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Off to Canada & Back to Ireland


April 12th, 2022

We did not have to get up early today as our flight to Toronto was not until 1:15 pm.  Fran had booked the airport bus that picks up here at the park and ride station for 10:10 am and we just hoped the pouring rain would let up before we had to walk over to the stop with our bags.

Luckily it did let up and we only waited about 8 minutes before the bus arrived; it comes from about 80 km / 50 mi inland and the Red Cow Station is the final stop before the airport.

Upon arriving at the bus stop at the Dublin Airport we made our way to Terminal One. We’re flying on Canada’s Air Transat airline and we’d pay for the option “plus” program which allowed us to check in at First Class, choose our own seat, have some snacks on board (meal already included) as well as get a checked bag.

Turns out (so they claim) that our roller board bags are too big for the overhead bins so we had to check them.  Doug’s bag has a zipper that’s breaking on it so the plan was to get a replacement bag when we’re home but possibly use a duffel bag to bring back all the items we are returning with.

The flight left a little late, maybe 20 minutes, but arrived about 30 minutes early and was pretty smooth.  It was SO nice to have a daytime flight even if it was seven hours.

Josh met us at the airport and after a couple of stops we arrived at his house. As it’s  a weekend day, he does not have the kids but this coming weekend is a long one being Easter, so he gets an extra day.

We crashed somewhat early with the five hour time difference and were up super early.  We left his place at 5am driving his car to go to Buffalo and pick up our car.  He is working from home today.  We’d flown to Canada not only because it was cheaper but because as we are fully vaccinated, no COVID test is required to enter Canada whereas it still is necessary when flying to the US.

Upon getting the car, we separated, Doug drove back to Josh’s doing a shopping stop enroute while Fran drove across upstate New York to get to Kingston via a shorter route to spend a few days to help her sister, Cynthia, with prep work for the their mom’s funeral.  Fran is the executor and wanted to sort out if there were going to be any issues with not going to Probate Court.  We’d already had all of her assets liquidated recently and she owns no real estate. There were still a few things to arrange for the funeral (her mom had a prearranged prepaid funeral package) and these items got attended to in the two days Fran was there.

Fran returned to Josh’s on Friday morning in the best traffic ever for that journey and shortly after her arrival, Arya and Cyrus arrived for the weekend.  As they are still COVID sensitive, we all wore masks indoors but spent a good chunk of that day outside.

The kids didn’t even want to sleep indoors in the house so they slept out in the backyard in their tent:

Saturday was much colder so most of that day was spent indoors and Fran continued working with funeral arrangements online with both her sisters and the florist and funeral home.

Monday, Fran had a meeting with the funeral after care staff online to go through next steps dealing with estate matters.

That night Fran’s other sister, Sandra took the red eye from Vancouver to Toronto and Fran picked her up from the airport at 6:30 am on Tuesday and they drove straight to Kingston to do the final things before Thursday’s funeral and be together to sort through their mom’s things and reminisce.

Serena flew into Toronto from Reno on Wednesday afternoon and Josh picked her up after work.  Thursday morning they all left together early to drive to Kingston.

The day of the funeral, Fran went through her mom’s photo albums and scanned a bunch of her childhood photos onto her phone.  Here’s a photo of her and her mom when Fran was about 8 months old:

The visitation was at eleven am at the funeral home, funeral mass was at 1 and the internment of the urn was at 2:30 at the cemetery.

Photos we gathered together from Mom’s long life

Unfortunately it was a rainy, cold day but everything above went well.  The whole family was there except our grandkids so there were 12 of us including Cynthia’s only grandchild, ten month old Dallas. A couple of our cousins joined us from the Ottawa area and a few of Cynthia’s friends/co-workers dropped by the visitation.

At the funeral mass, Josh carried Mom’s urn into the church, Fran gave the eulogy prior to the mass, Cynthia, Sandra, Serena and our nephew Tony did the readings and our other nephew, Alex, carried Mom’s urn out of the church so the whole immediate family was involved.

After the burial, we all returned to Cynthia’s place to have a couple of drinks and chat before going out for dinner minus our cousins.

That night the four of us and Sandra slept at a hotel as Cynthia’s house had too many people, not enough bathrooms, and after all, this is still COVID times.  We had all tested before going to Kingston but didn’t want to push the envelope and a little space was needed by all.

