Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Ireland - Duckett's Grove Under Sunshine

Saturday was our last full day in Ireland. Our flight out of Dublin was scheduled for early Sunday morning, so we'd need to clean, disassemble and pack bikes the night before. Of course, we also needed to get back to Dublin. Fortunately, chauffeur-extraordinaire, David, was ever-accommodating!

With time limited, we planned a final short spin. This time we headed in the direction of Humewood near Kiltegan in County Wicklow. The Hume family association with this estate dates back to the 15th century. Sadly the architect who designed the Gothic mansion in the late 19th century incurred a massive budget overrun, which ultimately left the family almost bankrupt. The mansion and surrounding gardens stayed in the family through the early 1990's until there were no children left to inherit. Before the death of the last of the Hume's, most of the estate cottages were given to the tenants. Then the mansion was auctioned off and subsequently developed into a fancy hotel. However, the fickle Celtic Tiger took its toll and Humewood changed hands several times before being bought recently by a wealthy American who is now trying to restore it to former glory.  We had hoped to get a private tour through connections with Daphne's fiancé, but had left things too late to arrange. Yet another item to add to the to-do list for next time!

It was cold, wet and blustery when we pedaled through Kiltegan, and even moreso after we climbed and descended the shoulder of Mount Keadeen in southern Wicklow. Having used up our allowance of sunshine on previous trips, we were again faced with the more typical cold, rainy and windy conditions most people expect to find here in early November.

I think my gloves and jacket were just plain tired of the battle and they were waving a white flag in defeat. We reached Baltinglass and quickly sought out a café, where I made a crucial error of selecting a table near a door - which did not fully close. Every time someone came or went, a blast of cold air was directed right toward me. And since the door didn't close properly, that arctic blast was channeled through the gap with even greater accuracy.

I'd get up and close the door and then a minute later someone would arrive or depart. At least I warmed up a bit getting up to close the door again and again. I'd picked this table by the window so we could see our bikes. I don't know what I was thinking. No one in their right mind would ride bikes in this weather!

I was amused to see a sign on a building across the way, using the Stay Calm and Carry On meme to proclaim that a new café was soon to open. I must say if we'd arrived in Baltinglass and had only found that not-yet-open café, I might not have remained calm at having to carry on!

While we tried to warm up with soup, sandwiches and coffee, the rain came down harder. Little rivers seemed to be forming on the street outside. It was if Ireland was trying to send me away with a message. 
Fortunately shortly after leaving Baltinglass, the rain stopped, the sun popped out and and we finally warmed up. Sensing an opportunity to get a few final photos with this lovely golden light, we made our way yet again to Duckett's Grove.

Alas, we did not win the Euro-millions with the tickets we purchased the previous evening, so we will not be making any bids on the place. Nice dream though...

We got back to Daphne's and decided to take advantage of an outside hose to wash the bikes and remove some of the added weight from the layers of muck on the inside of my fenders. I'm sure U.S. Border patrol appreciated me not bringing this crap back with me.

Despite having less than ideal weather this year, it was a glorious trip. Ireland is a magical place and the rain does indeed make it an Emerald Isle. Besides, it didn't rain all the time. You have to have sunshine for rainbows and looking through the photos, it seems we had quite a few rainbows.

I have already started planning the next trip next summer. We just barely scratched the surface in Sligo and Donegal, and I'd love to get back at a slightly warmer, if not necessarily dryer time of year. And hopefully next time, I can connect with my friend, Constance Winters

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