|A photo of a man next to the Enniscrone baths taking a photo of a baby in front of Stand Up Paddlers in front of a plane on a barge being towed by a tug (not too much going on in this picture is there??)|
If ever there was a topic to wake me from my blog-writing slumber, it's the story of David McGowan and his QuirkyGlamping village. David, a local undertaker, has a dream, nay a vision, to bring a new accommodation concept to an empty field in his sleepy beachside town of Enniscrone, County Sligo. His vision includes the creation of sleeping berths on boats, London taxicabs, double-decker busses, a three carriage train, and last, but by no means least, a decommissioned Russian Boeing 767.
For those of you who have been following David's story on the Today FM's Anton Savage show, I won't repeat the hilarious trials and tribulations that David has encountered getting his precious cargo to Enniscrone. You can check out the chats between David and Anton, leading right up to yesterday here.
Suffice it to say, David is a born story-teller and can talk the hind legs off a donkey.
In the end, the only way to bring the plane from Shannon airport to David's field was on the back of a barge towed by a tug, and then brought on to Enniscrone beach at high tide. Now, before you say, 'Only in Ireland,' it turns out almost every single Irish person (except David McGowan) thought this madness too. But it captured the imagination of a Nation and people couldn't wait to see it for themselves.
As the big day approached, I wondered if there would be the same excitement for such an event if it occurred in Australia. Then I remembered the thousands of tourists who flocked to Nobby's Beach in Newcastle in the middle of a severe storm to see the grounded tanker, the Pasha Bulker in 2007. Turns out people really like to look at big things on a beach.
As it turns out, I'm also one of those people.
At Sparrow's Fart yesterday morning, my friend Val (aka Magnumlady) and I headed down to Enniscrone beach. She had already been to Eniscrone the night before, when the plane 'sailed' into the harbour. Based on the traffic that evening, we decided the best thing would be to get there before anyone else on the Island of Ireland woke up.
When we arrived in town, we were greeted not only with parked cars as far as our eyes could see, but also the news that the plane's landing had been delayed until later that evening. Had we slept in until a decent time, we would have woken up to this news, so the saying 'the early bird catches the plane landing on the beach' doesn't quite work.
We both had other things on in the afternoon and couldn't stay for the big moment. As discourteous as it was for David not to take the risk with his €20 000 load in high swells for our convenience, we decided to forgive him and stay on for a few hours, to soak in the atmosphere.
After breakfast of waffles and nutella (which weren't totally necessary for me after the slow release porridge I'd had just before leaving home) we walked down to the old Baths; a great spot to watch the plane bob about in the water. It was around this time that I discovered that neither Val nor I, as Gen Xers, can take a good selfie. Actually, I already knew I couldn't take a decent selfie, after this photo of my great friend Kerry and I in front of the Statue of Liberty about five years ago.
|Makes you feel like you were there with us, right?|
Then it was my turn to have a go....here's my first attempt of the two of us. I should probably mention Val is a little bit shorter than me and was standing on a slope.
|Where's Val? Where's Val?|
|That's Val's attempt to help me take the photo. She thinks I look like Donkey in a scene from Shrek. |
I just didn't know I could even go cross-eyed!!
It was also at about this time that I realised that my high-vis vest was exactly the same as the ones worn by the official marshalls. We did contemplate whether I should run down the beach, screaming 'THE BIG YOKE'S COMING IN FAST, GET OUTTA THE WAY' but decided I'd limit my efforts to directing traffic on the way home.
When we got to where they were recording, Val scrambled up the embankment like a mountain goat. I knew that, despite looking like I could take on an Everest Hike, I would end up on my back like a stranded turtle if I even attempted the same thing. Thankfully, less than two metres away was a very gentle slope and I took that instead.
We then sat on the grass and enjoyed a very pleasant hour and a bit, eating Cake By the Ocean while listening to Cake by the Ocean (which Val insists is a euphemism for something else, but would Ellen Degeneres really let a seven year old sing it on her show if that were the case?).
We talked about how the simple things in life can really make you the happiest, and right there, watching the world go by and listening to other people's running commentary, featuring, of all things, a plane on a barge being towed by a tug, I really felt this to be the case.
It then started to rain (surprise, surprise) and we decided to head back to the car, which by now was sitting all on its own at the end of a very long hill. The journey back to the car was at least twice as long as the journey from it, and despite the depletion of hot chocolate and cake, my back pack was at least twice as heavy.
Over lunch in the nearby town of Easkey, a slightly deaf fellow at the table next to us (and I'm being diplomatic) regaled his companions with everything he knew about David McGowan and his plane. Turned out to be quite a lot, and if we hadn't seen it for ourselves, we wouldn't have needed to! It seems that people from far and wide are very passionate about this highly ambitious project, which bodes very well for the long term success of QuirkyGlamping.
After a few more hours back at work, I came home and conked out, missing the moments when the plane did land on the beach and was taken to its final resting place. I hadn't felt so exhausted since I was last jet-lagged (co-incidence?) and cannot even fathom how tired David and his team must be after days of bringing his dreams to fruition.
David's vision also included putting Enniscrone on the map. It's true to say he's done that, and done it in spades.
You can check out his facebook page here and Val (aka Magnumlady's) blogpost about our day here.
Until next time, happy travels!