August 30, Sunday
Night's Lodging: Menlo Park (home)
Weather: Cloudy with strong headwinds from Sixmilebridge to the Airport. No rain until aircraft pushback.
The Enright's ran a terrific B&B, which we stumbled across as we looked for a place to stay. We just followed the first B&B sign that had the ITB logo. We nearly passed it by, thinking it closed. Fortunately, something caused us to persevere in our quest for the front door.
With three grown children, all living in Sixmilebridge, the Enright's - a fantastically friendly couple - knew how to bring three foreign cyclists into their home and make us feel like family. Fire (peat), t.v., newspaper, dried our clothes, loaned Jack a slicker so that we could hunt down food for dinner. We weren't the first to feel this way...framed on the wall was an American newspaper article extolling the hospitality shown by the Enright's to a bicyclist the previous year.
In addition to their down-home friendliness, they cooked us an incredible full Irish breakfast. It included the same ingredients that we had learned to expect as being "typical." Somehow this tasted better. Perhaps because it was our last breakfast in Ireland.
As we ate our breakfast in the formal dining room, accompanied by a French couple who didn't speak English, through the mostly-closed door to the kitchen, I spotted Mrs. Enright dancing to music from the kitchen radio. She was embarrassed to have been seen, so she grabbed me from the dining room and we two-stepped around the kitchen together, she leading and me trying my best to follow, both of us laughing.
Mr. Enright, Sean, sat at their breakfast table, grinning, and said, "She certainly is a lively one. Here we'd say 'full of beans.'"
Their kitchen window looked east over their garden out to the hills, green pastures delineated by hedgerows like a checkerboard. After breakfast we were treated to a tour of their yard/garden which backed up on the Garney River. The garden - newly dug potatoes, cabbage and kale growing with evidences of slug feasts. The River Garney flowed into Shannon River along the rear of their property. In the low overhanging trees was a rope swing aimed toward the river.
We packed up our bikes, hugged the Enright's goodbye, and pedaled off to began the last nine mile leg of our trip.
I had no symbolic "stowing of my bike shoes" this trip since we pedaled directly to the airport. It was there that I finally exchanged my biking shoes for traveling tennies. My cycling shoes and gloves were smelly enough to bring a sheep to its knees. Sweaty gloves in the rain develop a personality all of their own! I stuffed them both into the depths of my panniers and queued up at the Aer Lingus ticket counter.