Family Weekend – Charlie Sheil (5th Year) and Padraig Mulligan (1st Year)

Glenstal Family Weekend in Westport          

By Charlie Sheil (5th Year)  

On Friday the 26th April, about 40 boys from first to fifth year left Glenstal for a long coach ride to Westport, Co. Mayo. Class that day had been agonisingly slow, the day just crawling by. The other fifth years were going to the Punchestown races, but we assured them our trip would be much better.

We reached Hotel Westport about three hours later, after a quick pit-stop in Kilcolgan. Br Denis had gone ahead to get the parents warmed up and Nurse Margaret Moloney had the thankless task of supervising the bus journey and making sure everyone was wearing their seatbelt. Our families greeted us there with open arms, apparently already having found the bar and swimming pool.

Plenty of siblings as well as parents joined us, bumping the number of the Glenstal party up to about 155. We pretty much had the hotel all to ourselves along with a wedding party. Students and siblings ate first, with a superb meal of putóg to start, beef and then trifle. Everyone flocked to the pool afterwards, severly testing the crowd-control skills of the poor lifeguards. As well as the pool itself, there was a sauna, steamroom, jacuzzi and gym. Eoin Ryan even arranged to get himself a massage.

After dinner a lot of the parents stayed the hotel bar, while some of the the fifth years went downtown to see could we get in anywhere. A big greasy kebab later, we were all back safely in the hotel.

The next morning started early, with a massive (I can only speak for myself) Full Irish breakfast, along with scones and fruit salad. We left the hotel at nine, everyone walking to the bike rental shop, to be kitted out with a set of wheels. People left in separate groups at different stages as bikes were procured. I managed to get myself a puncture before going even half a mile. Huge numbers of people took wrong turns on the way out and had to backtrack.

A better day couldn’t have been picked for it, with the sun shining but being cool enough to cycle. Br Denis showed his skills by videoing it while pedalling. He got a good few snaps too. Shortly after the start, Gearóid Fitzpatrick got a puncture, which my dad Richard dutifully fixed.

We stopped in Mulranny to regroup. On the last big hill before the village, just at the top, I forgot my feet were stuck in my pedals’ toe-clips, ending up on my face for the second time that day. Rookie error. The adults went for a coffee while some of the fifth years braved the Atlantic for a swim. Needless to say, we froze. Back on the bikes to warm up, Max Ryan got a leg cramp. James Burke was the first to laugh at him. Retribution came quickly for Max, as James got an excruciatingly painful cramp mid-laugh, roaring in agony.

We reached Achill a short time later, to breathe sigh of relief from the saddle-sore cyclists. We’d covered about 50km that day. A well-deserved burger and chips greeted us in Achill, while most people got the bus back after. Those who had rented bikes handed them over, while Michael Glavey and Pat Alyward were in charge of logistics for the rest of us and ferried our bikes back to the hotel. My dad, Max Ryan senior, the Greys and I cycled back to the hotel in Westport taking our journey to 100kms. Ben O’ Sullivan joined us for part of the way, being picked up by Margaret and Michael Glavey later on. This is when my dad Richard got about 3 punctures himself, enthusiastically (and exasperatedly) showing off his mechanical skills for the seventh puncture he fixed that day. I was absolutely knackered after the cycle, to the delight of my dad who was able to remain on his feet for Cathal Hughes’ reception for the parents that night.

Those who didn’t cycle climbed Croagh Patrick and the account  of their adventures will be given again at a future date.

A couple of fifths ventured out again that night. Some of the Senior lads managed to get into a nightclub…the problem was the the music was country and western.

On Sunday morning, we killed a few hours in the pool after breakfast, practicing line-out lifting with my little brothers.

A quick bite to eat, a long round of goodbyes and we were back on the bus, sad to be leaving this beautiful part of the country. All in all, it was a fantastic weekend and I envy those who’ll be able to go again. I’d like to thank Br Denis, Margaret Moloney, Oisín Duggan, Pat Aylward, Michael Glavey and Cathal Hughes and the staff of Hotel Westport who made the whole trip so enjoyable.


         Westport Weekend

 By Padraig Mulligan (1st Year)

The Westport Weekend was a great weekend for myself, my family and friends.The bus ride there on the Friday  was quite long but it was worth it.

On Saturday morning we got up at 7:00am to have breakfast as we were to leave for the cycle at 8:45am and we had to be ready. We all went to the Greenway starting point to collect our bikes from a local bike rental shop.  The guys in there handled us with great efficiency and were dead on. In the shop as well as bikes,  we got kitted out with hi-viz vests if needed, helmets and you could also buy water.

The cycle lasted 50km from Westport to Achill. There  were two pitstops along the way, one at Newport (12km) , the next Mulranny (35km ).

At the  very beginning, a few of us took a wrong turn.  We ended up down a frustratingly steep hill!! It was painfully tiring climbing back up but after that we started  gaining momentum again and soon we all were speeding along. When we reached Newport, a lot of people needed a drink in the local shop.  The sun was shining and the scenery was amazing en route.  We moved on to Mulranny and that’s where I’d say some of us were lacking in energy.  Fortunately a shuttle bus came to pick us up.  What a great service ! (all included in the price for bike hire ) . Some people continued on to Achill . I don’t know how they did it!! Charlie Shiel’s family as well as Max Ryan senior and Adrian and Liz Grey even cycled back!! A full 101 km!

Some people climbed Crogh Patrick instead of the cycle and by all accounts seemed to enjoy themselves. I would like to do that maybe next year. I hear it is quite challenging.

The Hotel was lovely, warm and welcoming. Very suitable for a family young or old. Also the food was amazing (try the duck if you’re going!!!). The pool was great fun with all the lads and the games room which contained a top quality pool table and sofas.

The Sunday was mainly a  day to say our last goodbyes to Westport (after a lovely breakfast ).

All in all it was an amazing weekend and I wish it had been for longer and I’m sure the others will agree with me. Thank You to Br Denis for organising the weekend. It was an amazing idea. Thanks also to Nurse Margret Moloney for patching us up. We are all looking forward to next year’s Westport weekend.