from Totally Fushed, May 2004
It’s nice to get away from it all. Last March, my dad announced that he was slipping off to Killarney for three days to the annual Chartered Accountants in Practice conference. Thinking my cries would be in vain, I pleaded with him to take me too, so I could get a break from my satisfying-yet-tedious year-out home-bound book-writing. To my delight and astonishment, he actually agreed to my tagging along, and to putting me up in a four-star hotel for two nights!
It was not the first time I’d been in Kerry. As a little dote of one, I toured the county on the back of my mum’s bike, during my parents’ cycle trip around Ireland (on that tour, I would allegedly burst into tears every time I heard the term ‘B & B’, because I knew it meant I would have to go to bed!). I also visited the Kingdom about seven years ago. We journeyed around the county, staying in B & Bs. The thing I remember most about that trip is sitting at the breakfast table one morning, looking pretty pathetic with my fresh fruit and yoghurt, while the rest of my family indulged in fry-ups (I was on some kind of health drive at the time)!
The accountants’ conference, however, gave me my first visit to Killarney. And as you can perhaps tell from the above paragraph, I don’t recall much from my first two trips to Kerry!
We arrived on a Wednesday, I with almost as much luggage as I had on my two-week holiday in New York the previous summer (don’t ask me why)!
After check-in, I sped up to my room and wallowed in opulence for a while. I also had great fun snatching all the sheets of complimentary writing paper and shoving them into my bag so I could take them home and, at a later date, impress my pen pals.
I got my first surprise when we ordered room service. The waiter guy came, and he spoke, and and…People actually talk in that musical Kerry tone! I always thought the bogger accent was a myth perpetuated by D4 types to make Dubliners seem linguistically superior to everyone else in Ireland…Well, at the very least you’d expect the Great Southern Hotel to be sanitised! (Okay, enough snobbery!)
When I awoke the next morning, I discovered I hadn’t been dreaming – I was still surrounded by lavish four-star luxury! Now, I don’t really know anything about accountancy conferences, but I imagine they’re akin to those big gangster meet-ups you see in mafia movies. You know, where a load of suspicious-looking men in over-priced suits discuss how they can better fleece unsuspecting individuals. So, I steered clear of that scene and ventured out into the drizzle for a walk instead.
I strolled in a spiral around the town, until on the outskirts I happened upon Killarney National Park. Intrigued, I entered, and followed the signs along the River Walk.
I meandered down a trail, the path barely visible for all the horse shit mashed into it – walking became like playing hopscotch!
After about a mile, I reached a small wooded peninsula. I wandered through the grey trees till I was at water’s edge. The bare branches crawled out toward the horizon. The lake lapped invitingly, the dull sky mirrored in its ripples. In the distance, an ancient castle stood proudly, surrounded by lush greenery. It was a scene still with beauty, and silent but for the twittering of birds overhead.
And in that moment, I suddenly felt assured about all the reasons I give myself for living this life.
I walked on for a few more hours, visited that castle in the distance, before returning to the hotel room invigorated. Then I sat down and began to write…Thoughts swirled out of my head, through my pen onto the page, ink setting its whiteness alight with some kind of wonder…
The next day, the conference concluded, and we had a six-hour drive back to Wicklow. Back to screaming siblings and domestic demands, the stifling mundanity of middle-class existence.
Like I say, it’s nice to get away from it all.