The Death of Innocence

A group of youths in provincial Germany experience the thrill of their emerging adulthood and the pain of losing their childhood innocence.  This is Spring Awakening with book and lyrics by Steven Sater and music by Duncan Sheik based off of Frank Wedekind’s original play of the same name.  It is currently playing at the UNO Theatre.

I’m not familiar with Wedekind’s original play, but have read praise for Sater remaining reasonably faithful to the original work.  Wedekind’s tale poses some very challenging ideas and themes that still resonate today.  The theme of emerging adulthood takes the form of their sexual awakening and the youths are thrilled and unnerved by the changes taking place within them.  However, this awakening comes at a price.

The change into adulthood comes at the cost of their innocence and hope.  Even worse, they are ill equipped to handle these changes due to a society of adults which refuses to educate and help them cope with these changes.  Instead they label the youths’ burgeoning desires as evil and hypocritically hide their own evil and cruelty to maintain a world that suits their vision.

Sater does a fine job updating Wedekind’s work for a modern audience and Sheik has written a punchy score full of catchy, memorable tunes.

It’s unusual to see two directors at the helm of a show, but Doran Schmidt and Wai Yim do quality work in guiding this musical.  Clearly both are on the exact same page with their vision, fusing their unique talents to create a strong show.  Their performers know what they are doing with their roles and where they are going.  Ms Schmidt’s musical direction is spot on and Yim’s gift for designing movement keeps this story going as there is never a static movement.  The actors make full use of the performance space in an effortless and unceasing flow of movement and action.

The supporting cast is skilled and unified.  They harmonize well.  They play well off each other.  All manage to find the ebbs and flows and the humorous and serious moments of the production.  But I’d like to single out Bethany Bresnahan for a memorable cameo performance as Ilse.  Ms Bresnahan’s Ilse is the lone character who seems to retain her childhood innocence as she transitions into adulthood.  She had a dynamic presence, beautiful animation, and a haunting sequence in “Don’t Do Sadness/Blue Wind”.

Ryan McCann is wonderful as Melchior.  McCann well plays the duality of this character as Melchior is both the angel and the devil.  He is a playful, intelligent wit and loyal friend.  But he also has the makings of a fiend within him with his whipping (albeit requested) and possible raping of a childhood friend.  Truly, he seems to be the character in the most danger of becoming part of the cruel, hypocritical society he lives in until he finds the strength to overcome it with a little help from his spiritual friends.

McCann’s tenor was in fine form all night.  His voice captured all of the important nuances both musically and orally.  He especially shone in “The Guilty Ones”, “Those You’ve Known”, and the night’s best number, “Totally F@!#ed”.

Seldom have I felt the kind of empathy for a character as I did for Nick Jansen’s Moritz.  Moritz has pressures on him that few adults could be expected to handle, let alone a child.  His parents demand perfection from him.  He studies beyond the point of exhaustion.  He’s uncomfortable with his new “sticky dreams”.  Jansen does superior work in communicating the ever mounting weight on Moritz’s shoulders until he collapses under the pressure.  Jansen also has a fine tenor and falsetto best utilized in “Don’t Do Sadness/Blue Wind” and “And Then There Were None”.

Roni Shelley-Perez soars as Wendla.  Wendla may be the show’s most tragic character as her innocence makes her truly childlike.  An overprotective mother refuses to help her understand her transition into adulthood.  Her safe lifestyle has rendered her unable to feel, pushing her to request to get whipped by Melchior so she can empathize with a classmate who is routinely beaten by her father.  Due to her safety and immaturity, Wendla simply does not know how to protect herself and those who should protect her fail utterly.

Ms Shelley-Perez brilliantly essays the confusion and innocence of Wendla.  I was especially impressed with her facial expressions during her moment of intimacy with Melchior which left it beautifully ambiguous as to whether or not it was rape.

