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Reeling in the years at Tramore....

IRELAND | Wednesday, 19 August 2009 | Views [1086]

but enjoyed the sights along the way...

but enjoyed the sights along the way...

If you tuned into RTE last night (18th August ‘09) you might have stumbled upon an episode of ‘Reeling In the Years’ focusing on 1973; the year that saw peace talks start the end of the Vietnamese War, when Phil Lynott get the number one slot with ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ and when international travel was still something foreign to most. 

Crackly, black and white footage gave viewers an insight into holidays almost 40 years ago when all bar one of those interviewed holidayed only in Ireland, something that is undeniably the reverse of today.

And it got me thinking.  My childhood holidays were all taken in Ireland, whereas my adult holidays have been for the most part abroad. So a recent escapade which took me back down memory lane to a favourite family holiday spot, Trà Mhòr (Tramore in English), Co Waterford, was, rightly or wrongly, something of a novelty.   

Can I say hand on heart that I had as good a time in little, old, Trà Mhòr as I’ve had in Auckland or Sydney or even Edinburgh?  Of course I can.

For me, a vital part of any trip is a willing accomplice (check), a map (check), a bed for the night and a plan.  With the first two in hand, we decided do a weekend away in Ireland on a budget. 

Scouring the map for a place off the motorway and where at least one of us had never been, we decided on Trà Mhòr (which literally translates as ‘Big Beach’) which met all of our most stringent requirements.

A quick google search later we had a bed booked for the night at the Beach Haven hostel and we were on the road, already making new memories. 

Instead of sitting in the backseat of a hot, stuffy Toyota corolla, focused on arguing with my brothers on my right and my sisters on my left (but united against our parents in front), I was this time focused on the spectacular view the Irish Sea offered against a backdrop of the setting sun.  Tall white dancers entertained us the entire way down and only ended their show as the night grew dark and we could no longer see them. 

We arrived at our hostel at about ten that night, approximately 3 hours after the expected time! Despite this, we were warmly welcomed and given our keys.  We settled in quickly and decided on some late night exploration.  A stroll into the small seaside town ended in a supper of ‘real’ chipper chips with steaming vinegar stinging our eyes and salty, tasty finger tips.  We walked down to the edge of the strand and while we ate the white sea dancers returned to give us an encore under their moonlit spotlight. 

Now, anyone who has visited Ireland will know that no sooner do you get comfortable and start enjoying something, Murphy’s Law kicks in.  Lo and behold, that familiar, fresh smell of Irish summer rain smothered the smell of the vinegar and chips and it was time (as my mother would say) to quick march home!

When we got back to the hostel, we met our ‘roomies’ for the night - three, sleepy German girls who had already bedded down.  Taking the subtle hints left for us (three yawns, one head under a pillow, the lights being turned off!) we bedded down too and like the others fall straight asleep to the lullaby of the falling rain.

Waking to the same tune, a quick look out the window put an end to our plan of a long beach and dune trek finished by a dip in the cove.  But we, inventive explorers that we are, had a plan B.  About a 40 minutes out the road, our keen eyes had spied a replica coffin (or famine) ship the day before in a place called New Ross.. 

Boarding the ‘Dunbrody’ ship, we were catapulted back to 1845 when for six years the cargo boat transported thousands of famine victims from Ireland to America and Canada.  Not just a museum, visitors are actually given an identity once on board and you can, if interested, go find your bunk.  For a short time, I was Ellen Fitzgerald, a 76 year old widow who had lost her entire family to starvation and made the lone, unforgiving voyage to escape the horrors she bore witness to.  I found my bunk but I never found out if I made it out the other side, as many hadn’t.

Returning to 2009, we found the sun had graced us with its presence and we rushed back to Trà Mhòr to resume our original plan, which was nothing short of spectacular.  The afternoon passed by in a relaxed, windy sort of way on the strand and after eating we found ourselves at the funfair –the stuff of kids’ dreams.

Now I’ve been on the waltzer many, many times before but to my surprise I found that my ‘adventurous’ friend, had not.  As the waltzer sped up, I heard several high pitched yelps coming from her direction.  I jumped, turned and grabbed her hand.  “Mother of God, are you alright!?” I cried over the music.  Uncontrollable giggles took her over and only intensified when the ‘carnie’ told her with a look of distain that we weren’t even going fast yet!

This should set the scene for you for the rest of the ride, when as the music got louder and the spinning got faster, my friends giggles turned to laughter, yelps turned to shrieks and polite nods to the carnie turned to roaring expletives!  And I have never laughed as much!

To the short sighted, Trà Mhòr may be nothing more than a small and seasonal seaside resort but surrounded by candy floss and amusements, hyper kids and harangued parents, we had a weekend to remember.

So did we stick to our ‘recession busting’ plan? We did and impressively so. With €100 well, well spent, we built new memories on old, and reminded ourselves that holidays at home are just as good, if not better than holidays away from our small island.  


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