The five of us left Kingston Friday morning, dropping Sandra at an airport hotel for her flight on Saturday morning and we continued on to Tottenham for the weekend.  The grandkids arrived later and we spent the weekend playing with them and hanging out.

On Sunday we chatted with our good friends Christine & Mark and arranged that we will go visit them later this week for a couple of nights in Quebec.

Then the Josh and Serena surprised Fran on Sunday night by celebrating Mother’s Day two weeks early.  He had arranged to have the kids picked up early and we four went out for dinner at the very nice local Italian restaurant – it did her heart a lot of good; it helped ease the pain of the past two weeks and it had been so long since she’d had both kids around to celebrate Mother’s Day.  Sadly no one took photos.

Monday morning we were all up early and we took Serena to the airport for her flight home after which we went to the dentist for a cleaning.  Doug had found a hygienist who works out of her home for a reasonable price.  We stopped for gas and a cheap lunch at Costco before returning to Josh’s place.  That night Doug and Josh went out to see a guy movie.

So Tuesday we began the approximately 9 hour drive to Quebec which we’d decided to break up.  We left mid-morning and arrived in Gananoque (just past Kingston on the 401) around 2 where we checked into a hotel downtown.  We took a walk around this cute little town.  The weather was overcast and it was very windy. We awoke Wednesday to continued cloudy sky and threatening clouds and began the remainder of our drive after a hot breakfast.

Before we hit Cornwall on the 401 it began to snow, and not just a few flakes, it was sticking to the road and the grass everywhere.

We turned off the 401 northbound and it continued.  Before we reached the Ottawa River at Hawkesbury to cross the provincial border into Quebec, it was just sprinkling rain, we stopped for gas and a snack and made it to Christine’s before three.

Christine got stuck in traffic on her way back from an appointment in Montreal so she was not back until about 5:30.  Mark whipped up some yummy potato soup and a salad and we had some “poolish” baguette (yes that’s what the wrapper said!).  We played some trivial pursuit and had an early night.

Thursday morning, we joined Christine and Mark with their walking group and took a walk around the back roads of St. Adolphe.  It was really cold: -6 but lovely with sun.  We played some more games that afternoon and then went out for dinner to a café in St. Adele where Christine had bought tickets to a dinner and music show.  The entertainment was a duo of a guitar player and a vibraphone player doing blues music – more enjoyable than expected.

The vibraphone is a percussion instrument in the metallophone family. It consists of tuned metal bars and is typically played by using mallets to strike the bars. A person who plays the vibraphone is called a vibraphonist, vibraharpist, or vibist. The vibraphone resembles the steel marimba, which it superseded.

Friday morning it was sunny once again and we could see the snow levels were reducing.  They live up at 400m which while not high much higher than the lakeshore of Lake Ontario where we’ve been staying.  It was warmer and we took another walk before a nice brunch back at the house.

the little lake is still nearly all frozen up here

Christine was feeling rather beat today so we left after brunch and made our way to Kingston for a driving break.  Fran had to stop at her sister’s to sign some tax papers for our Mom and after dropping Doug at our hotel, she went for a visit the cemetery which brought her some peace.

We had a nice quiet night and after another leisurely  morning we finished our drive back to Joshua’s.  The grandkids had a Cub’s activity all morning and we planned to arrive mid-afternoon.

We had the rest of the weekend full of games and outdoor sports: Frisbee, baseball and soccer.  On Monday Josh took our car to work instead of his as he had arranged for an oil change at his mechanic’s near the office.  Doug took Fran to the bank in Alliston in Josh’s car to get some estate matters taken car of.

Tuesday was a whirlwind of a day; up early to drive both cars to Buffalo after dropping Josh off at the office; we picked up our mail and packages from the place we store our car, dropped off our car and then ran some final errands in the US including getting our second COVID booster shots before driving back to Canada in Josh’s care to meet him back at his office to take him home.  We packed up (fitting 20 pounds of sh*t into 10 pound bags!) and at 8pm Josh took us to the airport to return to Dublin.

The flight went well but Doug was feeling pretty rough from the booster shot we’d received.  As usual, neither of us slept much even though Doug had a row to himself and Fran had an empty seat beside her.

