I was younger than I am now. Somewhere between Communion and Confirmation for sure, but my concept of time is simply atrocious. It was summertime (or some non-school/holiday time) and my Dad was working as a courier by day, driving up and down the country, returning people their lost luggage and delivering to CUH amongst other places. Frequently, he made deliveries to Killarney.
As the oldest, I was the first to go on these “runs” with Dad. Into the van, we made our way to Shannon Airport (to collect the cargo) before setting off. Occasionally, we went to Cork or maybe even Galway, but often our destination was the hour and a half or so to Killarney. Part of the ritual was the lunch stop to the service station, as Dad filled the tank, and I selected my sandwich (turkey, lettuce and a whole lot of potato salad was my usual.) We would share the Coke.
If there was time, and there frequently was, we would make a stop at Killarney Outlet Centre. To me, this was the highlight of the day. What did this centre have, only a factory priced bookstore. My mother would often wonder why I came home armed with reduced priced non-fiction and shiny, new stationery.
The journey home was always longer, partly due to the pitstop, mainly due to Dad’s favourite driving practice “Let’s find a new way home” This involved me making a choice between two roads on the road map and Dad using his directional intuition until the buildings of Limerick City once again reared their heads. For all my effort, I was rewarded €2 (or it could have been £1. Concept of time, people.) which I had often already spent in the bookshop.
Since then, Killarney has continued to be a source of happy memories. It is the site of my first date, my first espresso, my first kiss in the rain. It is my stopover on the way to Kells and my BFF, Sinead, in the summer. Whilst you can hardly describe it as a shopping hotspot (try Cork or Dublin) it does hold a very nice Penneys. More importantly than the Penney’s is the atmosphere. I am in love with the park, the playground, the thickets of trees, the castle which I never quite made it to thanks to the rain.
I want to see that castle some day.