Sunday, July 09, 2006

A Big Load of Blarney (Part 4)

I know it's been a few days since part 3, but it's been a busy week for Nashville bloggers. It's finally time to head down the home stretch of our Ireland trip and get back to the daily snarkery.

To recap, here's the damage that Ricky had inflicted upon our poor rental BMW up to now:
1.) A slip off the narrow road shoulder at high speed has definitely bent the left front rim (wonka, wonka, wonka)
2.) The resultant damage also bent the hood latch so that the hood wouldn't stay latched. We expected it to fly up at any moment.
3.) A trip down a narrow driveway with bushes on both sides had left deep gouges in the paint down both sides of the car. I spent a half hour with my handkerchief and some vaseline trying to buff them out well enough to get past the rental car counter.

So take CeeElCee's advice when considering buying a rental car from the Budget Car lot. Yes, you know it's probably had the oil changed every 2000 miles. But odds are, it's probably also been airborne at one point in its lifetime. I know of which I speak, because some friends and I once rented a Budget Rent a Car Taurus with unlimited mileage and put 3800 miles on it in a weekend during a hellbent-for-leather trip from Palo Alto to Calgary and back for an eight hour stay at the Winter Olympics. (Post to follow someday.)

Basically, the car was a shell of its former self as we rolled out of bed early on Tuesday for our round of golf at Old Head. Lucy and RUABelle accompanied us to the course with the intention of walking the front nine and then either sitting on the deck drinking pints until we finished or cabbing it back into Kinsale for some shopping. We shared the bigass Irish breakfast, though believe it or not, I just had a fruit plate. I'd actually played Old Head before and was trying to be careful what kind of crap I put into myself before I got it beat out of me by the course.

The playing conditions couldn't have been better. It was sunny and 70 degrees with next to no wind. You could play golf in Ireland 20 times and never get scoring conditions like this. I was actually a little disappointed. As the Scots say, "Nae wind. Nae rain. Nae golf."

Ricky and I went to the range and met our playing partners, Jim sr. and a paper merchant from Dublin. Ironically, I had played Old Head with him seven years ago on my last trip to Ireland. It was comforting to have some familiarity in such a trying situation. As we hit chili-dips off the range, the assortment of caddies lined up and watched us. I knew from past experience that they were making side bets on us and drawing straws to see who got who. I also knew that the short straw would get Ricky and me. I was knocking the ball pretty well off the range, but Ricky was inflicting some serious damage on the Irish sod.

The unlucky bastard was a large fellow named Ritchie. He was a very friendly guy who carried our bags with no complaints and kept his sense of humor in the face of some of the worst golf he'd probably seen that month. He did a super job reading the putts for me, and when I executed what he recommended the ball funneled into the hole. He probably saved me ten strokes.

The other caddie who was with Jim and the Dubliner was a 400+ lb. hulking mound of a man named Big Tom. He slung both of their bags over one shoulder so he could keep one hand free to smoke. Apparently he held the Kinsale pub record of 44 pints in one night. "When he's thirsty, he drinks hard cider. When he's hungry, he drinks Murphys Stout."

He was extremely entertaining to walk the course with, but I could see where he might be a little intimidating. Once when we were feeling pushed by the foursome behind us because we were spending a little extra time looking for some errant shots, Big Tom turned and growled something in Gaelic to the caddies walking with the group. They ran off like puppies who'd had a fire hose turned on them. We never saw them again.

The scenery was unbelievable and the golf course was a real pleasure to walk around.
I'd call it a once in a lifetime experience, but I've been blessed enough to do it twice. And I hope to do it again. With Ritchie's assistance and a bit of luck, I managed to break 100. I even hit a really nice shot into the 18th green in the view of all the folks watching from the clubhouse and two-putted for a closing par.




The ladies decided not to go back into town and spent a lovely lunch eating on the veranda, drinking pints of Kinsale Ale and chatting with their waitress who was ironically an elementary school teacher from Boston who spends her summers in Ireland slinging beers to yokels.

We headed back to Kinsale and did a little shopping for the folks at home. Brazil was playing Ghana in a second round World Cup game, so we stopped by a pub called Oscar Madison's to watch it with the locals. We ran into the head of security at Old Head who was going to serve as Jim jr.'s landlord for the rest of the summer. He promised to get the young man into just enough trouble for the time to be memorable. Kinsale is just about that size of town anyway. We left a lot of Euros behind for the souvenirs and pints, so the economy should stay healthy.

We took quick showers and walked up the hill for our final meal in Ireland at an upscale restaurant called Man Fridays. Jim sr. and jr. showed up just as we were finishing dessert, but we enjoyed two more hours of conversation and Irish coffees while they ate their dinners. Despite the fact that it wasn't dark when we left, we decided that since it was 10:30 and we had to leave at the crack ass of dawn the next morning, we'd skip the final pub stop and head home to pack.



We woke up at 4:00 and left for the Shannon Airport at 5:00. We didn't have time for showers, but RUABelle suggested that we just go to the autojohns and stay inside during the disinfectant cycle. I politely declined. I noticed that Ricky seemed a little foggy as we packed the car. As soon as we pulled on the road I heard a voice shrieking, "Left, Ricky! Left Lane!" I realized the voice was my own as we finally calibrated our lane choice and started the 2 1/2 hour drive to Shannon.

The rest of the trip was a breeze as was check-in and customs. We duty-freed some Irish Mist and whiskey-infused chocolate truffles. RUABElle and I made our way to the gate where it was time to play the big gambit. All I really wanted was to try to get an exit row for us, but I must have overperformed because we got upgraded to 1st class bulkhead seats. There wasn't any special meal or sevice, but what the hell, we got wide confortable seats and lots of leg room. Primo.

We also had a front row seat to the little floor show before we left the gate. The official announcement was that we were being delayed because one of our fellow passengers had to leave the plane due to illness. But we heard and saw the truth since we were right next to the flight attendant muster station. Apparently somebody showed up a little drunky-wunky for their big overseas flight and had to be escorted off along with her teenage son after she spewed in her seat during preflight. And bonus! We found out she had been sitting in the row next to where we were originally supposed to be seated.

We considered it the luck of the Irish.

3 Comments:

Blogger SistaSmiff said...

Maybe it's just me, but, does the sun ever shine in Ireland?

5:38 AM  
Blogger newscoma said...

I'm sorta Irish.
I think.

7:16 PM  
Blogger Kathy T. said...

Lucky you! See, I would've had to sit next to the lady and she would've missed the bag and aimed my way in desperation. It does sound like you had a lovely trip except for the damage to your car! I wish you had a picture of Big Tom.

10:31 AM  

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