I took a rare day off last week and headed off to the midlands. We were off on one of our ‘wild goose chases’. I love those days. You leave home with a simple agenda, and you never know where the day will take you.
On this occasion, my man and I went off to collect something he’d spotted on Done Deal. We’re easily entertained, and don’t need much of an excuse to gallivant. We never stray too far from home, but are only looking for an excuse to break up a journey.
So into the centre of the country we headed, with only an idea of where we were supposed to end up. For those of you who don’t know, the N52 is a road that traverses the midlands of Ireland from the Dundalk area in the north-east, right down through the centre to beyond Nenagh, in Co Tipperary. It pre-dates the country’s many motorways, and if you’re not in a hurry, it’s not a bad way to travel through Ireland.
We were only going down as far as the town of Cloghan, Co Offaly. But along the way, we stopped for lunch in Tyrrellspass Castle, in Co Westmeath. What a fascinating discovery. This is an ancient castle, dating back to the 1400s, that has been converted into a fabulous eatery. It is privately owned, and was full to the brim of happy diners. What a pleasure to see such a place thrive.
The other hidden treasure we discovered was Kilbeggan Distillery. I’m not a great fan of whiskey, but you couldn’t fail to be impressed there. For a small fee, you can take yourself on a tour of the distillery, armed with an information leaflet. It takes you through every step of the distilling process, and takes you back generations at the same time. You truly get a feeling for the many other feet that have climbed the steps before you as you walk through this living piece of history.
If this is what’s out there, on a simple day trip, it’s just a hint of all the places in our own back yard, just waiting to be explored.
Explore Ireland. It’s on my bucket list.