A diary of one man's utter failure, depression, frustration, cock-ups, and poverty, starting in August 1947
For three years, I actually took a proper holiday away, fishing with three mates from the Robin Hood Angling Club - Bill Bates, and Jock Kirkpatrick, and Mad Ken.
Chapter 37 - The Angling Holidays - Number 3@3 - Athlone, Ireland
We managed to get to the Liverpool/Dublin Line Ferry with no real problems, and boarded the boat, despite our still running the same Austin J4 we had for years, that was not known for its reliability.
My first time on a ferry. We parked where told to, and went up and found the bar. Some Guinness down our throats, and we were off. Across the dead still dark waters to Ireland.
We were one of the vehicles stopped by their customs, who on seeing our fishing tackle, rod bags and bait box's etc, summoned the Garda (police) to support them in a search of the van.
When told to stand over there and do not move, I made sure I did exactly what the officer demanded of me - I didn't like the looks one of the police dogs was giving me individually!
They double checked our paperwork while the as the others cleared out the van, checking everything they removed. When it got the all clear, we were smiled at, and told to move on, as we did I glanced in the wing mirror, and saw the dog still looking (perhaps a little disappointedly, in not being able to gnaw at me) in my direction!
The Town of Athlone had a castle, army barracks, and Garda headquarters within it. The narrow main road 'Connaught Street, had bars every three retail units for its full length, on both sides. The digs, Mary Gavin's, were opposite a newsagent that sold fishing bait as well, and a bar, where we headed for after settling in the rooms.
Mary Gavin was the most pleasant of women, and always had a smile on her face. The meals were enormous home cooked grub, with seconds always available on request - marvellous!
We crossed the road to the bar, and I was introduced to the method of serving real Guinness in Ireland, and to have my first taste of it - again gorgeous! It was very strong, and you could not rush drinking it, I had just three pints all night.
As we stepped out of the bar, and up into the street, I remember thinking 'Great beer, and the digs just across the road with great grub...' I woke up in the kitchen of the digs, with Mary the landlady putting a plaster on my bleeding head, caused they told me by my passing out as we left the bar! A solemn oath was cast then to myself, 'No more than two pints of Guinness for me in a night!'
We fished the Shannon twice, two different canals, a loch, and a pond during the weeks stay, and everyone (even me) caught fish every time, and went back to the digs for a bath, magnificent meal, drinkies, and sleep in a good deep bed, to be woken by Mary with a cup of tea at the time requested!
I think I actually cried when the time to leave came. There is no way I could ever beat that again for a holiday!
The trip home was a bit more like our usual disaster ridden holidays of old though.
We got to Dublin, and boarded the ferry easily enough, and as we left the shelter of the dock out into the sea, it was like trying to stand on a cake-walk at the fair on board. The sea was very rough, people were being sick all over the place, even crew members said they can't remember it ever being so rough on a trip, and he'd never sold so little ale either!
Even Jock could not fall asleep in it!
When they called all the drivers down to the vehicle decks, I was not alone in feeling unwell.
When we alighted, and cleared the built up areas, Bill suggested we stop somewhere to get a cuppa, and let our stomachs settle, to which we all agreed. A little further on Jock called out, 'In there loook on yer leeft, a cafe!" So I turned into the lane, parked up, and we went in.
The tea was weak and cold, the few choices of sandwiches were warped, and the service atrocious. That only made us feel more sorry than ever that the holiday was over, and we had to come home!
As we were consoling ourselves, a chap came in and said "Who owns the green Austin van parked near the exit?, it's just been ran into by a police car!"
Then we knew for sure, the best holiday ever, was certainly finished!