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After The Game

© 2010 Felix_P

Chapter Fifty

We dropped off the Land Rover at the Florence airport and waited in the private aircraft lounge for our flight. I had booked a private Jet to take us to George Best Belfast City airport. There weren't any commercial flights that suited our timetable and our luggage requirements, so it made sense to use the private jet.

We were waiting to board the plane and were sitting in the private lounge with another couple who was going to be on the flight with us. Dana was sitting beside Sean and Jake was beside me across the aisle from them. Sean and Dana were having a conversation and Jake and I were as well. We were talking about some of the highlights during the week.

There was a lull in the conversation and Jake said, "Thanks, Dad."

"You're welcome, Son, but thanks for what?"

He looked down and said, "For everything this week, with my Aunt and Uncle and my Father and stuff."

I put my arm around his shoulder and gave him a squeeze. He looked up at me and gave me a big smile.

"That smile's all the thanks I need, young man."

When we were on our way to the plane, the boys were walking ahead with the other couple. Jake was doing a lot of talking and Sean was tagging along.

"What was going on back there in the lounge?" Dana asked.

"Jake was expressing his gratitude for everything I did this week to re-connect him with his family," I said.

She gave me a big smile as she took my hand and we walked to the airplane.

It was a short flight of about 2 1/2 hours. Jake entertained the couple, regaling them about all the sightseeing that we did and also about our family. Sean was sitting near Dana and me and was plugged into the on-board movie 'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen'. The couple, who were my age, were going home to Belfast as they had been on holiday for a month touring around Italy. We landed and were making our way to go through customs.

"Congratulations are in order, you two," the woman said to Dana and me as she and her husband shook our hands as we were deplaning.

"We understand you're getting married. Jake told us all about your proposal," he said as the two of them gave us a big smile as we were walking to the terminal.

"We admire you for what you're doing for those boys, Mr. Burger. I'm sure they'll reward you many times over for your kindness in the coming years," the woman said as the two of them gave me a big smile.

We caught up to Jake and Sean who were ahead of us and were walking together. Jake told us the man owned a very successful plumbing business, which was now being run by his sons. Jake learned a great deal about their lives as well as telling them about ours.

"I hope you didn't tell them about all our family secrets," I said as I put my arm around Jake's shoulder and gave him a big smile.

We didn't have any problems going through customs as they were quite satisfied at the documentation on the boys.

"Who's George Best?" Sean asked after we had been cleared.

"Do you know, Jake?" I asked.

"No, but he must have been important to have an airport named after him," he said.

"He was the most famous footballer in Northern Ireland. As a matter of fact, he was one of the best of all time, from what I understand,"

Jake was very interested and so I told some more about Best's life.

"He played for Manchester United, and he was very flamboyant in his personal life. He partied hard and unfortunately died in 2005 at the age of 59," I said.

I promised Jake we would get a book in one of the bookstores about him, as I could see that he was very interested in learning more.

The boys were very surprised at the level of security at the airport. I had told them a little of the story about 'The Troubles', as Northern Irelanders called it, but they were about to learn more over the course of the week. Seeing guards with machine guns was a wake-up call for them.

"Do they have real bullets in those guns?" Jake asked.

Their eyes opened wider when I shook my head yes.

We made our way over to the office at the baggage pickup to get something I had shipped earlier from home.

"Are those our golf clubs?" Sean asked with a puzzled look on his face.

"You never know when you might need them when you're in Ireland. They have some nice golf courses here, you know," I said with a big smile as we wheeled the bags out of the storage area.

I told them that I had booked two rounds of golf while we were here. One was in the North at the Royal Portrush Golf Club and the other was in the south at the K Club, where we were staying for a night at the resort. They were very excited and Dana and I were quite amused at their reactions. Even though we got a porter to help us with the luggage as we went to the rental car booth, the boys insisted on wheeling their own golf clubs in their travel bags.

