Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Soft Season

O'Shaughnessy Chapel within Kilmacduagh Castle, Gort

 The last few days have been cool and rainy with the occasional  odd warm day thrown in for confusion. The grass is growing wildly but the garden is too wet to work in. Things are quite "soft" here in Central Illinois which makes me miss Ireland all the way down to my mud encrusted Wellies.   Recently a few folks I know including High School buddy Ann and fellow farmer Katie have been asking for tips about where to go as they were traveling to Eire this month.

Telling them best things to see and do and BUY made my heart ache greater as I shared  favorite digs like O'Loclainn's Irish Whiskey Bar in Ballyvaughan, County Clare. Oh how my arse wishes it was once again planted on the red velvet covered bench in the way back of the wee pub by the fire surrounded by my traveling nurse buddies, a glass of Red Breast in our Betadine stained mitts.

I usually visit Ireland, home of my Great Grandfather George J. O'Shaughnessy in the early spring of February-March which is much like April- May here. All the tulips, daffodils and Primroses are up and many of the shoppe doors are open wide during the day. The balmy breeze (HA!) coming up and over the Cliffs of Moher slap me in the kisser and make me quite be bright enough not to climb the fence for a closer look. (My husband sometimes reads my blog so I have to say that. If he knew how close I really get to the edge of the cliffs, he'd hide my passport...again.)

But the biggest reason I visit in the early spring... is the lack or tourists.

Yes, I understand that technically I am one of those but it is easy to pretend I am a local (as long as I don't open my crass American mouth) when I visit during the off season. Rather than do the traditional hotel or B & B thing I will rent an older cottage through Shamrock Cottages and spend my days getting to know the area, the shoppes very well and filling my evenings with writing, or reading or tele watching, or wine drinking or all three or was that four? That African wine I purchase at Keogh's Supermarket gets me every time.

My favorite cottage, to rent is centuries old, completely isolated in the midst of a sheep pasture, has no central heating, requires you to keep the fire burning yourself, has a tiny shower with poor water pressure and decade old furniture.

It is perfect.

But oh so tragically, I won't be back on the mushy soft sod until summer of 2015 when I will be studying abroad at The National University of Ireland, Galway. In the meantime I must console myself with online products to get me over the hump.

In years past when I would visit, starting in 1999, one had to stuff ones suitcase with one than one loaf of brown bread (and digestives and Irish Tea not that ridiculous Lipton stuff Americans drink) if one was to arrive back in the states and into ones siblings homes. Now one can order online and get the real Irish stuff mailed directly.

Some new sites I've discovered for such goodies are Viking, where If you live in the UK you can get Butlers Chocolate (make my taste buds sing!) plus McVities shortbread AND a big box of Barry's Tea. You can also  order many of the office supplies you need and discovered their ink for my HP printer is cheaper than our local Walmart. The Viking Site site is easy to navigate. I am so loving their 99p section where you can order "Pink Gauntlets" which would be perfect for soap making! They do not yet ship to the US but maybe if I ask nicely...

All this talk of food sent me off in a carnivorous direction when I realized for the hundredth time how much I detest Salmon available here in the Midwest. All that is available in the restaurants or grocery stores is frozen and rubbery. Even drenched in real butter it is still, rubber drenched in butter. I blame Kinvara Salmon for my uppity taste in fresh Atlantic Ocean fish.

I stayed in Kinvara, just south of Galway back in 2006. There the salmon was readily available in all the stores and pubs and I ate it three, no maybe eighteen times a day. What can I say? Everyone knows that the "O" in O'Shaughnessy stands for "Obsessive" I had salmon and eggs, salmon and salad, salmon and purdies, salmon dipped in Butlers Chocolate. (Yeah, you think I'm kidding)  Sadly Kinvarra Salmon's on-line store is out of commission but no worries, I'll just leave for my summer 2015 study abroad session a bit earlier.

Tomorrow perhaps.


  1. I've learned to NOT sit on those dark colored, soft and ABSORBANT chairs in certain (i.e. most) pubs we visit. Learned that quickly. Lucky I had a change of pants nearby.

    Oh, how I'd love to go back. Not a speck of Irish heritage in me, but love the place. My horrible, horrible, mean and nasty friend is leaving TOMORROW for their little cottage in Ballyvrislaun. Hate her. Only to be forgiven if she brings back a bottle of Paddy.

    Need to coordinate our calendars to meet out there one day before we all croak.

    1. I hate all people who go to Ireland when I can't as well. So now I hate your friend as well

  2. Replies
    1. One of my favorite sites to "shop" on. Shall I stay here next time or here ?

  3. I'm always hearing people say "you must visit X in the spring, when there are very few tourists etc". You'd imagine that EVERYONE would go then to avoid the tourists, and find themselves inundated.

    1. Few Americans ever take my advice to go to Ireland in the winter which I've done several times as well. November was especially nice and quiet. Folks here want to see all the "sites" and be entertained so they go in the summer whne the roads are massively crowded. I generally stay away (now) from big sites and just hole up in my cottage making the rounds with small shop owners and having a pint in the darkest, most off the beaten path villages I can find. I have an anti-social side I guess :)

  4. Spring or Fall is the time to visit Ireland. November is the time to get in on the good sales of woolens.
    My own brown bread never ever measures up to Ireland's crusty bread.

    Great wisdom in your post!

    1. OK now. We all must STOP talking about Ireland or Ill have to sell the husbands tractor so I can squeeze in another visit before summer 2015.