Unforgettable

A little more about Ireland and the sweetest old man whom I wanted to keep……

I have so many beautiful scenery pictures from Ireland….but the highlights of the week were finding my great grandfather’s cottage, and then the next day finding the remains of my great grandmother’s cottage. I shared that story here….https://apronsheelsandyogapants.com/2016/05/28/wanderlust/

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It all seemed surreal, especially when hunting for my great grandmother’s childhood home, with very little clues to go on. (just a photo and town name) We received a name and address, with the help of a sweet lady at the post office, of the oldest man in the tiny little town we were searching in. She said in her fabulous Irish brogue,  “He knows everything.” Between the kindness of the Irish people, the way they speak, and one charming village after another, surely this must all be a dream.

 When we arrived at the oldest man in town’s little farmhouse, there he was out in the field with his flat cap on, a button up shirt, blazer, and trousers….older Irish men are always well dressed. As a matter of fact, I have found that what I love about older Irish men, is that they look like older Irish men.

I wish so badly I would have taken a photo, but I didn’t want to seem “touristy.” His name was Sean Marren. Marren is the Irish name in our family. Again….this must all be a dream. His brogue was wonderful. It really felt like a scene out of a movie…or maybe I’ve watched “The Quiet Man” too many times. The scenery was perfect as I walked through the field. I happened to be wearing a long, flowing skirt that day…..I almost felt like Maureen O’hara, as I walked toward this sweet man, who for all I knew could be a relative. He was darling and I wanted to take him home, but my mother said I could not.

Mr. Marren was kind enough to study the picture we brought of the cottage. He knew exactly who had owned it and it was right around the corner from him.

As I said, I wish I had a picture of him, but didn’t want to appear rude. Ireland receives many Americans a year, searching for ancestral homes and long lost cousins. He may have thought I was just another one of “those.” (which I am)

I’ll never forget him or this magical place called Ireland. Some people and places are simply unforgettable.

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Wanderlust

I arrived in Ireland two days ago, along with my mother and my son.

They are here to do family research and find the homes of some of our relatives who left many years ago to come to America. It’s been an emotional experience thus far.

I came along to basically be their driver. ( they are the genealogy experts ) I enjoy the family history, and I shed some tears at the sight of my great grandfather’s home. I imagined him as a very young man, heading out the old gate of his home as he left to find a better life in America. Back then, the families would have a “wake” after a relative left, knowing they would never see them again. I can’t imagine the bravery, fear, and sadness that went along with it all. So it was a powerful experience to come all the way to Ireland and find his home.

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My mother and son, feeling much satisfaction after years of research and a trip to Ireland, as they stand in front of the home where my mom’s grandfather grew up.

I needed the time away. My favorite part so far was spending about 20 minutes all alone, listening to the sea splash against the rocks. Yes, this extrovert sat all alone for a bit. Of course there were other people walking around, which I suppose comforted me in some way. They were a ways off, so for myself it was more solitude than I usually get. I quickly discovered the importance of it.

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My view as I enjoyed some solitude and peace

I sometimes try to find a “place” to be alone and think. I am always searching in life and looking for answers. I’ve come to accept that’s just who I am. There is no cure….only temporary fulfillment when I allow myself to express what I have discovered.

Sitting in a beautiful, natural environment filled my mind, my senses, and my soul. Trying to find that inner peace all alone with a cup of tea at Starbucks doesn’t do it for me. Perhaps I came all the way to Ireland to figure that out.

I am from a small area in the midwest of America. When I get back home I won’t be able to smell the wonderful smells, hear the calming sounds, and see the lovely sites that come with sitting near the ocean. I’ll have to search for something else. I need more time in nature.

I find I am happiest when I am out of my “element.” I am already itching to go somewhere else and I am not even back home yet.

I have also found, while in new places, my mind opens. I think there is such an importance to it. Perhaps it’s the realization that there is an entire world out there….not just my world. Everything is thought provoking when in a new city, state, or country. I love experiencing the food, music, everything in a different culture. It all touches a part of my brain that is untouched in my daily routine.

More than anything, I love meeting new people. Absolutely, the highlight of my trip has been talking with locals. I love people so much. My family laughs at me (in a loving way ;)), because I grow attached quickly, and I will miss people I’ve only spoken with for a short time. To me, people are the best part of life.

I’ve been here a few more days since I began this post. Since then, we also discovered the cottage where my great grandmother grew up, mourned at sites where mass burials occurred during the great potato famine, visited in the evenings with our wonderful bed and breakfast host, (who is filled with fabulous stories and information about this country he loves), and just sat and pondered at what our strong, brave ancestors endured.

We are hopping on a plane tomorrow, and heading back to the states. I am sad to leave, but excited to see the rest of my family.

I’ll rest for a day or so….then begin planning the next place. I am thinking Italy.

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My great grandmother’s cottage use to be a darling little thing with white washed walls and a thatched roof. Thankful there are still remains of it.

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Touching the gate my great grandmother might have touched, as she left on foot for the beginning of her journey to America.

 

 

 

Chlorine, Baby Oil, and Orange Crush

 

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I’m passionate about antiques. I’m quite sure I was supposed to be born in the early 40s. Nothing stirs me like walking through an antique store, especially one filled with vintage treasures that now remind me of my childhood. Guess that makes me “vintage.” It’s cool, right?

I’m in love with these old metal gym baskets I’ve been finding for a while now. One look and I’m taken back to the public swimming pool across the street from my childhood home. I can instantly smell the chlorine.

They’d hand us a basket with a key attached to it. You had to safety pin the key to your suit, (no one did that – we pinned them to our towels). Then we walked through the locker room, conspiring how to look like we showered without really showering. Showers were required to swim. This basically meant throwing some of that cold shower water on your head so the lifeguard watching you come out wouldn’t send you back in. This is why I don’t attend public pools as an adult….gross.

Next, to find the perfect spot to rest our towels and jump on in to practice opening our eyes under water. Are kids allowed to do that these days? The soda machine would need to be nearby so we could get our fill of orange Crush. I lived in a tiny little town, a bit behind the times. So that fabulous soda machine spit out glass bottles…yum.

With age, we would instead find the perfect spot to show off our baby oiled, glistening bodies as the cute boys walked by. I remember actually watching someone put melted butter on their body! My generation keeps dermatologists in business.

My most vivid memory, however, is the young boy who decided to show his unwavering love for me, by pushing me in the pool. I have a permanent scar on my leg from sliding down the scratchy bricks as I fell in. He should have pushed me harder so I’d miss the edge.

All of those memories from picking up an old, metal basket. To some, old treasures are not treasures at all, but old junk. To me, I see items that need to be rescued. How sad to see something completely disappear that can trigger a precious walk down memory lane.