Sunday, 17 July 2016

The Return to Innisfree - Day 9


Farewell from Ireland

Cong                                                                              Ireland

Saturday 14th June 2014

It was a horrible time for my parents and I as this was the day that we were due to start our long journey back home from this beautiful country of Ireland. We had one last look around the rooms to make sure we picked everything up before we handed the keys to the owner of the villa thanking her for the accommodation for the week and after saying our goodbyes, it was time to head off for home. We set off at 9:30am and our first port of call was a town called Balinrobe where we would have a very short stop in order to fill the car up with petrol and check the tyres. At that moment I decided to spray my father with the air pump as a joke before we set off for our first checkpoint to Belcoo on the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Throughout the journey I decided not to use the satellite navigation as it was a lot easier following the signs and less distracting too. This meant that it actually made the driving a lot more fun as I wasn’t staring at a screen half of the time. It also meant that I could enjoy the lovely views of Irelands’ landscapes and lovely they were indeed flourishing with beautiful green valleys and small rural towns. A long while had passed as we were passing places such as Castlebar, Charlestown and Sligo until familiar surroundings lead us to the border town of Belcoo. We had arrived there in good time thanks to the lack of traffic along the way. We only stopped at Belcoo for a respite and to let the dog stretch her legs around the big field amongst a lot of other dogs and then we soon set off again on our journey straight to Belfast ferry port. The next place we came up to was Enniskillen and as soon as we arrived we immediately realised that there was a marathon going on which slowed the traffic to a halt. It was good to see everyone jogging having a good time despite looking exhausted but then the traffic started moving again. Our next call was a service station at Dungannon where we would have a small bite to eat and to fill the car up again. I wanted to get my haircut at the hairdressers located here so I walked in. I asked them if I could get my haircut and they said I couldn’t today as they were fully booked. Then they said they could book me in for Monday. I laughed as I thought ‘Yeah, Im going to drive all the way from Newcastle to Dungannon just for my haircut’. So with that, we eventually left still laughing about the hairdressers whilst closing in on Belfast. The journey to Belfast was swift and easier than I thought and without warning, we soon arrived at Stena line ferry port. We had passed the security checkpoints and lined up again like we did in Stranraer. We had a good look around the area just to stretch our legs and admire the calm river mouth of the Lagan River until eventually the call came out to board the ferry. On the ferry we boarded and parked up near the elevators for my father for the 2 hour 15 minute sail to Scotland. Once we were inside the ship, we sat in a quiet and comfortable area in order to try and get some sleep from the long drive. Although I tried my best, it was too hard to get some shut eye with the excitement and curiosity of the views around the ferry. So I decided to stay awake and have a mocha coffee to keep my energy up so I could have a look around the ship again. Again the journey would be smooth as we were nearing Scotland. I decided to head onto the top deck of the ship realising I was alone again and then I had seen the most beautiful view at the back end of the ship. As it was getting late, the warm sun was setting and sitting just above the ocean which I thought was an upsetting but very lovely way of saying farewell from Ireland. A while had passed until we were all told to return to our cars to disembark. It was all systems go as soon as the ferry bow opened up marking down the start of the second leg of the journey back home. We weren’t stopping at ‘The Auld Cairn’ bed and breakfast this time as I just wanted to get straight home and not spend another sleepless night there. I was looking forward to driving through the night to be honest even though there were quite a lot of trucks blocking our way half the time. With Mocha coffees as my fuel source, we ate up the miles and then we hit the motorways. This was the best part I thought as it was coming up to midnight and there were rarely any vehicles on the roads so it felt like we were alone. It felt great to have the whole road to ourselves as we passed all the trucks at this point. We drove on through the night until we stopped at a service station a few minutes before midnight. We got out catching some fresh air, stretching our legs and having a toilet stop in the woods nearby. As soon as everyone was back in, I said happy father’s day to my father and gave him his Guinness presents there and then which he really liked and found it funny for me giving him them at that time. We continued on still heading east along the A69 for a good long while with my mother fast asleep in the back when she said she wouldn’t fall asleep. Then we arrived onto the A1, the last major road before home. It was at this point my mother woke up with joy and shock that I had driven all that way. We had eventually left the major roads behind and now we were heading straight for home. The familiar sights of home were surreal to us because of how much distance I had driven to get there from Ireland and the fact we were away for just over a week. I pulled up to our home and turned the engine off one last time with a great sense of relief. We arrived home 2 minutes after 2:00am and after getting praised for my driving, we all headed in bringing a few important things in with us. The greatest moment was finally resting on my bed with the thought of being back from such a long drive. I thought about all the amazing activities I did at Ashford castle feeling a sense of peace with the horse riding and especially falconry. Of how relaxed I was with fond memories of the beautiful village of Cong reminiscing over the quiet fishing I did feeling happy that I actually caught more than one fish. Also, I had calmness in my heart knowing that the village of Cong hadn’t dramatically changed since we were last there many years ago. Witnessing ‘The Quiet Man’ film locations once more was a thing of beauty too especially at Maam Cross with the White O Morn cottage with the surrounding green fields and large hills. It was also amazing to share this experience with my family as it brought us together for the good old times we shared in this breathtaking place of Ireland. It had won our hearts once more.

Arriving into Scotland
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