Ms Shelley-Perez can also belt out a tune with a monstrously strong soprano in “Mama Who Bore Me” and “The Word of Your Body”.

Steven Williams has designed a simple, yet imposing set of black pillars and balcony with chalk drawings all over it.  Audrey Wardian’s lights were incredible with strobe flashes and emotional colors which were all variations of the rainbow leading to subtler shades of meaning.  Valerie St Pierre Smith’s costumes invoked the sedate elegance of 19th century school uniforms and clothing.

At this preview night performance, the cast started off a bit hesitantly and quietly.  Once they reached “Totally F@!#ed” they were firing on all cylinders and the theatre was overflowing with their confidence and I do believe they are on to something quite magical.  Sound also suffered a touch from either microphone issues or dead spots on the stage.

Growing up is hard to do, especially when there isn’t an instruction book or a person with experience to lend a helping hand.  Spring Awakening does a dandy job in sharing the difficulty and pain of growing up, but it also leaves a glimmer of hope that the current generation will fix the mistakes of the previous.

Spring Awakening plays at the UNO Theatre in the Weber Fine Arts Building through Dec 2.  Showtimes are 7:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays.  Tickets cost $16 (a 2nd preview night performance on Nov 16 will be $6).  UNO students can attend the show for free.  For tickets, call 402-554-PLAY or visit www.unomaha.edu/unotheatre.  Due to strong language and sensitive themes, Spring Awakening is not suitable for children.  The UNO Theatre is located at 6001 Dodge St in Omaha, NE.

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Watch Your Step at the Blue Barn

BLUEBARN THEATRE presents 

THE 39 STEPS

adapted by Patrick Barlow from the novel by John Buchanan 

The original cast returns in this retro-Award-winning flashback! Mix a 1930s Hitchcock masterpiece with a juicy film noir and a dash of Monty Python and you have an unforgettable evening of pure pleasure. Packed with nonstop laughs, over 150 characters, an on-stage plane crash, and some good old-fashioned romance, The 39 Steps is a riotous blend of virtuoso performances and wildly inventive stagecraft that’s guaranteed to thrill.

Directed by Susan Clement-Toberer; Scene Design by Martin Marchitto; Costume Design by Lindsay Pape; Costume Coordinator, Kendra Newby; Sound Design by Craig Marsh based on an original sound design by Miles Polaski; Lighting Design by Shea Saladee; Cast includes Ben Beck, Bill Grennan, Kirstin Kluver, and Ablan Roblin.

Performance dates:

November 24 – December 17, 2017

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday performances at 7:30 pm

Sunday, November 26 at 6:00 pm

Sunday, December 3 at 2:00 pm

Sunday, December 17 at 2:00 and 6:00 pm

ADDITIONAL PERFORMANCES

Wednesday, December 6 at 7:30 pm

Wednesday, December 13 at 7:30 pm

Tickets go on sale to the public Monday, October 30, 2017

Call the BLUEBARN box office 9:30am-4:30 pm M-F

Or visit www.bluebarn.org

Ticket prices:

Adults             $30

Seniors 65+    $25

Students         $25

About the BLUEBARN Theatre

The BLUEBARN Theatre has been bringing professionally-produced plays to area audiences since 1989. Since its inception, BLUEBARN has produced over 100 plays and has established itself as Omaha’s professional contemporary theatre company.  Striving to bring artistically significant scripts and professional production values to Omaha and the surrounding region, BLUEBARN is known for high-quality entertainment and the fearless pursuit of stories that challenge both theatre artists and purists.

It’s a McGuigan Musical Anniversary

Yesterday and Today 2

Omaha, Neb.—The Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP) presents the 10th anniversary of Yesterday and Today the Interactive Beatles Experience Nov. 24 – Dec. 31, 2017 in the Howard Drew Theatre featuring Billy McGuigan and his brothers.

