Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ireland - Day 3

Ireland – Day 3 – Roots

Today, Monday, April 11th a day that brought us rain & hail. The end of the unseasonable warm sunny weather that had been our gift since arriving in Ireland.

We started our day in Ballyahinch, the birthplace of my beloved's great grand-father. We stopped at Natlie's Cafe for a quick bite to eat and ask some questions. We were directed to St. Colman's in Magheradrool Parish and a woman named Mary who might be able to help in the search for information. So off we went, up the hill to a church that smelled of new paint and plaster and I wondered what old secrets could this place hold.

I mean for pete's sake, I went to light a candle and they were electric. I lit one anyway in memory of Jolie, who was born this day. Rest well my friend.

After not being too helpful, Mary was finally able to come thru with a baptismal record for the GGF that included his parents names and his god-parents names.

Then we were off to Downpatrick, where St. Patrick is “buried”. Well, there is marker for him, but no one is really sure if he is under there. St. Patrick's grave is covered by an odd shapped rock marker. I as told later on that it was shaped that way because American GI's had chipped little pieces off of it during the wars. Damn American's. The church itself is undergoing extensive renovations and the inside looked kind of like someones garage when they are painting their living room. Everything crammed into the garage – in this case the church – until they are done. You could tell it was old, it smelled of mold and mildew and was very damp and I wondered how you could sit thru a sermon there without thinking about what the spores that are certainly floating in the air are doing to your lungs.

Then we were off to the Down County Museum in Down Patrick, where they have a timeline of all things Irish. Including the Battle of Ballyahinch, which was a very important battle in which I am sure the ancestor's of my beloved fought. Once we had gotton our fill of culture we headed off. Unfortunately at this point the weather got really cold it started to hail on us as we walked back to the car in the shadow of the church, perhaps a sign from St. Patrick that we all need to spend a bit more time inside a place of worship? Nah..., but I looked over my shoulder anyway just be sure he was not standing up there beside his grave waving good bye.

Off we went to Killyleagh, the place where my beloved's ggf & ggm lived, met, married and worked in a linen factory in a little town called Shrigley. My beloved was directed to the library by Mary at the church in Ballyahinch, the rest of us went to check out the castle. The castle of Killyleagh is still owned by the same family that built it in 1650! It is a private residence, so you can't visit it, crap! I remembered that we had looked into staying at it, because they have vacation units in the tower's but forget the reason we did not. Anyway we had agreed to meet down the street at that pub with the Guiness sign hanging from it. I know what you are thinking, Guiness sign, does not really narrow things down in Ireland and you would be correct. Except this one hung from a huge pink building and was hard to miss. The Duffern Arms has been a pub in Ireland since before St. Patrick spooked all the snakes, or at least it looked that way. We walked in to a little tiny room with a bench around most of it and a couple of bar stools, a big old bar with lots of pretty bottles behind it along with Viv, the lovely bar keep. Sitting in one corner were three men, another one standing against the bar and us. We ordered our drinks and sat. I was across the way, but that did not stop me from listening in on their conversation (what does?). They were talking the history of the town and I piped up with, ok since this is a history lesson, who lives in the castle?

That is when we found out that the Hamilton's own it. They have been in the castle since the 1650's and the current Lord Hamilton is a young guy, very nice and socialable like. His father, not so much. He is an arse.

Introductions got made, sitting next to Chief Matron Mare-son was Billy, who soon became enamoured with said CMMS. Then there was Shawn, who had to be a 145 years old and we could not understand a single word that came out of his mouth. Then there was D. Kennedy from Shrigley and sitting in the middle was no relation, S. Kennedy. S. is a fly fishing instructor who takes people on fishing trips and just could not understand why in hell's name we were staying in Bangor when we could have stayed in Killyleagh??? In case you are a fly fisherman come to Ireland for the Fly Fair on July 2 & 3. Check out for more information, cause I know my audience and you are all fishing fanatics!

So, we learn that my beloved's family had been Americanizing their name. They have always pronounced it DAVIE, we were corrected that it is pronounced DAAAAAAAAAAA-V. We were also told that the next to the last member of the family was a friend of the above Billy. Hugh DAAAAAAAAAAA-V had been a good friend of his. The last remaining family member was a woman in an old folks home up the road (everything is up the road), but she has dementia so even if we went to see her she would not know anything or anyone, so what is the point?

By this time CMMS and Billy were making plans to be married. I know that will surprise a few of you (to say the least) but he seems very nice, has a lot of land and few sheep, so it could work out????

We were told to cancel the rest of our stay in Bangor and come to Killyleagh for the rest of our time, we would have more fun and they would treat us right. After a few beers and a couple of shots of Feckin Irish Whiskey (except for the me) most of us were willing to pack up our little cottage and move to the place right across the street from the pub. In fact, our new bbf S. brought the proprietor of the B&B across the way over to meet us, unfortunately or not they had no rooms at the inn and so back to Bangor we finally went.

Now as I have said, driving in Ireland is challenging and driving at night is actually a bit easier since I could see people coming (if they had their lights on) way before I got to them, so I had plenty of time to visualize what was going to happen before it happened. We finally made it back to our cottage with my shoulders up around the tips of my ears and I was ready for a good nights sleep. Well, I would be sleeping the rest recovering from their Feckin whiskey. Just to be clear, they all loved this whiskey, it was like a drug and they wanted more.

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