Home' Northern Outlook : October 27th 2012 Contents 14 NORTHERN OUTLOOK, OCTOBER 27, 2012
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Grand: Ireland's Trim Castle was built
in the 12th century, and was Ireland's
largest Anglo-Norman castle. Its most
recent claim to fame is having
featured in Mel Gibson's movie
Fairfax sub-editor Sally
McCoid recently spent
five weeks holidaying with
her husband and two
teenagers. She writes
about travelling as a family
Inquisitive: Alex and his dad, Robert,
exploring the ruins at Trim Castle.
Never work with children or
I'm not sure why W C Fields' words
popped into my mind as we were
waiting to board our long-awaited
flight to Dublin via Shanghai and
But although W C was alluding to
acting, I found myself wondering if,
after five weeks together, I might end
up applying it to travelling long
distance with a couple of teenagers.
Especially when one teenager had
struggled with sports injuries in
recent years and I had planned a lot
Meanwhile, the other was afraid of
heights and had no interest in theme-
park rides but I had booked us three
days at the end of our five weeks at
Disneyland and California
The thought was fleeting, however,
and we arrived in Dublin 36 hours
after leaving home.
We spent the next two days with
family in Edenderry, County Offaly,
just under an hour west of Dublin.
The kids met many distant cuzzies
and had a ball.
In my pre-teen years I found an
Irish penpal, Una. Now, 30 years
later, I was staying with her for a
second time, but this time we both
had children in tow.
Una took us sightseeing, with our
first stop 40 minutes away from
Edenderry in the town of Trim, at
Trim Castle. The castle was built in
the 12th century, and was Ireland's
largest Anglo-Norman castle.
It wasn't all roped off; you could
walk the grounds and climb all over
the building remains. Alex enjoyed
exploring the nooks and crannies,
climbing structure remnants,
disappearing in and out of stairways.
The castle played a major part in
Mel Gibson's movie, Braveheart, and
you can pay for a guided tour of the
Castle Keep. However, we moved on
for a short walk across the River
Boyne to St Mary's Abbey ruins.
We had worried the kids might get
bored but so far they were enjoying
the hands-on history lesson.
Next stop was Newgrange, about
40 minutes north of Dublin where my
husband and I had been 17 years
Newgrange is a passage tomb,
older than Stonehenge and Egypt's
Great Pyramids. Our guide said it
was the oldest roofed structure in all
of Europe. Built more than 5000
years ago, it covers an acre and is
decorated with megalithic art.
Our guide suggested anyone who
was claustrophobic should go at the
end of the line, so they could get out
easily if they felt the need.
Two vied for last place -- Alex was
one of them -- but we all squeezed
down the tight corridor into the main
chamber, where modern-day lighting
made it more comfortable than it
would have been for early visitors.
What surprised me most that day
was that my teenagers had enjoyed
two wonderful heritage sights.
With today's iPods, SmartPhones
and the like, I wasn't sure old-
fashioned history would hit the spot.
I was pleasantly surprised.
On our last day in Ireland, we bade
the family goodbye and headed to
Dublin. With only a short time to
explore the capital, we took the green
Hop On Hop Off tour, which provided
a great and economical tour.
After a huge night with the family
in Edenderry the night before, and
still suffering from jetlag, we would
have been better off resting than full-
on sightseeing, but we had so much to
fit into our short five weeks, we didn't
have time to rest.
At Trinity College, we were on a
mission to find the Book of Kells, but
it was in front of Ireland's supreme
national treasure we encountered our
first cringe moment.
Jostling with the horde of people
circling the 1200-year-old book -- a
beautifully decorated manuscript of
the first four gospels of the New
Testament -- I encouraged Kallia, 15,
who was starting to look very tired, to
get close enough for a good look.
Instead she announced loudly, it's
just another book'' -- cue embarrassed
looks, pursed lips and a few choice
words as we left the building.
Thankfully as we entered The Long
Room, they perked up. Although they
initially likened it to Hogwarts'
library from the Harry Potter movies,
they were blown away by the size of
the room and the thousands of old
books in there.
Then it was on to Dublin Castle for
a guided tour of just over an hour,
which the kids found interesting --
but we were all fading fast.
We were staying at the Arlington
Hotel, which was central and offered
an Irish music and dance night with
the evening meal at a reasonable
A mistake over our rooms was
followed by disappointment that the
music and dancing didn't start until
Had we had enough sleep, it would
have been a fabulous night as the
music was grand''.
And so we learnt that when
teenage travellers run out of steam
you have to accept it.
When they crash, they crash.
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