Yesterday and Today is an interactive Beatles experience featuring Billy McGuigan, his brothers, Ryan and Matthew, and a backing band of local musicians. The performers play all Beatles music, take audience requests and interact with the audience; no two shows are ever the same. The brothers started the show as a tribute to their late father who loved The Beatles and introduced his children to the band’s music. The McGuigan brothers now tour the country with Yesterday and Today to create the ultimate living tribute to their father.

Billy McGuigan and his brothers are back for the 10th consecutive year at Omaha Community Playhouse! This all-request Beatles tribute show will have you dancing in the aisles and singing along to every song. Share your stories and relive your memories with your favorite Beatles songs. No two shows are the same, and every show is a guaranteed exhilarating time!

Production: Yesterday and Today: An Interactive Beatles Experience

Credits: Featuring Billy McGuigan, Music Director Rick Avard, © 2007 By Rave On! Productions

Group Members  

Billy McGuigan   (Vocals/Guitar/Keyboard)

Matthew McGuigan     (Vocals/Bass)

Ryan McGuigan     (Vocals/Acoustic Guitar)

Tara Vaughan    (Keyboard/Vocals)

Jay Hanson     (Vocals/Lead Guitar)

Rich Miller     (Percussion/Vocals)

Show dates: Nov. 24-Dec. 31, 2017; Thursday–Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Sunday, 2 p.m. (Nov. 26 only) and 6:30 p.m. (No performances Thursday, Nov. 30 or Sunday, Dec. 24.)

New Year’s Eve performances: Two performances on Sunday, December 31 (No group discounts on New Year’s Eve)

7 p.m. $50 per person
10 p.m. $75 per person
Complimentary champagne punch and cake will be served prior to each performance with a champagne toast at midnight.

Tickets: Available now at the OCP Box Office, by calling (402) 553-0800 or online at www.OmahaPlayhouse.com or www.TicketOmaha.com. Single tickets start at $40 for adults and students. Tickets for groups of 12 or more are $35.

Sponsored by:   C&A Industries, Inc. and KMTV (media sponsor).

Location:  Omaha Community Playhouse, Howard Drew Theatre, 6915 Cass St, Omaha, NE  68132

It’s Christmas Time at the Playhouse

42nd Annual A Christmas Carol at Omaha Community Playhouse

Omaha’s Holiday Tradition Opens November 17, 2017

Omaha, Neb.— A Christmas Carol will run at the Omaha Community Playhouse in the Howard and Rhonda Hawks Mainstage Theatre Nov. 17-Dec. 23, 2017. This will be the 42nd year for this holiday production at OCP. Actor Jerry Longe returns for his 12th season as Ebenezer Scrooge.

It just isn’t Christmas without A Christmas Carol. Experience Omaha’s favorite holiday tradition as Ebenezer Scrooge takes us on a life-changing journey filled with beautiful costumes, exquisite music, perfectly crafted sets and special effects second to none. Perfect for the whole family!

Production: A Christmas Carol

Credits: By Charles Dickens, Adapted by Charles Jones, Musical orchestration by John J.  Bennett

Directors
:  Kimberly Faith Hickman , Jeff Horger
Music Director: Jim Boggess
Choreographer: Michelle Garrity

Cast

Jacob Roman as Fred

Don Harris as Jake, Ball Musician, Man at Cart

Amanda Charles as Nell

Jerry Longe as Ebeneezer Scrooge

Chris Berger as Bob Cratchit

Bob Gilmore as 1st Charity Man, Ghost of Christmas Present, Baker

Marcus Benzel as 2nd Charity Man, Mr. Fezziwig

Jake Parker as Peter Cratchit

Brodhi McClymont as Francis Cratchit

Maddie Smith as Belinda Cratchit

Annabelle DeWater as Tim Cratchit

Don Keelan-White as Jacob Marley, Ball Musician, Man at Cart

Lori Lynn Ahrends as Ghost of Christmas Past

Tyson Bentley, Judson Cloudt, Daniel Davis, Cal Hernandez, Lincoln Hoffart and Neal Jochim as School Boys

