TRAVEL with pat and lew

* Ballykissangel (actually Avoca)

Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 2, 2007

The village of Avoca is a magical destination for us, because it is the real-life location of Ballykissangel, the BBC television show from some years ago that we adored. I’ve been looking forward to this visit for months.

We take an 7:30 am train from Dublin to Arklow, arriving before 9:00. It takes 15 only minutes to walk through the entire town, and still the tourist office hasn’t opened. We have another breakfast.

We had thought we might rent bikes and pedal the 7 miles to Avoca, but we learn that the nearest bike rental is in Wicklow, 20 miles away. Plan B is the cab, which the lovely ladies at the tourist office promise will be here in 5 minutes. It is.

Driving to Avoca, we realize how fortunate we are not to be on bikes. The road is one big rolling hill after another, of surpassing green beauty to be sure, but with no bike path or even shoulder of the road to protect bicyclists from the speeding cars, trucks and buses. In Ireland, the roads are very narrow and the traffic moves very fast.

The taxi driver turns out to be the cousin of the owner of Fitzgerald’s Bar in Avoca, the prime location for every Ballykissangel show. When we arrive at 10:00 am, the village looks just like it did on TV. We take the driver’s card for the return, and emerge onto a movie set.

Assumpta, the sensual and charmingly feisty BallyK tavern owner, is of course not behind the bar, but there’s a regular customer already ensconced, pint in hand. Across the street is Kathleen’s store and not far down the street we find Father Peter Clifford’s church. We enter each location with a warm reverence reflecting how much we enjoyed the show.

The other tourist attraction is the Avoca Hand Weavers outlet, which, dating from 1723, is the oldest surviving working mill in Ireland. The colors in the soft woolen blankets and scarves are vibrant, and it’s mesmerizing to watch the manually operated weaving machines create such beauty right before our eyes.

We lift some colorful scraps from the discard bins, and buy a beautiful scarf for a Christmas gift. We always like to buy things when we travel as reminders of where we’ve been, although luggage weight restrictions are now limiting our ability to do so.

When we get back to Fitzgerald’s at 12:30, the same guy is there, although I suspect it’s not the same pint. I drink a half pint of Guinness, mostly so I can say I did, and the bartender graciously calls the taxi to take us back to Arklow. It’s the same driver, and we share with him what was for us an adventure that met every one of our high expectations.

When we get back to Key West, we buy another season of Ballykissangel on DVD. Every scene in every show will now remind us of our wonderful trip to Avoca.


One Response to “* Ballykissangel (actually Avoca)”

  1. Terry said

    Thanks for sharing your experience in Avoca re BallyK

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