We couldn't get the Land Rover I had reserved, so they gave us a Range Rover Sport for the same price. I had insisted on an automatic transmission, as I had enough to think about with right hand drive. The extra room in the Range Rover came in handy since we had golf clubs along with our baggage.

I was reasonably familiar with the roads around Belfast, as I had been there a few times over the years when Lorraine was alive. Lorraine was born in Belfast and we had been back a few times to visit her relatives, which we were going to do on this trip as well. I had arranged to see her cousin Barbara and her family during the week.

The GPS in the Range Rover was great and we got to the downtown core of Belfast and checked into the Europa Hotel in the centre of the city. We had a two bedroom suite booked in the hotel, which was famous as it had housed many dignitaries over the years. It was also famous for the number of times it had been bombed during The Troubles.

"So I guess we get the bedroom with the king sized bed, eh Dad?" Sean asked with a cheeky grin as we entered the suite.

"Very funny, young man," I said as I grabbed and tickled him.

We got settled, and the boys asked if they could go to the store in the lobby and get some munchies.

"Let's not get too much junk," Dana said as they made their way out the door.

Dana and I unpacked the bags and hung up some of the clothes to get the wrinkles out of them. We opened up a bottle of Chianti we had brought from Italy and poured ourselves a glass. We were engrossed in our conversation and didn't realize that the boys had been gone a long time. Finally we became concerned.

"They've been gone over a half hour. What could they possibly be into?" Dana asked with a look of concern.

I decided to go down to the lobby and see where they were, but before I got to the door they came in. They each had a bag full of munchies and soft drinks. When I looked at the name on the bag I recognized it as a chain of convenience stores that were popular in Belfast.

"Why does that say Spar Stores on the outside of the bag, boys? That's not the name of the store in the hotel," I said.

"The stuff in the hotel sucked and was too expensive, so we went down the street," Sean said.

I wasn't very happy that they had gone out of the hotel on their own and scolded them. I was very nervous having them roaming the streets by themselves in a strange city, especially one with such a dangerous past. The boys and Dana couldn't understand my outburst and finally, with Dana's urging, I calmed down.

"I think it's time we talk about 'The Troubles' and you'll realize why I got so upset," I said as we sat down.

I told them about the historical conflicts and the source. I also told them about how in the late 60's and early 70's the downtown resembled a war zone.

"If you thought the two guards with machine guns in the airport were bad, you would have freaked if you were here then," I said.

I told them that when Lorraine was back in 1969, there were barbed wire checkpoints you had to pass through to get into the downtown area. I also told them that things were much better today, especially after the Irish and the British governments signed the Belfast Agreement.

"So they blew people up just cuz of their religion?" Jake asked.

I explained to them that it was a little more complicated than that, as it also had something to do with sovereignty and who governed Northern Ireland. I gave them a quick history lesson about the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 and that the conflict was over 300 years old.

"So, to answer your question, basically yes."

Things calmed down and the boys showed me a tourist sightseeing book that they had purchased at the convenience store. They also tried to discreetly hide the junk food that they had purchased and this time I was the peacemaker as Dana wasn't very happy with them.

"Let's make sure that stuff lasts the week. There's more fat, sugar and salt in those two bags than you two should have in a month!" Dana said.

They assured her that they wouldn't gorge themselves, and would take it easy. They also said they would gladly share, as they were being cheeky.

"Anytime you're hungry just help yourselves," Sean said with a devilish smile.

The boys and I decided we would go do a light workout in the hotel gym and left Dana in the room. She was a little tired and decided to have a snooze.

When we got in the elevator I said, "Boys, I'm sorry I flew off the handle, but I hope you understand why. The worry goes with being a parent." I put my arms around the two of them and gave them a squeeze.

After we came back to the room, we all got ready for dinner, as we had booked a table in the dining room at the hotel. We had a great meal and looked around the hotel afterwards as it was quite an interesting building.

