Mom and the Girls' Trip to Ireland - 2016

Beyond the Pale



Monday, May 16

The Pier Head, Kinvara

The Pier Head in Kinvara

We are eating at the Pier Head restaurant at Kinvara as I write this. I had some delicious mussels with fennel and Pernod. The wi-fi connection at the B&B is sporadic at best, but the connection here at the restaurant is good, so I thought it might be a good time to get a message sent to Steve and tell him that we have safely arrived. This afternoon's nap did everyone a bit of good, and after dinner, we'll go back to the B&B, go to bed early and be ready to start fresh tomorrow.

The flight out of Philadelphia was delayed because of a problem with the nose gear -- we didn't get a complete explanation of just what was damaged, but as the plane was pushing back from the gate (with one of those tow-bar trucks), there was a loud bump and jolt and we stopped. I thought we had backed into something, but I think something happened at the nose gear. The pilot described it as minor and said if they could get a needed part, they would repair it. It would take about 30 minutes.

Awaiting departure in PHL

At Philadelphia, awaiting departure: Martha,
Sara, Annis and Roberta

Then they said it would take 45 minutes, so they allowed us to deboard at our option. Then they said it was not optional that everyone should deboard. So I did, but Mom, Sara, Annis and Martha waited and asked if we could avoid moving Mom. The captain approved the request for her to stay on board. (So of course they took that opportunity to help her to the bathroom on board.) They had only just finished that and she was back in her seat, when the announcement was made in the gate for everyone to get back on the plane. I think we finally departed about two hours later than scheduled. 

The flight was smooth, but most of us (except Mom) didn't really sleep much. Sara thought Mom probably slept about three hours. The flight was only about 5 hours 40 min. We landed in Shannon around 10:15 am.(4:15 a.m. to our tired brains and bodies)

The plane was not completely full, and there were some empty seats here and there. I moved over to the aisle seat and let the young woman in my row have the window seat. I learned later that it was her first overseas trip. As we approached the Shannon airport, she was glued to the window, and it really was a pretty scene. The sun was shining, and Ireland in all its glorious greens and golds and meadows and stone walls was rolling out a carpet of a hundred thousand welcomes beneath us as we landed. When the pilot announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Ireland," the young woman turned and looked at me with a look of pure delight and gave a little laugh. It's still a thrill to me, too, to touch down in Ireland.

I thought about Uncle Mike as we landed. I think he is with us.

The man who met us at the gate in Shannon with a wheelchair was super! He was friendly, chatty, complimenting Mom on her willingness to travel, and was very solicitous of her comfort. It was a great welcome.

Our cash withdrawals at the Shannon airport were made without a hitch, and when it came to the car rental, Sara and I opted for a larger model (no wider), which has turned out to be a good decision. It is a VW Caddy Maxi, a model not sold in the U.S. but perfect for our needs on this trip. We have sufficient room for the five bags and the wheelchair, though it's still a tight fit. I don't think we would have managed as well as with the original model I had reserved, so I am glad we made the switch.

Once I familiarized myself with all the controls in the car and got the GPS booted up, off we went, heading for our B&B near Kinvara. Driving on the left side of the road was not as nerve-wracking as the first time I had done it (fifteen years ago), but the first roundabout came along quickly, and I was startled but soon remembered that the traffic moves clockwise around the circle. After several more roundabouts, I started feeling a little more relaxed about the driving.

On the way to Kinvara, we stopped briefly at a shopping center in Ennis, where Sara and I bought a couple of cheap pre-paid phones for our use during our stay. The phones cost about €10 each, and we added €30 of credit to each one. A nice young man in the store helped us get them configured and connected to a service provider.

Mom had a lot of pain in her upper leg and hip, and her muscles were weak from coping with the weight of the protective boot for several days already. It was painful for her to stand or get in and out of chairs, and walking was out of the question. The airline did the best they could with transferring her each time, but every time she had to stand up or lower herself into a seat, it caused her considerable pain. More than once, I know that each of us girls wondered if we were making a mistake by not insisting Mom stay home.

