It was Hubby's idea that I share with you some small parts of our adventures as documented in my journals. I thought that was a great idea. I miss writing travels posts when we're not travelling. So if you don't mind journeying back into the past with me, I think I'll give his idea a go. And since I'm back home in New Brunswick this week, I'd thought I'd start with our 2011 trip to Ireland. Home of my O'Sullivan ancestors.
|Me and "Buddy" the dog, hiking on the Ring of Beara|
As I found out through my research before we left Canada that summer, I am six generations away from being Irish. Four generations including me have been born in Canada, after Michael O'Sullivan and his wife Ellen, and their baby son John (my great great grandfather) emigrated to Canada in 1819. It was fun trying to untangle the various generations, the many, many Michaels and James and Johns, one for each generation it seems. Confusing, even with a family tree compiled back in the seventies by a distant relative, a retired school teacher like me. Having the benefit of on-line resources helped me uncover numerous errors, as well as the reason my uncle found such hilarity in that earlier version. That family tree had my grandfather's father dying a year before my grandfather was even born. Ha. And even though I found on-line census records which contradicted that version, my Uncle Buddy still clung to what was, to him, the most interesting part of our family tree... the fact that "we were all bastards" as he used to say to my mum.
|Part of our flawed Sullivan family tree with my annotations|
We loved the towns and villages. The countryside and the scenery. The food, the beer, and the music. We spent several heavenly nights in pubs listening to impromptu performances by wonderful musicians. I drank my first Guinness. I even began to develop a taste for stout, and I wrote in my journal that I hoped I "didn't resemble that word by the end of the trip." Ha. The people were the best. Our hosts everywhere we went were welcoming, and helpful, and, almost without exception, garrulous and good-humoured. In my journal, I commented that Vicky and Pat, our hosts in Kilkenny could "talk the leg off an iron pot, to quote my grandmother Sullivan." When we arrived at Berna's B&B in Galway, cold, damp, a bit dispirited, and quite a bit earlier than expected, she didn't turn a hair, just built up the turf fire in her lounge, and served me tea and homemade scones while Hubby napped. She even brought out the scotch one night when she heard it was Hubby's birthday. Anne in Derry was chuffed to introduce us to her "Ulster fry-up" as she called her ginormous (even by Irish standards) breakfast. I'd never eaten fried bread or black pudding. Good thing we walked and walked when we were in Derry.
|Tea in Berna's lounge, Galway, Ireland|
|Bantry, "O'Sullivan Country."|
But perhaps our best story from our Irish trip was trying to navigate our way "home" to our cottage after a day of exploring the magnificent Ring of Kerry. We were pretty accustomed to difficult roads, having driven so many in New Zealand, and Australia, and northern Scotland, even when we had to drive on the "wrong side." And Hubby was getting used to remembering to NOT put the windshield wipers on when he wanted to signal a turn. Ha. That's a longstanding joke with us. When you're used to a left-hand drive vehicle, it's harder than you might think to remember to reach for the signal on the correct side of the steering wheel of a right-hand drive. He'd also become adept at NOT flinching when a vehicle approached us on a narrow road, as well as NOT driving into the leafy hedges which lined the roads, and which we discovered upon closer inspection were actually thin layers of foliage hiding stone walls underneath. What we weren't prepared for in Ireland was how useless our maps were. Even our quite expensive and very detailed Michelin map was, as Hubby said, "a mere guideline."
Our day of driving the Ring of Kerry had been pretty easy, and even the smaller and more challenging Skellig Ring road was fine. We saw lots of beautiful sights, ate a picnic lunch on the cliffs overlooking Dingle Bay, and then decided not to drive all the way around to Killarney, but to take a shortcut home that Hubby had spied on the map. We'd be fine, he said, we'd just be careful to orient the map, and watch the number of turn-offs. Ha. That carefulness, in fact, turned out to be our undoing. Do not count the number of roads on the map, people, and expect them to bear any resemblance to the roads on the ground in Ireland.
|Driving the Ring of Kerry... somewhere|
"The door opened before I reached it. And I was confronted by a tiny, neatly attired, very old man, leaning on a walking stick. He wore a plaid Viyella shirt buttoned up to his neck, a worn tweed jacket, pressed trousers, and could not have been over four feet tall. I am NOT kidding. I smiled. He smiled. "Hello," I said. "Helloooo," he echoed. "We're lost," I said ruefully. "Yer lost," he repeated. "We need some help," I tried. "Some help," he grinned. We might have been there still, but a woman, who looked as if she might be his daughter, appeared from within the house, moved him aside, and smiled at me. "Yes, yes, yes?"
"Can you tell me how to get to Ballaghbeama Gap?" I asked. "Yes, yes, now where'er'ye comin from? Is it Killarney, Killeenee, Coomakilleenee, Keenillee, or Coomakeenillee?" At least that's what it sounded like. Actually I lost her at Killarney. "Uh..." I stumbled, and was so very tempted to say "Canada," but this was not the time for jokes. We finally ascertained that the road we'd been on ten minutes back, the steep left hand turn one, was actually the one we should have taken. So I thanked her, and she shut the door.
I was barely able to contain my glee as I danced across the yard and back to our car where Hubby had been watching the scene unfold. "I have just met a leprechaun," I exploded. "Did you see him? Was he adorable or what? And that lady was so nice, but I couldn't understand a freakin' word she was saying. Killarney, Killeenee, Coomakilleenee, something something-illeenie. Oh my god... that was the most amazing thing that's ever happened to me. I thought I was going to burst from trying not to laugh. Not AT her, but at how perfect the whole thing was." I sighed, and buckled my seatbelt. And Hubby stopped laughing long enough to say, "But you DID get directions, right?'"
And we did get to Ballaghbeama Gap, and it was stunning, and worth all that trouble. As I said in my journal, "high, high, tiny, teeny roads to a tiny, teeny gap between the hills, that you would not believe was even there until you were upon it." Gosh, I loved Ireland.
|Boys in the band, a pub in Kilkenny|
Travel can be exhausting, and sometimes dispiriting, and even frustrating. It's a ton of work to plan, and most of the time pretty costly, even when you're careful. But, it's worth all the bother, I'd say.
I hope you don't mind if I stray down memory lane via my travel journals every once in a while. I've had such a good time reliving Ireland. Now, I must go. I have assigned reading to do this week, while I'm at Mum's. Hubby is way ahead of me in researching our Italy trip for this fall. I can't let him do ALL the work.
How about you my friends? Do you keep a journal, travel or otherwise?
Linking up with Saturday Share over at Not Dressed as Lamb.