I’d never known too much about what was in Tayto Park.
I suppose I’d heard people talk about it as a place to go but just assumed it was a museum which explored the history of the potato.
As we neared the park I could see I was wrong.
I chuckled to myself, thinking ‘From this distance it almost looks like that rollercoaster is made out of wood’.
Then we pulled alongside it and I thought ‘Shit, that rollercoaster is made out of wood!’
This seemed strangely medieval to me. Had the Iron Age passed this part of the world by altogether?
We went to the ticket booth.
I did my usual thing which essentially amounts to me saying, ‘Hello, just in case you hadn’t noticed I’m a bit of a buffoon. If you could just provide me with whatever the most expensive, worst value ticket option is, then I’ll be on my way.’
We entered the park with brightly coloured wristbands newly attached and I spent a good part of the rest of the day trying to work out how many rides I would have to go on to justify the cost.
Mummy, son and I made our way to one of the playparks where we had arranged to meet my wee nephew and his parents who were going to spend the day with us.
My son asked to go on the swings. I had just paid for a wristband which gets him on every exotic ride in the park. And he wants to go on the swings.
The swings were slightly different than he was used to. There were no bars to keep him on the seat.
He started to show a bit of fear. I reassured him.
‘Son, I’m going to be right here with you and no matter what happens I’m not going to let you fall off that seat.’
He gave me a little smile of love and climbed onto the swing.
I gave him one push.
He fell off the seat.
As he gathered himself together, his face now covered in sand, he gave me a bitter look which seemed to say, ‘I’m never going to fall for your shit again.’
We played in the park for a bit. Then we saw some animals in the zoo, went to the dinosaur park and chatted with the talking tree.
Basically my son decided he wanted to visit every attraction which is free.
I could feel the wristband burning into my arm.
Eventually we got him and my nephew moving in the direction of the rides. We were rocked on a pirate ship, spun around in a bear’s teacup, bounced on the back of a frog and went up high in something which resembled a giant egg.
The kids loved it. I’m truth the adults did too.
There was the joy you get from seeing your child have fun.
But there was also the joy of remembering you’re really just a big kid yourself.
We stopped for refreshments. They sold a lot of crisps. I asked if they had any Golden Wonder.
It was getting late in the day and there was only time left for one more ride.
The rest of our group headed towards the 5-D cinema experience.
But I broke off on my own. I had a date with that rollercoaster.
I’ve always had a fascination with scary rides. In truth I could have very well put the day in here on my own just being scared witless.
The roller coaster is called the Cú Chulainn. I was pleased at this nod towards history and tradition.
For the uninitiated Cú Chulainn was an ancient Irish mythical hero. He defeated all of the warrior chiefs of Ireland by challenging them to a rollercoaster ride.
The last warrior to vomit was to be proclaimed king of Ireland.
Cú Chulainn was clever as well as brave. He had secreted a rotting turnip on the seats of all of his foes and by the bottom of the first dip they had all vomited except him.
As I queued my heart swelled with pride. All the years of education were not wasted on me.
The ride itself is all about one giant climb and descent.
The car crawls into the clouds until you fear you will need an oxygen mask before hurtling towards the ground at a terrifying rate.
Why we consider such things as fun remains a mystery. But the truth is that by the time I had finished and regained the feeling in my legs, I was ready to go again.
The newest attraction in the park is some sort of Viking water ride. But as the estimated queuing time was 13 days, we decided to pass on this occasion.
A short drive brought us to our hotel on the outskirts of Dublin. A noticeboard advertised an evening kiddie disco and this seemed like an excellent way to round off what was rapidly developing into a memorable day.
So after dinner we headed towards the disco room.
It was huge.
With a carpet from the 1970s.
And absolutely empty.
The DJ seemed delighted to see us.
My son is four and my nephew two, both too young to understand they are supposed to give a damn what anyone thinks of them.
They headed straight for the dance floor.
What else was there for the adults to do but join them?
And so it was. Four adults and two young children doing crazy dancing in this huge empty room.
Soon some other children began to arrive (clearly word of my funky moves was spreading rapidly), and the room began to fill a little.
And the dancing went on and on until dark, damp stains were spreading across my shirt.
I don’t know too much about the songs that were playing. To me music pretty much ended when The Housemartins split up.
But there was one song I knew. ‘Tonight’s Gonna Be A Good Night,’ by the Marrowfat Peas.
By the time it was playing the dancing had morphed into some kind of chasing and tickling game.
As I lay there on that old carpet tickling my son and nephew and hearing them shriek with joy, it seemed like the perfect anthem.
We let them play as long as they could. Way past bedtime. Right until the point that exhaustion overcame them.
As mummy and I carried our son back to the bedroom, he fought to keep his eyes open and mumbled, ‘Mummy, this was the best day ever.’
And it probably was.
The next morning we were at the breakfast table. My bones and muscles were slightly regretting the exertions of the night before.
I should have known the twerking would be a step too far.
My little nephew waddled into the room, a mischievous smile on his lips, beautiful brown eyes dancing with the wonder of finding out everything in the world.
He pulled himself up into the chair opposite me.
‘Uncle Jonny, let’s dance….’