Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Ireland & Scotland - Days 6 & 7

Day 6 - Touring County Limerick

I took this picture of a purple door
in Ballingarry just because I love
the fact that someone has a
purple door!
Today we did the tour of Limerick that included the area where I’m pretty sure our branch of the Frawley’s came from. James Frawley married Bridget Sullivan in the old Ballingarry church in February, 1827. Their son, Patrick, was baptized in that same church a year later. Those two documents (found during my genealogical trip to Salt Lake City); a marriage license and a baptismal record, narrowed my focus. I’d already found a bunch of Frawley’s in Rathkeale using Griffeth’s Valuation, but that was done shortly after James and Bridget left for America. So anyone on it would be either a parent or a sibling. Oh! And James was from Kildimo, according to his marriage certificate. But I don’t know if his whole family was from there, or if he’d been working up there.

First stop, Ballingarry. We walked through the church cemetery (no Frawley’s). We went inside to see the church, even though it isn’t the one James and Bridget were actually married in. According to the church history on their website, the original church was torn down and the new one built over it in the 1880’s – 90’s. But it’s still an impressive building from the outside, so in we went.

A sacristan was there preparing for a funeral (interestingly, the coffin was already placed before the altar). She was trying to put up a mic stand for the musicians and failing. Steven went to ask her about the church and she asked him if he knew anything about these stands. He said yes, he was a musician himself and she was thrilled. “Brilliant!” was the word she used more than once. Another woman came in and the first turned to the second and said, “God sent a musician from America to help us.” So now we know the real reason we came to Ireland. It was for Steven to set up a couple of mic stands.

After, we spoke for a few minutes, I told her I was a Frawley and she said, “Oh, yes. Lots of Frawleys around here.” She said there were more in Rathkeale – which we’d planned for our next stop. I lit a candle on our way out for all the Frawleys, living and dead.

Off we went, continuing to follow R518 north. Rathkeale’s church isn’t on the main road (hence our asking directions from the woman watering her flowers). We could see the church tower, and we’d managed to surround it. She got us to it.

This is a deceptive picture.
The graves LOOK like they're in
straight rows but trust me, they are
There we spent a little over a half an hour wandering through the cemetery. Again, not in neat rows with the markers all facing the same direction as in US cemeteries. Each family plot is outlined in stone, often covered in gravel, and used for several generations. In what would be a two-person grave here? As many as six names on the tombstone in Ireland. We found several Frawley’s here, all of them buried from 1950 onward. It has me wondering, do they remove the old bones to put in new family members? Or just bury them on top?

We stopped inside (what can I say? Church architecture has a unique beauty) and spoke with a woman about the churchyard. She said there were even more Frawleys in Canaugh, just a bit north. She gave us directions and off we went.

The altar in the church in
Now we were driving off the map. As in, this town was SO small, it wasn’t on it. Believe it or not, though, THIS time we didn’t get lost. Found the church, but not the graveyard. Went inside the church (which are not locked, btw.). Stopped halfway up the aisle, a huge grin on my face. The altar, carved from marble, is the spittin’ image of the one in the church on Sugar Ridge. This one is in better shape (cleaner) and has more windows behind it, but the altar is very, very similar. Now I KNOW we’re close.

But without any thing further to go on, there is no way to find the actual farm or to find any more family names. Time to head for lunch, it now being past 1:00 PM.

On to Adare! Why? Because I knew, being a touristy town, that they’d have open restaurants and perhaps a place to shop. Sure enough, they had both. The small towns have a lot of beauty salons and pubs (even the tiny ones have two or three!), butcher shops and drugstores, but little else.

We ate at Aunt Lena’s Bar and Lounge (a pub) and walked for a bit before stopping at the tourist center and shopping some. Back in the car, we headed down the N21 for an easy ride, turning east on R515 and going back to the white knuckle driving that is Ireland. Our destination? Glenquin Castle.

Glenquin Castle - and
our little VW Golf
Now, this isn’t much of a castle. It’s a large six-story square tower that was built in the late 1500s. But ten years ago, I wrote a story that took place in Ireland (called Stitches in Time). A major plot point occurred at Glenquin Castle in the town of Killeedy. So of course I wanted to see it for real!

And now I need to do a revision of Stitches in Time. I HAVE to add in the driving and the hedges and walls and fences. The “castle” is really a fortified tower the family lived in – the rooms inside aren’t actually all that large. And it’s about a kilometer from Killeedy, not just outside it. I’ve gotten the rights back to that story from Ellora’s Cave, so will be putting a new cover on it (with a picture I took of the castle!), doing a revision to reflect new knowledge, and re-releasing it sometime this autumn.

We got back to Kilmallock at quarter after four. Steven went out to paint and I’ve been writing this journal. It’s now 5:30 and the rain has reached us.

Oh! It doesn’t snow in this part of Ireland. Ever. Sleet is as bad as it gets. If it weren’t for the driving, I really could live here.

