On Saturday, we drove down to Rathwood in Tullow, Carlow, to go on the Easter train in the blistering (read mild) Irish heat. I have yet to decide if the fortuitous weather was a good or terrible thing. Sunny day = smiley face. Sunny day when you’re stuck in the car with two whining children = vaguely murderous face.

We checked in and the timings were prompt. So prompt, in fact, that we were busy perusing giant wind chimes in the garden shop and debating the aural merits of dangling metal versus wood when we heard an authoritative voice coming from the place in which everyone else had gathered.

We rushed to join the group as it headed out and I accosted the man – our guide, as it turned out – dressed in a Sherlock Holmes outfit, and asked him if this was indeed the 2.20pm train to Bunnytown. He looked confused and I realised that this man was deeply embedded in an endless loop of actor-ing, child herding, egg hunting, and no longer had any concept of time.

I accepted that this was, in all likelihood, our allotted time, and so we made our way into a covered outdoor area where I spied several oil-clothed tables that set off my spidey senses. We were going to have to craft, immediately if not sooner. Thankfully it was a painless affair (for me, trained professional that I am), and the Badger was able to don her rabbit glasses/ears without incident. (“STAND THERE FOR A PHOTO.”)

After a brief appearance from the chief bunny himself, we boarded the train, the stuff of my second-born’s dreams – choooooooo. It trundled through the woods while Sherlock bounded alongside us looking for a piece of the Easter bunny’s giant egg, or something.

We arrived at our spot in the woods and the egg hunt began. Sherlock mentioned something about 5 eggs per child, but naturally this was ignored by the children at the front, and alas my non-pushy Badger failed to get any eggs at all. It probably didn’t help that she went looking for eggs in the tree instead of the grass…

I picked her up and marched her to the front of the pack for the second leg of the hunt. She found a few eggs but managed to fall in what she called cow poo (because we were in the country she naturally made that assumption – she’s a city girl), but was in fact bog-standard mud. I wiped her hands (but not before taking a photo because I’m a mean mammy blogger) and we moved on.

Next came a barn where the plastic eggs were deposited and more oil-clothed tables awaited us. Colouring with crayons this time. I left Amelie to it until I heard the word “competition” whereupon I frantically took control of her shoddy, half-arsed colouring and took the crayons by the wax, so to speak. Here is my, I mean, our entry.

I think we got back on the train at that point but I can’t be sure as I was floating on the buzz of exceptional artistic achievement. I do know that we collected a few more eggs en route and ended up in a little garden encircling a hobbit house from whence the Easter bunny reappeared and handed out large golden chocolate eggs to the kids. Amelie squealed when she saw it whilst Brendan and I started sweating at the thought of the inevitable chocolate puddle that the hot car would make of it. (Spoiler alert: an hour in the fridge when we got home and it was graaaand.)

All in all, my four year old enjoyed herself. The event was well organised, good value for money, and we were even given two tickets for free hot chocolates to use in the cafe afterwards. Whether I would be willing to make the trip (1hr 20 minutes each way from south Dublin) is another story, but that is more to do with my intolerance of whinging in enclosed spaces than anything else. There is a good outdoor play area on the premises as well as the cafe, gardens and shop, so there is plenty to do to justify the longish journey down.

October 30, 2023 — Chisom Onwukwe

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