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IRELAND cont’d

Last week after playing Royal County Down we stayed overnight at Slieve Donard and then drove south into the Republic of Ireland. The change from one country to another was seamless, the only change was we needed Euros for the toll booth but they accepted our Stirling in order to keep traffic moving. Dublin was our goal, Citywest Hotel specifically. From RCD to Dublin, easy 2 and a half hours.

Citywest is Europe’s largest resort according to their brochure. 3 golf courses although one is private. Sort of a vegas-type resort (small v) and unfortunately it is in the country 10 miles from Dublin city-centre. It’s sort of a guys kind of hotel – helicopters on the lawn, huge black Hummers parked in front, casino, host World Dart Championships. Did I mention it seemed full of eastern european men? It was comfortable, courses looked good (in the rain). Close to the K-Club, one of my all-time most disappointing courses when I visted last year.

If you go to Dublin, stay downtown in the city, visit the suburbs if you really need to, the city is fantastic! The 10 mile drive takes around 20 minutes going in (well sign posted) but over an hour coming out (very tricky signage and too tough for two old farts like us). We asked a cop for directions and they said follow our car – and they lead us through a maze except it ended up totally the wrong direction.

The fact that it rained for 3 solid days might have made our driving difficult – I often felt like I was going bananas but really only in circles. Maybe it was the brew. But don’t let my driving stop you from going to Dublin because it’s enchanting. Despite the recession Dublin is bustling.

It rained so much we couldn’t play Portmarnock which was a shame – I played there in 1971 with David Clayton, legendary Harry Bradshaw joined us and stayed through dinner in Dublin. Anyway downtown Dublin is superb and worthy of a couple of days, even in the rain we loved it. Trinity College and it’s Book of Kells and Long Library, Guinness, busy stores, Guinness, double decker bus tours, the river, everything was superb, even the rain. There seemed to be a pub every 50 yards so it was easy to duck out of the rain for a, Guinness. Actually I prefer the Canadian bottled version, the Irish was so smooth it seemed flat.

We splurged on our anniversary dinner at Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud on Merrion Street. A two star Michelin restaurant which certainly was impressive with unbelieveably friendly professional service, but of course. The food was the best I have ever had too! Even a pea tastes different when it cost $10.00. Carolyn said that the service reminded her of Shakespeare’s in Hamilton. During our courting years it was our favourite, hope it’s still there, been awhile. Le Baron in Toronto also had the same type of service. Anyway, if you can’t play Portmarnoch, do have dinner at Patrick Guilbaud, about the same price and length of time to get through all their wonderful courses as to play 18 holes. Perfect. No three putts.

And then we drove back to Belfast and caught the 50 minute flight to Dundee. Love the convenience of those small airports. To finish the week’s vacation we then drove to Aviemore in the Highlands, for a birthday party and a golf tournament on the Spey Valley Golf Course.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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