DAY ONE: Dublin to Bantry

I woke up on Friday morning last at 4:45am in time to be picked up by manager Chris at 5:15 and driven to Los Angeles Airport for an 8:15 flight to Newark, New Jersey. A packed plane, no sleep and connected at 7:30pm on to Dublin arriving at 7am Ireland time, again with hardly any sleep, another packed plane….it feels like they fly cities worth of people on these international and trans continental flights these days. My greatest concern on this trip was to make sure all thirty five travelers would meet up at the three appointed spots to board the coach…..and they did….now I could breathe.

With my trusty and loyal driver Paul Hastings at the wheel we left Dublin right on time at 9am and headed south west for Bantry Bay. Quite a few of our fellow travelers have been to Ireland before but for many, it is their first adventure here. After a quick comfort and coffee stop in Co. Kildare we drove all the way to Cork city and ate lunch and had a tour of the English Market, the best of Irish produce, dairy, meats and fish anywhere. Back on the bus and headed west for Bantry.

On our way I surprised the group with a pit stop in Gougan Barra, a tiny church at the edge of a lake, said to have been built by Saint Finbar, the patron saint of Cork, in the 7th Century. Very popular for weddings, and of course there’s a pub right next door. Speaking of pit stop, we were treated to seeing about twenty classic cars from the Crosshaven Motor Club out for a jaunt that day. Several MGs from the 60’s, a few old Rovers, one Rolls Royce, some Vauxhalls, an original Mini and a right hand drive 50’s Porsche Speedster. Everybody here is so friendly, just enjoyed chatting with the drivers.

We got to Bantry in time for 6pm dinner….great food here BTW, and then we were welcomed after at the local Irish Tourist Office by the Mayor of Cork County and several county councilors. The Bailey’s and Irish Coffees were a treat for everyone and speeches and a requested song by yours truly topped off the reception. We adjourned to our hotel bar and were entertained by two gray haired ¬†singers who were ok at playing but very funny with their one liners. At this point I was shattered and said good night to all…

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