So, following on from part one, part two of my Irish road trip was full of time spent with wonderful people, the open roads, country music, good food and travelling through towns and villages I last visited with my parents. It was nostalgic, happy, sad and just wonderful to be there again. I feel it was meant to be that I made this trip alone to experience the different emotions and process them. To have my quiet reflective times, to watch the world go by and to jump right in and participate when I was ready.
Night one of my stay was spent in Ashbourne in Co Meath. One of the most lovely friendships forged online during lockdown was via Instagram with my friend Sinead and so I took the opportunity of being over in Ireland to be in her neck of the woods. We had a wonderful girls night having dinner in a gorgeous restaurant named Fifty-Fifty in Ashbourne and then back to our hotel where we sat up half the night talking.
After breakfast the next morning and after saying goodbye to Sinead, the next stop was the trip to Knock for which I have a separate blog post https://atouchofirishsparkle.com/2022/01/10/an-irish-road-trip-knock/ Whilst I was staying in Knock I had the opportunity to visit some family and enjoy some wonderful family time with cousins I hadn’t seen in too long a time. Such beautiful days. Also I must mention the fabulous Drum House B & B which is where I stayed in Knock. I can’t recommend it enough, definitely a 5* The house was decorated for Christmas and it was stunning. Absolutely outstanding breakfast, take you through the day. John and Donogh cannot do enough for you to ensure that your stay is comfortable and that you have all you need. I highly recommend a stay here.
After my few days in Knock I travelled to Athlone in the Midlands of Ireland. In my younger years I spent a lot of time in Athlone as my Dad was working in the area. There were also family living in the area on the banks of the River Shannon who are no longer with us so this was also a nostalgic trip in a way and also a town of discovery. Some areas remain the same and some are brand new like the various shopping malls all sparkling with the Christmas decorations. At times it can be a little lonely travelling alone and at times it felt quite healing for me. I felt strong, independent and sometimes, yes, a little vulnerable.
Whilst in Athlone I met up with another beautiful lady who has become a friend and we also met on Instagram. Corrina has a gorgeous boutique in the town and had to work extremely hard during the lockdowns to stay afloat and stay afloat she did with her enthusiasm, risk taking and feeling the fear and doing it anyway approach. I visited the boutique and had a good mooch around, the clothes and accessories are just fabulous. Corrina and I had a lovely evening out to dinner and as with Sinead, we could still be there talking. You hear such negative things about social media and yet here I was with two wonderful women as friends from Instagram.
The final leg of the trip was down to Abbeyleix in Co Laois where I met up with two more cousins. My cousin Marji had booked us in for a girls night at the Abbeyleix Manor Hotel and yes, there was prosecco involved. Her brother joined us for dinner and we had a great night talking about old times and my many holidays with them in Bansha, Co Tipperary. Marji and I would be put the other end of the house from everyone else at night as we really would be up all night talking, singing, dancing and giggling and do you know what, we haven’t changed a bit. Every time we meet it’s like we were together a week ago.
As you can see I made good use of my week in Ireland and I’m so proud of myself for making the trip, navigating around, visiting friends and family and having that feeling of independence and empowerment. Every now and again I get an insight to the gifts my parents gave me and wonder why I never realised before that they had raised a strong, independent woman who could stand on her own two feet even whilst experiencing the waves of grief and sadness that can totally overwhelm you. We may have one life yet it’s only now I am realising that within this one life we can live so many different roles, take different paths, make difference decisions and we change and transition and yet stay the same in many ways. Deep, I know!
With love and sparkles xxx