We just spent 3 days holidaying as a family of five in Ennis, Co. Clare. I googled best hotels for families in Ireland and then whittled out all the really expensive ones and ended up with narrower options; Treacys in Ennis got good family reviews and I was swayed by the picture of a double decker bus as a bunk bed. It worked out at €330 for 3 nights including breakfast and kids club.
We set off last Tuesday afternoon and the boys spent their car journey time coming up with as many euphemisms for their nether regions as they could ….stuff like “sausage and meatballs” and in case these references were lost on me and Ossie, Koray would shout “get it! get it! while pointing at his crotch. We spent an hour shouting at them to stop and then decided that the radio was a better option… the boys continued to script a Kevin Smith movie in the back.
The hotel was grand… no frills but clean and the food was good; kids ran riot everywhere so I exhaled a little. We decided to go to the pool and I realised the joys of having boys as I got to go to the changing room alone. The boys were delighted and fearless as they dove into the kids pool, then the adult pool and back again. The lifeguard approached me and said “no jumping”.. I tried to relay this and no one gave a shite… a new lifeguard came on duty and I saw the previous one have a chat with her while looking our way. She came over and said that the small ones were not allowed in the adult pool at all and any joy I had evaporated as I sweated over all pool shenanigans… I glanced longingly at the jacuzzi and steam room and realised they would never be.
The boys settled in their bunk that night and I went to bed early. However, the surrounding on the bunk was metal and every time I would drift off, one of them would hit off the edge of the bed with a resounding tingggggg and jolt me awake. The next morning, fueled with coffee we set off for Bunratty Castle. I stopped at a chemist and explained to the girl that I had left my elderly mother back in the hotel, smothering with a cold and unable to sleep.. I asked what would be the best over the counter remedy to knock her out and I left there clutching a pack of Night Nurse capsules… actually looking forward to my night’s sleep.
Bunratty Castle was fascinating but had many, many narrow, treacherous steps and I walked behind the kids, terrified that they would slip. The best part for me was the folk park… there was an entire village set in the 19th century. It was amazing as there were actors in the houses, telling stories or cooking food as a fire burnt in the hearth. I found it a really emotional and informative experience and wished I could hear more over the din of my kids. Conall wanted to buy a new flat cap but they were €30 there so I told him we could get one in Penneys when we got back so the whole way around he whinged very loudly that “this was boring and he just wanted to go to Penneys”. We found an olde sweet shop so they were quieted with giant lollipops. We visited a 19th century school there and I was struck that the desks were the same we had in school with the inkwells and all and I thought just how fucking old am I?
We had dinner back in the hotel and there was a hairy moment as I asked Conall what he’d like to drink at the bar and he adopted a culchie accent and proclaimed loudly that he’d like “some cock”… he then made it worse by clapping his hand to his mouth and saying… “shit, I know what that means…. I meant Coke.”
The boys went to the kids club that night back in the hotel and I was visited by some good friends from my repping days, Elaine and Pamela. I ran up to get Conall from the kids disco and he was soaked to the skin in sweat and a boy pointed at him and said “he caused loads of fights”. To which Conall replied proudly “There was 2 of them versus me and I won cos I punched one in the stomach!”
Down in the bar a debs was beginning and when I was in the loo, a girl asked if I’d unzip her dress so she could wee.. I did and she had no knickers on and not a shred of embarrassment; I’d to wait to zip her back up and it was a struggle. On the way out I begged her to enjoy her night as it goes by so quick… I think I meant life and I felt a bit teary. I got to bed and took 2 night nurse and slipped into a coma.
I was woken at 2am to the squeals of the fire alarm and after a long denial, I opened the door and it was like a scene from the Titanic, people leaving and kids wrapped in blankets. I came back in the room and said… “I think there’s a fire”… Koray was awake and I got our shoes on and Ossie told me to check out the situation before waking the others… “What’s keeping you?” he asked… “I’m hardly going outside with no bra on”… I replied while hooking it under my Harry Potter nightie. I contemplated eyebrows but threw caution to the wind. Outside there were 3 fire engines and as a hot fireman approached, I was glad of my bra. He told me there had been a small fire in the nightclub (feckin debs) but it was out. It took my body ages to relax as the sleepy drugs fought with the adrenaline.
The next day we went to see the Aillwee Cave which was spectacular. We attended a Birds of Prey show first and it was my first time to see vultures up close… they are fascinating creatures… they digest everything, even bones, fact! I marvelled at the handlers, they wore a pouch and controlled the birds with food from the bag.
To go inside Aillwee Cave we had to go through a gift shop first and Conall spotted an Irish flag…. He wanted it and he wasn’t bloody getting it as he’d tried to ruin last years holiday to Turkey over an Irish flag. As we made our way through the 1km in length cave he started to freak (a bit about the flag, but mostly sensory issues) and I had a brainwave…. I was wearing a brown leather bag over my shoulder and I had emergency smarties. I popped one in his mouth, silence… I fed all 3 like little trained birds and we made it through without embarrassment. There was a fantastic mountain behind the cave and Ossie encouraged the boys to climb. I followed for a bit but my nerves were gone watching them and I let them go and perched on a rock, marvelling at the beauty of the Clare countryside.. I thought that if anything spiritual were ever to happen to me, it should happen here… I tried to force it… almost like a fart but I remain a heathen. I felt smug that my phone was dead and that I was living in the moment and then I was sad as I imagined how stunning a photo of me from behind, contemplating stuff while gazing at the fabulous scenery would be…I will forever mourn that photo.
Conall returned gleeful… he had found €2 on the mountain and ran off to buy the damn flag.
On the way home, I insisted we went a little out of our way to find the Father Ted house which we did and it was glorious. Ossie went to turn the car and I tried to take a selfie. A woman with a car of kids and Kerry plates pulled up and said it was her 4th time to visit and that she’d take a photo. She told me to get up on the wall… it was a major struggle, but I managed and composed myself in a bid to have a presentable photo. It wasn’t until later when I checked back that I saw she’d photographed the struggle of my generous bottom.
On arriving back at the hotel Conall marched in front waving the flag as if we were a delegation at the Olympics… he did so for breakfast the next morning also. I was filling up my plate when I heard a little girl saying “mam, mam, that’s him… that’s the boy I told you about that bit me”… I looked down to see a smirking Rian and chose to ignore the entire situation as did the other mam.
There was loads more I wanted to do.. Like the Aran Islands, the Cliffs of Moher etc but we will definitely go back at some point.
Ossie had an epiphany as we drove home to the sound of Koray teaching Rian to sing “use your private parts as piranha bait”. He said that he realised that the boys were happiest when climbing and being outdoors exploring nature and I concurred… adding that he’d be very busy on his day trips as I stayed at home riding the Night Nurse wave.