My first proper road trip with friends was in the early noughties. We were working for the first time. Getting paid somewhat properly for the first time and getting used to it. Ireland was in a bubble and just like that implies I didn’t even realise it. Hard to see a bubble if you are in a bubble.
Celtic Tiger was a financial phenomenon of this time whereby ‘money’ was readily available. I remember having to count the pennies as much then as now however I can now see where the money was in the country. I also recall letters arriving straight after graduation offering me loans. Substantial ones that I never took. The Tiger was in new and unusual shops that sprouted like mushrooms in plazas and modern complexes. It was in coffee culture. It was in the building trade and large crowds of builders flinging fifty euro notes like confetti over a bar counter for double VBR (VodkaRedBull) drinks in a desperate attempt to mask loneliness. It was helicopters flying ordinary people to the racecourse. I worked at a bar during my college life and was witness to much of this flamboyance without realising it. I may not have lived the full flush of the wealth of the tiger but I certainly garnered crumbs from the table. I remember one June in Galway at the bar paying entirely for my Arts festival theatre tickets through tips.
It was in this delirium whereby my friends and I planned to have a road trip. One friend had learned to drive and had even gotten a gorgeous red Mini to boot. We had 48 hours. We chose Kerry.
I had to get from the west to the midlands and from there we would drive to Kerry- final destination was Dingle. You are looking at four to five hours driving. One way. Being in your twenties with a few quid saved and no worries or responsibilities made this an adventure and not a daunting task. We were just excited.
It was the break away from our small midlands existance that we had longed for all through childhood. Years of small town life, a handful of shops and the necessity for a bus/ lift to get anywhere made independence a much longed for dream. Forty eight hours with best friends, an actual car and our own hard earned was living the dream.
We did it. The long drive. Laughs. Mixed tapes. Junk food. We got to Killarney where we went for dinner. Another new venture- actual proper eating out in a restaurant and not just a chipper. Spending money on food and not just cheap beer was a revelation and the start of future countless meals out in the same company where we would become braver and test our palates future.
We were childish. Immature in the best way. Laughing at ridiculous things. Worrying over what now seems so foolish. Grinning and teasing without mercy. It was a type of release that we couldn’t begin to understand at the time would be so rare.
We did so much in such a short time. Besides Killarney, we would have a drink in Killorglin and hop up on the puck goat statue in town for photos. Well one of us did- the Mini owner. We would go to Inch beach, write in the sand and take photo after photo which would grace birthday books in our lives got many years after. We took the long winding road to Dingle and would spend what felt like hours in Dingle bay on a craft searching for the pride of Dingle- a dolphin nicknamed Fungi who had adopted the bay as his own. The long drive home would give us many more stops such as one in remote village Camp for a cider in the sun at the side of a mountain. We drove until we got back to the midlands late and elated.
This would be the first of many, many, many adventures away with my friends. We meet to eat at birthdays and attempt two weekends away per year. It is over fifteen years since that trip to Kerry and you know what- may be we need to do it again. Thank you Lorna for the prompt over at Gin & Lemonade but also for reminding me of a wonderful time. I will leave you with the quotes that were with us the whole trip. We found ourselves living the Kerrymaid advert which paraded regularly on our screens at this time in Ireland boasting memorable lines and an accent we loved to try imitate. Fourth on this list- but they are all worth a click especially if you are Irish.
Road trips folks. Any to share?