When we arrived at Rossaveel port in Connemara for our ferry crossing on Friday evening, the man on parking duty stooped and looked in our car window, then readjusted his cap, before asking: “Are ye going abroad?”
That greeting alone was enough to have you lamenting much that we were denied over the past two years or so.
20 minutes later, and having joined up with friends, we were sailing to Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands, armed with happy memories of our last trip there, in 2019.
After checking into our lovely B&B, a nice walk brought us to Joe Watty’s Bar & Restaurant on the edge of Kilronan Village, where we had a beautiful meal and a very enjoyable night.
It was lovely over the following 40 hours or so to see such vibrancy on the island, with large numbers of tourists again exploring and enjoying the peacefulness, beauty and heritage of this entrancing place.
The warm sunshine on Saturday was a nice bonus. We took a tour of the island with one of the many friendly local men who have diversified and become knowledgeable tour guides. Inis Mór boasts many ancient site and ruins, as well as stunning landscape, including beautiful beaches and spectacular views. A climb to the prehistoric fort of Dún Aonghasa – located on a high cliff – is recommended.
On Saturday evening, we enjoyed a lovely Dinner in the Bayview restaurant, and then had to call to the atmospheric traditional pub, Joe Mac’s, before ending the night back in our Inis Mór local, Joe Watty’s.
After two ‘lost summers’ that must have been so hard on the 800-strong community – for whom tourism is critically important – I was delighted to see hundreds of visitors cycling, walking, and enjoying the bus tours or horse & cart trips. As on our last visit, the locals were very friendly and welcoming.
The island is a beautiful, relaxing place to visit. Nature is showcased in all its majesty, and you have the time to appreciate it. That’s because life slows there, and one is all the better for that.
Adrift from the mainland, the islands still appear to have all they need in order to be self-sufficient. Well, either they have it or they have the plan in place to get it in!
The history and ongoing story of these islands and the generations of families who’ve inhabited them is fascinating.
After a lovely weekend, we disembarked at Rossaveel at about 4.50 on Sunday afternoon. When I drove up to the ‘exit station’ and presented my ticket to make the payment, the same twinkle-eyed man in the cap who was there on Friday was on duty again.
“Well, who’s winning the match now?” he asked, “Limerick were a point up a minute ago”.
Apart from binging on some Netflix shows, I also enjoyed quite a lot of the JP McManus Pro-Am at Adare Manor (on Virgin Media). This was great entertainment, with the world’s top golfers in very relaxed form as they teamed up with amateurs from the worlds of showbiz, sport, business and local golf clubs.
This was a success on many fronts…for local charities, for golf fans, and for Limerick and the Mid-West region. The Pro-Am was also aired on The Golf Channel and online, and the sensational shots of Adare Manor will ensure significant tourism dividends. The commentary team – which included the phenomenon that is Paul McGinley – showcased the location and region at every opportunity (Adare Manor Golf Club has already been selected to host the 2027 Ryder Cup). As an advertisement for Irish golf and for Ireland as a tourism location, this was spectacular.
What was most enjoyable for viewers was the interaction between the golfing superstars, celebrities and spectators. Once again, it was the aura of the great Tiger Woods that elevated a great event to even greater heights.
I’ve just sat down to type more of my column, even though it’s midnight on Tuesday. I’m alone in the kitchen…well, except for that buzzing sound to my right. Yes, there’s a bee in the room. There really is a bee in the room.
The reason I’m on column duty at this very late hour is because I couldn’t work on Monday, as I was still recovering from a 48-hour bug. Instead of working, I took a very rare day off. “Watch some Netflix, take it easy” was the kind advice from my family on Monday morning. So I did…watch some Netflix and take it easy. Before family members went their separate ways, I asked for a Netflix recommendation. Two of our daughters were in no doubt. “Watch what we watched at the weekend…we think you’d love it!”
Therefore, a while later the credits roll for Man vs. Bee, the latest venture involving veteran British actor-comedian Rowan Atkinson. It’s a nine-part Netflix series, each episode just ten minutes long. The title, and Atkinson’s involvement, will tell you it’s silly and slapstick, comedy of a type that doesn’t appeal to all. But it’s comedy of a type that appeals to millions of people!
I’ve been a fan of Atkinson’s since his breakthrough on Not the Nine O’Clock News (which first aired in 1979). Later came the superb sitcom, Blackadder, followed by Mr Bean, and Johnny English. As for Man vs. Bee, it is ‘what it says on the tin’. Atkinson stars as a man who is hired to house-sit for an extremely wealthy and rather pompous couple. Once left alone in their stunning, luxury home, he becomes obsessed with an annoying (and remarkably resilient) bee. The battle between man and bee begins – and the results are predictably chaotic.
While seven episodes might have been enough, I thought it was well-paced, and most importantly, it was often very, very funny. Atkinson is in peak form. Readers might like to check it out.
Back in our house, it’s 12.25 am, and the bee appears to have disappeared. Mind you, Rowan Atkinson thought the same on more than one occasion…
The bee came back…
Later today, being busy with the paper, I didn’t get a chance to check in on news here or across the weather. I expect it was a quiet enough Wednesday in Westminster? Maybe Boris is gone on holidays, in a matter of speaking?