The next morning we went down to the dining room to have breakfast.

"You boys might be interested in the Ulster Fry," I said.

Ulster was the name of the province that was basically Northern Ireland. When they read the menu and saw how much food was involved, they thought that was a good idea and ordered it. It included bacon, eggs, sausages, blood pudding, potato bread, wheaten bread, baked beans, a tomato and mushrooms. Dana and I ordered a normal breakfast and we got our juices and coffee delivered to us.

"Dad, what's blood pudding?" Jake asked.

I was surprised they hadn't asked that earlier and when I explained that it was sausage cooked in blood, the two of them were horrified.

"That's gross! I wanna change my order," Sean said.

"Just don't eat it, boys," Dana said.

"But it'll touch other stuff on the plate," Sean said, screwing up his face.

I called over the waitress and asked her to omit the blood pudding from the order. The boys were much happier and made short work of the substantial volume of food when their orders were served. Dana and I had ordered steel cut oatmeal along with the rest of our breakfast and the boys were now longingly looking at our oatmeal, as we were still finishing our eggs and sausages. The oatmeal was quite hot when it came and we had left it until the end.

"Did you two actually taste anything you ate?" Dana asked as she chuckled.

I motioned for the waitress to come over to the table and I ordered two more bowls of the oatmeal.

"I can't stand when someone is drooling when I eat," I said as Dana and I laughed.

We decided to do our own sightseeing in the morning as we had booked a short tour in the afternoon. When we were getting into the Range Rover there was a distinctive odour wafting forward from the back seat.

"Oops! I'm sorry," Jake said as the two of them were giggling.

I instantly remembered our golf game some months ago in Naples when Jake ate beans the night before and gassed Sean and me the next day.

"I think we need to go to the pharmacy down the street to get some Beano before we go anywhere," I said as Dana and I were fanning the air.

After we stopped into the pharmacy, we used the sightseeing book that the boys had purchased to guide us. We saw the murals of West Belfast near the Shankill and Falls road where the major conflicts took place during The Troubles. I explained a little bit about what was depicted in the murals as best I could from what Lorraine and her relatives had told me. The boys and Dana were very quiet as they were having a hard time understanding the magnitude of the past events.

Then we passed by the big cranes in the Harland and Wolff shipyard and I told the boys that was where the Titanic was built. I also told them that Lorraine's Grandfather helped build the ship as he was an electrician. By now we were getting a little hungry, or should I say the boys were getting hungry, and we decided to go back to the hotel and park the Range Rover and have lunch. Thankfully the Beano had worked and we didn't have any more blue clouds of death from Jake.

We went across the street from the Europa to the Crown Bar Liquor Saloon, which was the oldest Pub in Northern Ireland. We sat in a snug, which was a large enclosed booth and ordered some traditional food of Irish stew, steak and Guiness pie and Crown champ. Dana had a Harp and lime and I had a Guinness. The boys wanted to taste the beer and we let them have a sip.

"I like Dana's better," Jake said as he screwed up his face as he took a taste of my Guinness.

Sean wasn't wild about either one of them... at least at this point in his life. I was nineteen before I acquired a taste for beer and I figured it would be some time before the boys would acquire a taste for it as well.

In the afternoon we took the short bus tour which took us around the city and ended up at the Belfast City hall. We then went over to Victoria square and took in the view from the dome. We ended up shopping in the stores in the mall and then went back to the hotel and had dinner in the dining room. We turned in early, as we would be on a sightseeing tour the next morning that would take us along the Antrim coast to the various sites.


The tour bus picked us up shortly after nine am. the next morning. We went south towards Dublin to our first stop which was at the bridge over the river Boyne.

"This is where the Protestant King Billy defeated the Catholic King Charles in the famous Battle of the Boyne in 1690. That's when all the conflict started," I said as we got off the tour bus.

The tour director gave us the history and the boys and Dana just shook their heads at the fact that there was still a strong sectarian sentiment today.

