Palma Nova

Not long back. 11 nights in the Majorcan resort of Palma Nova and I am not quite sure if the batteries were recharged by the sun or run down by the children. A holiday after a holiday doesn’t seem such a bad idea but in some ways it has the feel of the drinker’s cure. As I write, the sound of my son singing the Piano Song, which he picked up at the kids club in the resort where we stayed, drifts down the stairs from his bedroom. Somebody clearly enjoyed himself.

Now that we are sprawled in front of the television in our own living room there is the reassuring feel of no place like home. Relaxation comes easier when an ever vigilant eye does not have to cast itself over children near water. And there was plenty of water. My wife, daughter and I lunged into the Mediterranean from a slide on the back of a glass bottomed boat.

We brought an Irish theme to our holiday. Before we left my daughter had told me she would like to be president some day. A strange thing for an 8 year old to say so when I pressed her on her reasoning she told me it would enable her to make laws whereby everybody would speak Irish. Up until then I was unaware of her passion for the language. She doesn’t get it from me because while I speak it to a certain level I would not be regarded as a ‘culture vulture.’ So, my wife and I made the effort for her. Amidst the tower of Babel type din made up from so many languages the Irish tongue managed to make itself heard. We would call the kids in Irish or ask them to do something through the same medium. Although out gunned by the prevalence of French, it was nice to insert a smattering of Gaelige.

On one occasion the fizzy drinks dispenser was out of order. The A4 size page telling us so had three languages on it; Spanish, French and English. I took a pen and wrote the same in Irish. It was not an act of subversion, merely one of complementing what was already there. One of the staff took umbrage on the mistaken grounds that I was trying to use a machine that was clearly marked as not working. She was gesticulating and getting excitable in the way which seems to be a Spanish trait. I snapped back at her to the effect that she should stop making a fool out of herself. She snatched the paper away and ran over to manager pointing out that I had written something on it. Hardly an act of great subversion. I sauntered off to the pool, half expecting an angry exchange with him later in the day. It failed to materialise. By then an authentic act of subversion had seized the attention of most of those who have an interest in Palma Nova that lasts longer than two weeks. Two police had been killed a few hundred metres from our hotel. We heard the explosion which I automatically thought was thunder, a leftover from the amount of it we had experienced in Ireland earlier in the month. But there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The sirens wailed and immediately outside the hotel a police cordon was set up. Later in the evening we watched as a controlled explosion was detonated across the bay. A pall of smoke drifted into the sky. The Spanish would gather around TV screens in bars and restaurants, faces strained as they listened to the news reports. For the tourists life went on pretty much as it had before the bombing. Later photos of six people said to be ‘suspects’ were posted in shops throughout Palma Nova. ETA, in the view of the local press seemed to be the moving force behind the attacks.

Apart from reading about the killings in the English language Spanish press there was little that I followed through newspapers. The whole time out there saw me read only one Irish paper. My normal interest in Irish affairs took a rest apart from a while out every now and then to exchange views with a Sinn Fein sparring partner on the Pensive Quill. A Novel by Janet Turner Hospital and a history by Anthony Beevor monopolised my reading time.

What I love about Palma Nova is the sense of privacy despite the crowds. Walking though it we never once met someone we knew, so unlike many Spanish resorts. In those places I have even bumped into people I was in jail with. The kids made friends easily although we preferred to keep our own company. Apart from a couple from Carrickfergus whose kids befriended ours we hardly bothered with anyone.

As our flight landed in Dublin this evening it was strange to walk from the plane into the sun. Ireland has been so plagued with rain as of late that we have now come to expect it as a matter of course. I asked my son would he like to go back to ‘Spain’. He thought for a moment and said, ‘maybe later.’ Indeed. For all the mediocrity of Ireland, it is home, sweet home.


  1. Scríobh mé mír faoi an fógra na h-íníon agatsa anseo: "Mo Chuid den Gaeilge"! An t-ádh mór do theaghlach ag cleachtadh Gaeilge níos fearr.

    I wrote a bit about your daughter's proclamation here: "My Share of Irish"! [Irish entry with somewhat literal English translation following, for practice.] Good luck to your family in practicing better Irish.

  2. Fionnchú, thanks so much. I was really chuffed that you did that.

    Go raibh mile maith agat