Return to Ireland: Part Two

Tuesday 27 September, contd.
‘Stop! This is me!’our new friend announces some four very smelly miles down the road as we reach the village of Goleen. Tom opens the door to see him out and they shake hands.
   ‘What?’ Tom asks, climbing back in to find me and Ma sending him accusing stares.
   ‘I could have been knifed!’ Ma says, with ghoulish relish, even though she’s laughing.
   ‘Oh, he was mostly harmless,’ says Tom.
   ‘But smelly,’ I add. ‘I was nearly sick.’
   ‘Well, I couldn’t smell anything,’ says Tom, winding down the window to allow the lingering miasma to escape.
   'I just hope he didn’t have fleas,’ says Ma, as if we’ve picked up a stray cat.

At Barley Cove, Tom and I take a walk along the swaying pontoon bridge that conserves the dunes. Ma’s poor brittle back and injured arm mean that she’s too fragile these days to risk joining us, but she’s happy to sit in the car and wait, albeit still clucking about the low standard of boyfriend material we’ve procured for her.


Wednesday 28 September
As Britain basks in the steamy heat, we are still blanketed in mist. We drive through Ballydehob, Baltimore and Skibbereen all similarly cloaked in wispy fleece. At Skibbereen, we give up trying to see the sights and go shopping in Lidl. Judging by the amount of people filling their trollies there; it’s the thing to do. It’s a bit ironic then that this area was one of the worst affected by the Irish Famine.

Back at the holiday cottage, we meet the owners freshly returned from a weekend in Lourdes. They tell us that amongst other matters, they’ve been praying for success for the Irish team in the rugby world cup. I’m no expert, but I’d assumed prayers were meant for cures for cancer and an end to world poverty, not any ole stuff. And since, as I write this, the Irish lads are now on their way home, perhaps I’m not alone in considering the request a tad frivolous.

I put the kettle on and go off to find Ma, who’s sitting in the conservatory, lifting her face to a sliver of sunshine which has slipped through the clouds. I ask her if she would like tea and cake and her expression lights up. Ma has extraordinarily beautiful eyes – very clear with deep blue irises – and a gap between her two front teeth. Right now, her smile radiates a childlike joy and she looks about six. I drop a kiss on her hair and go off choked because she’s so pleased by something that’s so easy to do.

In the evening we watch RTÉ Prime Time featuring interviews with the seven candidates for the Irish presidency. The candidates include Dana Rosemary Scallon, sometime Eurovision Song Contest winner and Martin McGuinness, sometime IRA member, though not since 1974, he says. All are quizzed on what their unique suitability is for the post is and about their greatest personal weakness. They’ve all read the bit about turning a negative into a positive in the ‘Get the Job You Want!’ handbook, but it’s an interesting exercise for all that.  

Thursday 29 September
We take up our hosts’ suggestion and drive up through the mountains to picturesque Gougane Barra (‘the rock cleft of Finbarr) where a large lake in a glacial valley reflects the autumn trees and an amazing Cavalry is pale and startling against dark evergreens. Continuing up through the mountains, the mist descends yet again so we cut our losses and walk round the pretty, touristy town of Kenmare. Ma optimistically buys two lotto tickets.

Next... the mist lifts.

Comments

Irish Eyes said…
Oh Chris! What have you gone and done! Pulling the heart out of me - that's what it is! We spent last summer preparing for and engaging in extension building, and this summer Mother in Law passed away and we spent most of our holiday and every other week end going down to OH's home place, so Kerry was not on the agenda this year either. I MISS IT SO MUCH!!!!!!!!! Thank you for such a wonder ful blog, [and I read back in order to catch up] and I am determined Tralee here we come next week. Wonderful, fabulous blog! Presidential elections eh? Yeah..I am really interested in our latest offering zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!
Chris Stovell said…
My condolences to your family for your loss, Irish Eyes. It sounds as if you've had a difficult summer to say the least. We loved staying in Kerry last year and revisiting it this year. We would like to have seen more of Cork, but the weather was too moist and misty to get more than a glimpse of it. We've really enjoyed both our trips to Ireland, but for different reasons, and have some wonderful memories to take back with us. Yes, it's currently expensive and the weather - like west Wales - can be testing, but we'll definitely go back!

Presidential elections... at least you get a choice!

And I hope I haven't pulled the heart out of you!
Pondside said…
Like your mother, I thought about fleas - and I had to laugh at the thought of the hitch hiker being any sort of boyfriend material!
Debs Carr said…
I love the sound of your mother, she sounds wonderful.

My mother and step-father visited Ireland a few years ago and it sounds similar to your trip, especially the bit about the extra passenger.
Fennie said…
Looking forward to the next instalment. If your mother is anything like my father she would eye every passing abandoned castle (or even hovel) with the enquiry 'Is it for sale? Could we do it up?)
sheepish said…
It sounds wonderful, road blocks included. Ireland is on my list of 'must visit'. Shame about the weather but we normally have more than enough sun here so a bit of cold and mist would be okay. Loved the description of your Mothers eyes, she sounds like a lovely lady.
Preseli Mags said…
'Oh he was mostly harmless' Mostly? Eek. Poor Ma. I bet your hitchhicker's still dreaming about her beautiful eyes though. And telling his version of the tale to his mates over a pint of the black stuff.
elizabethm said…
great to catch up with your blogs and your trip to Ireland. I understand all too well about life in a building site. First there is a mountain is about to be adopted here too. Great phrase.
Flowerpot said…
Oh I'd love to go Chris - sounds amazing. Your mum is brilliant!
Shirley Wells said…
Your mum sounds wonderful - and beautiful.

I love the idea of going to Lourdes to pray for the Irish rugby team. There's a book in that. :)
Chris Stovell said…
Pondside, I must say, I think she's getting very fussy in her old age :)

Debs, I wonder if it was the same person?!

Fennie, Ma's the queen of renovation - the last project being her own flat which was a wreck when she bought it four years ago - and she continued to live in during the renovations! And thank you!

Sheepish, we've thoroughly enjoyed our visits to Ireland, so I can recommend it, although my only caveat is that it was very expensive this year. The people are wonderful, even the hitchhikers!!

Mags, I expect they were having a good ole chortle about the gullible eejits who pulled up for him! I think it was an experience for all concerned!

Elizabeth, thank you, especially when you're so pushed for time right now too. Good luck with the renovations... our mountain comes and goes but it looking quite formidable again at the moment.
Chris Stovell said…
FP, if you get the chance, do... but maybe save up first! No, they don't make too many like Ma *wipes brow* she is very much her own person.

Shirley, thanks for your comment. Ma was a real cracker in her day and still holds her own. I think the main drawback to the Lourdes thing is that Ireland lost... but what do I know?

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