’s WSOP events, though I probably will play in one or two of the deep stack events going on simultaneously at the Venetian.

More on that later. I’m still getting myself reorganized and caught up—long way from Clare or not.

Top Left: In front of the Tower of London
Second: Cobh, just south of Cork city, where most of the Irish immigrants departed for North America, Australia, and Third: Deirdre and me in front of Yeats grave, in small churchyard in Drumcliff, just north of Sligo.
Fourth Celtic cross in cemetary.
Bottom: That’s me in front of a B & B outside of Klonakilty. The building was built into the side of an old Norman castle.

{ 1 comment }

gtycoon June 9, 2008 at 1:22 am

Sounds like you had a wonderful time, the pics look great, thanks for sharing!

When you go on a vacation like that across the ocean, when you get back, do you ever feel like you need a vacation from the vacation?

Next stop Vegas…

I’ll be looking forward to your take on things at the WSOP.

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