"Well hopefully the peace accord signed a few years ago holds. The younger generation is showing a real willingness to get beyond this and move the country forward," I said.

We headed back up North and our next stop was the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. It's a rope suspension bridge near Ballintoy, which links the mainland to the tiny Carrick Island. Salmon fishermen used to go across it and fish for salmon when they were running between the two land masses. We had the opportunity to go across, as the wind wasn't too bad that day.

"I'll watch and take pictures of Dana and you two boys," I said as we got closer to the bridge. I was afraid of heights and going across the bridge was the last thing I wanted to do.

The boys had no fear and dragged Dana across the bridge. She wasn't exactly a willing participant, but she didn't want the two of them on the bridge without either one of us present.

"You owe me one," she said to me as she looked a little pale as we walked back to the bus.

Our next stop was at the Giant's Causeway, which was a unique formation of flat stones. The tour guide told us of Finn McCool the legendary Irish giant who, according to Irish mythology, built the Giant's Causeway as a pathway to Scotland in order to fight Benandonner, his Scottish counterpart.

"That's really hokey," Sean said. "How come the Irish have all these stupid stories."

"Does that mean you don't believe in Leprechauns?" I said as I smiled and ruffled his hair.

Before we left, we had some time to explore on our own. The boys took off and when we caught up to them they both had picked up sticks and were re-enacting the battle of the two giants. Everyone around them found it entertaining and we got some great pictures of the two of them.

The last stop was the Bushmill's distillery, which was the oldest distillery in the world. When the tour of the distillery was finished Dana and I got some 12 year old Bushmills to try and the boys got soft drinks. We gave them a taste, which didn't go over very well.

"My throat's on fire. That stuff burns like crazy," Jake said as he screwed up his face.

Sean couldn't speak as he almost spit it out on the table.

"How can you drink that stuff," he said as he finally swallowed.

"It tastes a lot better in an Irish coffee," I said as Dana and I smiled at them.


The next day we finished breakfast and arrived at the Royal Portrush course about an hour before our tee time. We needed time to warm up on their practice range, as we hadn't swung a club for over a week. Dana was going to ride in my 'electric trolley' as they called a golf cart and the boys would have their own. We drove up to the bag drop and went inside the pro shop to check in.

"You and your grandsons are teeing off at 11:10," the assistant pro said.

When I told him they were my sons, he smiled and said, "My apologies sir. I guess I made an incorrect assumption."

I was getting used to the problem, but I decided that I would correct anyone who made the mistake.

They put our bags on the carts and we drove to the driving range. Dana was driving my cart and the boys were going to take turns driving their cart. We hit some balls for about 15 minutes and drove back to the putting and chipping area which was near the first tee. I could tell that Sean was a little uptight as he wasn't hitting very well on the range.

"What's the matter, Son?"

"Nothing," he said as he looked away.

"It's just another golf course, Sean. You already play on a very tough golf course, so you'll be fine. You're a good golfer," I said trying to reassure him.

We were playing the Dunluce Links course, as they had two eighteen hole golf courses at Portrush. This was the tract that they had played The Open on in 1951. Jake and I had teed off and had decent shots. Sean was next and he took a couple of very quick practice swings and I could see he was shaking a little. The other foursome that was behind us arrived early and they were waiting at the tee. They were watching us, which made him nervous.

"Just relax, Son and take a smooth swing," I said as he stepped up to the ball.

Unfortunately he pulled the ball off into some very dense brush that was out of bounds. He was really embarrassed, but showed remarkable self-discipline as he didn't slam his club on the ground as I had seen him do on some other occasions. I had anticipated this happening, so I had another ball in my pocket. I walked up to the tee and handed it to him and gave him an encouraging pat on the back.
 
"You know we're in Ireland, so I think this should be your mulligan."

