Stuck in the Midleton with You!

From our trip to Ireland in June 2015

Karen would be going to Scotland the day after her parents so spent our last night together in Cork with our Irish pals having dinner and drinks.

Like a glitch in the Matrix, John found himself sitting in the same restaurant,at the same table, at the same place setting. At least he ordered a different pizza this time!

The chances of dining at the same restaurant two nights running are not that large, especially as everyone loves Pizza!

We had a great catch-up with John,Clair,Colin,Megan,Paul,Lucy and Alan the Toffeeman! A lot had changed for the group in a year (One Wedding, a new baby with another on the way, two new students, an engagement and a potential new career choice) but it was like we all only saw each other the weekend before.

Before we go any further we need to mention a great sporting feat that occurred on the Friday afternoon at the Midleton College Sports Day 2015. Cameron Rose put his body on the line (and sprained his ankle in the process) to snatch Bronze in the U-15 Boys 200m  before putting in a spirited performance in the Mixed Relay before “some silly girl dropped the baton”.

With his ‘Athlete’ brother Cameron now off school there was plenty of time to walk about Midleton and take it all in. In the last 18 months someone has found a bunch of money and culture has arrived in a big way, with a plethora of new statues and the like.

First up we have the ‘Wild Geese’ – an art installation on the old Goose’s Acre site. This was to represent the tradition of grazing geese in the town but a more modern interpretation would be that it represents the huge diaspora of young Midleton people. (The Wild Geese were Irish Soldiers who fought in European Armies most notably in the Spanish Army of Flanders and Napoleonic France).

The second is known as the Fenian Man. This depiction of a pikeman represents the 1798 Rebellion, armed with a pike (The forces of the United Irishmen were mainly composed of irregular units of pikemen) and the lack of uniform as most of the volunteers were just labourers or farmhands and not seasoned Red Coat Infantry.

The last statue we saw was the most impressive for both aesthetic purposes and because of it’s story. ‘Kindred Spirits’ by sculptor Alex Pentek commemorates one of the greatest acts of kindness that was ever shown to the Irish people. During the Great Irish Famines of the 1840s – the Choctaw Tribe of Native Americans sent aid, in the form of $710 to ease our woes. This gift has even more significance as it was offered not 15 years after the Trail of Tears – a dark chapter in American History.

A synopsis of the rest of John’s visit is as follows:

Keohane’s Chips…Visting his aunt Mary George…sampling the delicacies of Perry Street Cafe with Davy K and Clarkee…a few scoops with John Snr and Emmet…lots of computer games with Cameron and lots of pinches from his mum Helen…buying jeans far too big for himself… meeting up with Uncle Kevin and getting the low down on Catholic Weddings.

On a final note – there is one address in Midleton that has played a huge part of John’s life – 55 Main Street Midleton. Formerly occupied by British Crown Forces from 1919-1921, it was for a long time became the Midleton Arms Hotel before being taken over by the Rose Family in the late 1980s to become the Bar/Restaurant Roses Coach Inn (and John’s first home in Midleton) before transmutation into McDaid’s Bar – the only place to be seen in Midleton on a Saturday night. As John walked past for a look he noticed that it is currently being renovated having changed ownership for another time. Here is to the future!

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The building itself was designed by Augustus Pugin (architect of the Westminster Houses of Parliament and a lot of the buildings we saw in Tasmania) and was originally comprised of two Late Gothic (or early Tudor style) townhouses. It’s plaque dates it at 1851 but some research would suggest that it was completed a bit earlier than that (being mentioned as part of improvements of the town by the then landlord, George, 5th Viscount Midleton.

Meanwhile in Scotland

Karen was welcomed home with banners and a homemade cake – it was just like when the contestants go home from the X factor! Before reaching home, Karen made a detour to Williamwood to visit her old Greenwich friend Susan who had moved back to Glasgow. We had a lovely lunch and a great catch up in Susan’s new house.

Sitting on the infamous train to Ayr from Glasgow, I enjoyed the scenery on the relatively short train ride – 50 mins is now a short journey after spending 18 hours on trains in Asia. Back in sunny Ayr, the week without John consisted of catching up with family, friends, wedding planning and wedding dress shopping.

No trip home would be complete without a good girly catch up with Irene, Sarah and Anne. We blethered so much we forgot to take photos- sign of a good night. We started with a few cocktails in the champagne bar – we had come a long way from the Press bar followed by tapas . No night would be complete without a night cap in the Counting House.

It was a fun week,  Mum and I pampered ourselves at Lochside House Hotel Spa. We relaxed at the thermal suite before enjoying massages followed by lunch.

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The relaxation was need as there was 3 days of dress shopping planned, thankfully not full days.  Karen and mum started looking at styles and had such fun trying on everything from princess gowns to simple short dresses. With an idea of a style in mind  Karen, Laura and Mum had an action packed Saturday visiting 3 dress shops. We started keen in Ayr, before hitting the road to Glasgow for a further 2 appointments. After shop 2 we were ready for a break and enjoyed a lovely thai lunch. With bloated tummies ( we never thought about rice bellies and trying on dresses while we enjoyed our lunch) we went to the final shop of the day…sadly the dresses were not to our taste and we spent the appointment pulling faces.

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So a full day shopping and no dress or bridesmaid dress. Karen had more success the previous week with Emma- John’s sister in Cobh trying on bridesmaid dresses. Without a dress we still celebrated and enjoyed Laura’s homemade Prosecco Bellinis and a good girly catch up.

To ensure Dad never felt left out we went to Turnberry for family brunch on Sunday. We also invited him to fit the bill 😉 Thanks Dad. We had a lovely brunch followed by a walk around the beautiful grounds in the sunshine and even captured a few rare family photos.

Turnberry has quite a mixed history. Not only has it staged the Open Golf Championship of four separate occasions (last in 2009)  and the Senior Open Championship (7 times), but it was used as an RAF Airbase during WWI and WWII, and most recently it the entire resort (3 Links Golf Courses and Hotel) has been bought by US Businessman (and Republican Presidential Candidate) Donald Trump. In a not surprising development he has changed the name to Trump Turnberry.

The most famous hole on the Ailsa Course is the 18th – named “The Duel In The Sun” in homage to the titanic battle between Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus at the 1977 Open Championship.

South Ayrshire is a beach destination and there were a few long walks along Ayr Beach, and visits to my Granny and a few sessions in the gym with mum made the week fly past.

It was time for the arrival of a certain Irishman…

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