Andrew Hedin as Ebby

Stella Clark-Kaczmarek as Fan

Brendan Brown as Dick Wilkins, Poulterer

Catherine Vazquez as Mrs. Fezziwig, Baker’s Wife

Boston Reid as Young Scrooge

Emma Chvala as Belle Fezziwig

Jen Dillon as Mrs. Cratchit

Hannah-Kate Kinney as Martha Cratchit

Elise O’Neil as Millie

Jenna Hager as Lucy

Brandon Fisher as Topper

Amanda Charles as Myrtle Crow

Julia Ervin as Mrs. Dilber, Chestnut Vendor

Ava Palmer as Child with Sled

Adult Ensemble features Annie Hekl, Isabelle RAngel, Alex Nilius

Youth Ensemble features Cora Johnson, Lilian Johnson, Olivia Walling, and Burke Wissman

Sophia Markle as Little Bo Peep, Mary

Caeli Karasek as Little Boy Blue

Cody Girouex as Beggar

Josie Ausman as Greenery Vendor

Kristopher Fleeman as Toyshop Keeper

Fezziwig Ball Dancers will be played by Amanda Charles, Marcus Benzel, Emma Chvala, Chris Berger, Jen Dillon, Brendan Brown, Julia Ervin, Brandon Fisher, Jenna Hager, Kristopher Fleeman, Annie Hekl, Cody Girouex, Elise O’Neil, Alex Nilius, Isabelle Rangel, Boston Reid, Catherine Vazquez, and Jacob Roman

Marley Minions will be played by Jennifer Bonge, Katie Hoskins, Evelyn Kinney, and Reese Uptmor

Tyson Bentley as Joseph

Andrew Hedin, Cal Hernandez, and Neal Jochim as the Wisemen

Daniel Davis as the Innkeeper

Shepherds to be played by Judson Cloudt, Annabelle DeWater, Lincoln Hoffart, Brodhi McClymont, Bruke Wissman

Angels to be played by Josie Ausman, Jennifer Bonge, Stella Clark-Kaczmarek, Katie Hoskins, Cora Johnson, Lilian Johnson, Caeli Karasek, Evelyn Kinney, Ava Palmer, Maddie Smith, Reese Uptmor, and Olivia Walling

 

Show dates: Nov. 17-Dec. 23, 2017; Wednesdays, 7:00 p.m., Thursdays–Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.
and Sundays, 2:00 p.m. & 6:30 p.m. (No performances on Weds., Nov. 22 and Thurs., Nov. 23.)

Tickets: On sale now at the OCP Box Office, by calling (402) 553-0800 or online at www.OmahaPlayhouse.com or www.TicketOmaha.com. Before Dec. 13, tickets start at $38 (adults) and $25 (students). Dec. 13-23, tickets start at $42 (adults) and $29 (students). For groups of 12 or more, tickets are $32 (adults) and $18 (students) for all dates.

Sponsored by: First National Bank, KPMG (orchestra sponsor), JK Barker Foundation (cast dinner sponsor), Rotella’s Bakery (bakery shoppe and snow sponsor) and KETV (media sponsor)

Location: Omaha Community Playhouse, Howard and Rhonda Hawks Mainstage Theatre

6915 Cass Street | Omaha, NE 68132 

Performance note: A shadow interpreted performance for the hearing impaired is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 10 at 6:30 p.m.

Food drive: Audience members are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items to OCP to benefit the Food Bank for the Heartland as part of Conagra Brand’s Shine the Light on Hunger campaign.

When Irish Eyes are Smiling, Day 9: A Rainbow in Ireland

The final day had finally arrived.

I awoke to the first truly dreary day we had experienced in Ireland.  It was grim and rainy outside which worried me a bit because our first stop of the day was a visit to the Cliffs of Moher.

