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A Sunny Irish Welcome

May 28, 2007

corey says…I arrived this morning to glorious Irish sunshine. Liam took the scenic route to Knockahopple Cottage so we could enjoy the great views and weather (as if every route isn’t already scenic).

Everyone Needs a Friend in the Gold Circle Club
I traveled with our friend Tony. He’s also spending the entire summer in Ireland putting the final touches on the property he’s been renovating.

Tony’s a great guy and all…but he’s also an Aer Lingus Gold Circle Club Member. It was quite a feeling stepping into the Premier line at O’Hare Airport (Chicago) and bypassing the growing queue. Then, spending the afternoon in the lounge was quite a treat. The chairs were plush, the room was quiet, the bathrooms were private, current Irish newspapers were on hand and there was unlimited juice, water, coffee, soda, beer, wine and assorted booze. Then to eat, they offered various cookies, peanuts and pretzels. I have to say, this is one time I was quite pleased that our departure was delayed 45 minutes.

Earlier, the pleasant woman at check-in sternly warned us that we were extremely close to being over the weight limit on three of our four bags (hey, we were packing for 11 weeks and are both furnishing cottages). She noted that if they HAD been any heavier it would have cost us $100 per bag…$300 this trip! Her tone suggested that we were actually OVER the limit, and that she was feeling generous that day. Thank goodness she was good-humored… or maybe it was the Gold Circle Club… or the fact that we were the first people in line, but I think we had the rules bent for us…plus, she managed to seat us in an exit row. Whew!

A Romantic Getaway for Tulsans
While in the lounge we overheard the charming story of a couple who would be flying with us…I believe they were from Tulsa. The husband had told his wife they were spending two weeks in Canada. He printed up fake Canadian Tickets and everything. Once at the Departure Hall, he told his wife their flight was being diverted and asked if it was okay if they ended up in Ireland instead…her dream trip!

He presented her with their two-week itinerary where they would circumnavigate the island. The wife was on cloud nine and proceeded to call every single person programmed into her cell phone and told them the story…again, and again, and again. Had she not been so giddy and he not been so proud that he pulled off this secret trip, it would have gotten quite annoying, but their enthusiasm was quite charming.

As she spoke to her friends, I heard her tell them how in two weeks they would see everything there is to see in Ireland. I didn’t have the heart to butt in and tell her there would be plenty of great things left on her must-see list… even after two weeks.

Chicken or Beef and Arrival in Shannon
The flight was fine…with the beef ravioli entree being much better than the average chicken or beef option. Aer Lingus still serves a miserable ham and cheese croissant in the morning. Next time I might put in for the vegetarian choice, as the fruit plate I saw pass by looked much more appetizing.

Liam was waiting for us in the Arrivals Hall. We hauled our luggage…marked with their big red HEAVY airline tags…to the car. This time he has a Peugeot 307 Hdi which has won him over with a large trunk and decent gas mileage… “I’ve gone from Shannon to Knockahopple, three trips to Nenagh, two visits to Mary in Toor and to Shannon and back…and it’s still at half a tank.” Who knows how many miles that is, but it does seem pretty good for one tank of petrol.

Tony’s Cottage and Knockahopple
Our first stop was Tony’s cottage. A lot of work has been completed since I was there last July. In fact all the big things are done and now he’s on to painting and furnishing. The place is absolutely charming! We’ve got a few pictures posted, and you can be sure there will be more soon.

Tony wandered around his cottage taking in every inch of it. We were there to help him try the kitchen table in a new spot, discuss some furnishing options, test our the fire in the sitting room and of course enjoy a shot of housewarming whiskey. Tony has a bed, a table, a few chairs, an antique press (cabinet), running water and WHISKEY. Right now, that’s about all he needs.

Then it was off to Knockahopple Cottage for some unpacking and some R&R. Experienced the strange phenomenon where one side of the cottage appeared to be lashing with rain and the other appeared sunny and bright. That lasted about three minutes and the sun was back. Very odd.

Later that evening we visited Liam’s cousins down the road. They got Tony and I updated on all the local gossip. When we arrived, Liam’s cousin reminded him of the 10:30 “closing time.” The curfew was created in jest to help clear people out of the house at a reasonable hour. It was common for guests to stick around until 1am, so he now makes the “closing time” joke with everyone. We bent the rule a bit and left at 10:50.

It’s late now and jet lag is wearing me down, so it’s time for bed.

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