Diminishing Returns

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Six weeks of Connemara bliss is not enough it seems. There are pleas to stay on for just a few more days. Heels being dragged while packing should be going on. Last minute bargaining and bids. They furnish us with some excellent points.

1. Real friendships have been made with lovely kids that you just don’t find in the city.

2. Everyone in town is welcoming and makes you feel like you belong.

3. Everything is simpler.

4. One friend asked for and received a pet pig for his birthday. This wouldn’t happen in the city. He’d be asking for a Nintendo instead.

The last point is part of a bid for us to move there altogether. They know we love the wholesomeness of the life of some of their friends. And that we hate Nintendos.

5. The ladies in the old fashioned sweet shop. They made up little gift bags for each child. Tied and decorated them with hand made individual name tags. Because they say they will miss us. One had tears in her eyes. Would this happen In Dublin? Nah…

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6. The party.

Ah yes, the party. We are invited to a party. It is for a young teenage child. I arrive with my lot for the 3.30 start. I’ve calculated that we’ll be home in time to nab a DVD from the store that closes at 7. The dinner will be a simple oven bake affair. The naïveté of me. I’ve misunderstood, completely. Time doesn’t enter into it. It does not have an end. This is a relaxed fun party which is as much for adults as it is for kids. There’s an obstacle course bouncy castle with a back drop of the Twelve Pins.

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The adults – holiday makers, neighbours, relatives, friends – turn a wise blind eye to the bouncing shenanigans. Food, wine, merry banter and a feeling of celebrated inclusion for all. I don’t know anyone except the hosts but it makes no odds. A common thread is a love for the place where the party is being held.

The arrival of high tide is announced and the kids decide that jumping from the rocks is in order. They’ve scarpered before any dissenting adult can be heard. The tide is the highest we’ve ever seen it. Something to do with the super moon perhaps. Friendships are consolidated as they take leaps together.

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Float and chat in their deep ocean bliss. Then trot back across the headland for fairy liquid soapy speedy bouncy castle sliding. Marque 5, the youngest by far, shoots past me like a bullet, flies through the air and lands on his back. So I ban him from that muttering about how I’m not taking anyone to Galway hospital. Not tonight. He finds a safer flat area to slide through tunnels and the others join him and I retreat to the merry banter inside. At nine-ish the music begins. Kids playing button accordions, concertinas, piano, the fiddle. Together. Alone. There’s a wealth of talent. A boy breaks into song. Relaxed, sitting, tapping his foot along to his astounding resonance and lilt. Mine look on smiling, admiring. They’ve never seen the like. They seem almost shy in it. They don’t want to leave. Not at all. But there’s a tricky drive down the room-for-one-car-only long windy road, in the pitch black. Before hitting the 15km road back to the town. At 11.00 we are the first to bid farewell. It is, mine say, the best party they’ve ever been to. I know what they mean. Then they are tasked with shouting ‘dip’ at me when they spot an oncoming car’s headlights. All the way home. To that oven bake dinner at midnight, over which they recount their favourite moments still smiling.

7. Everything feels less rushed, more free.

8. The views and the beaches. Always something beautiful to look at. Some place beautiful to be. To collect the shell of the day.

Ah yes, the shell of the day. A competitive tradition we set in motion many moons ago. Any time we are on our favourite beach he says ‘who’s going to find me the shell of the day?’ and they take off, fanning out, scouring. Sometimes we join them, looking for it ourselves. Sometimes we slink back in our chairs and relax. We know when it is procured. Gasps. Screeches. And then the run back to show us.

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9. The animals, especially the wild ponies and donkeys.

10. Finally a damning point from marque 4. ‘Don’t blog about it. Everyone will want to go there.’

It’s hard to counter argue with them. We have, after all, set ourselves up for this. Handed them the stick to beat us with. Imbued them with the notions of simplicity, beauty and connectivity that they are spitting back at us. Maximised the time spent away from the metropolis so that they feel unable to return. As do we, in fairness. Weak lines are trotted out in our defence, falling on suitably deaf ears. I’m on the verge of calling on the television as a point to advance our cause. There’s no tele on holidays. Just a screen for the odd DVD or Netflix to be played. Surely they’ve missed the grating tones of their favourite American tv shows. I stop short. I know when I’ve been had.

‘Look at the traffic’ marque 1 pipes up as we approach home. ‘It’s got much worse since we were away.’

Indeed it has.

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