Mom and the Girls' Trip to Ireland - 2016

Beyond the Pale


 

Ballylee

May 19, continued

After leaving Keane's store in Gort, we packed ourselves back in the car and headed to Thoor Ballylee, where I wanted more photos. I photographed the tower from every angle I could imagine, and walked downstream a bit to the old mill tucked in the woods, took more photos and then headed back to the car.

Before we left, we sat in the parking lot and all four of us girls sang "Happy Birthday" to Mom once again. Then we moved on down the road, stopping one last time at the grassy meadow where the home of Thomas Swift and Mary Connell once stood and where John C. Swift was born. For this moment, we helped Mother get out of the car and pose for a photo by the site.  Then we said our farewells to Ballylee, and with Sara in the driver's seat, we moved on toward Navan, our destination for the evening.

Our initial thought was to make the trip via Longford, but we revised that plan decided to shorten the travel day and go directly to Navan. It was a good decision for a couple reasons -- we have been going steadily since getting here, and we thought it would do all of us, especially Mom, a bit of good to just rest and have coffee/tea. Also, our hostess at tonight's B&B (Bothar Alainn in Navan) had emailed me to let me know that she needed to be on the road to Galway by 6 pm. She had a tragic and unexpected death in her family several days ago, and the family was having a service said for him at the parish in Galway.

Bothar Alainn House B&B

Bothar Alainn means "Beautiful Road"

We arrived at Bothar Alainn House B&B in Navan by 4:30 p.m., and our hostess Josephine McKeigue gave us a sunny welcome. This place is a lovely spot, with a comfortable sitting room on the ground floor (with working wi-fi!) and an excellent pub for dining not more than a quarter mile away. We got all squared away and settled in the sitting room to just rest, and Josephine was off on her trip to Galway with time to spare. There is only one other guest staying here this evening, and Josephine indicated that he is a regular and is rather self-sufficient.

After catching up on our emails, news, photos and just generally sitting still for a bit, we loaded back in the car and drove the short distance to the pub, Teach na Teamhrach (House of Tara.) It was not more than a 100 yards and would have been walkable, but not for a nonagenarian with a broken foot.

The manager of the pub greeted us like we were old friends and immediately was very considerate of Mother's comfort, fetching a stool and a pillow so we could situate her in a way to prop up her foot (which we have hardly had the opportunity to do much.) He answered our dozens of questions about the menu, took our orders and brought us superb meals. I had a salmon and prawn dish which was very yummy and also a pint of Guinness (even yummier.) We had lots of water, too, because it is something we probably aren't getting enough of even though we are each carrying our own bottle and sipping from it regularly.

Annis, Sara, Martha, Molly, Roberta

Celebrating Mother's 93rd birthday at Teach na Teamhrach, Navan
(clockwise, from left: Annis, Sara, Martha, Molly and Roberta)

The meal was uber-sufficient -- somehow we had extra dishes of chips (fries) and the beef fajitas that Annis and Mother shared were more than even two of them could handle. We ate as much as we dared, and pondered dessert. We have seen "sticky toffee pudding" on every menu so far and have wanted it but never got it. So Annis declared that she wanted to try that. Mother expressed a desire for "something chocolate." I went off, ostensibly to get the dessert menu, but actually intent on asking the manager if he might be able to bring a birthday cake to the table. He was very agreeable and, when I told him it was Mother's 93rd birthday, his eyes grew big in genuine surprise, and he exclaimed, "No way!" 

The presentation was grand, a perfect surprise to Mom, who enjoyed a third singing of "Happy Birthday," and blew out the two candles on the cake, making a wish as she sliced into it (as Micheal taught us is the tradition in Ireland.) The manager gave Mother an enthusiastic congratulations, grasping her hand with both of his and declaring that she was "Brilliant! Just Brilliant!" We shared the cake around the table until it was gone. Before that, though, the manager suggested that he take a group photo, and he snapped two really good pictures on my camera. Annis had prepared a card which all of us signed and presented to Mom on this very special day for all of us.

Roberta, relaxing in the sitting room at Bothar Alainn

Relaxing in the sitting room at
Bothar Alainn

We laughed and talked about tomorrow's plan which will probably change at least once before we set foot out of the breakfast room, and then we headed back to the B&B and to bed. Tonight, I am sharing a room with Sara and Mother, with me in the double bed with Mom. Annis and Martha are down the hall in another room.

Tomorrow's plan is to drive to Longford just to see the place from which the Whelans came, and perhaps to drive to Monasterboice, the place with the ancient high crosses. I think tomorrow's weather could be iffy, but Saturday and Sunday are practically certain to have rain. We have things planned those days which are outdoor things, but so far, we have been able to work around the rain when it happens (or, it might be working around us -- it rained again a few times today, but never when we were out of the car. I hope we can be as lucky for the remainder of our visit.)

 
Next stop: Kells and Longford. Click here to continue reading.

 

 
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This page was last edited on 15-Jun-2016

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