Molly & Steve's Trip to Ireland - 2023

You're Very Welcome Here



Mar 15-16
Left: Molly at the Stone of Destiny on the Hill of Tara. Legend says that the stone will roar when touched by the future King of Ireland.

We arrived in Dublin around 9:15 am, picked up our rental car and drove to Hill of Tara. It was nice weather but muddy on the Hill. After we tramped around in the mud, we paused for lunch at the cafe at Tara, and we chatted with a young waitress about St. Patrick's Day parade. We both loved her Irish accent but learned later that she was actually Polish. We told her about the St. Patrick's Day tradition in Chicago of dying the river green. She'd never heard of it and got a big kick out of the photos we showed her.

While we were at the Hill of Tara, a friendly dog enticed Steve into playing a game of fetch. His owner was also walking on the Hill and gave us a friendly greeting.

Jackson, a new friend

Lunch at the Hill of Tara cafe

When we left Tara, we drove toward Monasterboice but had some trouble on the way. Our left front tire struck a curb in a little town named Tenure. (Really. That is the name of the place.)

Searching for information about the type of tire

I could hear the air hissing out of the tire as we looked for the nearest place to pull over. There wasn't one, so we pulled off the road into a private driveway and felt much better being off the narrow and busy road road. We pondered our options. The car was a brand new car - it had only 8 km on the odometer when we climbed in it. But it had no spare tire and no car manual. We did find equipment which could be used to re-inflate the tire, but the tire was beyond that sort of help. It had a 1-inch gash in the sidewall.

We decided to search the internet for "tire repair near me" and called a local tire repair business in Drogheda, about 10 miles away. The first question they asked us was, "where are you?" And we weren't able to answer that because none of the roads near us had names (we were consulting Google maps), but we knew we were a little past Tenure at this point.

We flunked the next question they asked, too: "what kind of car are you driving?" The rental agency had not given us any actual paperwork for the rental agreement - they were going to email it to us, but we didn't have it yet. And the car itself did not display the make anywhere on the steering wheel or the car. Just a goofy symbol that we did not recognize. We got out of the car and looked it over. It had "DS E-Tense" in pretty chrome lettering on the back of the car. We ultimately learned that car was a "concept car" made by Citroën, but this information was not available while we were speaking to the very nice man at the Drogheda tire repair service.

He somehow deduced the particulars from our description of the car as a new hybrid car with "E-tense" on trunk lid. The bad news was that the car was so new that it was equipped with a new model of a Michelin tire, which the man on the other end of the phone told us, "I don't have and I can't get." Rut roh. That wasn't what we wanted to hear, but we weren't really in panic mode. (Maybe we should have been, but I think we were too stupid. We had not slept for about 24 hours and had jet-lag brains.)

The Drogheda tire repair guy was very nice, though, and recommended that we get in touch with either our car rental agency or AA. (This is the Irish term for the Automobile Association, but it struck us as a bit funny because we were just beginning to think that perhaps we might need a couple of stiff drinks before this day was ended.)

So we turned to Plan B - call the car rental agency, and we started digging around for a phone number for someone at the desk at the Budget Rent-a-Car office at the Dublin Airport. Of course it would be on the rental agreement ... if we had one. But we eventually found a number on the envelope which the agent had handed us when we left the rental desk. The envelope had the key to the car in it, and that was it.

By this time, the owner of the driveway had come down the lane, and we had to move over a bit to let her pass. We explained why we were blocking her driveway, but we didn't wish to trouble her since it appeared that she was driving her elderly father to an appointment.

We reached the Budget agent in Dublin, and they were immediately helpful. They also promptly recognized that we needed mobile assistance from a tire repair service which stocked the special tire, and they informed us that they would call AA and then call us back.

Rainbow with Mountains of Mourne

So we sat and waited. We had a lovely view of the Mountains of Mourne in front of us, and as we gazed off at this pretty scene, a rainbow appeared.

Shortly after that, the homeowner returned and paused at our window long enough to give us their Eircode, an exact geographic reference point which we could give to Budget when they called back.

Almost an hour passed, though, and we had not yet received a call from Budget. Steve was starting to nod off when the homeowner's car again appeared in the lane, and she got out of her car and came to the driver's window carrying a tray of coffee and cookies. She apologized for not being able to help us because their family was bringing their mother home from the hospital today. Her mother had been in the hospital for six weeks, and her father (who had been in the car with her earlier) has dementia. But she had time to make coffee for us.

As we sipped our coffee, we thought we'd better give the car rental agency another call. We made several tries, but there was no answer. Thinking perhaps they had blocked Steve's phone, I suggested he try calling on my phone. We finally got through, and before Steve could even give his complete name, they said, "Oh, Mr. Daniel! We've been trying to reach you." It turned out that when I booked the car rental months ago, I had transposed two numbers in Steve's cell phone number, and they had been trying to call us for several minutes on the wrong number. Oops. More stupidity.

We gave the Budget agent the code for our exact location, and he pronounced that "brilliant! That's just what we need. We'll send the repair service to you directly."

Mobile tire repair to the rescue

It wasn't long before a van from Sean McManus Tyres rolled up, and a friendly fellow hopped out and made short work of the repair. We chatted with him a bit, and we secretly admired his Irish accent (but it turns out that he is Latvian).

At right - Uvis Brokan from Sean McManus Tyres puts a new tire on the wheel.

When the repair was finished, we drove up the drive so we could turn around, which also allowed us to return the coffee tray (even though the kind woman who served us the coffee had told us that we could just leave it by the side of the road and she would pick it up when she went to walk the dog.) As we handed her the tray, she asked if we didn't need to use the loo before we went on. (I did, but I couldn't impose on those poor people any longer.)

Below: We enjoyed some moments at twilight in the cemetery at Monasterboice.

We finished our day at our last intended destination - the high crosses at Monasterboice. It was nearly sunset, and it was beautiful. We photographed the ancient round tower and high crosses and then drove back to Slane, where we checked into the Conyngham Arms Hotel and had dinner. We asked for a double shot of Slane whiskey to take to our room for a nightcap, but the waitress apologized because all their bottles of Slane were gone - drunk the night before by the Australian hotel guests who are here for a wedding. They drank every last bottle of Slane whiskey (the local product). We settled for a double shot of Jameson's and promised to deal with the Australians at breakfast.

Tomorrow: visit Newgrange and the Slane Distillery and somehow avoid the street closings in Slane at 2 pm yet perhaps catch the St. Patrick's Day parade.

Next: St. Patrick's Day


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This page was last edited on 22-Apr-2023

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