After breakfast, we boarded our trusty bus once more and began the trek to the cliffs.  On the drive we experienced some rain and then, miraculously, the sun began to peek through.  How fitting it was to see a beautiful rainbow appear in the sky in Ireland.  Dad quipped my thoughts when he said, “Let’s go find the pot of gold,” to the amusement of our fellow travelers.

The sun began burning off this mist which made the day look a lot better as we approached the cliffs.  Frankly, I thought the mist enhanced the view of the Cliffs of Moher.  It gave it a mysterious, otherworldly quality as I looked upon this awesome spectacle of nature.

We spent a brief period at the cliffs before heading over to the city of Galway.

Galway is another major city in Ireland and its major street of commerce also happens to be named O’Connell Street just like in Dublin.  We were given a few hours to spend on our own before we would meet up for a mini-walking tour of the city.

I wandered up and down the street as I looked at the various businesses and enjoyed the various buskers.  The most interesting busker was a young lady who played a hurdy-gurdy.  It was truly a haunting sounding instrument.

I wasn’t feeling particularly hungry, but decided to stop off at a café to enjoy one last bowl of seafood chowder as I knew it would be my last opportunity to taste this local delicacy.  After finishing my soup, I returned to our meeting point where Bill gave us a mini-walking tour of the city.

We walked past St Nicholas’ Cathedral, saw the remnants of the oldest building in Ireland (discovered when ground was broke for a new business), saw the King’s Head Pub which is Ireland’s oldest pub and has operated since 1649, and we also saw the Lynch Point.

The Lynch Point is exactly what it sounds like.  Back in the day, condemned prisoners were hung here.  Its most famed story is that a very just judge once ordered his son to be hung at this spot for the murder of a Spanish sailor who had cuckolded the son.  The son was guilty as sin and the judge refused to recuse himself, insisting that justice had to be served.  So honorable was the judge that he dismissed the executioner and personally placed the noose around the son’s neck so that full responsibility for this decision would lay on his shoulders.

After this little walk through history we boarded the bus and made our way to Rathbaun Farm, the final stop of the trip.

Rathbaun Farm is a working farm that has been in the Connolly family for six generations.  We met Vinton Connolly who led us to the kitchen where our group would get a lesson in scone making.

The cook told us we would be eating the scones we were preparing and she gave us our lesson.  Like a true chef, a lot of the prep work was estimation, but my table managed to prepare 8 scones for baking.  I crossed my fingers hoping that they came out edible.

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Ingredients for scones

From the kitchen we went across to the barn where Vinton showed us some of his sheep and lambs and told us about farming in Ireland.

Then he introduced us to Ted, his sheepdog.

Vinton explained that sheepdogs are not trained.  They learn a few voice commands, but herding sheep is an instinct that dogs either have or they don’t.  Dogs that have a lot of energy and can’t sit still probably have the instinct.  As Vinton said, “If a sheepdog is sitting still for ten minutes, it’s probably dead.”

Vinton then gave us a demonstration of Ted’s skills as he let Ted into an enclosed pasture.  Ted bolted right towards the sheep as Vinton gave a few voice commands simply telling Ted where to direct the sheep.  For such hefty animals, sheep can really run.  Ted never made a peep.  He just stared down the sheep and ran them in the direction he wanted them to go.

When the demo ended, we went to the dining room to partake of an Irish tradition:  Sunday dinner.

On Sundays, Irish people have breakfast and then don’t eat again until about 4 or 4:30pm when they have a large family dinner.  The cooks had prepared a hearty Irish stew full of chunks of beef, potatoes, and vegetables.  They also served our scones.

My team’s scones came out pretty well.  Nice and crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.

When dinner ended, we said our good-byes to Vinton and boarded the bus to return to our hotel.

Officially that was the end of the trip.  I felt the way one should at the end of a vacation like this:  sad to see it end, but ready to get back home.  The next morning would take us to Shannon Airport which is one of the few cities where you go through U.S. customs there so you don’t have to do it back at in the states.  I looked out the window at the flight that would take us back to America and reflected on the many adventures I had and the new friends I had met.

