For the weekend, we decided to take up FÃ¡ilte Ireland’s generous invitation to go and ‘Discover Ireland’ and Anna organised a trip to Rosslare to see what was going on down there. When I was a kid, I always wanted to go to Rosslare – largely just to see the ferry port, which I’d imagined in my head was massive – and was always told by my grandparents, who lived the closest, that it wouldn’t be possible to drive down there just to see a port…ever (although it was always perfectly possible to drive to Wexford itself just to do some shopping or whatever). And up until Friday, that was the only real knowledge I had of the place – a port, and not much else. Ireland is, according to the ads, an easy place to take a ‘break at home’ (although I think we all know that saying Donegal is ‘just 2 hours’ away from Dublin, as the ad claims, is being a little economical with the truth, unless you break every speed limit along the way) and our initial efforts at securing accommodation didn’t exactly back up this claim unfortunately. We found a perfect place online, went to go and book it, there was availability for the nights we were looking for – but then when we went to call them, it turned out that no, they didn’t actually have any availability. In fact, as it happens, they hadn’t gotten around to updating their website – great, good work. Surely if your business is accommodation, you can find your way to letting people know you’re full up? Or maybe I’m overlooking something. Anyway, we found a place, the Ferryport House (which had an incredibly funky looking restaurant attached to the front of it) on Friday and headed down straight away.
First things first – even though Anna’s parents very kindly picked up the tab for the transport down there (and the accommodation too for that matter, owing to our combined poverty-like economic situation), it turns out you can’t ‘book online and save 10%’ with Bus Eireann if you happen to want to get on at any of the intermediate stops between Dublin city centre and Kilmacanogue. So, booking online as we would have done to get from the city centre would have cost â‚¬21.65 return – instead, even though we travelled a shorter distance and weren’t able to book online, it was â‚¬24. Might want to get that sorted – although, I should’ve known, I’ve been done over by their useless booking system before too when I booked online once and it turned out the ‘on hire’ coach couldn’t process the online tickets. Anyway, how long does it take to drive to Rosslare from Bray? 45 minutes? An hour and a half? Do I see two hours at the back of the class? Nope, with all the incredible padding in the timetable, the coach takes three hours to make the journey – including being stopped for the guts of 45 minutes in different places while we waited to pick up the schedule again, because of being so early. Anyway, three hours on and we speed into Rosslare at a rate of knots, and as we do, I see our guesthouse coming up rapidly on the right and leap out of the seat, as the driver pulls into the stop with such reckless abandon (now that we were no longer seemingly confined to that troublesome timetable) that both of us were nearly ejected out through the front window. The guesthouse was exactly as it looked on the website, including the funky restaurant out the front.
A word about guesthouses if I may – I don’t normally appreciate them and I’ll explain why. When I was a kid, we stayed in a B&B in Ballyvaughan in Co. Clare that had these shanty wooden floorboards throughout the room. Late at night, I woke up and went to go and use the toilet, obviously stomping across the floor at the same time – so much so, that the owners downstairs actually took it upon themselves to bang on their roof (my floor), making much more noise than I ever could have wanted to make and confirming for me, at a young age, that Irish ‘hospitality’ was possibly non-existent. As a result, I prefer to stay in larger and more non-social hotels, where you don’t have to see the same people possibly ever again even if you’re staying for a while, or a hostel where you can always place the blame for some wrongdoing on whoever else happened to be sharing the room with you. Anyway, for the purpose of the trip to Rosslare, it seemed the only options really were guesthouses so along we went and to be honest, things have definitely improved since I last saw one – the place was very nice, friendly, and the room was exactly what I would have hoped for, bar the searing heat in our room that wasn’t really anyone’s fault and was remedied by lashing open the windows until they nearly came off their hinges as soon as we got in. That evening we took in a quick walk around Rosslare and found the ferry port within seconds of leaving the front door – and finally, I was able to tick that one off the ‘wanted to do as a child, but will have to be content with doing it as an adult’ list, and also put to rest my thought that it’d be ‘gigantic’ – Dublin Port, it definitely isn’t, so that’s that. With such tight economic constraints, the next morning meant that we both needed to absolutely pile in as much ‘complimentary breakfast’ as we could and I can assure you that I left with enough food inside me to feed about 10 families.
The rest of Rosslare definitely wouldn’t suit anyone looking for their ‘action-packed’ Irish break – it did however definitely suit someone who’s just finished college, cycled 200km the previous week, spent all the intervening time job hunting and trying to keep up with life in general, and just needed a break. There’s walks a-plenty if that’s your thing and the beach seemed to get better the further you walked from the port. The place itself seems to have definitely fallen foul of declining ferry traffic and had its fair share of shuttered places, not to mention the ferry port which could definitely do with being torn down and rebuilt to make more sense of things. I guess if we’d had rain all weekend, things could have got pretty miserable – but instead we’d the sun splitting down, so much in fact that I’ve returned looking like one of those drunken sunburnt tourists you sometimes see on ‘Holiday A&E’ or one of the many similar programs, wrapped up in bandages and burnt from head to toe. In fact, come Sunday, I was literally having to try and hop from shade to shade, trying to desperately avoid any further burnings, and yet failing miserably. By the time we hopped on the bus for the lengthy journey back to Dublin, I was becoming concerned that I’d have to somehow peel myself out of the seat at Loughlinstown to get off. Either way, it was exactly the break I needed – and even surprised me, after months of my slagging the Discover Ireland ads for the people at the start being in the water (who in their right mind, in Ireland, would head into the sea and find it as enjoyable as they seem to?) having so much fun, that it really can be a possibility on the rare occasions that we get sun.
And more importantly, it did wonders to cure my phobia of guesthouses…