From the City Centre to an Elegant Estate

Tuesday, 23 June 2015
I was awake at 4:20 and it was already light. Guess I was caught up on my sleep. 🙂 Or maybe I was just ready and excited about a change of venue!

We went down to breakfast and reviewed our stay at the Doubletree as we ate.

Things we liked:
• Quiet neighborhood; no traffic, train, or aiplane noise at all.
• Quiet hotel; we never heard loud talking or hijinks in the hall or in the next room.
• Nice location, though it’s not right in the city centre, so you should be prepared to walk a lot.

Things we didn’t like:
• It was a hotbox in June; but this probably isn’t a problem at all from September to May.
• Fridge smelled like someone pooped in it.
• Height of bathroom counter! It was clearly built for giants, as it hit me in mid-torso; to brush my teeth, to reach the sink with my mouth, I had to lay across the counter, and even so, my chin barely reached the sink.
• Bed was hard as a rock; we might as well have slept on the floor.
• Bathroom amenities were in tubes only 5/8-inch wide (yes, I measured) and made of stiff plastic; you couldn’t squeeze them, so you left about half the contents in every tube.

After breakfast we got packed up and then walked to the Hertz location on Baggot Street. The clerk had upgraded us slightly to a Volkswagen Polo. Oh, I had so much fun driving this car! But the boot (the trunk) is small—ours was a hatchback—so this fall we think we’ll get something bigger.

On the way back to the hotel I thought I’d drive by Farm (the restaurant we’d eaten at with Orla and Conor) to take a photo of the façade … I tried to take a little “exit” turn onto a one-way street but the exit itself was a one-way. Ooops! So if you’re going to drive the wrong way down a one-way street, I learned, rush hour is the time to do it. Because you can’t get very far before someone stops you. 🙂 This has nothing to do with driving on the left, in case you were thinking that. Our neighborhood had several one-way streets, and there was no visible signage.

Then the challenge was getting from Ranelagh in south Dublin to Artane in north Dublin with a driver who mostly doesn’t know where she’s going and a nondriving copilot—and no GPS. (We thought we’d switched maps, but really we’d just turned both maps ON, so Ms. Emily Gp.S. was confused and couldn’t locate the satellite for either.) But Gerry got us there with no problem. Dublin can be a confusing city to drive in, at times. Choosing which lane to be in, mostly. But no pressure, so we just meandered and everything was fine.

First item on the agenda—I wanted to catch up with William and Gwen (Gerry’s brother and his wife). I hadn’t seen them (except for the odd Skype call here and there) since they’d visited us in Tennessee in 2010. Eoin (their son) and his wife Tracy were coming with. We had an appointment at the bank later, so there was a lot of discussion about where to go for lunch: decisions made and discarded, and round and round—the usual thing when you have six people who can’t agree on where to have lunch. Finally as we were loading up to go one place, Eoin came back to the car and said “Let’s just go to the Yacht in Clontarf; it’s close and we won’t have to rush.”

And it was perfect and we had a good time. 🙂

Eoin, Tracy, Gwen, William, and me. In Clontarf. On a beautiful day.

Eoin, Tracy, Gwen, William, and me. In Clontarf. On a beautiful day.

After that we went to the bank, ran an errand for Bridie (Gerry’s mother), and then we were off to Portmarnock.

Oh! I just love everything about this route. You’re still in Co. Dublin and only twenty minutes from the city centre … but you’re right on the beach in a little village. Five minutes north and you’re in Malahide; Howth is to the south. It’s an upscale community for sure, but without pretension.

And it’s got a very nice hotel/golf club. We stayed at the Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links back in 2012—Eoin and Tracy had their wedding reception here—and frankly, I just fell in love with it.

This is an old mansion (once belonging to the Jameson family) repurposed as a hotel, so the entrance is a modern add-on.

This is an old mansion (once belonging to the Jameson family) repurposed as a hotel, so the entrance is a modern add-on.

And the lobby is lovely. It’s been remodeled since we were here last (you can see a couple photos of the difference here).

And the lobby is lovely. It’s been remodeled since we were here last (you can see a couple photos of the difference here).

Those windows at the back of the lobby look out over the garden and patio. The “new wing” is seen at back, and beyond that, the golf course.

Those windows at the back of the lobby look out over the garden and patio. The “new wing” is seen at back, and beyond that, the golf course.

Tucked behind the reception desk is the Seaview Lounge, which looks out on the beach.

Tucked behind the reception desk is the Seaview Lounge, which looks out on the beach.

The Portmarnock website tells us a bit of history of the estate:

The land on which the hotel now stands was originally part of the Jameson family estate (of Irish whiskey fame) and the house itself was called St. Marnock’s House. King Edward VII often visited the Jamesons and on his last official visit in 1907 he unveiled a plaque which was designed specially for the occasion of the marriage between members of two great distilling families, Jameson and Haig. The plaque is still to be seen in what was the secret south garden. The Jameson family had a nine-hole golf course on the site over 100 years ago; this golf course is now part of both the Portmarnock Golf Club and the Bernhard Langer designed Dublin Golf Links course.

Which is to say none of the course directly adjacent to the hotel is the historic course; those are further away. What we see is a newer—but still a true “links”—course.

