Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 2018: Southern Ireland with Mom
By nikkihop from Texas USA, Spring 2012
Page 9 of 12: June 18, 2012 – Newgrange, Trim Castle and an Emergency Clinic in Dublin
DANGER: Falling retirees. (Trim Castle)
The Newgrange Lodge itself is pretty unexciting compared to all of our other lodgings so far. It isn't bad, just like comparing Motel 6 with Green Gables. The bathroom was teeny tiny and the accordion folding shower door wouldn't close all the way, so the floor of the bathroom and the bedroom got all wet when we showered. Furthermore, when I tried to pull the curtains back to let in more sunlight, the right curtain just flew completely off the rod. I spent the next five minutes painstakingly fixing it and then re-sticking the duct tape over the end of the rod (evidence that this is not the first time this had happened). Despite all of this, I would not have booked anywhere else. The convenience was worth it and being the first people in line for tickets meant we only had a tour group of 12 instead of the usual 25 people stuffed into Newgrange’s tiny stone corridor with only one entrance.
Once we checked out of the Lodge, our day started out great. We had beautiful weather for our tour to the Newgrange prehistoric monument, which is just 300 meters down the road from our hotel. DM and I both really enjoyed it. You start at the visitor's center, where you see another short fillum and some models of the site, then you board a minibus that takes you on a five minute drive to Newgrange. It sits atop a hill, and the white limestone quartz walls shine in the sun as they wrap in a semicircle around the monument. The monument looks like a grassy mound with the front half fronted by white stone and completely surrounded by large plates of slate like giant teeth. Many of these kerbstones have been carved with ancient geometric patterns and swirls. Our group was small since we were the first group of the day -- only 12 of us. We had a variety of folks, most notably a Chinese man with a lump on top of his bald head that looked like one of the beehive huts we saw in Dingle, and his girlfriend, a 60-something crusty French woman dressed completely in shades of red and a full beard. Seriously, her whiskers would give ZZ Top a run for their money.
Our Newgrange guide led us past the stone entrance, which resembles a low altar, and through these low stone buttresses to get to the central chamber where ceremonial stone basins sit in recessed alcoves. We had to be careful, because a pair of swallows had made their home in the chamber and kept flying in and out of the monument like bats. Our guide explained that Stone Age people used the monument for some kind of sun-worship, or burial rites (they think). Newgrange is older than the pyramids, so it was a pretty cool experience.
After Newgrange, off we went to Trim to visit Trim castle, which is where they filmed (fillumed?) parts of Braveheart. The castle site is pretty imposing. We toured all through its three stories and had a great guide. When the tour was finished, we walked across the grass courtyard to this archway leading underground to the castle cellars. The stairs were pretty steep, and just after the words, "Mom, are you sure you want to walk down these stairs?" came out of my mouth, DM stumbled. She was two steps below me, and though I tried to catch her, she twisted her ankle and went crashing over to the left, banging her face on the last stone step. I nearly had a heart attack, because I have witnessed this scene once before when Mom fell walking our dogs and it wasn't something I ever hoped to repeat. And can I just say that DM is missing the part of her brain that tells you to throw your arms out to catch yourself when falling? She just topples over like a tree with no arm instinct whatsoever. It's a real handicap and I think they should study it. Acciarmnegatus: the failure to use one's arms to break a fall in an accident.
To make things worse, DM banged her left eyebrow so hard, she was bleeding pretty badly, and she couldn't move because of her ankle. Poor DM really rang her own bell and was bleeding and sobbing, which is pretty much a daughter’s worst nightmare. It took everything I had not to go into frightened child mode. I used DM’s scarf to staunch the worst of the bleeding, but I told her I was going to have to leave her to go find help. I was smart enough not to say ‘ambulance’ to her, but I think she read my mind. All of sudden, she kind of pulled herself together and said she felt well enough after a while to limp to the ticket office and toilets. The camera monopod I brought served as a cane and we got there eventually. While she was in the ladies, I did run to the ticket office and borrowed a first aid kit from the ladies working there. We applied some antiseptic wipes and a band aid to her cut and gimped back to the car. After stopping at a grocery store for some ice for face and ankle, we broke a few speed limits to Dublin.
DM started apologizing to me on the castle cellar steps and didn't stop for the next hour ... what am I saying? She still hasn't stopped. It's in her DNA. I wanted to go straight to a hospital, but DM wouldn't hear of it, so we returned the rental car at Avis. Incidentally, there was a French couple returning their car as well. They didn't have good English, but apparently, they had had an accident as well. The Irish Avis agent was having difficulty communicating with them. Finally, he just handed them an accident report form and said (LOUDLY),"Just fill out this form explaining what happened ... you can write it in Spanish." Um, you mean French, right? I asked my Avis agent how many people return cars with accident damage and she sputtered out a laugh and said this was her third today, so I'm guessing the ratio is pretty high. Because I had already called in a report and sent photos of the accident damage and scene by email, we were out of there pretty quickly. We called a taxi, who took us to our hotel. Miraculously, there is an emergency clinic right next door to our hotel, the Grafton Capital Hotel. So, if you're in Dublin with someone who is prone to falling over, book here. It's very convenient.
Apparently, you have to make an appointment for emergencies - they don't do walk-ins. They sent us four blocks away to another clinic that had an appointment in a few minutes. We limped over there and saw a very nice young Irish doctor-girl who looked DM over and determined that her ankle wasn't broken, just badly sprained. She patched DM's cut with a creative bandage that looked exactly like a Celtic cross and gave us a prescription for anti-inflammatories and a pepsid-like drug to counteract the hard-on-your-stomach side effects. By doctor's orders, DM was to take it easy and stay off her ankle for 24 hours.
We went back to the hotel, and it took me about five hours to gain any sort of sense of humor about this. It was pretty awful, but DM put on a brave face for me and I put on a brave face for her. DM didn't want to sit around doing nothing, so we started researching ways for her to sit around doing something, or having something to watch. We agreed on the Irish Nights Show at the Arlington Hotel, which is a dinner, music and mini Irish Riverdance show. It’s a little cheesy, but gimpers can’t be choosers. Our hotel managed to get us some last minute reservations and we took a cab over there. We sat at a great table close to the stage, where DM was able to put her foot up on the chair across from her. Her eye was turning more and more purple by the minute, and our waitress commented on it, asking DM where she fell over and then showing us some bruises she had received that week by dropping a tray of bottles on herself. DM's face won the bruise contest.
First, we ordered from a pre-set menu, which (Thank God) included beef and Guinness stew with mashed potatoes, DM's favorite dish. You get a starter, a main dish, and a dessert for €28, which includes the show, so it was a pretty good bargain, I thought. I had a goat cheese and arugula salad with the beef and Guinness stew and the cheesecake for dessert. DM had the same except with vegetable soup instead of salad. The Irish band started playing around 8:00pm, and they were very good. The band consisted of a guitarist/singer, a Concertina accordionist, and a flute player, who was awesome because he did a little jig with his feet and shoulders the whole time he played. It was very entertaining. At around 9:30, four Irish dancers, three girls and a boy, came out and danced a number of reels and Riverdance highstepping-kicking-tap dancing numbers. The boy's feet were so fast, I couldn't get a decent photo of them.
The Irish band came back on after the dancers, but it was time I put DM to bed, so we took a cab home. She went down to the guest lounge to email a bit and I went out with my camera to explore and get some night shots of the city. I also called my fiancé for some moral support while walking and let myself have the freak out I’d been bottling up since Trim.
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