7am sharp JP & I arrived at the recent home of the Irish Open ‚?? the Killeen course at Killarney Golf and Fishing Club.¬† This was an even more grueling episode of pyjama golf than 7am would suggest as I‚??d been up till the early hours of the morning picking Gretta up from Cork airport.¬† But trust me, I was not complaining ‚?? it is fantastic that she has survived the 32 hour journey and made it for the first time to the northern hemisphere!¬† The early tee time was perfect as it allowed Gret to sleep in whilst us golfers got out for a quick hit before the busy Sunday field.¬† She is taking the reigns on this blog post shortly to give her initial descriptions of Ireland on day 1 in Killarney, and probably to describe her first (2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th¬†and 7th) impression of real Guinness.
Maurice, the GM at Killarney was very accommodating allowing us courtesy of the course at this early hour and we thanked him at the end of the round.¬† Maurice must be one of the busier GM‚??s around running the three golf courses here keeping a huge membership in line and hosting the biggest tournament in Ireland.¬† The clubhouse itself paints a picture of the club - chocablock and absolutely buzzing.¬†¬† Maurice was with another brilliant Irish human named Brian from Dooks (who will feature on the blog in coming days) and the two of them were hosting Matt Adams and his crew from the PGA Network as they travel the South West loop of Ireland broadcasting back to the USA. ¬†¬†This loop is known as the SWING and we‚??re currently right in the middle of it.¬† JP is having the full experience as well staying at the golfers paradise Killeen House Hotel ‚?? just across the road from Killarney G&FC.
Rewinding to sparrows and our arrival at Killarney where we were welcomed by a local member named Dermott (two t‚??s like Gretta). ¬†The connection? Dermott was at BallyB the day prior¬† ‚?? and knowing of our schedule turned up showing his support in his favourite All Blacks cap and bantered us from the group behind as BallyB repeatedly ankle tapped us.
Dermott played tour guide around the Killeen course and then took us on some tour of Killarney (starting and finishing is various watering holes).¬†¬† The first few holes are something special as the course winds its way around the loch.¬† Your typical slicer wouldn‚??t love the start as water and trouble flanks the right on the first 4 holes‚?¶¬† Fortunately I survived them around par and Jamie, well trouble on the right will never phase his draw!
We had the best of the weather for the day as the sun poked its head between the mountain ranges and the low lying cloud providing us with some spectacular light.¬† It was calm too and across the loch there was barely a ripple in sight.
The course is a world class parkland track.¬† Mature trees,¬† pure fairways and greens and a few quality water hazards (like the par three 6th¬†hole which is dastardly difficult ‚?? trust me I hit what I thought was a decent chip and it went into a hazard.¬† I took some comfort knowing that during the Irish Open a pro managed double figures on it..).
It gives you a chance ‚?? as Ross Fisher found out when he shot 62 around here on route to winning the tournament a few weeks back ‚?? but it‚??s by no means easy.¬† For example? The par four 13th¬†hole at 490 yards played over a burn for your second shot to a green nestled between the trees.¬† There were some ugly numbers there.¬† And the next hole is by no means difficult but the green complex is perfectly placed, again, amidst the old trees.¬† There‚??s also a halfway house here (late in the round yes but good nonetheless) which is home to quite the impressive display of pitch mark repairers.¬†¬† Adding one to their collection and a muffin later I was marching off down the last couple of holes eager to finish and get back to pick up Gretta so we could see the sights!
Before I move on from the golf course I must note that any comparison with Loch Lomond is a fair one.¬† Like L.L the Killeen course is both beautiful and a quality test of golf.¬† It‚??s a parkland course that rates right up there with the cr√®me of the stable of parkland courses in the USA - the home of parkland golf.¬† ¬†¬†It was a pleasure to hit the ball of the pure fairways and the greens were a joy to putt on (although with limited success) so compliments to the green staff (in particular the broad sounding Scottish fulla we met in the bar who heads up such green staff).
After golf I nicked back to pick up Gret and we headed back to the clubhouse.¬† Lunch, sightseeing and, of course, Guinness followed. ¬†Dermott was one helluva tour guide and, indeed, may have swept Gretta off her feet with his Irish twang. ¬†I‚??d like to say that with golf the following day we had a quiet night in ‚?? like JP‚??s most recent blog ‚?? but, well, someone‚??s got to tell it like it is over here in Ireland!!! Over to G.
After a very long & sleeping-pill fuelled flight, I arrived safely in Ireland. It was 9/11 and I had arrived in Cork (flying past customs on my handy Irish Passport) without issue.¬† When I scuttled out of the arrival gates I was greeted by a very tired, weary & unshaven Michael. It seems that he didn‚??t recognize me at first & I wondered whether I had been indulging too much over the past 5 1/2months (I am a bit partial to cheese, wine & treats ‚?? but not necessarily in that order). But it turns out he was shattered from a night out [and long day] & when I was about 5m away he began smiling. I would like to think our reuniting was like one of those romantic airport scenes from Love Actually‚?¶but I can‚??t be 100% sure.
After an hour drive I arrived at a Green B&B¬† (the name escapes me but Michael tells me it‚??s called Noroville House). ¬†The next morning (after the boys played golf) we went to the Killarney Golf & Fishing Club for some Irish banter & golf talk ‚?? I am not a golfer so I relaxed & consumed my first meal in Ireland ‚?? a Guinness - with my new friend Mr Dermott Walsh. After a quick lesson from Dermott how to drink this magical brew, I had my first sip/breakfast in Ireland & I loved it (surprising as I am not a beer drinker). Needless to say I felt a bit light headed & red faced after 2 more and a delicious lunch. As I am typing this Michael Poole is barking at me to ‚??make it funny Feta, make the blog funny!‚?Ě ‚?? how am I meant to do that pray tell? The pressure is a bit much.
Anyway, Dermott then took us on a nice drive to Ladies View via a tumbling waterfall. (see pic of the boys below)
Ireland is much like NZ in this regard. After a bit of sightseeing¬† (MG asleep in the back seat) we met Durmott & his lovely wife Marie (pronounced Maaa-rie) for my 4th¬†Guinness (Guinni?) of the day! After visiting a few local pubs we said our goodbyes to Dermott & Marie as they had chicken roasting in the oven (I hope it wasn't burnt Dermott..). Our last stop for the evening was a little irish bar where we got chatting to some local dairy farmers who were drinking quite a lot for a Sunday evening. When i asked whether this was a regular thing to do on a Sunday in Ireland they replied "Aye tis" and i later found out that those particular cows never got milked on a Monday morning (Si Le Heron would not be pleased). Plenty more where that came from but perhaps that will be told another time. Great to be in Ireland, signing off - Miss O'Connell
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