RSSCategory: Vacation Ireland

Not So Grim

| November 29, 2010 | 0 Comments

I’m at Heathrow Airport getting ready for the trip back to Washington.  Things got a little better after my last post.  Once I accepted the fact that this would be the most expensive vacation EVER, I found some peace.

We stayed an extra day in London.  Attended a beautiful high Mass at Westminster Cathedral.  It had a large choir (men and boys), a partial Latin liturgy, incense, the works.  It was very nice.

Then, since a day without shopping is like a day without sunshine, we went shopping at Harrods.  Massive store, packed with people, a woman singing opera to people on escalators and a huckster selling the Vegimax, who was the spitting image of Eric Idle.

Finally, we went to the British Museum.  saw the Rosetta Stone, again, and an exhibit on the Books of the Dead from Egypt.

Maybe I’ll post on everything that happened since Kilmainham Gaol, but I can’t promise.

Kilmainham Gaol

| November 26, 2010 | 0 Comments

It is interesting that Ireland’s modern political history is best told in a horrific prison.  Kilmainham Gaol is a powerful symbol of the struggles of the Irish people.  Architecturally, it resembles the prison in The Shawshank Redemption. Unforgiving stones and steel.  Our tour guide was a burly, passionate Irishman with a full beard who talked non-stop for almost an hour and a half in a presentation that was rich with fact, anecdote and drama.  For instance, here’s a picture of the altar where Joseph Plunkett, one of the leaders of the 1916 uprising, married his beloved, 3 hours before he was executed by firing squad.  His bride lived to her 70’s and never remarried.

But the history of the prison vastly pre-dated this event, having been build in the late 1600’s.  All the Irish rebels through the years passed through Kilmainham.  The most dramatic story was that of Anne Devlin, who effectively sacrificed her entire family, not to mention herself, for the cause of Ireland.  I’m not disciplined enough recount her story, but click here for more.  It was our tour guide’s most passionate story and he concluded with the protest that one of the most grievous omissions in Irish history was the minor place to which this heroic woman is relegated.

The prison is now a multi-use facility where there are often concerts or theatrical performances.  It has also been used as a movie set, recently in the movie Michael Collins with Liam Neeson, which, outside of the dramatic love story, is a pretty accurate account of the founding of the Irish Republic.  Collins, of course, served time in Kilmainham.

Dinner with the Saunders and Murphys

| November 23, 2010 | 0 Comments

We had a delightful dinner with our friends, the Saunders and Murphys.  The Saunders are effectively our benefactors in the two times we’ve visited Ireland as a family, generously donating their car to us for our travels and, on our first trip, lodging.  The Murphys are friends of the Saunders’ whose son, Liam, did a short exchange program in Washington.

It was a lively dinner, full of laughter and goodwill.  The restaurant was The Winding Stair, which is right off the Ha’ Penny Bridge.  It was an unpretentious place with excellent food.  I would definitely go back.

Dublin – Reconnecting with Danny

| November 23, 2010 | 1 Comment

Traveling to Dublin was uneventful. A nice benefit of the European Union, we breezed through Customs.  What we arrived to was unusual, though, a driving hail storm.  Standing in the taxi line, the hailstones were clattering on the overhang.  Within a short time, it turned to rain, more typical Irish weather.

We stayed at the Ashling Hotel, a recommendation of a friend in Dublin.  While it was a Best Western, apparently Best Western is a more upscale brand in Ireland that it is in the U.S.  It was a very nice, seemingly business hotel.  Clean with attentive staff.

Meet the Parents

The first night we had dinner with the family that was hosting our son for the last three months.  David and Gilian are the parents, Adam and Ian the two teenage sons.  There are a delightful young family.  He’s an interior designer with his own business, she’s a nurse.  He is also an adventurous gourmet cook, which explained their choice of restaurant, the El Bahia Moroccan, which bills itself as the only authentic Moroccan restaurant in all of Ireland. I have no reason to doubt the claim as it was extremely authentic.  Upon walking into its dark, lush interior, Bridget remarked, “I feel like I’ve left Ireland.”

Danny was extremely fortunate in his host family.  They were all bright, intelligent, friendly, open and creative. The sons are both musicians, Gillian sings in a choral group and, as noted above, David is a chef.  They appeared to have true affection for Danny and David even delivered his pre-approved lines with conviction when I asked how Danny was doing?  He said, “He’s unfailingly diligent and focused!”

My Favorite Picture So Far

Here’s Bridget on the Millennium Bridge over the Liffey River in Dublin taken on our way to dinner.

The Kidnapping

| June 29, 2008 | 0 Comments

In an earlier post about John Saunders’ house in Dublin where we are staying, I mentioned that the house was formerly owned by a businessman who was kidnapped by the IRA right outside his home. It was a dramatic event that got enormous news coverage at the time, twenty-five years ago.

As it happens, it was back in the news this week when the Provisional IRA man who was charged with the crime 10 years ago was acquitted of all charges. The Irish Times devoted an entire inside page to multiple stories on the incident. The Times requires a subscription to view the whole story, but here are excerpts:

Former IRA leader freed on Tidey kidnapping charges.
817 words
27 June 2008
Irish Times
(c) 2008, The Irish Times.

COURT REPORT:FORMER IRA leader Brendan McFarlane was yesterday cleared of the kidnap of former supermarket executive Don Tidey almost 25 years ago.

The Special Criminal Court discharged the former IRA leader after an application by his counsel, Hugh Hartnett SC, for a direction of acquittal. This followed a statement by prosecuting counsel Fergal Foley that the State was “offering no further evidence”.

Earlier the court had ruled inadmissible an alleged admission by McFarlane to gardaí that he had been at the wood in Co Leitrim where Mr Tidey was held captive for 23 days in 1983.