He didn't know what I meant, so I explained that we would forget about the first ball and he had a second chance. I knew things would work out this time as he got that look on his face and was focused as he took his practice swing. He cracked the ball straight down the fairway. He had a big smile on his face as he got into the cart.

"Bulldog's arrived," I said as I gave him a thumbs-up and a big smile.

"What does that mean?" Dana asked when I got back into the cart.

She didn't know the history of 'Bulldog' so I explained it to her. I told her how I knew when to leave him alone and when to intervene and that his 'Bulldog' face was my cue. She was quite amused.

"For someone you just met seven months ago, you know him pretty well," She said with a big smile on her face.

"I've had a few Seans over my thirty years in the classroom, so I've had practice."

We had a fun game but from a scoring point of view it was a bit of a disaster. The wind was blowing fairly hard off the ocean which none of us were used to. Dana was amused at the trash talking that took place between the three of us.

"How about if we put a little bet on this hole," Jake said.

"Yeah, if either of us beat you on this hole, we get to eat the rest of our junk food tonight," Sean said.

I accepted the wager and we stepped up to the next tee. We were standing on the par 3 14th hole named 'Calamity Corner'. It was named that for a good reason. You had to hit across a large ravine onto a rather small green some 180 yards away. We all had been hitting the ball fairly well, but with the rather ominous view before us and the wind, it would be hard to corral the nerves. Sean teed off first, and just hit the edge of the green and stayed. Jake hit to the side and was safe as well.

"You've already taken your Mulligan, haven't you, Dad," Sean said with a devilish grin.

"Boy, that wind's really picking up," Jake said as he threw some grass up in the air.

I stepped up and hit, just as a fairly large gust of wind picked up. The ball just fell short of the bank in front and dropped into the hazard.

"That's too bad, Dad," Sean said with that same smile.

"The drop zone is over there," Jake said as he smiled and pointed to the side of the green.

When I came back to the cart I wasn't too happy and I jammed my club into the bag on the back of the cart.

"My goodness, who was the person that was preaching to Sean a couple of holes back about not losing his temper," Dana said as I plopped myself down in the cart.

By the time we had driven up by the green I had cooled down. I dropped a ball in the drop zone and chipped on the green about 10 feet from the hole. Both Jake and Sean beat me and we went on to the next hole.

"Uhmm, those chips and chocolate bars are going to taste really good tonight," Jake said as the two of them laughed.

We came to the 17th hole and I asked the boys if they wanted to go for double or nothing. If they won I would buy whatever junk food they wanted next time and if I won they would be limited to one item from their stash that night. They accepted as we were walking up to the tee. I didn't tell them that it had a famous bunker called Big Nellie to the right off the tee, which was the biggest bunker in Ireland.

Both of them were getting a little tired and sprayed their tee shots into the bunker. I managed to avoid the trouble and was in the fairway. After about three tries each to get out of the bunker, I told them to put their balls on the fairway. We finished the hole and needless to say I won.

"That's no fair. You knew about that bunker, didn't you?" Jake said.

"Just so you two don't whine all night, you can choose two things from your stashes to munch on tonight," I said as Dana laughed.

We finished the round, and all of us were very happy for the time we had spent together. As we put our clubs in the Range Rover, the boys went on ahead of us to the dining room in the clubhouse. Dana was staring at me with a big smile on her face as we walked behind them.

"Am I missing something?" I asked.

"That wasn't just the golf game that's put that big smile on your face, is it?"

"No. It was more about my playing partners and the rest of the company with us," I said as I gave her a big smile.

We had dinner at the clubhouse and arrived back at the hotel around 9 pm. The boys ate the two choices from their munchies and we all got ready for bed and turned in.


The next afternoon we went to visit Lorraine's Cousin Barbara and her husband Grant in Newtonards, a suburb of Belfast.

"I'd like to introduce my two sons, Sean and Jake," I said as Barbara and Grant greeted them. "I'd also like to introduce my fiancée, Dana."

