We are in Ireland for the month of June. We kind of had to. Well, specifically, we had to leave Italy because Greg doesn’t yet have a permesso to stay there. Therefore we have to abide by the Schengen Area rule that basically states you can be in Italy (and much of western Europe) three out of every six months.
Ireland is not included in that Schengen Area so we took a trip there. Unfortunately, I’m not a master at planning trips and seem to find myself booking things making too many assumptions. Things like, oh it will be easy to get to.
Boy was I wrong for the Ireland trip.
When looking for places outside of the Schengen Area I looked at Ireland. Searching AirBnB brought me to a groovy-as-hell, super old schoolhouse for rent. For cheap! (I know why it was cheap now – the remote location.) But the reviews promised a really neat experience.
I never considered the travel to and from. I wrongly assumed that Ireland would be as easily connected by trains as I found the UK.
Well, long story short, our travel day from Italy to Ireland included the following…
- Taxi to the train station in Rovigo
- Train from Rovigo to Bologna
- Bus from Bologna train station to the Bologna airport
- Flight from Italy to Ireland
- Bus from from Dublin to Wexford.
- Bus from Wexford to Ballinaboola.
- Car ride from Ballinaboola to Ballyhack – the super itty bitty fishing village in southeast Ireland.
Not a cheap travel day, nor very fun. So many timelines to keep straight. What was I thinking? Well, I know… I didn’t realize all that would be involved in getting from Rovigo to Ballyhack. Plus… two huge suitcases, backpacks, purses and my husband who can’t carry the suitcases because of his foot and hip, leaving me to move them up and down the stairs when the elevators aren’t working. At least I got my workout in that day.
We made it to the little fishing village of Ballyhack.
For most of the days in our stay the weather is gloomy but the land is lush. It would have to be with all the rain. We’re surrounded by gray skies and green land most of the time. Vibrant and drab at the same time. Except for this day…
We’re renting an old red schoolhouse from the 1800s – it’s appointed fairly well. There is plenty of space (I can do cartwheels), comfy couches on both floors and great chairs for reading. It’s really fund having this much space after living in our tiny Italian apartment.
The colors of the walls – a weird salmon-color kind of go well with the furniture until you look up at the ceiling and see red. Unique. I’m used to it now.
I’ve also grown to enjoy the chiming clock as it goes off more than once each hour. At one point, we think how much we’re used to it, no longer waking us in the middle of the night, until we realize it stopped working.
The kitchen has a great big, fun table – picnic table style – oozing welcoming. Community. Although there’s just the three of us for now, we have family coming to visit. It’ll be great for seating all of us.
There’s also an Aga stove thing. I’m not clear on how to use it for either stove or oven use – there are no dials or temperature gauges. I think it’s old, too. In fact, after this was finished being used as a schoolhouse, it was a restaurant! I was impressed that even Bono ate here, but then I remembered that he’s Irish, so it’s like his backyard.
The other stove top – the electric one – leaves a bit to be desired. Hard to control, looks almost a bit rusty, and takes a long time to get hot. Once it’s hot, it’s a long time before it’s cooling down with no warning lights – yikes. In the end though, I’m able to fry up my burgers so it’s all good. We start working well together, that stove and I.
Speaking of burgers – Tesco delivers my groceries… to. my. door.
I really like Tesco and fell in love with them last year when we spent a lot of time in the UK. They have great prices and products. Knowing there isn’t anything in Ballyhack for grocery stores, but that I can buy from Tesco a town over and they deliver? Well, it made this trip possible.
That’s because we opted not to rent a car while in Ireland.
It was just way too expensive, almost the cost of the whole month’s accommodation fees at the school house. We knew that Tesco delivered food and that there were occasional buses for exploring other towns. I figured that was enough. (Frankly, it wasn’t as I became a stir crazy as the days passed. Thank goodness family visited.)
Let’s see – the rest of the school house.
The foyer is lovely with the thick stone and the fireplace, complete with two rocking chairs. There is also a conservatory but it’s a bit damp and chilly out there still.
I love the spiral staircase and I count the steps going up and down in Italian to keep my Italian front and center.
I also use the steps to keep my strength up, by doing a sort-of “pull-up” while hanging on one of them. Better than nothing.
Interesting, but there are very few mirrors here. Two to be exact. No, wait. There are three. One in the master bathroom and another by the main door to the house. The third is in the upstairs family room. That means three bathrooms and only one has a mirror. Personally, I like this.
The upstairs is where the two bedrooms are.
Each room can sleep 3 people. There’s one room that needs updating as the paint is peeling off the walls as nail polish does when you put on too many coats. It peels rather than chips. Unbecoming on nails and not cool on the walls of the place you’re renting for the month. It’s too bad, too, because such potential! This paint-peeling room is Kamea’s.
It’s off this bedroom that there is a balcony for sitting and watching the ferry come and go. I’m not prepared though, and it’s always a bit too chilly to fully enjoy. It was June and I didn’t know I’d need a winter jacket in Ireland.
The other bedroom is really a divided section off the main living area upstairs.
So, you get to the top of the stairs and enter a big living room complete with two soft couches and a fireplace, plus fun window seats. The room has a dividing wall though, and it’s only about 4/5ths the way up so not entirely private. People might not see me changing, but they can hear it and anything else. Comfortable beds though with soft sheets.
The place is noisy especially upstairs where you hear every step moving across the old wood floors. But those original floors are so cool that I don’t think I’d have it any other way. If only I’d brought a sound machine with me.
Would I come back here?
Hmmm – maybe. If I was on a mission for quiet and to write a book, then it’s a great place. Actually, a really fucking great place. There are no distractions, especially when you don’t have a car.
However, there are some things that would make it better like cleaning the many cobwebs and fixing up that bedroom with stained curtains and peeling paint. So if I didn’t have a project or book I was working on that required solitude, I don’t think I’d be back. Not to mention it was pretty lonely for Kamea, too, except for the times we took the ferry over to the park. That, too, was only a rare occurrence because of the weather.
Again, thank god family came to visit.
And, thank god for these…
There’s nothing going on in this town, but the pub is nice. It’s about five doors down from our school house and they have a tiny convenient store for things like wine, beer, eggs, milk, and coffee. Convenient, indeed, to walk only a few steps and be in a pub filled with locals.
Nothing says small town living like the following.
We went to eat at the pub one evening, and I paid with my credit card. The machine printed out a receipt, but then it also printed out the word void. The bartender and I were not sure whether the charge went through. No problem, I told her we would be back one of these days during the week, and if it didn’t go through I’d pay then.
Well, two days later she came knocking on the door of the old schoolhouse. She knew where we were staying it seems – not sure if I told her but we did tell some people and words travels easily in small towns. She let me know that the charge did not go through, so I told her I’d be down in the next couple of days to pay it. Small town living.
Although Ballyhack isn’t my favorite location so far in our travels, we did manage some fun times and there were a handful of days with sunny blue skies.