Breakfast in Dingle was scrumptious. Rachel had a grilled ham and cheese and I had potato waffles with fried eggs and beans. It came with floppy, oddly coloured bacon too. It was gross. I was reminded that I prefer streaky bacon any day.
We drove through Connor’s Pass on the way off of the Peninsula, but it was so foggy that we could only really make out the silhouette of the mountains, if that. We stopped along the beach and Rachel picked up a bunch of seashells. I could have left her there for an hour and she wpould have been happy 🙂
Ballybunion had the remnants of a stone building that was being eaten away same way the wind and the sea was eroding the shoreline on the peninsula.
We were to meet my Irish cousin Michael at the West County Inn. I failed to see the sign, but Rachel spotted it. “Say I do at Treacy’s West County Inn,” with a picture of a woman and two wedding rings. Not really what I was expecting. It looked like a cheesy hotel that would be on the outskirts of Vegas. We hung out in the lobby and I was saying to Rachel that I was trying to remember what Michael looked like. I remember him staying at mom’s house when I was around 10, he must have been in his mid twenties. I mainly recall him being drunk a lot of the time and that he puked in the basement on our pull out couch. So he must be in his late thirties or so now.
In walked an older man about my height; we both looked at each other and knew. Ha! There must be another Michael MacNamara that I’m related to. I have to find out from mom. I obviously don’t know my family tree very well, there’s too much happening on my mom’s side. I did remember Michael, he and Teresa were at Mary’s wedding only a couple years earlier. I asked my mom, and I think the person I was thinking of was Colin, who’s somebody’s son. I dunno.
So there was Michael, my aunt Karen, her daughter Naomi, Lisa (who is great uncle Jack’s daughter) and Diane (who was married to Lisa’s brother who passed away recently) and her son Michael. I don’t believe I have ever met Diane and Michael before, or if I have I certainly do not remember, not that my memory is any good. That’s why I write all this crap down so I have something to remember for later.
We all drove to Labasheeda (minus Karen and Naomi who had to do laundry). It’s a tiny little farming town 30-40 minutes south of Ennis, where Michael grew up, just down the street from the O’neill house. My great grandpa, Jack O’neill, left for Canada in 1912. If I remember correctly, Jack’s sister Margaret married a MacNamara and she would be Michael’s mom.
Michael took us out to Kilkerrin Point, a spot on the Shannon river where in 1812 the British built a battlement to safeguard the river. The main building used to have two cannons positioned on top, with a small little moat around it. In the area in front of it there were partially underground storehouses.
None of us had a flashlight and we didn’t bother to bring our phones, so Rachel kept taking pictures with her flash, allowing us to see. Would have been a great spot to dress up as ghouls and scare unsuspecting people. But there was no one around. Labasheeda is certainly not a tourist spot, just some single lane Irish country roads leading to people’s land.
We went to see the site where the old O’neill house used to sit, along with the local cemetery. The closest relative would be Margaret MacNamara, who was my great Grandpa Jack’s older sister.
I spoke with my Grandma and she said that he had been quite athletic back in Ireland before he came to Canada. He studied to become a pharmacist, though he studied under a doctor andknew quite a bit more than the average pharmacist. He originally went to Whitehorse, where he signed up to fight in the First World War, and came back due to getting some shrapnel in his knee. He then moved to Kimberley where he became a druggist and opened his shop. He had a pharmacy in the Platzl, where the Back Door used to sit. Originally, it was where the Black Bear video store was. Well, actually, it was down below; above was where the Daily Bulletin used to be printed. In the early 1940’s he bought his own building and moved the drug store there.
My mom was able to tell me a couple things about him, even though he died long before she was born. He was a man who never stopped smoking, he would light his next cigarette off of his old one. He did eventually get lung cancer. He was stubborn and thought things should be done the way they ought to be. He worked a lot. He would get home late from work, say around 11, so that would be when he’d get his kids in the car and take them out for a drive. If he sent you to the store to buy something and you came back to offer him the change, he’d say keep it. But, if you didn’t offer the change back, he’d come take it from you.
The farm house we stayed in was built in the 1970’s, and no one has lived there full time since Michael’s parents died. It has five bedrooms and a wee tiny kitchen. They rent out the land to a local farmer. I got to see holsteins in person! Ooooh, they look exactly the same as the ones we make at work!
We went over to Casey’s, the local pub, for a Guinness and watched some of the Rugby World Cup. Apparently I go traveling every four years. The bartender said she could recall Michael’s young, red headed cousin, Mary. That would be my aunt, the one I’m named after! She lived in Ireland in 1998; we got to let her know that Mary is happily married with two little ones!
The night ended with a game of 10,000 with Naomi.