So, where are you going on your holidays this year? Assuming all goes well and you can go somewhere will you holiday in Ireland or go abroad?

Much as I would love to get on a plane for sunny climes or a city break to some of my favourite cities – Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona or Vienna – there are practical reasons why I’ll be staying at home.

The thought of getting aboard a plane fills me with dread. Even assuming others are six metres away from my seat and I and they wear a mask, there are issues around the airports, public transport, etc, that alarm me. Even if I overcame my doubts and landed somewhere abroad will it feel like a normal holiday? Will all the restaurants and bars be open, or the museums and transport? That wedding in Spain we were looking forward to in July is now a casualty. A pity.

The only realistic option is to stay at home – and by home I mean somewhere in Ireland. Unfortunately no hotels open until July 20, and quite a few already have advance bookings. Will I be stuck with day trips and maybe a day or two overnight during the week? Yikes.

I have nightmares about holidaying in Ireland. Seriously, my track record isn’t great. My first introduction to staycationing was back in 1971. I had just finished my Leaving Cert and Dad decided to book a week in a West Cork hotel. It promised to be a fantastic time – a comfortable bed, food served up to us, and a beach outside. We never did get to the hotel for the simple reason that it burned down.

Dad then came up with another plan. He rented a caravan in Ballyheigue, so we piled into our small car, all five of us, plus the family dog. The caravan looked great, so us kids didn’t at first notice the limitations. It was so hot the first few days a gorse fire broke out close to the caravan site necessitating quick firefighting action. And then a typically Irish thing happened: it began to rain, heavily. And it didn’t stop. Hour after hour the rain poured down with all of us cooped up inside that caravan gradually becoming more and more fed up.

It rained again the next day, all day. We were miserable, bored out of our minds having played countless games of cards. Our conditions were cramped and we became increasingly short-tempered. My parents decided enough when we got up the following morning to saw yet more rain. Exasperated, my parents decided to pack up and leave. Which we did in record time. Would you believe I only went back to Ballyheigue last year just to have a look. I didn’t stay long!

When our children were small we decided to take them to Enniscrone for a week. Trish’s father was born in the seaside town so it would make a great family holiday. We were wrong, oh so wrong. I became my dad that week because it rained when we got there and didn’t stop for the week. Our accommodation didn’t really allow room for the kids and us to hang around in our rooms, so we were forced to find ways to entertain the kids. We seemed to spend our days in the car driving to various towns seeking out ways to amuse the kids and kill time.

We swore after that never to holiday in Ireland, so the next year we began our love affair with Spain, and foreign holidays have been our choice ever since.
Now that Covid-19 has changed the landscape it seems we have no choice this year. I keep looking at the sky – it’s pretty dull at the moment – hoping the summer will be great in Ireland, but I’m not very confident.

I’m so desperate now I’d even take a week in Ballyheigue!