Birthdays are a big thing in my family... Without fail on the day of mine, my sister's or my brother's birthday, we would be woken with breakfast in bed, followed by presents, followed by coming downstairs to find the house littered with balloons and banners. Every birthday. Every year. Without fail.
So when my father, Jacko, turned 55 last month, we decided to celebrate it in style, well, in what my family considers style anyways...
The week started with a family train ticket, Ennis to Dublin... Well, it was actually Limerick to Dublin on the train, we travelled by bus from Ennis to Limerick, because Irish Rail had leased out the 10.15 train to an entire private booking, to the VFI.
Yes,the Vintners Federation of Ireland, the people that are always complaining that the pub trade in Ireland is dying because us Irish are not living up to our binge drinking reputations, have enough money to charter a train for its members.
This meant that us commoners would have to endure a warm overcrowded bus, but thankfully it was a short journey.
Chamber of Horrors at The Wax Museum
A little annoyed we finally reached Heuston Station, and although my frugal (Cheap) mother insisted that it would be quicker to walk to the D4 Hotels in Ballsbrigde, we finally convinced her to just get in the taxi...
After checking in we headed back into town, and decided to see a few places that we would go us youngsters. It was agreeded that it was too wet for the Zoo, (seriously, I can't understand why tourists would chose to come here) so we settled on the Wax Museum, which has since been relocated across from Trinity College.
Naturally it is an attraction that loses its appeal the older you get, seeing the Simpsons aged 5 is a lot more exciting than seeing them at 23, surrounded by over excited you kids. Still, we put on an over enthusiastic face, mostly for my Mother's sake.
My younger brother and Dad go see the Ireland & Croatia friendly in the Aviva. Faced with the thoughts of a night of making small talk with my mother, I decided to buy us two tickets for Grease at The Grand Canal Theatre. As it turns out, we are there on the opening night, and the theatre is wedged with all sorts of Irish celebrity, the term being used very lightly.
Before heading to the Grand Canal we have a quick drink in a wine bar on the docks. As we look out upon the grey Dublin sky, and smirk at the panting ladies, soaking wet from taking part in a bootcamp workout/torture exercise, none other than Nation Treasure, and one time Presidential Candidate, Gay Byrne walks in to the wine bar.
This of course sets my mother off in a frenzy of questions. Is that him? Are you sure? Whats he doing he? Is that his wife? Hows my hair? My mother continues to stalk him through the window of the smoking area where we are perched, whilst I try to understand the appeal of old Gaybo. For my mother to meet with him would be a dream come true, like if I were to meet Kylie or Tilda, meeting Gay Byrne would be something my mother would never forget.
As we went to pay, I informed my Mam, now quivering like an 11 year old Beliber, that Gay and his wife, Kathleen, were sitting at the bar. The nerves kicked in. She decided to bail, and that it would be rude to interrupt the couple. I, like any good son, while respecting my mother's opinion, decide to have none of it, and gently cornered her between Gay and his missus...
"Gay, Im sorry to interrupt, but I would never forgive myself if I didn't say hello!" it was a pretty smooth opening line. Gay smiled, shook her hand, and thanked her, as did Kathleen. So my mother's evening/day/year was made, and I was left to pay the tab as she floated out the door.
When we took our seats in The Grand Canal, upper tier, cheap seats, great view, it became apparent that we were in the prime viewing seats, not for the stage, bit for the side stage private boxes. They slowly filled up with TV Gardeners, Eurovision Winners, Radio Presenters, and a handful of Fair City folk...
The show itself was great, great production, fun cast, great costumes. The lady of the hour, X Factor's Mary Byrne, stole the show, and the heart's of her audience, in her own hometown too.
Day three of our Jacko's Birthday celebration saw us venturing off to Galway. With more activities planned for the weekend, my Dad was giving Paris Hilton a run for her money, in the celebrations stakes.
Our first stop was Tynagh, outside of Loughrea, where the Tynagh Go-Karting racecourse kept us entertained for half an hour and countless laps. Unsurprisingly my 16 year old brother, being brought up on a diet of Fast & Furious films, and Grand Theft Auto, came in first place. His fastest lap was 5 seconds off the track's record of 57 seconds. I on the other hand adopted the strategy of Marge Simpson, Slow and Steady wins the race. It did not work.
From Tynagh we drove to Salthill. I say drove, the correct term would probably be 'BOMBIN IT'. My mother, still in the competitive mindframe from our afternoon of Go'Karting had thrown all regard for the speed limits as she tore down the duel carriage way at 140 Km/H as bewildered drivers zoomed past in confusion...
In Salthill there is only one thing to do. Well, on my agenda anyways, and that is Rollercoasters! And whether they liked it or not I had no regrets in bringing my entire family up on every carnival ride in the LeisureLand amusements.
After nearly 10 minutes of coaxing and insulting, I finally managed to get to younger brother strapped in beside me on the Slingshot... We got a video of us being flung into the air at 160 miles an hour, but its probably best that the internet doesn't see that...
After being thrown around in the air, we went off in search of food. You really work up an appetite being dangled mid air.
After a delicious meal we headed back home. I was exhaused form the past 3 days of activity, while my parents, were still raring to go. So Jacko's week long celebrations continued at our holiday home in Lahinch, I stay in Ennis for a bit of peace, and wondered at what point did I turn into Saffy, and my parents, somehow, into Eddie & Patsy?
But you know what they say, The Family that Rollercoasters Together, Stays Together...