Nothing could warm the heart more than a pint of Guinness and a
roaring fire in the hearth

We have fallen victim to Irish driving instructions in the past so I should have known better.

I didn’t properly read the email about the road to the house in Loughrea before we landed and maybe was subconsciously up for a bit of adventure on the first day away on vacation.

Maybe it was out of habit. Over the years we blindly followed wonderful directions offered by locals in the West of Ireland:

“Stick to the tar road.”

“Take that road there to the right, go about five mile. When you come to the white church you’ve gone too far.”

“Head up that way for about three miles and turn left at where the petrol station used to be.”
It was only after leaving Shannon for the County Galway in the tiny but powerful hired car that I seriously looked at the email directions in my phone.

“Go to Loughrea town-lake on right, turn around and head back same road, take first left for Kilnadeema.”

We drove past the beautiful lake—it was on the right—and to the town looking for reason or road to turn around and go back the way we just came. Then we drove through town. Twice.

Chancing my arm, I stopped a local to ask for more directions. He was an older fellow pushing a pram in the wind and light rain. Before dealing with me, he had just sent another clueless driver on his way.

Thankfully, I had the word “Kilnadeema.” That was the key to set us right.

A few minutes later we were introducing ourselves to our kind hosts, Joe and Rosie Keane. Rosie is the sister of our dear friend Eamonn Haverty in New Jersey.

Over the first cup of tea they were warm and welcoming as we learned to know one another. But they seemed ready to hit the road for a bit of touring while looking after us.

A jetlagged Honey Badger and I looked outside from the comfortable kitchen at where the Clare Mountains were supposed to be. The distance was hiding behind low unfriendly clouds as strong winds whipped the rain sideways against the windows.

Another warming cup of tea and a sandwich on the freshest bread didn’t push any desire on us to venture out.

Don’t you want to see the famous tree in Coole Park outside Gort, they asked.
The wind and the rain kicked up worse against the glass.

Soon we discover that our friend Eamonn had given his sister a list of sights we should see in the area.

With that detail out, we explained we were already having the perfect day in Ireland.

Over strong tea and good bread spread with creamy butter we were engaging new friends in smart chat in a warm kitchen as the bad weather lashed outside.

Situation established, there was more tea and Rosie cooked us a fine dinner before we headed out that night to visit the mother of the Haverty clan. A pint at Harney’s Pub in town followed.

The pint multiplied as we sat around the fire with the brothers Liam and Noel calling in to greet the visitors.

The craic was mighty as we had great discussion and laughter over Rosie’s driving directions. Brother Noel sided with me, saying they were a bit daft.

The night out was late, the bed was warm and in the morning there was brief sun and the view of the mountains of Clare before Rosie’s breakfast fry and the returning rain.

Then we were on the fast road to Galway City to meet visiting New Jersey friends for lunch. At least I knew how to drive to Quay Street without incident to begin day two in the West.