Ireland Revisited – 2010

Long Travel from Memphis to Shannon

May 2 – 12, 2010

 

Part 1: Flights from Memphis to Shannon

Part 7:  Shopping in Town of Dingle

Part 2: Drive to Dingle on Southwest Coast

Part 8:  Beautiful Sights near Slea Head

Part 3: Holden Leather, Dingle Golf Links

Part 9:  Drive Over Connor Pass to Shannon

Part 4: Ballydavid, Historic Brandon’s Creek

Part 10: Shopping in Shannon, Flights Home

Part 5: Playing Golf at Cheann Sibeal

Link to 2003 Trip to Dingle and Vicinity

Part 6: Slea Head Drive, Mulcahey Pottery

Link to 2002 Trip to Dingle and Vicinity

 

- Updated May 14, 2010

 

Ten photos mainly taken by Betty Nolan are posted at www.kodakgallery.com in an album entitled “Ireland – 2010” under the account of Lewis “Buzz” Nolan’s email address. Email lewis_nolan@yahoo.com for instructions on how to access.

 

By LEWIS NOLAN

 

May 2, 2010 – Sunday – Travel from Memphis to Boston and Ireland

 

Betty and I were up early in our home near the middle of Memphis, Tenn., after a day of perhaps record rainfall all day Saturday that had dumped up to 12 inches of water in the area.

 


 

Betty Nolan on grassy, stone wall on Dingle Peninsula in Southwest Ireland near Slea Head

 

It has been a very wet and rather cool spring. Parts of our home Shelby County had flooded and several hundred residents of suburban Millington (site of a big U.S. Navy base) had been evacuated by boat. Even our City Hall in downtown Memphis had been partially flooded. But at least we could tell ourselves that the really bad weather had passed through and the weather outlook for our long day of traveling was favorable.

 

Our friend Linda Ray, a home health care professional who had expertly provided care for me three years ago during my long recovery from a brain aneurysm, had offered to drive us to the Memphis International Airport. She picked us up at 6 a.m. and helped load our two big suitcases packed by Betty into her car. Check-in went smoothly, in no small part due to the splendid travel arrangements made so meticulously by our agent, Erin Bobbit of Gullivers’s Travel in Memphis.

 

Our Delta flight on a regional jet departed on time for Boston at 8:40 a.m. The seating in tourist class is relatively tight and no food other than light snacks and soft drinks are served passengers. At least we had a window and an aisle seat on the medium-sized jet. It had only one restroom at the rear of Tourist Class. The flight took nearly three hours, which passed quickly due to our excitement to be on our first trip back to Ireland in seven years.

 

We took the early flight to Boston on the advice of travel agent Erin to give us plenty of time in case of problems and also to further accumulate frequent flyer mileage on Delta for use later. Since Delta’s service to Shannon Airport in the west side of Ireland is not presently operating, we are making the transatlantic flight from Boston to Shannon on the national airline of Ireland, Aer Lingus.

 

Our flight to Boston arrived at nearly 1 p.m. It was about 20 minutes late taking off due to an accident involving a nasty fall by another passenger on the moving sidewalk at the Memphis airport that required medical treatment. Our overnight flight out to Ireland was not scheduled to leave until 7:15 p.m., so we took advantage of a fairly new promotion by Delta to give holders of the Delta Platinum American Express credit card access to its “Crown Room” for VIP travelers for $25 each. We had the complimentary use of big easy chairs, assorted snacks and various beverages. Due to my recovery from the brain aneurysm that nearly claimed my life, I no longer drink much if any hard alcohol. But we did enjoy the comfortable setting and free beverages and selected snacks  compliments of Delta.

 

We had so-so salads for lunch at an airport eatery, deciding we’d hold out to enjoy a firs-class dinner served in Aer Lingus’ overnight flight to Shannon, Ireland in what it calls “Premier Class.”

The airline operates a similar VIP Lounge to that of Delta in a separate terminal. There, I enjoyed a small portion of sliced salmon with a small glass of tonic water (the quinine in tonic helps prevent night leg cramps caused by my blood pressure medication effectively sucking potassium out of my system).

 

Interestingly, only bottled water was available at the Boston airport and its tenants. Posted notices in restrooms and elsewhere said the water was not fit to drink due to contamination with sewage. No explanation was given.

 

We had splurged on this trip by paying a premium to fly Business Class on Aer Lingus on both transatlantic crossings. With both of us now retired and experiencing some health issues, our financial status helped by the run-up in the stock market the last year or so enabled us to pay the extra charges to enjoy the comfort and service offered in the airline’s Premier Class service. It also afforded us a better chance to get at least some sleep by not being crammed into the tourist class seating in the airplane.

 

The Aer Lingus jumbo jet was only abut half full. The empty spaces were probably a function of relatively hard financial times in Ireland and also tremendous uncertainty caused by volcanic ash in the air from Iceland. In fact, some of the U.S-Europe flights had been cancelled in the last few days because of international safety concerns the ash posted jet engines.

 

On the positive side, the reduced number of passengers on our flight gave us and a few others upgraded to Premier Class the undivided attention of the youthful, cheerful and oh-so-polite Aer Lingus flight attendances. They were generally attractive, young women in the front of the airplane. Betty and I had two very large, reclining seats in the first row behind the flight attendant service bulkhead. The seats reclined with the help of motors to several positions including to a nearly flat bed. Available were real pillows and warm blankets.

 

The head flight attendant was a cheerful woman perhaps in her 20s by the name of Gillian White, who told us she had grown up in Cork and one day hopes to visit Memphis and sample its grand music heritage and tradition.

 

Even before the airplane took off, the flight attendants offered – and we accepted – glasses of champagne while the passengers who paid much less boarded in Tourist Class. The few of us in Premier Class were also given nicely printed menus to select our evening meals. Betty and I chose filet mignon, served with assorted vegetables and wine. Also offered was a dish of bro8led duck, cooked codfish and a special meal for vegetarians. The small steaks were heated to our well-done preference and were surprisingly good.

 

We passed on the availability of movies and other entertainment on small TV screens mounted in the bulkhead to the front of our seats, in favor of trying to sleep. The first hour of so of flight was a little bumpy due to coastal winds. But once the Aer Lingus jet got to altitude, it was smooth flying all the way to the coast of Ireland. Betty and I were able to burrow up beneath the blankets (more of a quilted variety than the tweed wool blankets the airline provided even passengers in Tourist class on earlier flights we experienced) and nap for a couple or so hours until the airplane ran into rough air.

 

We landed at Shannon Airport in Central Ireland about 6:30 a.m. (Irish time) after a flight of nearly 6 hours. It was 12:30 a.m. in Boston and 11:30 p.m. in Memphis. Those of us in Premier Class were deboarded first and we breezed through Irish Customs, making for a wonderful start for our return to a favorite and enchanted land.

 

We felt no need to “declare” a few souvenir, tiny bottles of liquor served at no charge to Premier Class passengers on the flight including Bailey’s Cream for Betty and Irish whiskey for me.

 

The only disappointment we had at Shannon was that our Hertz rental car was not the Ford we had tried to book but a substitute KIA SUV. The Korean-made KIA’s mysterious controls posed a problem all week. In the absence of an instruction manual (a Hertz employee later apologized and explained that some customers take the manuals), we visited a garage in our destination city of Dingle to the south to get help from a mechanic on how to operate the lights.

 

Continue with Part 2 of Ireland Trip  /  Return to Nolan Travels Home Page