Everyone was up and at breakfast on Thursday morning by 7am and on the road to Donegal by 8. we drove north to Ardera to the Triona weavers. Our group was let loose for some much needed "retail therapy", to quote John our driver, and we were presented with Irish coffees while the cash and plastic was flying for such items as Donegal tweeds and woolens.
After lunching in Donegal town we headed southeast to County Fermanagh and again into the UK, to the home of Beleek china. It was an amazing experience to tour this factory producing the most beautiful Parian china by hand. just watching the pieces being hand painted was exquisite. I even bought something.
We then drove southwest through Co. Leitrim and into Co. Sligo to the Yeates Country and W.B's grave at Drumcliffe Churchyard. His epitaph "Cast a cold eye on life, on death.....Horseman pass by" always found that a bit chilly...after a quick cuppa, we drove to our Sligo Park Hotel. Almost everyone stayed in after dinner and got a good night's sleep.
Breakfast at 7am this morning got us off to an early start heading for Co. Mayo and the town of Westport, our final port of call before heading for Dublin tomorrow. We arrived around 10 am, dropped a few people off and headed down to Achill Island, the largest island off the Irish coast, reachable by bridge. e drove through Newport, Mulraney and saw one of the old 12 century O'Malley castles along the way. There are three in all on the Mayo coast. One can only wonder at the awesome beauty of the Atlantic Drive and our weather was splendid...just an occasional sprinkle....lots of terrific photographs. We had lunch at the Beehive restaurant and then visited a Famine village, completely deserted and in ruins. Upwards of one hundred small houses existed here before the Great Hunger of the 1840s wiped out the community through famine and emigration.
We arrived back in Westport about 4 in time for a stroll before dinner. Rory and I went for a drink at the Porter House pub on Bridge Street, a pub once owned for generations by my own family. We owned several properties at one time in the late 1800s and into the 20 th C but over the years these were sold off. We met an elderly gentleman, reading his paper over a pint, and I asked him who he was. He knew my grandfather, my two aunts, an uncle who died at the age of 21 and my father. We were enlightened with stories of my family history, anecdotes of my grandfather and just the idea that Rory got to meet someone who actually knew his great grandfather was priceless. This man had, at one time, been the organist in the local church and told us my grandfather used to go and listen to him rehearse quite often. My grandfather was a professional musician in his day and thought me much of what I know today. He also told us I had " the look of my grandfather and that Rory and I had definitely gotten the 'gift of the gab' from him".... What a coincidence meeting him when we did.
Back to the hotel for dinner and it was scrumptious .... Everybody agreed it was the best yet...many of the group went out....Westport on a Friday night...Rory's already asleep, I'm finishing up this chapter of the blog and hope to be asleep before the partners start arriving back later...there's a couple of bachelor parties in tonight and a wedding....
Tomorrow we head straight across to Dublin for more shopping before my final concert at Kennedy's of Westland Row with my brothers Arthur and Raymond on stage, along with original member of the Young Dubliners and one of my very dear friends, Paul O'Tool....my brothers Martin and Fergus will probably show up as well as my sister Brenda and many other family members...hope to get our laundry done tomorrow afternoon before Rory and I had head off to London and Paris on Sunday morning....m
I'm hitting the sack right now, catch up later.....