I stopped short: I hadn’t noticed the crowds of people on the shore while I was battling the wind. They’d hardly noticed me as well, having to face directly into the wind to look out toward the lake whence I’d come.
I hoped my suit wasn’t as grungy as I felt myself, but as I made my way through the crowd, no one seemed to notice. A small group was gathered around a sign which proclaimed this particular edifice “Ross Castle.” I didn’t have time for the fine print, what with company coming to call.
They hadn’t seen me, but the cousins were heading toward the edge of the lake. They’d seen the boat; they must have just missed me. Seemed like they knew this part of the country well enough to know where I’d end up, or maybe they were just lucky. I sure wasn’t.
I headed around the end of a high wall toward the castle itself. Standing at the doors, I read the welcome signs; first in English, then in Gaelige. Turning as I finished, a distinctly American voice said “How much to tour the castle?”
A family, bless ’em; dad, mom, three kids and, grandma maybe? Took two seconds to realize he’d heard me speaking the local tongue and assumed I was with the show.
A nefarious thought hit me, and I’m slightly ashamed to admit that I jumped at its possibilities.
Learning the language had made imitating the western Irish accent simple enough, at least to untrained ears. “Ten each for adults, five each for the wee ones, sir.”
Isn’t it great that Americans think you have to pay for everything? Without batting an eye, he pulled out two 20 Euro notes and scrabbled in his pocket for coins.
Shoveling the first money I’d touched in days into my pocket, I pointed them toward the “stairs to the rooftop cannons; just ’round there” which I hoped wasn’t too terrible a lie. (Oh; if you’re an American family who was traveling in Co. Kerry about the time this was written and feel you were overcharged for your visit to Ross Castle, send your address and I’ll mail a check.)
Once my paying guests were inside, I headed around the building to the south, on the side away from the lake. The wall was high enough that I couldn’t see the other side; I hoped it was cousin-free. .
Reaching the end of the building and the wall, I stole a quick glance around. Crowds, milling around, pointing up at the rooftop cannons (had I known, or just guessed? who knows, any more) but no cousins I could see.
I strode through the crowd as if I wasn’t being chased by unpleasant thugs. Sure enough, there it was in the closest parking lot, the black sedan.
Fearghal was getting smarter, or Niall had driven. It was locked; no keys in sight.
I knew we had to be close to Killarney, so I headed down the road in the direction most of the sparse traffic was coming from.