When you think of a vacation outdoors, it's difficult not to think
of Ireland. Ireland has a long tradition of roaming the countryside,
either on horseback or walking. When you're there, all you need
is a sturdy carved stick, good rain gear and you're ready to walk
over lush, green hills and past centuries-old stone walls.
like heaven, right? Well, we sent humorist Cash Peters to Ireland
for few days of hearty Irish activity -- and we don't mean lifting
pints. Like he always does, Cash. found absurdity in what most
of us consider to be the "idyllic outdoor trip."
Cash Peters, 5/17/2002
to ancient myth, when God finished making Great Britain, He found
He had this tiny little bit left over, and this He decided to call
Ireland. Anyway, it's a lush, green, wonderful place. I know this
because the Irish Tourist Board was foolish enough to invite me and
a bunch of journalists over there, for free, to sample southern
Ireland's outdoor activities. Our first stop was Bannanstown Riding
School near Dublin for a spot of what experts call "horseback-riding."
"What's the trick?"
"The trick to horses? Respect them, like them, enjoy them."
"You got that from a leaflet, didn't you?"
"No, I didn't." (laughs)
"Hold on to the front of the saddle -- most of the horses
Guy: "People mostly have an exaggerated opinion of their
ability to ride. I once saw a girl who told me she rode a lot
getting on the wrong side of a horse and facing backwards. She
must surely have had an exaggerated opinion of her own ability."
"How much have you ridden before?"
"Well, I rode as a teenager, but that was a very long time
ago. So, we'll see what happens when we get going."
"This one looks like a very old kitchen table with a head."
"She's a little scruffy this morning. She needs to have her
"Okay, let's all trot on, then, and if we could all close
I'm sorry -- no way were they getting me on one of these galloping
death traps. I don't horse-ride and I don't Riverdance -- these are
the two rules I live by. And the school's owner, Jane Kennedy, thought
I was very wise.
"If you really don't want to do it and you're afraid, then
your fear is going to take over, and I think you were probably
wise, because there's no point doing something you don't want
to do -- makes the horse tense."
So instead, while everyone rode their horses, I did the next best
thing: I ran alongside.
of someone singing)
"Because this is radio, everybody will think I'm on a horse...
Oh, the joys of horse-riding. I feel really comfortable in the
"You obviously had a bad experience."
"I got manure up my nose."
"Oh, very pleasant."
is our coach driver. Most Irish songs have, on average, 177 verses
and take the best part of a week to sing, so it's a good way to
pass the time. Anyway, if you're not into riding, why not try cycling
around Ireland? After all, what's a bike, but a horse with wheels?
Or, if that's too strenuous, walk. Catherine Fulvio runs walking
tours from Ballyknocken Farm in County Wicklow. She doesn't believe
her guests should have to rough it.
"You do have to look after your walkers -- they like that."
see, now here's a woman who understands my needs. Although, be warned,
if you do go walking in Wicklow, you'll be the laughing stock of
"I do know of farmers in the mountains who think it's absolutely
hysterical that people will pay money to come on holidays to walk
across the land that farmers own. When the farmer goes to get
the sheep -- for him that's a chore, to walk -- he can't believe
that somebody would pay money to do that."
neither. That's why I stayed in the coach. I also stayed behind
in the coach while the group climbed a mountain, and I tried to stay
behind while they went on a boat trip up the River Shannon.
"Are you coming?"
"I don't know. Will it be wobbly?"
"Michael, this man is...."
"...has had a bad water experience."
"A psychic told me not to go on boats 'cuz I might drown."
"You won't drown."
"Do you have insurance?"
"Doesn't matter -- you won't drown."
"This is a novelty trip on a Viking boat because you can
dress up as a Viking."
"Why would I want to dress up as a Viking?"
"It's part of the atmosphere. It's a replica boat and the
Vikings did sail these waters."
"Yes, a little bit of smog there."
still going. Actually, the Viking Tours trip was very exhilarating,
although, to be honest, the wind on the river is strong enough to
rip the hairs from your nostrils. Finally, though, back to the horse-riding.
After an hour up a mountain in horizontal rain, the group returned.
"Welcome back. We missed you."
Woman: "You missed me?"
"Actually, I didn't give you a thought from the moment I
Rider: "The hardest part was getting off the horse."
"My muscles aren't attuned to that sort of activity -- getting
off horses. I feel like a drink, but I think I'll be rubbing it
on, rather than drinking it." (laughs)
"So how was it?"
Woman: "I can't feel my legs. My bum is so sore -- you don't
want to know. But it was great, the scenery was worth it. It was
right, it is fabulous. And whether you hike across mountains, cycle
dreamily along winding country lanes, or just do as I did -- stay
on the coach staring wistfully at your airline ticket home, you're
sure to enjoy it. In Dublin, southern Ireland, I'm Cash Peters for
The Savvy Traveler.
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