Do you like airports? Don’t lie because I know you don’t. A departure gate is a black hole of fear, exhaustion and screaming children. And on a good day.
Over the past few months we’ve all heard that getting a government bill through the Oireachtas would be quicker than going through security at Dublin Airport. Usually a source of excitement for those going on vacation, it is now a hazard to people’s blood pressure. Endless queues, missed flights, tears and no chance of a solid pint in Terminal 2 have instilled fear in passengers passing through the sliding doors.
I lived in constant fear of my next trip there. However, that all changed when I rediscovered the joy of an Irish regional airport.
A 15-minute drive from Killarney, Kerry Airport is a jewel of the county. The size of two large sheds pushed together, it contains two pubs (one before security and one after) and two departure gates.
The duty-free consists of two refrigerators, one for soft drinks, the other for alcohol. They use a tractor to bring the checked baggage from the main building to the aircraft. It’s tiny in stature but great at everything else.
It takes 60 seconds to get through security which is behind what I can only describe as a hallway door. All of the staff say things like “Hi, how are you?” and “Ah, you’re great girl” when you ask if you need to take off your watch.
The airport even has the fancy modern machines that don’t require you to put liquids in a plastic bag or take out a laptop. Heathrow does not have these yokes.
But the best part of the whole airport is the Peig Sayers Bar. Located halfway between both gates, it’s the perfect spot. Mind you, it takes less than five seconds to go from one to the other.
The pub serves the good stuff: coffee and scones and drinks of the alcoholic kind. For the 10.25am flight to Dublin almost half the people at the airport drank pints of Heineken. And isn’t it great that Peig is remembered?
She may have traumatized many, but at least the bar is a fond reminder to those who’ve studied her prose that life went on even though your Irish is still woefully substandard.
As I waited to board, two American men queued up behind me. One turned to the other in awe and said, “Oh my God, Michael, that’s like something out of Martha’s Vineyard.” To which I replied, “Sorry boy, you’re actually in Castleisland.” Unsurprisingly, he didn’t understand , what I meant.
All in all, I was in and out in less than an hour. There wasn’t an ounce of stress in my body. The airport felt like a sort of Buddhist temple where we, the people, surrendered to silence and our spiritual guide, Peig.
I have heard that Knock and Donegal airports offer the same type of religious experience. Talking about her too much feels almost like revealing a secret.
The beauty of our small airports is how little is known about them. People have often looked at me in disbelief when I tell them that you can fly from the UK to England, Germany and even Portugal.
While you might not make it to the Maldives, at least you’ll find sun and an abundance of flaky-skinned Kerry folk in Vilamoura.
So if you are planning a holiday in the coming months, please give our regional airports a try. Say a prayer to Our Lady and then, glass of wine in hand, fly from Knock to Malaga.
Admittedly, flying from Donegal won’t get you far, but at least you can get to Dublin. From there, the world opens up to you and you bypass security if you catch a connecting flight.
Don’t lock Shannon or Cork either – both guarantee a slice of solitude before boarding.
Life is stressful, but vacations shouldn’t be. I’m sure we’ll see you very soon at Kerry Airport. Me and Peig will wait.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/whisper-it-not-all-airports-in-ireland-are-stressful-41601856.html Whisper it – not all airports in Ireland are stressful