I’ve been back for almost two weeks but it’s taken me a while to acclimate to being home. I’ve been feeling really foggy in my head, like I’m not entirely here. It’s not a physical illness, more like a state of mind. It’s not a comfortable feeling. I hope it fades soon.
Our trip was such a fast one and so packed full of so many people and experiences that it feels almost like it was all just a dream.
My mother and I left Chicago on Sunday around 7 pm and arrived in Dublin on Monday morning at 8. Here we are waiting for the express bus to my aunt’s house in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.
I was so tired on the bus that I missed a lot of the scenery as we wound through one village and another. We were greeted at the bus stop by my aunt and my cousin who I was so excited to meet! Once we arrived home in Enniskillen, we took a walk near my aunt’s house. I was bound and determined to stay awake that whole day to fend off the jet lag. It was misting just a little bit that day and, believe it or not, that was the only rain we saw all week. The rest of the time it was like a perfect summer day.
This is the view from my aunt’s sitting room.
The next morning, we got a ride from the neighbor across the border to Swanlinbar, County Cavan, Ireland to visit the house where my mother grew up.
After we left the house, we went for a walk through the little town of Swad.
I met so many of the people who my mother knew growing up and yet somehow managed not to take a picture of any of them. But here’s a beautiful field.
The next day, my cousin Maura drove us into Cavan Town to have a look around and have lunch. Everyone always tells me that I look like my father and it’s certainly true but I see a resemblance here on my mother’s side as well.
I dearly wish we could come back in August for the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. It’s not in the cards this year but a girl can dream.
Then it was back to my aunt’s lovely house to meet the children coming home from school.
Liam and Atticus can’t wait to meet their little cousins whenever we manage to get the whole family over to Ireland.
On Wednesday night, we were lucky enough to catch a ride with my mother’s friend back to Cavan Town to attend a session at the Farnham Arms Hotel. We were extra lucky that the session was hosted by accordion genius and traditional music advocate extraordinaire Martin Donohue. The men at the session were all very welcoming to having a gate crasher from America and I really enjoyed my first traditional session in Ireland.
Speaking of, I should always have my mother with me at sessions. She remembers way more tune names than I do.
On Thursday, we took the bus back into Swad to visit with some more relatives and friends.
We also stopped by the Swanlinbar An Comhaltas group where they do traditional music lessons every Thursday night. They were kind enough to let us drop into the lessons but we were worried that we were too distracting to the little giggling tin whistlers so we excused ourselves after a few minutes. I would have stayed longer for the adult class but I was very much looking forward to going out for coffee with my cousins and their friends.
Friday was my mother’s birthday and my aunt and her family had the most wonderful birthday party for her, complete with a delicious cake baked by Maura’s 8 year old daughter.
My mother was so touched by this party and most especially by the children’s contributions. It was a beautiful night.
On Friday night, we went to a session at The Bush Bar in Enniskillen.
One of the highlights of the session was Donegal fiddler Matt McGranaghan playing his spectular version of traditional tune The Mason’s Apron.
When I was talking to my uncle the next day on the phone, I found out that I was playing at that session with a fellow whose father used to play in sessions with my great grandfather Pat Dolan.
On Saturday, we caught the bus back to Dublin and spent the night with one of my mother’s friends from nursing school and then suddenly it was time to hop on the plane to go home.
My wonderfully welcoming extended family made us feel so at home with them. It would have been much harder to leave if I hadn’t been so anxious to get back to Joe and the boys.
After the long trip, I think we were all in need of some snuggles. My aunt traveled back with us to spend some more time with my parents and to see southern California.
Joe and I have set a goal to make it back to Cavan and Fermanagh with our boys sometime in the next two years. In the meantime, I’ll make do with the memories and the music.