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The West of Ireland is bipolar. At times it is very dark and broody, as it had been since we arrived last Tuesday. Then suddenly the sun is dazzling and bright and there is no place more cheerful in the world! But bring your rain gear wherever you go, because a dark mood is always lurking and threatening a sudden return.

Today Ireland, Kilkee at least, had a manic episode. The sun was sparkling through a bright, blue sky and though the air was still a bit crisp, it was truly a gorgeous day. This morning, while Eóin attended his first of 3 days of horseback riding kids camp, I enjoyed my first walk this trip along the cliffs and it was as breathtaking, and arduous in spots, as I remembered! I somehow managed to get into two conversations with locals both up and down the cliff walk, something I don’t remember doing even once while walking the cliffs last year. Then, after having tea and a bagel at Diamond Rocks Cafe, I drove back home. When I turned on to the bumpy road that leads to our cottage I was greeted by the curious faces of a herd of cows as they watched me pass. Next along the way, about halfway up the road, I had to stop for a pheasant as it took its time crossing the road. And finally, a gorgeous, grey heron took flight from the tall grasses at the side of the road and followed the road ahead of my car displaying his huge wing span for the remaining part of the journey to the cottage!

A short time later, driving along the main road into Kilkee on my way to collect Eóin from camp, I raced to keep up with the sunny spot along the road, which means I was traveling faster than the huge, billowing cloud overhead, and reminded me to cut back a bit on my speed. I arrived at the stables to a very happy son who had learned all sorts of things about horses today. Eóin groomed, walked and rode the brown pony whose wrong end is facing the camera in this photo. Here Eóin sits with his instructor, Aislinn, as he was taking off his chaps at the finish of class.

Eóin was the first to spot the rainbow!

Near the end of this lovely day we had a short downpour of rain that just lasted long enough to give us this rainbow! Perhaps I am judging the West of Ireland too harshly and it is not bipolar, but is simply a Libra like me – scales moving up and down, just trying to find a bit of balance!

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I was sitting in the kitchen beside a crackling fire in Teach deBúrca, sipping hot, milky tea from a mug made by a Clare potter while listening to the lashing rain and cold wind howling outside and reading a book appropriately titled Two Months in Clare, written by Mary John Knott about her visit to Kilkee in 1835. If this sounds like an idyllic, cozy scene, it was not. This was me making the best of a bad situation!

Eóin and I arrived in Kilkee last Tuesday morning after a very long journey that included an eight-hour layover at New York’s JFK Airport, an experience that had me rethinking any wish I may have had to return to New York City for an extended visit. Let me just say that my experience with JFK Airport workers did little to dispel stereotypes of New Yorkers! After this ordeal we were in a hurry to settle into the cottage and rest up for our much-anticipated summer. The fact that it was unseasonably cold, windy and wet didn’t really register until we arrived at Teach deBúrca, unloaded our luggage and then realized the radiators were not getting hot. Exhausted and at wit’s end I was in no mood to deal with a cold, damp 100-year-old cottage with a broken furnace, so I promptly threw our pajama’s and toothbrushes into an overnight bag and booked a night at a local B & B!

I’m not sure if the heat had ever actually been on in full force while our guests were here in May but it was not working in June. I’ve heard the weather was better last month so maybe it was adequate for our friends – I sure hope they were warm enough – but the weather this June has become infamous for its low temperatures, rain and hail and has been a common topic of discussion on Clare FM as well as with every Irish person I’ve spoken to since we arrived. The furnace needed to be repaired and the sooner the better!

As soon as we finished a wonderful Irish breakfast on Wednesday morning at the B & B, I got to work sorting out the heating problem. After getting the name and number of a recommended heating/plumbing contractor (I know, strange combination) it was with great disappointment that I learned that he could not make it until Saturday morning!

The Loop Head Lighthouse on a bleak June evening.

This began a marathon of keeping a fire burning in the hearth throughout the rest of the week… and that is where you found me at the beginning of this post, biding time sitting as close as I could get to the fire, reading and drinking lots of tea! But things didn’t get any better on Saturday morning because the repairman, who made me wait so long, failed to show up at all! After sending two early morning text message rants to my husband back in Chicago about Ireland’s “God forsaken weather and unreliable heating/plumbing repairmen” I located another heating man who, much to my delight, came within an hour and fixed the problem!

Now we have a cozy, dry cottage. Ireland, and the reliability of its repairmen, has redeemed itself once again! In fact, not only do we now have heat, but tonight we are enjoying our first absolutely gorgeous summer evening after the skies cleared this afternoon for the first time since our arrival and dazzled us with blue sky, sunshine and billowy, white clouds! The man on Clare FM just promised more of the same throughout the week… and I’m holding him to it!

One of two pots of marigolds left by our thoughtful house guests!

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