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Upon arriving in Dublin, we took an Uber back to Minou and spent some time unpacking etc., trying to stay awake.  Thank goodness it’s daytime which makes that easier.

We’ve been trying to sell our empty French propane bottles with no luck so before returning home, Fran posted them for free on FB Marketplace just to get rid of them; despite four interested parties, no one showed up so when we left Red Cow, we stopped at a “Big Bin” which we understood was a garbage drop off sort of place but it turns out you have to PAY to dispose of items here (except for glass) and they don’t take everything.  Not wanting to pay but seeing that the hardware store next door sells propane bottles, Doug went over to ask the man inside if he’d take them and he said he’d have a look at them and after doing so, said he’d take them off our hands.

We proceeded southwesterly stopping at a highway rest stop for showers and to dump our cassette and stopped in the small village of Cashel for the night.  After getting parked in a free lot five minutes from the town centre,, we walked about 15 minutes to the “Rock of Cashel”.

The Rock of Cashel also known as Cashel of the Kings and St. Patrick’s Rock, is an historic site located in the town of Cashel in Tipperary County.

According to local legends, the Rock of Cashel originated in the Devil’s Bit, a mountain 20 miles (30 km) north of Cashel when St. Patrick banished Satan from a cave, resulting in the Rock’s landing here.  Cashel is reputed to be the site of the conversion of the King of Munster by  St. Patrick in the 5th century.

The Rock of Cashel was the traditional seat of the kings of Munster (province) for several hundred years prior to the Norman Invasion. In 1101, the King of Munster, donated his fortress on the Rock to the Church. The picturesque complex has a character of its own and is one of the most remarkable collections of Celtic art and medieval architecture to be found anywhere in Europe. Few remnants of the early structures survive; the majority of buildings on the current site date from the 12th and 13th centuries.




Friday we arrived in Blarney to visit, you guessed it, The Blarney Castle!  Fran had been in ’08 with her Mom but as her Mom was using a walker in those days, they did not climb up to the top not kid the “stone” to be granted eloquence!

The grounds here are huge and before going inside we took a walk to check out a cave

The Fern Garden

And the poison garden

at the entrance you see this and then enter a large foyer.

As you climb to the top you visit small bare rooms enroute.

This is a Murder hole – hot oil would be poured down here to burn intruders who made it in this far.

At the top you walk around a walkway to the stone.  There was a short line where we had to wait about ten minutes to get to the front.  We can’t imagine what it would be like in high season.  We did see signs outside like at Disneyland saying “wait from this point 30 minutes” and “90 minutes”!

So Fran did it.  First you remove anything that could fall off your person before kneeling down.  Then lie on you back, move backwards toward wall, grab the two bars behind your head and then bend your self back so your head is upside down to reach out an ad kiss ? the stone!  There is someone there to help get you in position and hold you and he also sanitizes the stone between guests.


Next we drove to Midleton (near Cork) to spend a couple of nights.  We couldn’t get parked in the lot we wanted to so we parked out on the street for the afternoon and around 5, the lot began emptying out and we not only got in, but got the spot we thought best – a corner next to a grassy patch.

Saturday morning we awoke to clearer skies and both took walks.  We had booked a tour at the Jameson Distillery for 3:30 (had missed out in Dublin) and it was only one minutes’ walk away.

We walked over and get checked in.

The tour is about 75 minutes during which we were taken through the old distillery buildings and shown the process.

At the end you get to taste test three whiskeys: Johnnie Walker Black (Scottish) Jameson (Irish) and Jack Daniels (American).  Jameson won hands down in the taste test.

The parking lot where we’re staying has a paid toilet, grey dump and a fresh water tap.  Sunday morning after showering, we refilled and dumped the grey.  Cassette toilets are not supposed to be dumped in the toilets so we’ll have to find a place down the road.

We drove into Cork in the fog and by the time we arrived it was clearing.  We found a spot to park along the river and took a walk around town.  ITtwas pretty quiet being Sunday morning and nothing was open so we had the streets to ourselves.

Seems mask wearing is no longer mandatory here in Ireland and few are wearing them.  As we’ve had our fourth jab, we are not wearing them as often ourselves and we have to say, it’s rather freeing!  If we are in very crowded situations indoors, we will of course, use them.


Note:  We are going to get this website updated (it’s been nearly ten years!) so if we’re down a few days soon, that’s why!