They were very surprised and gave her a hug as well as the boys. I wasn't sure how they would react to Dana, but I was happy that they seemed to accept her without hesitation.

"Congratulations. We're very happy for both of you," Barbara said.

"You're just full of surprises, Al. We knew about your one son, but we didn't know about Jake... or your lovely fiancée," Grant said.

I wasn't very good at keeping in touch with Lorraine's side of the family and I was remiss in not keeping them up-to-date. We had a nice chat and got caught up with our lives. Grant and Barbara had two sons who were older with families. They got to spend a lot of time with them, as they were retired.

After a while, I went into the kitchen with Barbara to help her get the appetizers she had prepared for us. Grant stayed in the front room talking to the boys and Dana.

"Lorraine would be very happy, Al. Those boys are wonderful young men and Dana is a lovely person."

I was very happy at her endorsement. The rest of the time went by fairly quickly as we got along very well. Sean and Jake didn't find the visit too painful and were able to contribute to the conversation as they were very interested in what Grant was telling them about the history of Northern Ireland.

"May God hold you in the hollow of his hand," Grant said as we were getting ready to leave.

I recognized the phrase as part of a very famous Irish blessing. Grant was a Free Presbyterian and was a very religious person. This was his way of blessing us. They promised they would visit us in Canada, as I invited them to come and stay with us when they could.

"That was a weird way to say goodbye," Sean said as he remarked on Grant's goodbye as we were getting into the Range Rover.

"That's from a famous Irish blessing. I'm sure we can find the whole saying tomorrow in the souvenir shop. Maybe that's something you might want to take back for Melissa," I said as I smiled at him.


The next day we were in a very nice gift store that Barbara had recommended we visit before we left the North. Dana and I had talked about getting Sean a Claddagh ring to honour his Irish heritage. I was off in the book section with Jake and Dana and Sean were looking at the rings.

We found a great book on George Best for Jake. He was very happy and couldn't wait to read it. We also found a small book on the origin of Sean's name, which meant John in Irish. According to the book it meant a gift from God, which I found ironic. I couldn't have agreed more with the meaning.

I also found the Irish blessing which was on a Belleek china plate. Belleek was a famous make of Irish china that was very delicate. I got two, one for Sean and one for him to give to Melissa.

When we joined up with Dana and Sean, they were just finalizing what ring we were going to get him. Sean told us what the various parts of the Claddagh meant. I smiled as I already knew as Lorraine had many things with the Claddagh symbol on it. I didn't say anything, because he was so serious as he told Jake and me about it.

He told us the hands of the ring were holding the heart. The hands denoted friendship and togetherness, whereas the heart signified love and the crown in the claddagh ring stood for loyalty. Basically the meaning of the Claddagh meant 'Let Love and Friendship Reign Forever'. They had chosen a beautiful gold ring with a sapphire in it, which was his birthstone.

"So which hand are you going to wear it on?" I asked as the clerk was wrapping it up.

She smiled as she knew why I was asking. I told him he couldn't wear it on his left hand because he wasn't married or engaged and that he had to wear the crown pointing away from his heart.

"If you point the crown toward your heart, Melissa's going to be very disappointed. It means you're not willing to consider love," I said as I smiled at him.

"You already knew everything about the Claddagh didn't you, Dad," he said.

I gave him a squeeze and a big smile.


The next morning we were off to the K club resort in the south of Ireland. We were staying on the resort for a night and playing the Arnold Palmer Smurfit course that afternoon. It was 40 minutes from Dublin and was where the 2006 Ryder Cup was played.

We checked in to our 2 bedroom suite and got ready to play. Dana was going to the spa for the afternoon. When we got to the tee after warming up on the range we were joined by another man to make a foursome. His name was George, and he was the VP of marketing of a small auto parts firm in the US, who was over on holiday with his wife. She was also going to the spa while he played. We were all about the same ability and had a fun first nine holes. We made the turn and got something to drink and eat before we started the back nine.

