Before we went to dinner yesterday we were sitting in our house discussing the dinner possibilities when the doorbell rang. We were all a bit startled as to who would be ringing our doorbell so David went to open the door. I heard “David, David is it! Hello David!” UT, AC and I nearly ran for the door. We knew it was our cousin from a road over. She and her lovely family had come for a proper Irish visit and we sat in our sun room. It truly is home when your doorbell rings and family who loves you shows up for a bit of a visit.
After our wonderful visit UT drove all of us in to Athenry for dinner last night. It was a lovely time. A grand time. But the best moment of the evening was the return trip to our house. UT was driving. AC asked Chloe if she had ever heard the song “The Fields of Athenry”. She had not. It did not take too much encouragement on AC and my part to get UT to serenade us. He did. And as we drove through the dusky Irish evening I was so deeply touched by a tune sung by a loved and dear uncle. It was Ireland, it was the way of the Irish. It was us.
A grand experience now a cherished memory.
Then this morning David realized we were out of toilet paper. It really is like home. Thank God for UT and AC who had bought some yesterday.
Today we headed to the famine museum at Strokestown Park House. Sadly the information retained regarding the ‘great’ famine is sparse and just leaves me wanting to know more. One picture was labeled in hand written script “after eviction”. The picture was blown up to nearly life size. The man had a white beard, a very lean face, an expression that I have had the good fortune in life to never have to wear. The lady was in her multiple layered dress and shawl which covered her head and shoulders and came down the front of the dress. They stand frozen in that horrible moment, after watching the wicked forces that took battering rams to their home and it lies in a broken pile behind them. That couple will remain frozen in my mind in that moment of their lives. But I want to know where did they go? Where were their children? Did they do like the others and take the sticks from the ruins of their destroyed homes and create a shelter in a ditch? Did they sit down and cry? Or is that moment the end of their lives, did they give up or go on.
These stories aren’t recorded. They aren’t reported. And they leave me wanting to know about the people. Where did all the millions of people go? Does that couple lie in an unmarked plot where hundreds if not thousands of others were put to get them out of the way. And what kind of a bastard does it take to tear down, destroy and steal items from the home of a couple to make them destitute in a matter of minutes. From where just moments before they had a home and furniture and belongings. And then, then on top of all of this, pose them unmercifully in front of their home and take their picture. Forever capturing their suffering. Fortunately when I look at that picture and see a man and a woman I wonder about who they are and what they thought. I look upon them as human. And I walk away knowing the person behind the camera was nothing more than a bastard.
The famine museum is set in a fine old home. Donated to the cause by the family estate with apologies from it’s creators for not having more information to impart upon us. It’s as if the world, and Ireland it’s self, wants to forget it. It was apparent to me that there are people who did not grasp the somber and solemn atmosphere that should have pervaded the museum. I walk through a room of the very short and linear museum. One lady approaches a member of her group talking about the dinner last night and the better food they had today and she couldn’t believe the difference.
Did she know what ‘famine’ meant?
I don’t mean to sound preachy. It is just the feeling I get when I think of the millions who suffered at the cruelty of a few. Specific actions taken to starve a people to death.
We are getting a right proper rain here and I’m glad of it. Exploring Ireland in sunshine only seems unnatural. It feels more natural to be climbing the rocks of fallen castle walls, and plowing through the wild and beautiful cemeteries in the rain. The cemeteries are full of history and stories. Walking amongst the graves of the 1900’s mixed with stones from hundreds and hundreds of years ago.
We have eaten meals, and we have eaten about five times already today. The restaurant of our choice so we don’t lose time:
Falling-in churches and hidden graveyards:
To graveyard, and this is not a real round tower but a ‘headstone’.
And the day is only half over.