I logged onto the national Irish news site this morning and this headline caught my eye.
Three attractions saw over 1m visitors in 2014
The Guinness Storehouse in Dublin remains the most visited fee-paying attraction in Ireland while the National Gallery of Ireland is the most popular free attraction.
Fáilte Ireland this morning published its annual list of Ireland’s top visitor attractions.
Over 1.2 million people visited the Guinness Storehouse last year, which was an increase of over 100,000 from 2013.
The storehouse was followed by the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience and Dublin Zoo, which both registered just over 1m paying visitors in 2014.
The National Gallery of Ireland remained the most visited free to enter attraction.
Doneraile Wildlife Park entered the list for the first time. It ranked as the third most visited free attraction in 2014, with 460,000 visitors.
Whooah, I thought to myself. This is fecking amazing. You see, when we moved from Australia to Ireland back in 1974, where do you think we ended up – Doneraile. It’s not too surprising in view of the fact that my parents came from the area.
We actually were only supposed to stay in Ireland for one year. My mother undertook the task of transporting five kids under thirteen to the Emerald Isle. We travelled by ocean liner and it took us one month to get to England. We were on the very bottom of the ship – we hadn’t a penny to our name. But it was fecking amazing!! We stopped in Wellington, NZ; Tahiti – swam on the beach with black sand where Marlon Brando filmed Mutiny on the Bounty. My mother (who couldn’t swim) watched in horror as we all swam towards the horizon…
I think the next stop was Panama. Yes, we went through the Panama Canal, and that was fecking amazing too. We also stopped in Curacao where we lost my brother briefly. I can still remember him roaring with fright. 🙂
Then onto the Azores and finally we docked in Southampton, England. On arrival, my poor mother discovered that none of the many boxes that she had packed had made it onto the ship. I should have realised at that stage that she had no intention of returning to Australia. You live and learn.
We ended up staying for a few days in London with a friend of mums. We saw colour TV for the first time! And we then flew to Cork in Ireland. First time in a plane also and too. We ended up in Doneraile. Unfortunately, all mum’s plans regarding accommodation fell through and we had to rent some really awful places for a year. Think fleas and mice and not a bathtub in sight. It was great fun.
After a year and a half, my mother informed my father, who was still in Australia working, that no, we weren’t coming back to Oz. Dad sold the house and came over to Doneraile. I can still remember being fecking amazed at his Australian accent.
By that time, my mother had purchased a local drapery shop. I remember that it cost 9,000 pounds. It didn’t make any money and contributed to her high blood pressure but the house was fecking amazing.
It was huge. It had no central heating and some of the floor was rotten. You could see down into the next floor in one room. It was three stories high, and every weekend mum made me hoover (vacuum) the stairs. I also had to do all the family washing in a twin tub. Yay for automatic washing machines. That woman worked me to death.
I’m sort of digressing from my original point. We had a private entrance to Doneraile Park. I spent my life there from 13-18. I jumped into the Awbeg River after my final school exams and nearly drowned. I am a strong swimmer, but never wear a coat while swimming.
I had my first kiss there by “Our Lady’s Well.” I didn’t see stars.
Doneraile was my teenage years. We spent our summers and winters there. No drink, no drugs, just the occasional romance and swimming in the river.
When dad was 65, he decided to put a new roof on the house. Three stories high!!!! I couldn’t watch as dad and my brother scampered about on the roof.
Anyway, Mum and Dad sold the house about 18 years ago. The new residents have made the following improvements…