Goodbye Sweet Renville!
For a chapter of my life ended this month when I finished up as on-site manager of the Galway Bay Holiday Homes in Renville, Oranmore. After 6 years, I decided to hand in my notice because my other contract work, particularly with schools and the universiry, was taking up more and more of my time. I also wanted to expand my community activities, spend more time with my family, see the world, write a best-selling novel (Honest! - I have postponed this for nearly 8 yrs)…
For the first time in years, I have weekends off. Hurray!! No more getting up on Saturdays at 7am and working through until 10-11pm. No more Sunday morning 'check outs'. No more travelling the 16miles round journey to Renville on weekend nights to unblock a toilet (ugh!), fix a leak in a shower, repair a broken fridge, re-tune a television, let guests into their house after they lost their keys, deliver an extra set of crockery for a dinner party, singly clean a nine room house at short notice …. When you are supervising a multiple of houses all by yourself, it can be all consuming.
But I don't regret one minute of it. It was a wonderful job that I thrived on. I really enjoyed interacting with the foreign tourists; I got a kick out of pontificating about the delights of our region- the natural heritage, the children facilities, the best music pubs and finest restaurants etc. For specical festive occasions, such as Christmas, St. Valentine's Day and Halloween, I would decorate the houses with appropriate bunting and materials (Christmas trees or pumpkins or romantic pieces). The houses that I was given to manage were real gems- high quality and well equipped. The location of Renville was idyllic in many ways- forest, wildlife, picnic tables, seashore, children's playground, hotel, golf club... Ok, the seashore was too often covered in refuse washed in by the sea currents. But otherwise, it was not an embarrassment. I also built up a great relationship with the staff in the neighbouring hotel that was mutually beneficial. If they needed an extra baby cot at short notice, they gave me a call. If I required an extra mattress or a set of pillows in an emergency, they helped me out. They also gave a restaurant discount to my guests.
Last but not least was the company that I worked for. Trident Holiday Homes has a reputation that is praised by clients and envied by their competitors. They have the best locations for their complexes, their properties are top class; their office staff are as professional and as friendly as one can find anywhere in the world.
We hear so much these days of Ireland being no longer the 'Land of a Thousand Welcomes'. This is true. The warmth and generosity of spirit that once epitomised the Irish character can no longer be taken as a certainty; the famed unspoilt countryside is now being devoured by housing developments; the roads are covered with convoys of speeding vehicles where angry car drivers express hostility towards the slower-moving pedestrians or cyclists; where in a nation famous for its native culture, it is virtually impossible to get a pub that hosts good traditional music 'seisiúns'. The slower pace of life that foreigners innocently expect to find in the Emerald Isle was long ago consumed by the overpowering Rat Race.
Of course, it would be wrong of me to claim that all is ' doom and gloom'. Progressive movement has occurred. Ireland is no longer a priest-dominated inward-looking poverty-stricken rural society where our biggest (and saddest) export was our young sons and daughters. Yet progress and modernity has taken its toil on the image and reality of the genial Irish 'colleen' and 'gasun' .
But a beacon of hope still shines at such places as No. 15 Irishtown Road, Dublin 4. Here at their HQ, Trident has carved itself a strong, confidant unassailable niche in the tourism market because it delivers a top quality product. While it has wonderful holiday homes, it has realised though that the 'human touch' is fundamental in this section of the 'hospitality' sector. Trident HQ's female staff oozes efficiency and helpfulness all packaged in the persona that reminds one of a young Maureen O'Hara.
But these traits actually stem from the personality of the owner Jacinta who has carved the organisation in her own image and likeness. Probably Ireland's most glamorous granny(!), she combines a strong sense of entrepreneurialism with a genuine concern for her customers.
God! I will miss those regular pleasant telephone chats with Michelle and Emer; their witticisms that would gladden the heart of Oscar Wilde or Brendan Behan. The memories of these ladies brings a tear to my eye. Slán agus beannacht, mo chairde.