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My Emerald Isle Pilgrimage part two

June 28, 2012

Click for part 1

Our innkeeper, Maureen, suggested The Lake Hotel for dinner, set on the Lake of Lough Lein – spectacular. I didn’t want to look too much like a tourist so I didn’t bring my camera. Still kicking myself.

I slept so peacefully that night, but unfortunately my mother didn’t. She confessed she’d thought she’d killed me when she was forced to turn me over and pull the pillow from under my neck to stop my incessant snoring.

Breakfast at Muckross was the best – eggs and bacon and ham and brown bread. I just couldn’t get enough of the brown bread and the unsalted Irish butter, the latter my mom had no appreciation for.  Go figure!

We stopped by Inch Beach on the way out of town, picked up Paddy Reilly (or at least his cd) and some souvenirs. Mom had her standard latte and I enjoyed a cup of tea and my first scone of the trip. Not like scones in America, but more of a brioche roll with raisins.

We hit wet and wieldy weather that day, but the sun came out, hid and came back out again for our entire ride around Dingle Peninsula.

Most of the country roads in Ireland are so narrow it’s impossible to pull off to take photos of all the gorgeous vistas. Not so on Dingle. And mom and I took full advantage stopping frequently to capture the layers of green and blue.

The two of us sang along with Paddy as we crossed the Shannon River on the ferry and landed in Ennis, the traditional music capital of Ireland. We were alone at Eden Hill House, except for a film crew from Dubai working with the Ireland Tourism bureau.  The entourage was there to feature our gracious innkeeper, Maureen Moran, and her amazing brown bread recipe (something I’d like to know too).

Maureen recommended The Dining Room for an early Sunday dinner. And since we were there for the music,  “oh you want to go to the usual place.” “The Usual Place?” This raucous pub of local patrons and musicians was perfect for our desire for some classic Irish tunes. None of which we recognized, since I swear it was just one huge jam session.  The atmosphere was intimate, the music a-mazing. They all knew we were blow-ins, but it didn’t matter. We were singing and moving just like them, sipping club soda and wine, appreciating how these moments might never, for us, come again.

Next morning we were off to Ashford Castle in Cong, County Mayo, greeted like guests of 13th century royalty. Mom, who extensively travels budget class, was most impressed.

We explored the lush grounds blooming with gardens of azaleas and multi-colored meadows of wildflowers. We strolled with our cameras, shooting pictures and savoring this sole day of peace in one place.

Solid wooden tables, low lighting and medieval flags were the décor at the Dungeon Bar where seafood pie, filled with scallops, fish and lobster, melted in my mouth at dinner. After, mom and I made our way to the Drawing Room for the evening sing-a-long. With a few sips of wine, mom made her people (and me too) proud crooning every traditional Irish ballad.

I learned things I never knew on that trip.  My mother has mad map reading skills. She’s obsessed with Solitaire on her phone (although I swore if I heard that shuffling sound one more time I’d shoot that thing).

Dressed in her nightgown she kneels down every night and prays by her bed.  She’d often thank God for the weather and our safe journey. There is a sadness she harbors knowing that her father’s parents were separated and that my grandfather refused to ever talk about it.

She is still the most frugal person I know, and also the most gregarious. It was wonderful to travel with my mom as an adult and feel no pressure to do anything other than what we each wanted for an entire week.

I had no idea that less than a year later she and my dad would be living more than a thousand miles a way, as opposed to 40. I’m so thankful we were able to take the trip when we did. And I’m even more grateful for my mom… and the fact that she’s Irish.


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