I was so pleased with Globus that I joined their Journeys Club and began planning a trip to England and Paris which I hope to take in either 2018 or early 2019.  But that will be a story for another time.

But you won’t have long to wait for my next adventure.  On December 1, it will be time for my 5th annual Christmas B & B review.  Mont Rest Inn of Bellevue, IA is the site of my visit and it promises to be something special.  We’ll see you then.

When Irish Eyes are Smiling, Day 8: The Feast of Kings

We had a rather leisurely start to our day as we actually had the first few hours to ourselves.  I decided to take another walk around Killarney.  Specifically, I had wanted to get inside the nearby Church of Ireland to see what it looked like and to get some photos.

Eventually it was back to the bus where we headed to the tiny village of Adare, famed for its thatched cottages.  Again we were given a few hours to explore.  Adare marked the only place where I actually bought an item for myself.  The visitor’s center had a tiny bookstore and I found a book of Irish ghost stories which I bought for myself.

Aside from that I spent the time exploring the small museum inside the visitor’s center, visiting a nearby cathedral and cemetery, walking around the park across the street, and walking along the main street (pretty much the only street) examining the various thatched cottages.  I also bought a small cup of ice cream which was some of the creamiest ice cream I had tasted.

Once our time was up we were off to our final destination of the trip:  Limerick.

We took a little tour of the city and saw St Mary’s Cathedral and King John’s (as in the archenemy of Robin Hood) castle before checking into our last hotel.  We ended up going full circle as we stayed in another Clayton.  The building was actually a unique piece of architecture as it was designed so that every room had a view of the river.

At this point, I needed some time to myself so I ended up going for a walk around the neighborhood.  I stopped at a nearby convenience store where I sampled some chili flavored Doritos.  Ireland appears to be tamer with its spices as these Doritos were actually quite tepid.  After a walk to clear my mind, I went back to the hotel to get ready for the final optional excursion.

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This night found us headed to Knappogue Castle for an authentic medieval banquet.  The performers dress up in authentic period costumes and the evening began with a mead reception in the royal hall.

Mead is fermented apple and honey and it is a very sweet drink.  However, it also tastes very light and tame which disguises the fact that it is a very potent beverage.  Ten minutes after drinking it, I actually felt a buzz coming on.  Our tour director regaled us with a story about a previous tour where an Australian gent drank two jugs of the stuff at the banquet.  He passed out during the dinner and there was real fear that he would have to be taken to the hospital.  The gentleman regained consciousness and managed to get back to the hotel to sleep it off.  According to our tour guide, the gentleman was quite red faced the next morning and his wife didn’t speak to him for the remainder of the tour.

The night’s entertainment was a history of Ireland presented through music, song, and dance.  It was a great performance with a fabulous four course meal consisting of a seasoned tomato and basil soup, homemade bread, salad, chicken, and dessert.  It was a grand night and it seemed to end all too soon.

Once more, it was back to the hotel to ready ourselves for the final day.

When Irish Eyes are Smiling, Day 7: Sailing into Mystery

Breakfast at the Trident was the only one that differed from the other hotels.  They did have a continental breakfast buffet with some cold cuts where I sampled smoked salmon, another stalwart of Irish menus.  But at this hotel, we were also permitted to order something off of the menu.  So for this breakfast I ordered Eggs Benedict.  Unlike the American version which is served on an English muffin with ham, this was served on toast with bacon.  But delicious no matter what way you slice it.

This day was the quietest that we had for the trip.  After checking out of the oh so wonderful Trident, we hopped on the bus and headed off to Bantry Bay where we were going to take a ferry ride over to Garinish Island.

Bantry Bay is known for its warm waters.  So warm are the waters that it often attracts seals to the outcroppings and we saw a plethora of these magnificent beasts as we slowly sailed over to the island.

