Now this blog post is coming to you a bit late, because it was my 21stlast week and that’s the only excuse I have. But also, this is a cleverly-timed marketing ploy because we go back on tour TOMORROW after a well-deserved week off. So, this little reminiscence is a chance for you to GET HYPED for our last couple of shows in Ireland!
When Oli left you, we were waving goodbye to Killorglin, Puck, Catherine, and our biggest audience to date on a high. And it’s safe to say that this high was not burst at any point over the next couple of days!
After our Killorglin performances, it was time for us to have another day off to explore the beauty of Ireland! We started our day in Killarney, a lovely town which can claim to have possibly the world’s best value ice cream. I mean €1 for a ‘small’, which was quite possibly the biggest Mr Whippy I’ve ever seen in my life. Ice cream envy, and the fact that it was perfect weather for a Whippy almost made a girl wish she wasn’t vegan. I said ALMOST before anyone gets angry!!
Once the monster ice creams had been demolished it was time to head to Killarney House, and some of the MOST BEAUTIFUL gardens I had ever seen, ever. As Ana, Hanna, and I sat in the sunshine we got a call from Oli saying there was a free photography exhibition in the House. He did not need to tell us twice, not only was it free (a very important factor when you’re a broke student on an international theatre tour), but it was also photography which is objectively great!! We went into the house and saw some of the most breathtakingly stunning photos by Norman McCloskey. McCloskey had collated an exhibition of photos he’d taken around the Killorglin National Park that you just have to see to understand how amazing they were. He managed to create something that was both completely natural but also had an ethereal quality to it. I mean, that’s the beauty of nature.
While I was walking round the exhibition for the five-hundredth time (safe to say I’m a fan), a man who worked at the house came and asked us if we were going on the tour of the house. Due to some error in communication between Oli and Rowan, Adam, Rowan, and I ended up on the tour. As we walked through the large, white, ornate door to embark on our tour, we all shared a look that let each other know we were not 100% sure what was going on. The rooms were beautiful, our tour guide was very well informed, and we learnt a lot about the house (not that I could tell you any of it now, it’s been a while), but all in all it was a bit of a bizarre experience. We felt like three school children who had accidentally gone into a class they weren’t supposed to be in. Once the house tour was over, we made our way back out into the gardens where Ana, Hanna, and Oli were waiting for us. When the joking about how we ended up on the house tour was over, we headed onto our next tourist destination, Muckross Abbey.
We all spilled out of the van into the car park and were greeted by a very strong smell of horse manure. As we made our way towards the Abbey, the origins of this smell soon became clear, as horse and cart rides were being offered to the Abbey and through the surrounding countryside. Obviously, we were too poor to be able to go on one, but they really added to the charm of the place, giving the whole experience a nice Jane Austen vibe.
Carrying on along the Austen theme our next adventure was to Muckross House, or as we like to call it, all of ours’ dream home. When we arrived, we had our lunch on the grass alfresco style and then started to walk over to the house, passing the sign to a sweet shop we all made a mental note to stop there on the way back to the van. The gardens of the house were stunning, and because it was such a lovely day we decided to go and explore them first before entering the house. We ‘found’ a little beach next to the lake at the bottom of the garden, with a view that I can only describe as breath taking, I mean look at it!! Oli taught Ana and Hanna to skim stones so that we actually knew what we were doing in ‘To The Ocean’, while Adam, Rowan, and I sat on the rocks, watching and soaking up the rays. After the most idyllic half an hour I think we’ve had on tour so far, we made our way to the house. But after finding out that you had to pay to go in, we decided to explore the gardens a little bit more. In case it hasn’t been clear so far, we’re doing our days out on the CHEAP, we decided to explore the gardens a little bit more. The sun was out, and we made the most of it!
Once we’d done enough sunbathing in the gardens it was time to hit the road again. We, however, faced the biggest disappointment of the day on the way back to the van, finding out that the sign we’d seen advertising a ‘sweet shop’ was a piece of massive false-advertising. Entering the building we expected to find a shop full of jars, old-fashioned sweets, and that sugary sweet smell. Instead, we walked into a gift shop that sold about four chocolate bars. Now that might be a slight exaggeration, but what is not an exaggeration is how disappointed we all were! So, slightly disgruntled, we loaded ourselves back into the van and made our way to our next performance location, Kenmare.
After scouting which location was to be our performance site (we settled on the patch of grass at the end of a car park opposite the church), and buying food for our barbeque that evening, we headed off to our campsite just outside of Kenmare. At just £30 a night for us all we were not expecting 5* accommodation, however, that was exactly what we got at Dromquinna Manor! The toilets and showers were eccentrically called ‘his/her stables’ as they were converted stable blocks, they had showers that ran for longer than 4 minutes AND you didn’t have to pay for them, there were plugs to charge our phones ect, and the toilets were so clean, like so clean. (It’s safe to say I appreciated these facilities a lot!!) The campsite also had a ‘games room’ for campers to use, where we could all do some work, and charge our electrical devices. Another huge plus for (insert name here) is that it provided campsite-wide WiFi, and as the first leg of tour drew to an end we were definitely running low on data.
The next day we set off a little earlier than usual to commence flyering as we had had a full day off the day before. We divided into teams of two and were assigned two flyering shifts each. Rowan and I canvassed the town for an hour and a half, before we started visiting houses, posting our flyers through doors and talking to residents about the shows that would be happening that evening and on Sunday. After a three-hour flyering shift we were very much looking forward to lunch and stumbled across quite possibly the perfect café for a couple of English lit students of the vegetarian and vegan persuasion, the ‘Bookstop Cafe’, a charming vegetarian cafe and bookshop. The staff were lovely and welcoming, and the food was absolutely delicious! If you’re ever in Kenmare, this is definitely a place to visit!
It was then time to start getting ready for the evening’s show. The weather was lovely for sitting in the shady garden of the café, but not so lovely for putting up a tent. We did come up with the genius plan of taking the bottom of the tent out though, so that the audience didn’t overheat. The brilliance of a Bell Tent Boutique tent is that it’s so easy to put together, so it is therefore super easy to take apart. We can change our performance space and adapt it to any climate without worrying that we’re going to be spending another hour trying to work out how we’re going to put it all back together again! Kenmare provided us with our biggest audiences for both shows to date. It was amazing to perform to so many people, and we would like to thank everyone for coming and for your generous donations after the show!
After our last performance of ‘To The Ocean’ on Sunday night, we packed up the van, got ourselves a quick take-away for dinner, and started our journey to Cork. After a long drive in the dark, we finally made it to Cork and found the motorhome car park that we were sleeping in that night. We set our alarms for a 4:30 start and prepared for a solid 4 hours of sleep! It’s safe to say 4:30 arrived far too quickly, Hanna was full of beans excited for her week in Texas, while the rest of us rubbed sleepy dust from our eyes and struggled to wake up. The drive to Cork airport took half an hour (creds to Oli for driving that early, I could barely keep my eyes open!), and then Han and I were dropped off outside the airport. We all said our goodbyes as we prepared for a well-deserved week off!
Now that week off has come to an end. Just thinking back over everything that has happened over the past month, I can’t wait to see what we get up to in the month to come. Watch out Ireland, Wales, England, and Scotland, we’re coming for you!