Wexford, Waterford and White-Water Rafting

I’ve been waiting to write this post for a while, because I wanted a particular photo, which I thought was going to make the whole thing so much more funny. However, its taken so long to get the blasted photo from the friend who took it (I still don’t have it, in fact), so I’ve decided to write the post before I forget everything and it becomes a boring post anyway.
So, last weekend (well, no, not last weekend, the weekend before), I had to drive to Wexford. Wexford is about 3 hours away from Bandon, and whilst I knew I kind of had to do it, I wasn’t relishing the idea, nor did I think it was going to be particularly exciting. So, I decided to drag along some au pair friends to entertain me on the journey and, luckily, managed to convince them that it would be fun – like a buddy road-trip movie across the USA, ‘Thelma and Louise’ except all in one-day and with more girls and less Brad Pitt, sexual harassment or horrible death at the end.
I also managed to convince them to get up really early on a Sunday morning (one of their only days off) so that we would have plenty of time. So, I drove round to various parts of Bandon that I had never been to before (all very pretty) to find the girls, as well as to a very depressing place called Crossbarry (Crossbarry has 3 empty shops, a service station, a beauty salon and a pub. But, everywhere in Ireland has a pub, so its not really that much an achievement).
It was a beautiful, sunny day in Bandon and Cork, so we were optimistic that we would have fun. Of course, this being Ireland, as soon as we thought it might be a nice day, we noticed that there were storm clouds on the horizon, and we were driving straight towards them. I can’t remember much of the first part of the trip, except that we were heading towards Waterford (this is what happens when you leave it more than a week to post) and there was much giggling. It was probably about boys. How embarrassing.
Anyway, we got to Waterford, after passing over a very cool bridge, which looked like the Madonna’s bra bridge in Sydney, except that Madonna was missing one of her bra cups.
Of course, because we got going so early, we got to Waterford at around 11am. Now, 11 am on a Sunday in Ireland, is not the most exciting times to be up, as we quickly found to our dismay. To add insult to injury, it then started to rain as we tried to wander around the town and get a feel for the place. So, we ran to the Waterford crystal place, but not wanting to pay the ridiculous price to enter the visitor centre (there is a limit to how much of our money we will willingly donate towards the ailing Irish economy, and we generally like to donate it to clothes stores, or in my case, to charity stores), we decided instead to go to the cafe (we willing give our money away in return for Irish cakes). There were so many amazing cakes to choose from, that I decided that no matter what I chose I would be disappointed that I hadn’t chosen something else, so I took the easy route and got a Diet Coke. Then, with all of Waterford currently closed or being rained on, we decided to jump back in the car and head up to Wexford.
We drove through a beautiful area called Dungarvan, which was on the water, with a hill behind it that looked like a patchwork quilt. The sun was coming out again, but the rain clouds were ever-threatening on the sky.
I had researched things to do in the Wexford and Waterford areas (Waterford crystal visitor centre: tick), and one of the things that came up was the JFK arboretum (a big park with lots of different trees), but one of the other au pairs had found out that you could actually go to his family’s old estate. This sounded pretty cool, much more interesting than different trees and we were all fans of JFK, so we headed down some tiny little back roads to find the place. It was amazingly well sign-posted (for Ireland, that is), and I didn’t get lost at all. There was even a sign telling us that the estate was 100m up the road, and the reception 200m away, which seemed over-kill, but we were grateful nonetheless.
We turned into the JFK estate to find… an empty cow shed and a tiny parking lot.
This confused us a great deal. We had told there would be an estate. We were told there would be a reception. We were expecting a little place with souvenirs (everywhere else in Ireland has one). We got… gravel. 
Now, this is where a photo would make the story so much more interesting, as there was a sign stating, ‘Welcome to the Kennedy Family Estate’ in front of the sad looking car park, making us all the more confused. We looked over fences and saw what looked liked private houses. We looked at the cattle shed, and saw no-one. We eventually decided that it must have been the ‘site’ of the old family estate, rather than the estate, and were just about to get back in the car, when we suddenly heard gun shots, seemingly very near by. We then freaked out (well, no, I freaked out), thinking we had wandered on to private property without realising it, and jumped back in the car. Starting the car, I couldn’t help wondering if it was meant to be part of the JFK experience, which was a joke in fairly poor taste, but amused me nonetheless. As we were about to drive away, I suddenly had a thought and remembered the very helpful and specific sign we had seen earlier. I decided to drive 100m further down the road, and, of course, there was the reception. It was closed. I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised, it was Ireland, though, after finding the one useful road sign in the whole of the country, anything could have been possible.
So, we headed off for Wexford. The sun came out again for us, and by the time we reached Wexford, the shops were open, and the people were out and about, giving us a much more favourable impression of the place. After a quick walk down the main pier, and a quick trial of the world’s most terrifying toilet (similar to those toilet cubicles in the Sydney CBD, where everything is mechanical, and you have to pay), which didn’t seem to lock properly (the toilet bowl didn’t have a drain, and everything in the cubicle was dripping wet. When I left the cubicle again, it became obvious why this was the case, because the ENTIRE cubicle was automatically cleaned after each use… very strange and not at all welcoming), I left the girls and went about completing the chores that I needed to do in Wexford. This meant walking around the city looking at various venues, and in particular, the Irish Agricultural Museum, set in the grounds of the Johnstown Castle, which is now the space for the Irish half of my current show.
The castle grounds were/are gorgeous, have a look:

And the space (‘The Cart Room’) is pretty cool too:

So much so, that I drove back into Wexford, grabbed the girls and forced them to go back to the castle with me. I’m glad I did, as it turned out to be one of the genuinely interesting things I managed to get them to during out whole crazy road-trip escapade, and they were very patient and upbeat with me the whole time, even though it was a less than amazing trip.
We headed back on the road after seeing the castle, and I attempted to take a scenic route home, which involved driving the girls past a half-finished and completely depressing housing estate, which will probably never be built, but will rot and deteriorate on their prime real estate for years to come; past the port where you catch the ferries to Europe; and almost having them killed by pulling out in front of a hugely irate old Irishman (possibly the owner of the incomplete, depressing housing estate, hence the irateness), who then honked his horn at me for a good hundred metres down the road (I retaliated by honking my horn back even louder and longer. Probably not the best way to diffuse the situation).
We attempted to buy Wexford strawberries on the way home from roadside stalls (things from roadside stalls always seem more authentic, don’t you think? Especially when they’re kind of rotten and have flies over them… adds to the authenticity), but after passing between 15 – 20 open stalls, we managed to stop at the final stall on our side of the road, which was also happened to be closed.
We pulled in at Dungarvan for a lovely sea-side dinner:

And then continued the drive home. By the time we got back to Bandon, it was around 9pm and I had to drop all the girls off before heading home myself. I was wrecked, and none of us were particularly talkative by the time we said good-by. Still, it was a great day, and productive from my point of view, and enjoyable (I hope) for all of us.
Oh, and, yes, the white-water rafting. Sorry, we didn’t do any of that. I put it in for alliteration purposes only. Plus, I thought more people might read it if I put it in the title. I was going to make that whole reveal much more funny, but the whole bloody post took so long to write that now I can’t be bothered. Sorry, that was really cruel. I would have gone white-water rafting if I could have. Please don’t unfriend me on Facebook because I lied to you.


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Filed under Ireland, NYWM

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