Garinish Island was once the private paradise of an extremely wealthy family called Bryce.  It’s known for its lush gardens and opulent pieces of architecture.  Another fun fact was that the Bryce family was very close friends with Agatha Christie, the acclaimed mystery writer.  In fact, the Bryce House still exists on the island and it holds some of the original editions of Christie’s work.

I spent quite a while simply soaking in the beauty of the island as you can see from the below photos.

I did find the Bryce House, but had just missed the only tour I could have taken.  However, my parents did make it on the tour, so I entertained myself by making goofy faces at them whenever they passed by the windows.  Yes, I admit it.  I’m a big kid at heart.

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Bryce House

After a few hours on the island, we returned to the mainland and continued our bus tour along the Ring of Kerry which featured some of the prettiest scenery I think I’ll see this side of heaven.

We ended up stopping at a place called Ladies View which has some stunning views of the Lakes of Killarney.  Once upon a time, the queen of England and her husband had lunch at this spot.  Not only did we take a group photo here, but Mom and Dad bought some paintings from a local artist.

After our brief stop, we continued journeying to our final stop, but were met with a surprise on the road.  As we drove, we suddenly saw a group of people gathered on the left side of the road.  We all craned our necks to see and we saw a car precariously perched on its front after having gone over a cliff!!

Luckily, nobody was hurt.  The driver and passenger were staring forlornly at their car while the Garda (Ireland’s national police force) drove up to see what they could do.  A story in the next day’s Irish Times told the story that the driver had accidentally hit the gas instead of the brake which sent the car over the cliff.

In the afternoon, we reached the town of Killarney where we checked into the Scotts Hotel.  As fabulous as the Trident was, I rather liked the Scotts as I actually had my own alcove and finally had a bit of privacy for writing, though I was unable to make use of that.

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Scotts Hotel

After an hour of rest, we headed out to the corner where we took a jaunting car ride or a horse and buggy ride as we’d call it here.  These rides are famous for the jarveys (drivers) who provide a witty and entertaining stream of talk on the rides.  Ours was similar to Don Rickles.

We rode through the Killarney National Park and made a brief stop at Ross Castle during the drive.

My dad and I fell into conversation with our jarvey who told us about the education system of Ireland when we spotted some children walking home from school.  School in Ireland begins at 9am and ends at 4pm.  All schools have a uniform code and their students dress very elegantly.

As the drive continued, our jarvey asked us where we were going to eat and I mentioned that our tour guide had mentioned a place called The Meadows.  Our jarvey snorted and said it was a tourist trap that overcharged for its food.  Given my years of travel, I seized on the moment as I know the locals always know the best eateries and asked what he would recommend.  He thought for a moment and said there was a place called the Failte right across the street from our hotel.  It was a family run place and served good food at a good value.

So at dinnertime, we went to the Failte and this was my favorite meal of the entire trip.  We were served shepherd’s pie which is a lamb stew served in a mashed potato crust.  This was so good and so warm and filling and I was so glad to try it once.

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The Failte

With full stomachs, Mom went back to the hotel while Dad and I walked about the town.  We ended up stopping in a grocery store as Dad was looking for some aspirin for Mom’s sore feet while I continued my search for Mountain Dew.

I should explain.

For my regular readers, you may remember that on my trips to Japan, I had a positive knack for locating Mountain Dew for my friend, David Sundberg, who is a Dew junkie.  So I decided that any international trip I now take will now include a search for the beverage as a running gag/challenge.  I learned from our jarvey that Mountain Dew is called Poteen in Ireland, so I went to the soft drinks and began looking for Poteen.  But, lo and behold, I found the honest to goodness real thing, though their Mountain Dew had the qualifier of Citrus Blast and I immediately took a picture for Dave as proof of my victory.

Dad found some aspirin so we went back to the hotel and called it a night.