Well, I am in great form this week and feel as if I have come back from two weeks in Portugal. The thing is I have not spent two weeks in Portugal, but I did spend a wonderful three days in Salthill, Galway, and it felt just as good as if I had been across the seas abroad in some luxury resort.
Last week we went to The Galway Bay Hotel in Salthill on Wednesday for three nights and came home on Saturday. The luck of it all was that we hit on the three finest days that I think will be known in the west of Ireland this year – and it was not even mid-May!
The week before I had telephoned my sister-in-law, Ann Lenihan, in Dublin and her daughter, Anita (my niece ). I said to them: ‘We are a long time promising to go away – let’s go away next week’. Anita looked up the long-range forecast which said that the west of Ireland would have terrific weather from mid-week to the end of the week, so we wasted no time. They collected me in Athlone on their way from Dublin and off we went to what was truly a wonderful few days.
Because it was not even mid-May and certainly not near high season, the three-day rate was extremely good and we just could not resist it. We enjoyed ourselves so much. The Galway Bay is a sister hotel to The Hodson Bay in Athlone, which I know very well and which used to be my home one time.
The Galway Bay is right on the promenade front looking out on the Atlantic Ocean with a big conservatory which can be opened to the sea air via glass doors. The bliss of sitting there and letting the Atlantic sea air waft over you was just fantastic. The food, the bedrooms, and the staff could not be faulted from morning to night.
What struck me about Salthill as I looked out each morning was that there were two men in high-vis jackets with plastic bags and long tongs taking up every bit of litter that was on the beach from the day before. The area looked spotless and well-cared for.
We went driving each afternoon, first out to Silver Strand where we ate ‘99’ cones and sat on the rocks there. It was crowded with everyone trying to get their ration of sunshine before it all disappeared.
The next day we went out to Barna and Furbo and the following day we went out as far as Spiddal and sat on the beach there. Spiddal retains such happy memories for me. Many years ago, Enda, the two boys, and myself had a caravan on a site about a mile and a half from Spiddal and we had some of the happiest holidays together there as a family. So a visit back to Spiddal brought back such wonderful memories for me.
I cannot explain how much the visit lifted our spirits and how much better we all felt even though we were saddened at having to leave Salthill. If you could be sure of that weather, who would bother leaving Ireland with the hassle of airports and travel?
Of course, the real challenge is that you can never be sure of the weather, but in our case the long-range forecast was quite perfect. We left on Saturday afternoon protesting in bright sunshine and feeling that we had truly got our money’s worth. Ann and Anita had to hurry back to Dublin because on Saturday night Claire Lenihan (Brian Junior’s daughter ) was having her first stage outing and they were keen to get back to see her.
So - back to reality; and so far so good with the new Government. Of course, they have fastened on one person on whom they can spread their ire – super Minister of State Finian McGrath. Even though he spoke foolishly, I began to feel sorry for him. Soon it will all fade away and it will be someone else’s turn.
Speaking of ministers, I am sure a good few of you sat up to watch the Claire Byrne show on Monday night. I always look at it because to my mind she is a really good interviewer. However, last Monday night she was interviewing Minister Simon Coveney and to my mind she did herself a disservice as well as a disservice to the viewer in the constant harrying and harassment she displayed throughout.
I know that her job is to sharpen him up; I know her job is to perhaps entice him into saying something foolish or something wrong, but she never gave him one chance to finish one sentence. It did not make for good viewing but he kept his cool and in the end she just gave up. I felt it was a bad night for Claire but she will surely make up for that.
Back to the Salthill visit – we met so many people who knew us or we knew them, and every step we took both in the hotel and out on our drives we had great conversations with people from Galway, Mayo, and further afield.
I had a lovely conversation one morning at breakfast with a member of the administration staff in Mayo County Council and his lovely wife and daughter. They too were full of the joys of being in their own country and by the ocean in such beautiful weather.
We picked up so much gossip from around the country from the people we met that we have enough talk to keep us going for another few months.
Back to work on Monday of this week. I would like to tell readers (if you are interested ) that I am writing another book – title as yet unknown. The commissioning editor was down to see me on Monday and we spent three or four hours together laying out the various chapters and honing some of the work which I have already done. It will be quite a race to have it ready for September/October, but I am determined to do so.
And finally - we are into the last few weeks of term time for students before they sit their Junior and Leaving Certificate exams. These weeks are important and it must be difficult for them when the sun beckons and the books are open for study. My advice would be to stick to it – it will be worth it in the end.
We will have Junior Ministers and Senators next week!
In the meantime, go safely.
Slán go fóill,