Monday, April 17, 2017

Monday April 17

The morning started with a smoked salmon and cheddar cheese omelet and all the usual trimmings. I'm writing these blogs since I woke up at 3:30am this morning and could not go back to sleep. I'm downstairs in the quiet of the breakfast room, it's now 6am...the birds are chirping outside but all around this 280 year old house house, nothing is stirring, not even a mouse...only the almost silent tapping of my keyboard.

After our breakfast we headed off again at 9:30 for another very long driving day. I know I pushed Paul, our driver, but he was cool...our first stop was the town of Kinsale, a two hour drive east and south to the coast. Today one of the culinary gems of Ireland but well known for its historic Battle of Kinsale in 1601, the defeat of the Irish clans by the English army ended the old Gaelic era, and began the complete colonization of Ireland by England for the next three hundred or so years. After a very pleasant walkabout we drove to Skibbereen and I shared the sad moments at the Famine graveyard just outside town where there are 9-10,000 unidentified bodies of the Irish dead buried in a space half the size of a football field...or smaller. A saying is written nearby, " Never was the price of bread so cheap, and the price of human life so dear". This Irish holocaust took place between 1845 and 1850, when 1,000,000 people did and 1,000,000 + emigrated because of the Great Hunger, the potato blighted famine, the greatest human disaster of the 19th C.

We drove on to the most south westerly point of Ireland, the Mizen Lighthouse Station, a two hour drive from Skibbereen. I must say, so far, our group has been great for the duration of these last two days' drives... My cousin Stephen O'Sullivan is the manager of the Visitor Center and he was actually one of the last Irish Lights Lighhouse Keepers who worked on the Mizen Lighthouse. His mother's family, the O'Donovans, had worked as lighthouse keepers for generations, and though Stephen was born and raised in London, he got the job as a very young man in the early 70's.

Unfortunately, Stephen was unable to meet our group but much to my amazement his twin sister Anne, flagged down our bus outside the village of Goleen nearby, where their family have lived for generations, I didn't even know she was visiting her own home for Easter, and she boarded the bus asking for me...we have not seen each other in over ten years and our reunion was magic. She and her husband Chris got to meet Rory and they invited us back to stay with them anytime...what a treat.

Now for the real information ... I can only tell you all that the scenery down around the Mizen Lighthouse , Goleen, Barleycove and Glengarrif has got to be the most breath taking in all of Ireland....and I had never ever been there before. Karen, from Long Beach, who initiated the tour as a trip to her immediate family, and welcomed anyone else who wished to join us, had specifically asked to visit Kinsale...this prompted me to visit a lifelong wish, Mizen Head and my God was it worth it...a very long drive down the Bantry Bay peninsula beyond my imagination. Everybody, despite the ten hour day tour were so impressed.

We returned to Kenmare in less than two hours and headed into town to grab a bite. Many of us assembled in McCarthy's Pub for a bite...Rory had a delicious local wild salmon dish in a veloute sauce, I had the stuffed leg of pork, unfortunately I think it was probably prepared on Holy Thursday last and reheated last evening. I could have used it to resolve my shoes but you win a few etc...

We came back to the Lodge and I sang for about an hour again by he fire in the parlor and we all retired once again around midnight. As it is now 6:20 am on Tuesday, I'm signing off and will go upstairs to his Lordship's room and see if I can't grab 40 winks ! It's a moving day today, we are packing up and driving north west to the Cliffs of Moher in Clare and on up o Westport for the next three days....catch you all later...

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