Day 5 / Saturday, 15 September 2012
Well, we didn’t stay up until 6:30 in the morning, as Tracy and Eoin and ten of their closest friends had done. Although I was, in fact, up at that hour, standing on the roof, taking photos at sunrise …
…and again a little later.
Then Gerry noticed Jill and Alli out for their morning walk.
Standing in the chilly morning air got us moving, and we realized we were hungry.
I knew they’d have been up late—nonetheless, I was astonished to see the bridal couple up and as ambulatory as we were at 10:00 am. Troupers!
The dining room was filled with golfers, many of them American. (Ye shall know them by their clothing …) So if you’re a golfer, put Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links on your list: the course is beautiful, the rooms are nice, and they serve good grub too. 🙂
Gerry had “things to do around the house”—that is, watch a couple football matches (soccer, to us Yanks), so he cabbed into Dublin and Margaret and I drove back to Laytown.
I was completely done in. Sure, the day before had been a long one, but not that long. What was wrong with me? Gerry put it down to jet lag, but in retrospect, I believe this was the first sign I was getting sick (more about which later). And Margaret was already sick: she’d picked up a cold on the airplane and had been coughing and sneezing and blowing. So a quiet day was called for. I took a nap (and those of you who know me well know I never nap—another sign) for a couple hours while Margaret read. (Neil and Maureen were still in Dublin.)
But then we needed supper. For a Saturday, Laytown was pretty buttoned up at five in the afternoon. We sought pub grub and were told we’d have to go to Bettystown (a mile or so north) to find anything.
Neil and Maureen were shocked when I told this story later (there’s at least one pub and one restaurant, they said), but I swear it’s true: no cooked food in Laytown, we were told by this publican. A couple weeks later my sister would be told by the owner of a tiny grocery that his was the only one in Lahinch—“You’ll have to go to Ennistymon,” he said—when in fact there was a much larger grocery store just around the corner. (I knew about it because we’d shopped there when Gerry and I spent a week in Lahinch in 2006.) So what’s up with that? We Yanks are told whoppers in two tiny towns. I can’t believe that in either case the truth was unknown to the teller; both Laytown and Lahinch are too small. Were they just having a bit of sport with us? With each other? It’s a mystery.
Regardless, we’d have to go somewhere else.
And we did. And it was good.
On the way into Laytown we’d noted a sign advertising the Sunflower Café, which was inside a place called Sonairte. We had no idea what Sonairte was—the place was housed in what seemed like an old country home or maybe a manufacturing plant of some sort. Old.
It seemed deserted, but we kept wandering further in …
…until we came upon two cooks, women, sitting at a picnic table. “Is the café still open?” we asked. Of course it was. It was cheery inside.
Just one serving of soup left, but there was quiche, green salad with delicious roasted beets, and plenty of handmade desserts. Almost all of the food we ate had been grown using organic methods right there on the premises. For dessert we had a homemade apple tart with cream and nice hot tea. It was heaven.
And even though they were clearly closing, they didn’t rush us out. That was really nice. In fact, both women chatted amiably with us.
It turns out that Sonairte is a national organic garden. (This is what the brochure said; the website tells a little more: it’s an interactive visitor center promoting ecological awareness and sustainable living. Be sure to read about the history. I wish we’d had more time to spend here; there are things I would’ve liked to’ve seen. But it was nearly closing time and we had other things planned for subsequent days.)
When we were done we wandered around, but everything was closed. In fact, we were locked in and had to be let out through an employee entrance.
Afterward we drove into Bettystown in search of a chemist’s (that is, a pharmacy) to buy Kleenex for Margaret. I picked up an Irish version of Airborne. We stood there and chatted with the store clerks for awhile, then went back to Laytown for an early night—although at eight o’clock it was still quite light.
Everywhere we go, it seems, people note our accents and engage us in conversation. “Where are you from?” they ask. “Oh, Nashville.” I quickly got my twenty-second speech memorized. 🙂