A view of the golf course from our room (and tiny balcony).

A view of the golf course from our room (and tiny balcony).

Looking the other direction. Aren’t those trees interesting? It looks like a Dr. Seuss garden. :)

Looking the other direction. Aren’t those trees interesting? It looks like a Dr. Seuss garden. 🙂

I was curious about that word links, and the use of the phrase “a true links course.” What do I know about golf? Not much, I’ll tell you. But this article—“What makes a links golf course?”—from The Majors magazine offers an answer for you golf fans:

But what exactly is a links? There is no easy answer. In the Shell International Encyclopaedia of Golf, the Wikipedia of its day even if that was four decades ago, the entry for “Links” begins: “A term surrounded by some doubt and controversy.” Nothing is more certain to start golfing pedants sounding their klaxons than the use of the word “links” to mean any golf course. [But] … “in modern usage the term tends to mean sand-dune country of little use except for golf between the sea and more fertile areas; ‘links’ type golf is generally thought of as that found only on traditional seaside courses.” …

For the true cognoscenti, a links should be alongside a river estuary; offer at least partial or occasional views of the sea; have few if any trees; have numerous bunkers; and its two nines should be routed out and back, the front heading to a far point and the back returning to the clubhouse, in the general manner of the Old Course.

There you have it.

It’s a beautiful site. You’ll love it.The original home faced the sea, and you can see it here in this photo taken from the hotel’s website. You can also see those links.

And OMG, the Portmarnock! Air conditioning! The room was air conditioned! (We were in the new addition that faces the golf course on one side and the garden on the other. The rooms facing the beach are in the old Jameson mansion and do not have air conditioning, though I doubt you’d need it with a window open to the sea.) So the room wasn’t a hot box—we could have just opened the door and window and that would have been enough. I started a new list:

Things I already like about our room at the P:
• Balcony—so we can open window and door
• Larger room—it’s deluxe, and cheaper than the Doubletree

The door and window are open! And it is good. :)

The door and window are open! And it is good. 🙂

We went out immediately to have a walk on the beach, but that wasn’t so easy. The hotel has its own entrance path, but that was easiest to find from the beach, rather than from the hotel. So we walked around to the public entrance for the Fingal County Council public beach. We didn’t stay long—my feet were in agony. (It’s not from walking; this pain is on top of my feet, and they’re puffy, full of fluid. By the end of the day even the thought of walking down the hall to the elevator makes me wince.)

Looking north, and yes, that is a Martello tower, built in 1805.

Looking north, and yes, that is a Martello tower, built in 1805. You can click on this photo and then click again to enlarge the image.

Martello towers are, as you can see above, small forts that were scattered across the the coastline of the (then) British Empire, mostly during the nineteenth century. You see them everywhere; often they’ve been turned into living spaces, as this one has.

Looking south along the Velvet Strand.

Looking south along the Velvet Strand.

The beach at Portmarnock is nicknamed the Velvet Strand, and has some interesting historical notes having to do with pioneering aviators. James “Jim” Mollison took off from Portmarnock Beach on 18 August 1932 for what was acknowledged as the first solo east to west crossing of the Atlantic; two years earlier, Australian aviator Charles Kingsford Smith and his crew had taken off on a westbound transatlantic flight (to Newfoundland, then they continued on to Oakland, California, completing a circumnavigation of the world). Their plane was called the Southern Cross, and there’s a monument to it on the beach (though we didn’t find it).

To be frank, it being June and warm weather, the beach had a lot of visitors, many of them teenagers who were drinking and playing loud music. Not my idea of a walk on the beach, so we didn’t stay. But I must add that I watched a fiftyish woman rise up out of the ocean—she had been swimming, for God’s sake, swimming in the ocean, on a windy day with the temps no higher than 65°F. And she wasn’t the only one! Brrr.

Still, we were far enough down the beach that we could clearly see the path to the hotel. It led us on a circuitous route around the backside of the hotel, through a prettily manicured lawn …

The back of the hotel (our room is probably just overhead).

The back of the hotel (our room is probably just overhead).

… and remember the garden plaque presented to the Jameson family by King Edward VII? There it was: Lux Amor Pax (light, love, peace).

I imagine brides might have photographs made here. As always, you can click on any photo to enlarge it, then click again to zoom in.

I imagine brides might have photographs made here. As always, you can click on any photo to enlarge it, then click again to zoom in.

By the time we got done oohing and aahing over every little thing—we were quite pleased with the room and the beautiful day—and settling in, it was after 7pm. Too late for afternoon tea so we just stayed in, relaxing and working and snapping more photographs from the window.

When I started using the zoom, I noticed this little graveyard (at least that’s what it looks like). I hope when we’re back this fall I can walk out on the golf course and have a look. And that’s not all. Look further, just to the left of the large trees on the right: three modern windmills!

When I started using the zoom, I noticed this little graveyard (at least that’s what it looks like). I hope when we’re back this fall I can walk out on the golf course and have a look. And that’s not all. Look further, just to the left of the large trees on the right: three modern windmills!

 

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One thought on “From the City Centre to an Elegant Estate

  1. Pingback: October Is for Golfers, It Seems | Wanderlustful

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