Day 7 - Traveling!

An early start this morning; breakfast at “half seven” as Anne, our hostess, puts it. By 8:15 we’d eaten, checked out and started on our way to the next leg of our adventure! Destination? The Cliffs of Moher (pronounced “Mo-her” by Anne).

Speaking of pronunciation…LOTS of different Irish accents. Seems to be almost as many as American accents in the States. Anne’s was quite soft and she’s native to County Limerick – in fact, her best friend’s family when she was a girl owned the land that surrounds Glenquin Castle. We lunched in Kinvara and our waitress’ accent was MUCH different. More the stereotypical sound one hears in American movies.

I’d been looking forward to crossing the Shannon, since it’s the river my ancestors sailed down on their way to America. But somewhere in the intervening hundred and sixty years, the Irish went and built a tunnel underneath it. Sigh. Didn’t see the river. At all.

When one thinks of rural Ireland, one thinks of stone walls and sheep on the hillsides. We saw none of that in the area of Limerick we traveled, but found it as soon as we came into County Clare. In fact, the whole area changed dramatically. The houses were bigger, more well-kept and affluent. As we tooled along the road (back to our narrowness, btw), I realized that the Kilmallock, Rathkeale, Newcastle West area is to County Limerick as Wayne County is to New York: rural and economically depressed. That’s not to say there’s nothing to do or see – have you read my last few posts? It just means that triangle is out of the limelight, a bit forgotten, and in need of a pick-me-up.

The Cliffs of Insanity!
But back to County Clare. The only rain we had all day was as we approached the Cliffs of Moher. We could see the storm off in the distance. But then the sun came out behind us and formed a beautiful double rainbow. How wonderful for Ireland to give us such a gift! We chased the end of it, but ran into the rainstorm instead. The leprechaun gets to keep his gold. This time, anyway.

We arrived at the Cliffs of Moher a little after ten in the morning. There were only two tour busses in the lot and about 20 cars. Perfect. We headed for the toilets (it’s taken me all this time to remember to call them that. Not restrooms or bathrooms. Toilets) and then over to the Cliffs of Insanity ..erm, the Cliffs of Moher.

Wow. We spent two hours walking the cliffs and could’ve easily spent the entire day. Yes, it’s a tourist spot, but in the same way Niagara Falls is – it’s a piece of nature that totally takes your breath away. Almost literally. The wind is strong (as you can see from the pictures).

Much of the way where the Tourist Center is located is paved with stone. But the Burren Way goes all the way from Doolin to Liscannor and is dirt. And narrow. And right beside the cliffs. Steven walked some of it, I walked about twenty feet and said, “Nope. I want to finish this trip whole and hearty.” So I let him go on and I stayed to watch the puffins play in the wind currents below. See? Sometimes you can find adventure just by standing still.

By the time we were ready to leave (okay, we weren’t really ready but had to get on to our next B&B), there were over 30 buses in the car park and over a hundred cars. Everything was getting crowded, so we timed things perfectly. We headed north on the N whatever (the numbers get confusing after a bit. Good thing we have a paper map – which is currently in the car) and that’s when the driving got VERY interesting.

It wound around and up and around again. We laugh every time we see a squiggly line sign that signifies a set of curves ahead because the entire road is one curve after another. There is no such thing as a straight line here. So we’re going up, and up, and up and at the top, it says “Corkscrew Hill”. Yep, it had been, that was for sure.

We were so na├»ve. The corkscrew was coming DOWN the other side. Hairpin turns, which Steven’s taking on the left side of the road, shifting with his left hand, and dodging those coming up who are often over the center line because they’re not used to driving on their left either. The hardest part was watching two tour buses try to make a curve. I was sure someone was going over.

But they made it and so did we. Whew! Toughest driving so far and I’m glad Steven had several days’ worth of practice first. The road continued to weave around non-existent obstacles and, when we got to Kinvara, we stopped for lunch – more because we both needed a break than because we were hungry.

The ocean from the front step of our B&B
Our destination was Cleggan, which is some way past Clifden, a fairly large, touristy city. Our B&B is on the ocean – in fact, later we’re going to take a walk and see if we can find the path that goes down to the shore from here.

And that’s our day! It’s now 6:00 and we’re headed into the village for dinner.

Later –

Dinner at Oliver’s in Cleggan. GREAT seafood, so of course, Steven had a steak. It was Irish beef, at least. I had hack, which is the first time I’ve ever had that fish. It was wonderful! I think I have a new favorite meal.

We sat in the bar area at a table obviously for four. But it was the only one open when we went in and we figured someone would come and sit on the other end. Two women did and it became obvious pretty quickly that they were also tourists. Turns out they were visiting from Colorado. A mother and daughter…and the mom was originally from Syracuse! We had a great dinner, talking and making a new set of friends. They’re planning to go back to Dublin tomorrow, though. We’re not going for three days yet.

A fun way to end the evening!

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