Episode 11 - ...and Another from Karen and Bob

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April 24, 2006

My parents rolled into the Cork City bus station happy to see us, but perhaps even happier that their journey was nearing its end. So after a quick bite to eat in Cork, we were back on the road heading toward Rose Cottage. Now, Jessamy and I have become accustomed to the Irish driving style, but here were my parents, tired from having been up all night on the plane and disoriented from being in a new country, suddenly thrown into the furiously fast Celtic speedway. With cars careening around corners and our own car lurching and bobbing with the less-than-perfect road conditions, I heard my dad mutter under his breath an exclamation that simply cannot be posted on a public web site. I decided to cut the weary travelers some slack and slowed our rented German Opel to a speed that might be acceptable in the states, and we slowly made our way home.

As the following morning was Easter Sunday, we awoke early, cleaned ourselves up, and made our way to the Bantry Catholic church. After realizing that Jessamy and I, not being regular church attendees, had gotten the mass time wrong, we decided to kill the couple hours before we could next save our souls by going for a drive. Having survived the drive (much to my parentsí surprise), as well as the 38-minute mass (the Irish do their praying quickly), we returned to Rose Cottage where Jessamy, with the help of my mom, prepared an amazing chicken dinner with all the fixinís.

The next day, we decided that a trip back to the Mizen Head Peninsula and the cliffs on Brow Head was in order. Much like our last visit, the sun was shining and, unlike many other magnificent spots in Ireland, we had the place to ourselves. So, like a bunch of kids with nothing better to do, the four of us laid on the edge of the cliff and took in the splendor while watching the sea gulls play in the confused winds of the bluff.

After a day of relative solitude from other visitors to the island, we decided to jump into the tourism deep end with a trip to Blarney Castle and its slobbery stone. The castle itself is quite impressive, and of course the stone holds it own strange attraction (who knows what that is), but the grounds around the castle take the cake. Acres upon acres of mature trees, lovely shrubbery (I realize that only a middle-aged British woman should use the term lovely shrubbery, but it really was quite nice), brilliant flower beds, and stone steps carved though solid rock, which were all perfectly manicured and maintained, as a result, Iím sure, of the 8 Euros necessary to get in.

Iíll spare you some of the more mundane happenings as we spent the next couple of days driving to the Dingle peninsula, and then on to Galway city, where we would spend the last two nights of my parentsí visit. After having a lovely dinner and a few drinks at the pub, we decided to call it a night, as the next day we were off to try to track down my Grandfather Devlinís family.

Luckily, my parents have my grandfatherís birth certificate. On the certificate we had his place of birth (Glenamaddy), the town land he lived on (Shanaghmore), and his name before he moved to the States (Devilly). So with Jessamy as the navigator we set off to Glenamaddy to see what we could find. Upon arriving in town, we stopped where every good Irish Catholic would to stop to gain enlightenment: the pub. Despite the name on the pub reading Divilly, the barkeep didnít know of any Devillys that still lived in Shanaghmore, but she thought that the woman in the post office might be able to help. Of course, this being Ireland, where nothing is straightforward, we were shuffled from the pub to the post office, then from the post office to the hardware store, where we were pointed in the general direction. We drove around a bit until we found a woman unloading her groceries who told us to see yet another man who would probably have the information we were looking for. Amazingly, her directions were good and we found a man named Paddy, who used to be the neighbor of my fatherís cousin Tony. Unfortunately, Tony had died the previous August and his wife had left the old homestead, but Paddy said we were welcome to go up and take a look.

On the property is a rundown bungalow that was probably built sometime in the 60ís as well as an old stone building that is currently being used by a neighbor as a horse stall. Itís hard to tell if the old stone building would have been the house that my grandfather would have grown up in, but it is certainly a good possibility. After walking around the property a bit, we made our way back out to the main road, where Paddy was waiting to share with us a bit more information that he had remembered. It turns out that one of my grandfatherís sisters, who we didnít know existed, was still alive at 95 and lived in a town not too far off. So with a vague notion of where we were headed, we were off to the town of Fuerty to find the Mullen family, and perhaps some living relatives.

After only two stops for directions (ďCan you point us in the direction of Mrs. Mullen?Ē), we pulled up in front of what was sure to be my fatherís auntís or cousinís house. After a knock on the door, a somewhat awkward introduction, and finally a well-timed ďso that would make us first cousinsĒ by my father, we were invited in for tea and, we hoped, a brief history of the last, oh, 85 years. Unfortunately, Cousin Jarlethís mother Bridget hadnít spoken much of the past, and he actually knew very little of what had happened to the rest of her brothers and sisters. His mother, however, was living in a nursing home not too far away, and he was sure that she could answer many of our questions. So after a bit of a visit with Jarleth and his nine-year-old son Gary (who it seems loves everything about ďAmericaĒ, especially the Indiana Pacers), we were off to see Mrs. Mullen, my fatherís aunt.

Unfortunately, upon arriving at the nursing home we were told that Mrs. Mullen was not feeling well and they were not sure if she would be up for visitors. But the nurse came back with a smile on his face saying that she would see us, but only if we had dollars for her. (It would seem that she hadnít lost her sense of humor despite her declining health.) After walking into her room, our hopes of learning more quickly faded, as it seemed that more than just her hearing was failing. After trying to ask a couple of questions, it became apparent that our presence was making her extremely uncomfortable, so we left the nursing home disappointed that we had not learned more, but happy all the same at having met the sister of my grandfather.

So the last night in Galway was spent as one might expect: eating burgers and fries, drinking beer, and listening to a couple of guys cover American pop songs. The next morning, we dropped my parents off at the Shannon airport and started to make our way back down to Bantry, where we had to drop the rental car off by five. About half way into the trip and a few wrong turns later, I was finally given an excuse to drive as the Irish do in order to make the deadline. After two hours of keeping up with the soccer moms in their SUVs, and ten minutes before five, we pulled into the rental car place, where we collected our little Ford and made our way back home, where weíll enjoy four days of solitude before my sister and Jodie arrive.