A quaint, tidy town called Adare
Lies just outside Limerick, where
Shoe boutiques hatched,
And roofs are thatched;
The Smurfs would have loved it there.
While volunteering as a teacher’s assistant in an art class at our local care centre, I have been learning a lot about Irish culture, geography and history from a few deep-rooted apprentices. (Although, they forgot to inform me that the supermarket booze isle would be barricaded on Good Friday and I’d have to wait until Saturday to purchase my Easter wine.) Last week, the ladies assured me that Ireland is experiencing an exceptionally long winter. They seem like honest women, and since they’ve lived on this isle for 80-some years, I suppose I should take their word for it. It’s April 1st, and I am not fooling when I tell you that it is so cold the leaves even look uncomfortable as they shiver in the wind. My winter sweaters are loving all the attention, but my mascara has been feeling neglected because the minute I step outside into the freezing wind, my eyes water and makeup seems to run for warmer weather. Sometimes I close my eyes and imagine that I’m laying on a warm beach just to relax cold, tight muscles. If the sun does decide to play peek-a-boo, Joe will stop whatever he’s doing to catch it’s rays, which sometimes last up to four whole minutes. Last winter, I had decided that Seattlites are the world’s most resilient people, thriving through months of gray clouds, rain, and wind. But they are soon to be defeated for that title, by the Irish.
So Joe and I bundled up on Saturday and embarked on a short bus ride heading west from Limerick to a town named Adare. On the way, I sat next to a County Clare native who has travelled all over the world- waterskiing in Baton Rouge, sunbathing in Australia, hiking in Thailand, wine tasting in South Africa and exploring European countries. We discussed the advantage that Europeans have when it comes to traveling: within a couple of hours, you will find yourself in a different country, a completely new culture, and for a fair price too. As the bus pulled into Adare, the view out the window reminded me of the Smurf village from the cartoon show I used to watch as a kid on Saturday mornings, over a bowl of Lucky Charms: small, colorful cottages with thatched roofs adorned with neatly arranged flower beds and stonework- a pretty, orderly row on Main Street, surrounded by woodland and castles. We walked up Main Street to find the most beautiful golf course I’ve ever seen, an Augustinian Priory dating back to 1315, and the Desmond Castle situated just beyond the River Maigue. Aside from being known for its picturesque cottages, churches, castles, and craft shops, Adare boasts some fantastic restaurants and cafes. So we shared southern fried chicken at Aunty Lena’s while Man U played Sunderland on the big screen. Joe was patient with me during antiquing-hour as we popped in and out of thatched roof craft shops and boutiques. I tried on some of those cool hats Kate Middleton wears and decided the one with the big turquoise flower suited me best. Until I checked out the price tag. Several shops flaunted shelves lined with the most artistic shoes. This was definitely no TK Max. (Yes, TJ Maxx, here in Ireland, is TK Maxx.)
It didn’t take long to soak in Adare, so we caught a bus back to Limerick that evening. Tightening our scarves as we strolled down O’Connell street on our way to meet a friend, we noticed a line emerging from the Leonidas Chocolate Shop. Joe and I “queued up” and he bought me a chocolate bunny for Easter. Most people were going for the traditional chocolate eggs , but we aren’t most people. Our friend Hama joined us at Tom Collins pub, and the next day he came over for Easter dinner. He and Joe have some very similar stories about Africa, growing up in neighboring countries, and they’re both working on their PhD’s at UL. After stew, hot cross buns, carrot cake, and plenty of laughter, the gray skies and chilly wind outside didn’t matter. Our home felt as warm as could be. And it wasn’t because of the wool sweater I was wearing…