"Why don't we have a little competition on the back nine," George said.

We broke into teams with Jake and George against Sean and me. The winner was going to buy lunch in the clubhouse afterwards. It was a see saw match and came down to the last hole.

"Okay, buddy. Get us in the fairway," I said to Sean as he took out his driver from his bag.

He didn't say anything, as he was focused on his shot. He hit a decent drive and so did I. A few shots later, Jake hit a great approach shot and he sunk his short putt for a bogey. Sean needed to sink a 15 foot putt for a tie. I helped him read the putt and he stepped up and addressed it. I had a feeling he was going to sink it and I was correct.

We all congratulated him and we then shook hands. We took the carts back to the pro shop and went to the lounge and had lunch. George enjoyed the boys' company and it turned out he and his wife couldn't have any children.

When we were on our way out of the clubhouse he said, "You're a lucky man to have two great boys. If I didn't know better, I'd swear they had been with you from birth."

When we picked up Dana from the spa she looked very contented. She had the deluxe package which included a hot stone massage as well as nails and a facial.

"Well, you look like a beauty queen," I said as she put her arms around the boys.

The next day we were off to Dublin and the Westin hotel in the centre of the city. We didn't unpack too much, as this was our last night in Ireland. We had booked a bus tour of Dublin in the afternoon to see the sights of the city.

"I'm sure your relatives were from here originally, Sean. McDonagh is a southern Irish name," I said.

Sean thought he remembered his mother telling him the same thing some years ago.

"Well, we'll have to get a souvenir with Dublin on it then," Dana said.

The tour in the afternoon was really interesting to Dana and me. The boys were a little tired and we could see they had just about had their fill of sightseeing. Jake though, was particularly interested in The Book of Kells at the Trinity College Library. Sean however was not. Jake tried to explain the historical significance to him as he understood it, but to no avail.

"What's the big deal? They look like kids picture books," he said.

The last thing on the tour was the Guinness brewery. We ended up in the storehouse at the end and Dana and I had a pint of Guinness. The boys of course had a soft drink and didn't want a taste of our beer. We did however find a nice Dublin pennant in their souvenir shop that Sean thought would look good in his room.

When we got back to the hotel we got ready for the Celtic dancing and Irish music cabaret we were going to in the Burlington hotel that evening. It was a great show, and I could see Sean's Celtic roots showing through as he tapped along to many of the Celtic songs. He also liked the dancing which featured some young girl dancers. I wasn't sure if it was the dancing he enjoyed the most or the cute Irish colleens.


When we got back to the room I made a call on my cell phone to the contractor that was doing the renovation at home. It was about 4 pm. at home and I knew he would likely be finished for the day. I wanted to check and see that things were going according to plan. I was happy when I heard that everything was finished and ready for when we got home.

"You're not seriously going to try and keep this a secret for two weeks. The birthday weekend isn't until the middle of September," Dana said after I told her the renovation was finished.

We talked about it and I relented and agreed to let them see the new room downstairs off the Media room. We knew they would be very excited and that it wouldn't be easy to try to keep them out of it.

"I have some other surprises for their birthdays anyway," I said as the two of them came into the room.

They wanted to know what we were talking about and we told them we were talking about their birthdays in a couple of weeks. We also told them not to be too nosy as we weren't going to give away the surprises we had for them.

"Surprises are good," Sean said as he looked at Jake. The two of them had big smiles on their faces.

"I don't think we're the only ones having a birthday," Jake said as he looked at me and smiled.

Somehow I had this feeling that they weren't just smiling about the prospect of finding out what their surprises were. I wasn't sure how they knew that I had my birthday in September, but I was sure from the look on their faces that they were keeping a secret from me and it appeared Dana didn't know what it was either.


The Royal Portrush Golf Club

The K Club

The Book of Kells

The Crown Liquor Saloon

The Giant's Causeway


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