A Picnic In Ireland

By O’Ceallaigh-

We had spent 10 days traveling around Ireland enjoying scenery that only The Old Sod can provide.

Flying in over the West coast we could see the famous patchwork of the stone-lined fields so indigenous to Ireland. But in deference to the fields, we could see modern wind mills generating electrical power poking their skinny fingers toward the sky and spinning their blades.

A short distance from Shannon Airport was our first hotel, The Bunratty Inn which had connected to it a Pub and restaurant called “Kathleen’s” which was quite appropriate since it matched the name of me wee little wife!

But all this is nothing more than a preface to the story for there were so many sights to see and places to be. Our first meal was taken at Durty Nelly’s just a short walk from the hotel. This establishment has been there on the shore of the Ratty since 1620, the same year the Pilgrims sailed to America. Just walking through the door was an experience!

10 days later our plane left without us. It was so full that there was no room for us so we had arranged an additional tour of three days in which we would rent a car and travel on our own, lodging in Bed and Breakfast’s in our favorite locations.

We picked up our brand new Volkswagen with only double digit Kilometers logged and began.

Now, to be sure, this was no easy task! The Irish, like the English, drive on the wrong (excuse me) on the left side of the road with the steering wheel on the right. I had expressed my concern to our original bus-driver and he assured me I’d have no trouble. “Just be sure,” he said, “to keep the Missus in the ditch!”

Muddy though she was by the end of the trip, Paul the bus-driver was right! I had no trouble!

We went to Clifden in the northwest of Ireland and found our B&B, “The Faul House” a few Kilometers out from town on a very narrow road with a single path for each wheel of the car. The building was relatively new, clean and well furnished. We were settled into our room and invited to the sitting room for tea and a warm turf fire.

I cannot tell you of the ambience of that moment. My mind racing over the events I’d experienced and darting in and out of the crevasses of the history of that island!

It was the weekend and I thought of Padraig, (St. Patrick) who came to Ireland first as a young slave and escaped. Then after studying and learning the Celtic Christian faith he voluntarily returned taking the Irish on as his mission. He was a Sabbatarian and taught the Irish by precept and example. When the Roman church failed to convert his followers after his death, they made him a saint which brought many of his people into the Catholic fold.

The following morning we toured the town of Clifden absorbing as much of the ambience as we possibly could. It was a blustery day on the coast, threatening rain. In other words, a normal May day in Ireland.

Kylemore Abbey was also one of the sights we really wanted to see. After traveling several kilometers northward along Currywongane River, we finally arrived.

It was closed.

However, I picked up some of the best video of the trip by a little bridge crossing that river. I’ve used it a thousand times! Maybe more, maybe less.

It was about lunch time. We picked up some dried fruit, some crackers and opened the peanut-butter we had brought with us from America. We stopped by the sea coast of the Galway Coast
Bay of Clifden and sat in the car watching the waves – tossed and churned into whitecaps- as we ate our lunch.

The spray of the ocean, kicked up by the wind dampened the car! Now and then the wipers on the “wind-screen” would wipe the spray away and we would, again, have a clear view of the boats – buoyed in the bay-bouncing about like so many corks.

Donned in rain coats we descended a set of worn and weathered stone steps leading to the water’s edge. Kathy was busily collecting some sand and water to pack for the return trip.

I put my hand in the water and thought about that very water touching the shores of America and of the person who wrote the song, “If You Ever Go across the Sea to Ireland.” A bit of nostalgia crept over me – again. I began to understand why all the songs of the Irish have so much to say about returning to their home.

There is something about that place that grows on ye!

Even if it is only a lunch of dried fruit and crackers and peanut butter, what a place to go for a picnic!

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