We landed in Ireland about four hours after we departed Newark, arriving about an hour ahead of schedule. It was Sunday morning about 5am. A car was waiting to pickup my party, which is always good. The driver was not the one I expected, but he had quite the gift of gab. He delivered my party to The Old Ground Hotel in Ennis, County Clare, Ireland.
We walked into the hotel and immediately the smell of burning wood in the fireplace reminded me of exactly where I was. The hotel was able to accommodate early check-in for all of us in my party, which was also good. I unpacked my bag for the 5 night stay and laid down for a few hours of nap. I awoke to the sound of my alarm. I had a quick shower and then off to mid-day mass. At the end of the service, The priest sent us off to enjoy our day. He said that the forecast wasn’t good, but we must make the best of it. I’m not really sure if he was talking about the weather.
I sat in the lobby of the hotel for a bit and had some tea and scones. It’s one of my favorite things about the Old Ground. My group met in the lobby at the appointed hour of 2pm. Most were a bit groggy from their naps. We met at the bar to sample the Guinness. It is better in Ireland. From there we took a tour of the town. We stopped at a Friary that was built in 1280 AD. To put this in perspective, the Magna Carta is only about 60 years older than this structure. The place was taken over during the Reformation. That fact was mind-blowing.
I have stayed in Ennis a half-dozen times and I am usually in and out like the wind. I’ve only toured the city twice (one time was during a 5am run in January, so that didn’t really count). Ennis is the 11th largest city in Ireland and with 25,000 residents represents more than 4% of the population of the country. We walked the city for about an hour and then headed back to our respective rooms for a few hours.
Dinner was at a local hotel that served comfort food. I had a nice bowl of Irish stew and the best whole wheat bread I have ever tasted. As the meal progressed, jet lag took a firm hold of the group and the conversation quieted down. We walked back to our hotel through the cold light drizzle and called it a night.
I answered a few emails while listening to the scoreless Yankee game. I received a welcome call from home and then crashed at 11pm, hoping the Yankees could pull out a win.