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In Which Two Bored Teens Take on Southwest Ireland

Updated on February 1, 2011

The thin and winding roads. . .

The route taken through the twisty roads from County Kerry to neighboring County Cork. Shown here is the Dingle Peninsula (still in Kerry).
The route taken through the twisty roads from County Kerry to neighboring County Cork. Shown here is the Dingle Peninsula (still in Kerry). | Source

Travel With Teens Tests One's Patience

jonihnj 7 weeks ago

If you have been to Southwest Ireland, which includes parts of Counties Cork and Kerry within the island’s Muenster Territory (one of Ireland’s four territories) you may recall this area offers a gorgeous feast for the eyes. It is resplendent with hills and valleys, grazing sheep, glimpses of blue patches of ocean, and more shades of green than designers at Crayola can possibly duplicate.

However, it is not exactly the center of stimulating, sophisticated civilization, and offers nary a shopping mall. This posed a more-than-slight problem for me during a visit there, towing with me as I was two extremely b-o-r-e-d daughters, one a teen and the other soon to become one. Rather than finding the exploration of their family’s heritage utterly fascinating, they each made it pointedly, abundantly, unabashedly clear that they would rather be shopping – or watching TV (if, they complained, there was anything interesting to watch on Irish TV). No, they did not delight in traveling about the Irish countryside in a tiny tin-box of a car, on impossibly narrow roads relieved only by jagged rock formations, with a driver vastly inexperienced steering from the right side of a vehicle, and who flinched every time a car traveling a million miles an hour whizzed by.

Need it be said this was not your typical "thrill-a-minute" family vacation?

Fortunately, the Skibbereen Heritage Centrein the town of the same name featured a reasonably priced gift shop. This for-once welcomed souvenir shop, along with a substantial bribe of Euro, kept the girls preoccupied long enough to learn from an enthusiastic information guide about my semi-famous relative Gearoid O'Sullivan and his much more famous cousin Michael Collins.

Gearoid is the man credited with raising the homespun Irish flag over the General Post Office (or GPO) in Dublin as his ragtag unit of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) - soon to become “the original IRA" - took a sound beating, as they were vastly outnumbered and out-armed by the English troops who stormed Dublin to end the doomed Easter 1916 'Rising.

I learned much from my visit and am sure I would have learned more from the wonderfully informative and helpful woman at the Skibbereen Heritage Centre, who was busily pulling out volume after volume of genealogy books and folders filled with news clippings. However, while she was blissfully oblivious, I was finding it increasingly difficult to ignore the two girls who stood off to the side, glaring at me like a pair of Teamsters set on intimidating a picket line scab.

Oh, I could go on forever about this if I don’t stop myself, and so I will put the brakes on for now.

Until later, Sláinte!


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