Mr Justice Paul Butler, presiding at the non-jury court with Judge Alison Lindsay and Judge Cormac Dunne, said McFarlane retains the presumption of innocence.

The judge said that the court had heard evidence of “the horrendous kidnapping and physical abuse of Mr Tidey and his son and daughter”, which resulted in the killing of a young soldier and an unarmed Garda recruit.

“Although almost a quarter of a century has passed, it is clear . . . from the evidence of Mr Tidey and the attendance in court of the families of the garda and solider that all have suffered greatly,” he said.

Here’s a description of the actual crime:

Don Tidey would have seen nothing unusual in a uniformed “garda” flagging him to stop at a “Garda roadblock” at the junction of Stocking Lane and Woodtown Way. However, the “gardaí” were in reality members of the Provisional IRA. Tidey tried a frantic reversal when he realised what was happening but to no avail.

A submachine gun was put to his head and he was bundled from his car. Susan and Alistair [his 13 year old daughter and 24 year old son] were pulled from the car by an armed man, also in a garda uniform and thrown by the roadside as the terrorists left with the father. The snatch was over in five minutes and involved five or six men.

In the immediate aftermath of the kidnapping, gardaí concentrated their efforts on the immediate

vicinity but quickly enlarged their search to parts of Kildare, Kerry, Roscommon and Mayo.

For almost all of his abduction, however, it appears that Tidey was held in woods near Ballinamore in Co Leitrim.

On November 27th, a ransom demand for £5 million sterling was telephoned to Associated British Foods offices in London. ABF and the government were totally opposed to paying.

However, the net was closing. From about December 13th in the Ballinamore area, about 1,000 soldiers and some 100 gardaí were manning roadblocks, scouring the countryside and doing house-to-house searches.

At about 2pm on December 16th, Garda recruits were crawling through dense undergrowth in a forest of young pine trees at Deradda Woods. They saw some plastic sheeting in a hollow. It stirred.

They moved back and called for assistance. Gunmen leapt up and began firing.

A hand grenade was thrown. Gardaí and soldiers swarmed forward. The gunmen fled. Don Tidey, his head covered by a balaclava, was freed, physically unharmed. But a young garda and a soldier had given their lives to save him.

Pte Patrick Kelly, a 35-year-old from Moate in Co Westmeath, was shot dead. He left a widow, Cathrina (31) and four young sons.

Gary Sheehan, aged 23, died with him. He was due to graduate from Templemore in 1984. He was the son of Det Garda Jim Sheehan, stationed not far away in Carrickmacross in Co Monaghan.

Gary Sheehan is remembered by each batch of recruits to pass through Training College in Templemore.

The best all-rounder receives the Gary Sheehan Memorial Medal.

In the coverage of he acquittal, there were also many accounts of the way things were in Ireland in 1983 when violence was common and there seemed no light at the end of the tunnel. We, in America, tend to forget the enormity of the change in Ireland. Throughout our trip, when people tell stories of more than ten years ago, there is always a reference to “the troubles,” which permeated all of life in Ireland. While Ireland is heading into some rough waters now economically after a long boom, it is a blessing that the country will never go back to the way it was.

Torc Falls

| June 28, 2008 | 0 Comments

OK, back to our chronological posts. This is our visit to Torc Falls on Wednesday just outside Killarney. The falls are spectacular. As you can see, we visited in a driving rainstorm, so we didn’t have to deal with tourist crowds. And, fortunately, the B&B we checked into allowed us to use their clothes dryer. We were soaked to the bone.

Family Connection

| June 28, 2008 | 0 Comments

Here’s Virginia Minihan’s confirmation of the family connection between me and Jerry O’Donovan. The supercedes all other speculations on this blog:

We and Jerry O’Donovan have the same great, great grandparents…John O’Regan and ?? (female) (Driscoll) O’Regan . They had 3 girls 1. Mary Regan…our greatgrandmother…who had Margaret (maggie) O’Regan..later Singleton, our grandmother 2, Margaret O’Regan later McCarthy with no family and lived in Rossmore, Ballineen 3. Catherine O’Regan later O’Leary…Brother Richard’s grandmother and Jerry O’Donovan’s great grandmother. jerry O’Donovan’s father, Jon O’Donovan were brothers. Catherine (O’Regan ) married Jeremiah O’Leary. One of their daughters, Catherine, married John O’Donovan who had 5 children, one being broher Richard, and one being John O’Donovan (Jerry’s dad).

Glad we cleared that up.

Jerry and Peggy

| June 28, 2008 | 1 Comment

Here’s a video of Jerry and Peggy in their kitchen. It is confirmed that Jerry’s great grandmother and my great grandmother were sisters. See next post.

Willie and John

| June 28, 2008 | 0 Comments

Here are Willie Corrigan and John Cod, right out of central casting. They are a couple of laddies in Kinsale on holidy from County Whitlow.

Off to Dublin in the green in the green…

| June 22, 2008 | 0 Comments

Heading off to Ireland for our family “graduation celebration.” My wife, Rita, Danny (just graduated from high school) and Bridget (just graduated from grammar school) are setting out for our second international family trip.

While I’m 100% Irish descent, I’ve never been to the Old Sod. I’m struggling with conflicting feelings. On the one I’ve listened my whole life to stories of Ireland. All the counties and even the towns have names that are very familiar. Ireland is built into both my DNA and my psyche.

On the other hand, I have no idea what to expect. We’ve had one foreign family trip to Florence, which was magical. On this trip, we will have the benefit of some friends and family who will help guide us along. So, while it does not seem quite the adventure of previous foreign trips, I still feel like we are entering the unknown. I hope to be able to post comments, pictures and even videos throughout the week. So, feel free to check back.