I’ve decided it’s high time I had a proper holiday… a real one. Time I went off to see the world, as it were. Over the last few years I’ve had a few trips here and there… Bristol and Bolton mainly… But they’ve been only a few days. I’m talking about a proper belter of a holiday… An expedition the likes of which I’ve never been on, a true adventure like every holiday should be… I’m talking about circumnavigating the Irish Sea… BY TRAIN!
I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, I know. I haven’t even had my first royalty payment through yet and already I’m planning an epic holiday. Well yeah… It’s been a while. If you don’t know why i’m on about royalty payments i suggest you feast your eyes on this baby: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B008ZEAKFS Originally I planned this holiday to include most of the Republic of Ireland, crossing from Fishguard and then going through Wexford, Cork, Limerick and then Dublin before making a triumphalist return through Holyhead and my home city of Bangor.
However, there is a snag with that as Ireland’s rail system is not the best of rail systems in the world, mainly because it’s virtually impossible to get anywhere long distance, by rail at least. To get from Wexford through to Cork for instance would either require going through Dublin or getting a train and then a bus from somewhere, which defies the point of the holiday really. Same with Cork to Limerick. The problem is that there is virtually no rail connectivity in Ireland. Sure… There are trains… But they all go to Dublin for some reason. I don’t know why. Add to this the fact that I’m virtually banned from entering Holyhead for life and we’ve got a problem on our hands.
It was suggested I walk it but that would take more time than I actually want to spend off work so, as fun as it might be, it’s not really an option at the moment.
So it necessitated a change of plan. We’ll keep Fishguard and replace the stop off in Bangor with Cardiff. Now I liked Cardiff last time I went there and I’d like to spend more than a single day there- But of course it depends on the ferries. Irish Sea Ferries are reasonably priced and they go every afternoon so that’s not too bad, and afternoon sailing and trains means a two night stop over in Cardiff, which is good.
After that it’ll be a hop over the sea to Wexford. All I know about Wexford is that he’s a Ruth Rendell Detective… So this will require some research. It seems that this is where they filmed the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan. I will now confess that I have never seen Saving Private Ryan but I reckon it’d be interesting to see the filming location. There’s also an abbey, but other than that it doesn’t look like much of a tourist kind of place. It appears to be somewhere rather like the lower flanks of Fylde coast, just an ordinary, non-touristy place by the sea. I think one night in Wexford is going to be enough with a midday train to Dublin…
Now Dublin, I am presuming, will be much more worthy of a prolonged stay than Wexford. For one thing it appears to have a writer’s museum and as I now make my living by writing it seems a worthy place to visit. They’ve got stuff on James Joyce in there and seeing as Joyce has one of the most complex literary catalogues in history… Well… Need I say more? And there are plenty more places that look like they could be worth a visit. The president’s residence and the castle both look intriguing. As there is so much to do I believe that a two night stay would be necessary.
The next stage of the trip is by far the most interesting. The Dublin to Belfast run. I’ve read somewhere that this is supposed to be one of the best railway lines in the world as it runs right along the coast. And this is the Irish coast we’re talking about… It’s one of the most spectacular in the world (except for maybe Norway!). I think this is mainly because it literally runs along cliffs and through tunnels and right along one of the most stunning parts of the world. I can’t find any definitive proof of this, but there you go.
And as for Belfast itself? There doesn’t look to be as much as in Dublin but it still appears to be worth at least a two day stop off. There’s a monastery for a start. That could be worth a look. And there are Parliament buildings. Of course, all of this is just speculative ‘oooh look at that…’ kind of stuff. I’m sure there is plenty to see and do that they don’t tell you about on the travel websites.
And after Belfast there is only one way back across the Irish sea to England… Through Man. Now Man looks like a lot of fun. For a small island its got a lot- Castles, mountains and a bridge supposedly inhabited by fairies that curse you if you don’t greet them as you cross. (Wonder what happens if you tell the fairies to fuck off? Do they strike you dead?) It seems like an interesting place, a mystical island in the middle of the sea. Regular readers know what I’m like by now. Anywhere like that and I’m there like a shot, telling those fairies to fuck off just to see what happens. Three nights might be necessary.
And from Man one final ferry trip would complete the journey, around the Irish Sea by train and Boat…
But theres a problem. Well… Two. I don’t like the look of any of the hotels in Wexford… I know it would only be one night but still… And then there are the ferries. There are two companies that I could choose- one extortionate and one leaving from a place that is only served by one train a day from Swansea. It just seems to me like a whole lot of expense to get to a place that from what I’ve seen doesn’t look all that interesting. Is it really worth it just to see Cardiff again? The point of this trip is Ireland right… So lets make it about Ireland. You can’t get from Wexford to Cork but you sure as hell can get from Cork to Dublin…
Is there a way to do it? Yes… FLY! I know I wanted this to be by train and boat but owing to the fact that it would be more expensive that way, a flight to Cork and a few nights there would certainly make things sweeter. And Cork looks fantastic… I mean… They call themselves ‘The Rebels.’ What’s not to like? The Cathedral looks cool… AND THERE’S A MARKET… AND A FORT… And the entire place looks sweet as… So you know what? Let’s forget Wexford and Cardiff… Wexford hasn’t exactly endeared itself to me and Cardiff can wait a bit longer. Cork is where its at.
Should be good… And not too expensive either… Only…
I believe I need to rethink my holiday.