Their house was a two terrace house, the garden lush with petunia, pansies and bright pink roses. Flower boxes adorned window sills and the sweet scent of coronations drifted in the air. The aroma of homemade bread wafted from the brightly painted kitchen and neighbours chatted cheerfully about local characters; a custom now long forgotten. On weekends my aunts paid a visit and we played card games, and cycled to local tourist attractions. My favoured place was Ross castle where we fed swans and ducklings with scraps of stale bread. A pleasant neighbour gave us a boat trip on the tranquil water and later we had lunch on a luscious green grass.
When I was eight my mother proudly announced we were holidaying in Ballybunnion, a seaside resort in Kerry. Although I was sad that I couldn’t stay at my grandparent’s house but thrilled that I’d sleep in a caravan!
I remember the birds tweeting when I got up six to get ready for my trip, the sun shone brightly outside my bedroom window as I dressed in haste. We ate breakfast promptly, everyone anxious to catch the bus to Ballybunnion.
I recall a caretaker showing us to our caravan, how my heart leaped with joy when I saw it; windows glistened in the summer sun. I dropped my suitcase on my bunk bed, change quickly and persuaded my sister to bring me to the ocean edge. We took our towels and sunglasses down to the beach and as we walked along the golden sand felt hot beneath our bare feet, I collected gorgeous, shiny shells that washed ashore in a little red sand bucket. We reached the sea and I dipped my toe in the water and it tickled my toes as I waded out into the waves. My sister laughed as a wave crashed into me and knocked me into the ocean but quickly helped me to my feet within seconds. Later, my family congregated on the beach, we enjoyed eating sandwiches and lemonade. In the distance I heard the jingle of the ice-cream van and we waited patiently to buy our holiday treat. Later that evening watching seagulls joyfully flying in circles in the air, my mother said this was a sign of rain.
Mother was right about the weather! Rain lashed against the caravan windows, the wind howled outside and lightning flashed across the midnight sky. I became terrified of the loud banging of the thunder and couldn’t drift to sleep, how I wished I was safely tucked up at my grandparents house.
I woke early, it was still raining as looked out I traced the trail of the raindrops that slowly dripped down the windows, each drop flowing as a river. After breakfast the rain had ceased and the sun began to peep through the white fluffy clouds and my family merrily headed to the beach shore. In the distance we saw an old man holding donkeys. He was dark-skinned from the summer sun, his face heavily lined, dressed in light-weight clothing with a large brimmed hat preciously perched on his head. “One pound a ride” he shouted in a deep gruff voice “race against your friends” he shouted all the louder. Raymond and I just had to compete; it was the highlight of our day when I won a race against another boy and girl.
I remember warm-heartedly the adventures we experienced during that holiday, hiding between the sand dunes, wading too far out to sea and eating banana sandwiches but fondest reminiscences are of the delight that we had driven along the gentle donkeys.