Thursday, January 3, 2013

I'm back, a survivor of the Craic.

The view off  Doolin Pier about 200 feet from our cottage
Sorry for dropping off the face of the Earth but a vital trip had to be made.
It was once again time to visit my ancestral home, Ireland.

My sister Mary,  (aka Moire' when we are in Eire)  her husband Dave and their 19 yr old daughter Micah were my travel partners this year. With Dave and Micah being newbies to the world of narrow stone hedged roads and the always burning peat fires, the trip was even more entertaining.

(A picture here would be nice wouldn't it ? Blogger thinks not)

We started in Dublin this year, finally wise enough to spent the first night there before taking off cross country, driving on the left after a sleepless night on Aer Lingus. Dublin, in a word, is insane. Packed with 1.5 million residents, nearly half the entire population of Ireland, the road signs have not been updated in eons. Instead of being logically placed on street posts where you can see them, they are plastered haphazardly on buildings at faerie height. Not much use to the modern driver.

You also must learn to read from the bottom UP as the Gaelic street name comes first. Traffic was as I remembered in, chaotic and without reason. Cars, bikes , pedestrians and mopeds all ignoring suggestions on parking and directions and going whichever way trips their triggers. Leaving Dublin alive is harder than winning the lotto. If you cross O'Connell bridge hoodlums rush in behind you and flip the River Liffy around the other way so that when you think you are heading out of An Lar (city centre) you are merely heading straight away back in.
Eventually and with much direction from numerous back street drivers (Go! Stop! Go and then stop right away! Turn! Turn Back! Watch the eejit now perched on your bonnet taking a free lift back to Aldi's)  Honestly though, my sister Mary is the very best co-pilot, my friend Stacey running a close second, and without her I'd still be circling around Molly Malone and her damn mussels)
Soon enough,but not for us very impatient Americans, we made it out of the city but not before noticing signs of despair and a crashing economy. A reminder I have nothing to complain about. And yet I still do.
 Once out of Dublin we sped across the midlands on N6 or was it M6? The maps say one thing the roads signs say another, and arrived in Doolin late afternoon to settle into our little rental. Once again, I live in a rambling farmhouse and complain about having too much to clean. This cottage once raised a large family with only this space to serve for its dining and living space.
Perfect for 4 Americans on Holiday but I would wonder at night how "cozy" it felt with 2 parents and five or six children?  It was my job to make the fire, a job I love since we have no fireplace at home. My brother-in-law did dishes while my sister kept the cottage tidy and split cooking chores with me. Niece Micah worked hard modeling all the newest European fashions for us as my own modeling days ended after I discovered the joys of whole milk and butter. A stick of butter dipped in milk being one of my most favorite snacks I might add.

Corkscrew Hill Road , only recently paved, between Ballyvaughan
and Kinvara. Be assured. I have NEVER been on this road.
Yes, it was winter there and the 'breezes" were cool, especially on the Cliffs of Moher where my size 2 niece was nearly head feet first into the sea's waves of volcanic foam, yet still...the craic was grand at O'Connors Pub in Doolin  well making up for the slight discomforts.

A few pints  and gallons of tea were consumed and we feasted on our share of (REAL) fish and chips as well as fresh salmon swimming in dill butter. But, even though I have traveled there many times, it is the awesome wonder of Kilmacduagh Castle just south of Gort in County Galway that makes me shiver with the history of my O'Shaughnessy name.

But in the midst of total enjoyment and pure laziness (sleeping until 9 because that is when the sun comes up) I was again saddened by the fact that my own father never made it back to the land his grandfather immigrated from in 1867. It was his dream but not his good fortune. So I did the next best thing. I brought a tiny piece of him with me...

one of my fathers old paint brushes. One that still had his paint soaked fingerprints well embedded into its wood handle. For several days I contemplated where best to leave it. On top of the Cliffs? Outside a pub? Wrapped in plastic and secured in a bottle flung far out into the Atlantic for others to find?

I finally decided on this. Well, below is supposed to be the picture of my fathers paintbrush lodged into the rails of the gate that bordered the lane to our cottage but Blogger has decided not to let me upload even one more picture . Guess they are just jealous of my time away. That's what I get for paying NOTHING to use their blog site.

Anyway, I placed it there because I know my dad would've loved the view from that spot. Looking out each day over the sea, watching the kayakers and fisherman coming and going on the busy pier road, talking to folks about their problems their worries or just about their ordinary day.

It is my hope that years and years go by before anyone ever sees that that paint brush woven in between the fence wires. And that only time, salt air and the rain will wear it away, making the wood and the brush hairs and the paint splotches just another part of the rich land he and I came from so very long ago.


  1. OMG, my friends are over there right now! I'm planning on going back with my sister in tow in 2014.

    Mind divulging the address or name of the cottage (so much as addresses go in Ireland, that is) so I can send my friend down to pay homage to your father's paint brush handle? They're in Ballyvrislwn (or however you spell it). Or actually, they are probably at The Well talking with the wooden legged guy!

    If you go back & want the name of their cottage, let me know. Maybe we can all go there & drink Paddy together!

    And please tell me that you DID do corkscrew hill. You know, in a car with the steering wheel on the wrong side, driving on the other side of the road, in an unfamiliar stick-shift vehicle. Now THAT's some good craic!! Hehe!

  2. So that's where you've been. Don't worry too much about the beggars, they're usually Romanians who make A LOT of money by pretending to be down-n-outs. The genuine ones go home in winter; too cold.

  3. What a lovely thing to do for your Dad.
    Happy New Year, Donna. Jx

  4. Hi there

    Delighted to hear you enjoyed your trip to Ireland. The people you see begging on the streets are as Cro Magnon says Romanians who spend their days begging money from passersby. This is a common sight across all European countries and isn't just exclusive to Ireland. Have you ever considered travelling to the far north of Ireland. The landscape here is so very beautiful too. :)

  5. Blessings on your Da, he will indeed enjoy the new scenery. Your trip looks and sounds wonderful. Someday I hope to make it to Ireland to visit the moors and cays my family came from. Glad you are back home in one piece, even if it isn't Ireland ;-)

  6. Sounds like a wonderful trip and so nice to do that for your dad.

  7. Carolyn, I have "DONE" Corkscrew Hill more times than I care to admit, even in the dark, before it was paved...yikes! My cottage was Doolin Pier Cottage, in Doolin, County Clare. Just google it. It was fab. And yes, always up for a pint with a blog friend.

    Cro, That does make me feel better and also helps explain why her hair looks so much prettier than mine :)

    Rusty Duck. Even dead, I know he's smiling at me.

    Pat26 I'd love to go father north. I just land in the Burren area and get stuck there. Once you learn how to drive Corkscrew you hate to leave!

    Martha. You MUST go! And when you do, call me and I'll share all I've learned. Which isn't much but still...

    Megan. Oh it was, it really was

    Judie. Really, I could just kill my dad for dying so young.

  8. I LOVE the Burren. We took a hiking holiday in Ireland in 2000, started at the Cliffs of Moher and wended our way down the West Coast through County Clare, County Kerry, and over to Cork. Many on our trip were of Irish descent, and it was great to see so many reconnect with the land of their grandparents or great-grandparents.

    I could spend a week just in the Burren; it's a magical place.

  9. Looks like you had such a lovely time!

  10. Megan, me too the Burren is best. I love the woods of the south, the activity of Dublin, but it is the rocky peacefulness of the Burren that settles my soul

    Anne-Marie. I did ! I also checked out several homemade soaps for sale in some of the smaller shops and brought some home for trial. Lots made with herbs and seaweed!

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