A couple of weeks ago I was driving back from meetings in Killarney and spotted a couple of guys on the side of the road with big backpacks and a sign saying “Cork”. They looked friendly and harmless, so I pulled over and made space for them and their rucksacks and guitar in the back of my car and off we headed to Cork. Over the course of the journey I learned loads about the lads….they were in Ireland for 6 weeks with little more than a tent, a few euros in their pockets and a jar of peanut butter in their rucksacks. And not forgetting smiles on their faces They told me their travel tales….of the generaosity and warmth of the Irish, sleeping in peoples fields, being woken up with Rasher Sandwiches, of being mugged in an alley in Limerick and of sleeping under a boat in the Lee fields in Cork. These guys were hardcore! I was really impressed with their fearless approach to travel and got a great buzz from their energy and enthusiasm.
I was able to regail them with anecdotes from my own adventures….living in Ghana with no electricity and being proposed to by 25 men in a month (!), living in a van for 5 months in Australia and fending off attacks by various insects and hopping marsupials, and recognising the huge difference in American culture when living on either side of the coast, Conservative Boston Vs. Liberal San Francisco!
I took a shine to my loveable hitchhiking buddies and invitied them home for some dinner and a hot cup of tea. Poor fellas hadn’t eaten anything not bought in Aldi or Tesco since they got to Ireland! I quizzed them on their tour of Ireland and where they had been/where they were planning on going. I told them about Derrynane and persuaded them they HAD to come back to Kerry. They’d LOVE it I insisted!!
I wasn’t wrong!! Through the magic of facebook friends, we stayed in touch for the intervening few weeks and the lads emailed when they had hitchhiked all the way to Scotland! I wrote to let them know the date of the infamous Beach Bar Fancy Dress party which is held every August in O’Carrolls Cove Pub in Caherdaniel and suggested they timed their visit to Kerry to coincide with it. The lads booked the flights there and then!!
So, when I got a call from them last week, saying that they were back in Ireland, Tralee to be specific – I was delighted! They were really going to experience Irish hospitality and no small dose of madness into the bargain! We arranged to meet in Killarney on Friday evening after my meetings and they were instructed to go and source some costumes for the fancy dress party!
Friday afternoon, our paths crossed again when I picked the lads up from Killarney and we hit off for Caherdaniel over the beautiful Molls Gap Drive. I stopped at Ladies View and the boys were astounded by the views and the Lakes even through the misty fog. They confessed that they hadn’t done many touristy things while in Ireland….they were basically on a giant pub crawl!
We arrived at the Cove in horrible misty rain and went straight to my mobile home. The lads couldn’t get over how cosy it was and with my Mum serving us all up a huge buffet-style dinner of cold meats and salads, I’d say they thought they had died and gone to heaven. My Dad kept them laughing all the way through the meal and they fit right in with my whole family. Suddenly the tent wasn’t looking all that appealing…..could they sleep in my car they asked. I wasn’t too keen of the smell of their feet permeating my car, but how could I say no to their puppy-dog faces?!
The weekend started great with a table quiz in the pub, our team nearly got disqualified for having 13 members (!) but we threw an extra 20 yoyos in the pot and they turned a blind eye to our hugely expanded team. Most of the team were only mascots we explained! More of a hindrance than a help! My hitchhikers enjoyed themselves immensly (Guy in particular had a great night….he didn’t make it home!) and lets just say there were more than a few sore heads the next morning.
Saturday was lovely and sunny despite being a bit windy and I brought them to Derrynane beach for a long walk across the beach and back over the dunes. They were speechless. Best beach in Ireland they declared! Hey, who am I to argue?! IT IS!!!
Had a really chilled out day and went home for a slap up dinner again before getting ready for the fancy dress. I had my boot packed with all our costumes (the Crossans are renowned for their fancy dress antics) and 12 peoples costumes were put togther from the stash of stuff belonging to us! Half the campsite was up, asking for my help!!! My eyeliner and trampy red lipstick stash has been depleted rapidly! Everyone looked great and put in a brilliant effort into the night.
All in all, another great weekend for us all down in Kerry. For my hitchhiking buddies; Charlie and Guy, they said it was the best part of their tour of Ireland. I like to think that they were made to feel very welcome and were embraced into the group by my family and friends instantly. That’s why I love bringing people down there, it’s impossible not to have a good time!
It got me to thinking about travel and the joys of hitchhiking especially!! Anyone who has travelled at all will know that it is the people you meet, not the things you see or the places you stay that make your trip. I am not a 5 * bunny and I don’t know if I ever will be. Roughing it can be tough at times but at least you are open to all experiences and opportunities and are flexible enough to take things as they come. If the lads had a structured itinerary and booked tours and accomodation, they never would have come to Caherdaniel, met all of us and gotten involved in what was a superb fancy mess!
They wanted to tour around Ireland, go where the road took them and experience Irish culture first hand. You have to admire them, they certainly did that!