Back through Anascaul along the coast of Dingle Bay this time, we could not help but stop at the spectacular Inch Strand (what is the difference between a strand and a beach? The Irish would tend to use the former).
Three miles long, this beach was used for the filming of “Ryan’s Daughter” years ago. Now, in summer, it is a holiday place, with surfing lessons, cars on the beach, lifeguards perched ridiculously far from the water’s edge, kids in wetsuits, and a little café you can sit outside and watch it all happen.
Ashling and Connor had to go in for a swim. Mum and I ate lunch and watched them from afar. It was after three o’clock. It was a sunny 26C – a rarity in Ireland. It would take seven hours to get home. I needed to be up at four in the morning for my flight to Paris. Do I leave them in the water on the one tropical summer’s day of the year, or do I cut the day short and get us back on the road again? …. No contest. We sat back, relaxed and didn’t leave till after four.
Almost back in Limerick I was flagging. We had just spent half an hour trying to find Matrix Castle (Connor reckoned it was an interesting name) to no avail. I spied a sign for Adare, and turned into Adare Castle instead. At least we could see inside this castle. The gateman let us in and we parked outside one of the most spectacular buildings in Ireland.
Built in the 1830s, Adare Manor has 53 chimneys, 75 fireplaces, a minstrel’s gallery inspired by the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, 850 acres of garden, one 350-year-old cedar of Lebanon… and a championship golf course on the other side of the river.
We sat in the lounge overlooking the manicured gardens, drinking coffee while Ashling and Connor explored. The bar menu was pretty good value – actually not much more expensive than the little beach café we’d eaten at on Inch strand. We will definitely come back another day for high tea, which looks particularly appetising.
Stopping off in Portlaoise for a late dinner, it was almost midnight when we finally got back to Dublin. A pit stop for me: the children helped me unpack and re-pack for the trip to France next morning, before I fell into bed for the three hours sleep I hoped would revive me for a few more hectic days ahead.