To say this trip to Ireland has been different is an understatement, at least the start of it. We knew that the nasty “Beast from the East” was in the early plans, but we had no real idea how much it would wreak havoc on our plans or on the entire country. Here is an overview of our arrival and up to this point.
As we were about to land in Dublin, the captain came on stating that there were some issues with Dublin being able to allow planes to land and that we would have to be in a holding pattern over Dublin due to a closed runway for 50 minutes. Then, five circles around Dublin later, the captain came back on saying we would need to land in Belfast to refuel, then try to get to Dublin thereafter. Well, that didn’t last long, as Belfast became unable to take us, so we turned southwest to Shannon to refuel, landing there at 10:46 am Irish time. The original plan was to refuel and return to Dublin. However, this didn’t happen–we stayed in Shannon, where there was only a dusting of snow. We sat on the plane until 2 pm, where we finally deplaned, Candy called Hertz to transfer the reservation to Shannon (here is a picture of our sweet red Ford Fiesta), and by 2.45 pm we were on the road to Galway. Finally back on Irish soil!
Once we got to Galway we immediately went to the 3 store (wireless provider in Ireland) to buy a SIM card for Candy (bought a new smart phone since our last trip) and to top off my SIM card from the last trip over. Total cost for one month of unlimited data and phone calls for both of us- €42 (of course, we will only be here two weeks, but that cost is incredible and was like that when we lived here in 2015-16). We then proceeded to Salthill and one of our favorite places to get a nice lunch, the Gourmet Tart. There, a nice young man from Seattle named Logan served us which sparked up some conversation about Galway, the US, and the incredible people of this great land.
After the Gourmet Tart, we headed to St. Mary’s where Mike Lynch met us and showed us to our accommodations for the next two weeks in the school. We then talked for a few hours to catch up with him–one of the great things about being over here is having great conversations with everyone. We also brought some gifts for Mike, he took us on a tour of the St. Mary’s Sports Hall to see the updates he and others have made, and he introduced us to his brother-in-law Kevin & another St. Mary’s staffer Paul. They were all generous as usual. We then got a good night of rest after a VERY long day.
The weather changed a lot of the early plans for us. First, the Elite Performance Committee (EPC) meeting for Basketball Ireland (a leadership committee that I serve on) was canceled for the Wednesday that we got here, as were the Irish Under 16 men’s and women’s head coaching interviews. We had originally been slated to stay at the Maldron Newlands Cross in the Dublin area, but that was canceled, as well.
On Thursday, 3/1, we had the opportunity to sleep in, then go over to dear friends Ciaran and Kaitlin Murphy’s home for brunch at noon. As always, we had a lovely time of conversation and traditional Irish breakfast items, which we love! The weather was just getting bad around the time we headed over to the Murphys. All stores in the country closed around this time, as well as the schools. We had the chance to drive around town to see if anything was open and only found Apache Pizza open, so we ordered up some pizza and cheesy garlic chips (fries) and took them back to the room at Mary’s. We then watched some Netflix programming on Candy’s phone–we have been watching some of the Jerry Seinfeld episodes of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” lately, which are quite funny. I was able to catch up on some work, and we got a chance to watch folks around the St. Mary’s campus do some hill sliding in the snow (video).
Today (Friday, 3/2) was more of the same– lots of snow with everything shut down (video); another good day to stay in bed late. The weather led to our third, fourth, and fifth scheduled events being canceled: 1) speaking and tour at North Atlantic Basketball Academy with Dee Russell, 2) running practice with IT Carlow’s women’s Superleague team and Martin Conroy, and 3) dinner with Jackie Dunne and her family in Carlow. That was a bummer. Around 4 pm we ventured out to see if anything was open, but found that only the local Lidl store was open. So, we bought some carrot/parsnip mash, salads, water, and crisps to get through the evening. We arrived safely back to Mary’s and met up with Mike again for a chat and tea. He gave us some great ideas for things to see and do. We then adjourned to room for the evening, where I made work calls for most of the evening.