Clareview House B&B

Clareview House B&B

When we got to the Clareview House B&B near Kinvara, our hostess Brenda McTigue came out to the car to welcome us. She is a lovely woman, and made us feel at home immediately. But we were in a bit of a quandary because all the guestrooms are upstairs, and Mother had no strength left to manage even the small step up into the house. The wheelchair I had rented from the Ireland Wheelchair Association had been delivered at the B&B the day before, so we unboxed it and used it to bring Mom in from the car to the house. Sara suggested that all four of us girls carry Mom up the staircase while she is still in the chair. I was skeptical of this plan, but there were not many other options available at that point, and we all wanted to lie down for a nap as soon as possible. Our hostess, Brenda, was sympathetic and as helpful as she could be, but when we picked up Mom and the chair, she wisely disappeared. It was probably scary to watch, and she has no doubt learned from experience not to get involved in harebrained schemes of her guests.

It was a struggle, and halfway up, Annis announced, "This is the stupidest idea we have ever had!" I heartily agreed, but there wasn’t much to do except keep going. We managed to reach the top without dumping Mom out of the chair or any of us giving out, but I doubt that I could do it again. Annis and I began thinking about a Plan B to relocate to a hotel in Gort, where we might find a room on the ground level. We retired to our rooms -- Martha and I sharing one room, and Sara, Annis and Mother in another room down the hall.

Everyone napped very well that afternoon. After the three- to four-hour afternoon nap, a miracle occurred. When I went to check to see if the rest of our party was awake and ready to go out for dinner, I saw Mom walking down the stairs (with assistance from Sara and Annis). The short rest had allowed her to recover some strength, and we were all happy to see that she could manage the stairs.

Brenda, our hostess, entertained a group of Germans while we slept (for a farm tour and afternoon tea.) She was concerned that the noise of their being in the house would disturb us, but I did not hear a thing. However, Sara and Annis asked me if I heard them singing. I wish I had. They said it was beautiful.

Castle Dunguaire and Kinvara Bay

Castle Dunguaire and Kinvara Bay

On reaching Kinvara, we parked near the Pier Head restaurant and took the opportunity to get some photos of Castle Dunguaire, which sits at the southeastern tip of the bay. The bay itself is a fingertip of Galway Bay, and is locally known as Kinvara Bay. (However, Steve and I refer to it as “Argument Bay” because it was at this location during our trip with Martha in 1992 that Steve abruptly pulled off

Molly and Martha at "Argument Bay"

Molly and Martha at "Argument Bay"

the road and announced, "this is a nice scenic spot,” which it is. But the real reason for his stop was a break from the tension in the car – it was at the end of an hour of his first time driving on the left side of the road – in a car with manual shift and two women, each asking a dozen questions about which direction we were going, what’s that castle over there, what's the name of this road, etc. After our trip, when we were going through the photos, he didn’t recognize the place name of Kinvara at all, but he took one look at my picture of the bay and said, “Oh, yeah. That was Argument Bay.”)

Such an unfortunate memory for such a lovely place! We all loved Kinvara Bay and the view of the setting sunlight on the row of houses, with a few boats out in the harbor, and the 16th century stone castle nestled in a wreath of green.

At the Pier Head restaurant, we were made to feel very welcome by the owner, who came out to greet us as we rolled Mom in her wheelchair toward the door. Our B&B hostess had telephoned him to ask whether or not we might be able to get into the dining room with the chair, and he saw to it that we made it up the ramp and directly in to a spot by the window.

Crab claws

Crab claws at Pier Head

The menu featured choices of seafood, salads, roast pork or lamb and other goodies. Annis ordered an intriguing dish of baked goat cheese with sun-dried tomato and a marmalade of red onion. I sampled it, and it was pretty tasty. I was very happy with my dish of mussels swimming in fennel and Pernod, and Martha had a dish of crab claws and salad.

After dinner, we drove back to Clareview House and sat for a bit in the sun room. After conferring with Brenda, we agreed on 8:30 as our appointed breakfast time. We don’t mind the chance to sleep a little longer, and this also gives Brenda a chance to serve other guests since she does not have table space for all the guests to eat at one time. We adjusted our time for meeting Sister DeLourdes at the Sisters of Mercy Convent in Gort to 10:30 a.m. tomorrow. I think this is a good pace. Sister will introduce us to Mattie Farrell, who remembers two cousins of the Swifts, and we'll also get a peek inside Thoor Ballylee and see some other places Sister has lined up based on her research of our family.


Up next: Kiltartan. Click here to continue reading.

Other stuff and 2023 trip

This page was last edited on 09-Apr-2023

back to the top