When I was ten years old I was brought on one of the two childhood holidays we ever had.
In what seemed the hottest day in August 1981 my brother, aged 9, and I were packed into the back of the yellow Opel Manta. My baby brother aged 1 sat on the mother’s knee in the front seat, and we headed for Kerry.
We stopped twice for “lemonade”. Well actually me and the brother had bottles of red lemonade shared between us. The driver, my father, had a few pints of Black and my mother glasses of Harp and lime.
At one pit stop we had bags of Tayto and at the other stop we had salad sandwiches.
They were apparently simpler days. Salad sandwichesdid not involve choice of bread or filling. A “super” food was something that tasted gorgeous. The disgusting but seemingly unstoppable quinoa was never heard of.
White fresh sliced pan was filled with tomato, cucumber, lettuce, onion mixed with salad cream. If it was a posh establishment, the mixture would involve boiled egg,and, if even posher, it was topped on ham. All of it was fresh and utterly delicious. And if you didn’t like any of it you just picked it out and someone else put it in their sandwich.
After hours and hours of driving we arrived in Heaven. A working farmhouse bed and breakfast, at the edge of the world, with swallows and bats flying through the evening light.
There are no photos of the farmhouse holiday at BannaStrand. Cameras were different then. If there was a camera at all the rolls of film were used, lost, found, brought to a chemist months later and developed. There was inevitably a few on the 24 image roll lost to fingers, thumbs and the earliest of “selfies”. The ones when we got hold of the camera and took blind photos of the tops of our head. Fish pouts then were for goldfish impersonations! Or maybe that was just our house! It contrasts so much with today as photos are taken and immediately purveyed, then deleted or shared.
But the thing that hasn’t changed is the Heaven that is Kerry. Last week we went with our two youngest and experienced the majesty of the Kingdom. The IvearaghPeninsula that makes you sigh as you turn every beautiful corner. The pub food at water’s edge in Cahirsiveen looking out to the sea. The awesomeness of the Slea Head drive which even on a rainy foggy day gives you perspective and renewal in life and love.
On our last day of the five day trip we stopped at Wine Strand, just around the corner from where St Brendan set off on his journey of discovery. Despite the rain and fog, the very turquoise of the sea and gold of the sand shouted at us to pull on our togs and jump in. It is possibly the only place in the world that could do that. And as we splashed into the freezing Atlantic, laughing and shouting I felt my soul restored with a deep thanks forthe blessings I now have. The rose tinted memories of my ten year old’s holidays now replaced by whole hearted, and not taken for granted, joy of the present.