‘Cottage’ has a bit of a fluid interpretation, though never in a negative way in our experience. It could mean a four bedroom two storey house or a one bedroom bungalow, but ‘tardis’ always seems to fit best. For a modest fee every cottage we have stayed in has been smart, spacious and homely. It’s something of an Irish tradition to buy a plot of land and self – build something with everything you could want from a home including a large kitchen dining room, the focus of family life, and an interesting array of nick nacks.

Settled and happily pottering in our home from home, the TV, its mumblings ever present in our house for fear the husband might miss a major political occurance, fell into an eerie silence. The six o’clock chimes calling the faithful to prayer had completely slipped my mind. Strangely soothing, like the hypnotic aroma of incense, the sonorous peal filled every corner of the cottage and floated out through the windows to the vista of blue sky, green fields and the distant shush of the sea. There’s a lot said about religion and Catholicism in particular, but it does focus the mind and goes a long way to understanding the Irish Nations overriding interest in Irish matters, unlike the English who often have an unhealthy interest in everyone elses business beyond their own.