Mum’s Diary of her trip to Shipley and Ireland in 1995 Part 2

Tuesday 3rd October 1995 (pages 11-13)

5.50am  Sitting in my hotel room, Isaac’s Hotel Frenchman/s Lane Dublin (£35 a night!!) and feeling much brighter after a good night’s sleep and a clearer mind.

Airport will send on my luggage (if they find it).  If I haven’t heard from them before shops open, will buy a set of clothes, knickers etc. and claim on insurance.

Took a bus from Airport to City Centre ($2.50).  Isaac’s Hotel is on block next to Busarus and opposite Keating’s pub.  Was costly but adjacent hostel was charging £28 for a shared room for 1 – figured extra £ was worth comfort and it was getting late and I was so tired and low.  Unpacked most of my carry on gear so backpack was lighter & headed off to find O’Connell St.  By then it was 5.30 and everything was closing.  Gave me a feel for the place again though and a sense of direction.  My boots and long skirt seem to be causing something of a stir around Dublin.  Last year it was leggings!!

Bought new batteries for Walkman (must have turned itself off during flight).  Had chips & coffee at Hungry Jacks (Excuse me!!….?)…. but it was cheap!!  £1.60.  Bought an Irish Times (found those damned “Frenchies” have dropped their second bomb!!  Found a money exchange who don’t charge commission.  Will change remaining $A100 to Sterling £’s ready for ferry trip to U.K.  Figure I’ll stay here tonight and do some of the Dublin “stuff” today.  UK tomorrow – stay Wed & Thursday nights.  Ferry back on Friday & bus to Ennis??  We’ll see how it goes.

Wednesday 4th October 1995 (pages 14-21)

4.25pm  Sitting in Beshoff’s O’Connell having just finished a lunch/dinner of “Beshoff’s Meal” (fresh cod, chips, coleslaw & coffee).  Am now on 2nd cup of coffee and about to light up a 4th smoke.  What a relief it is that smoking is accepted everywhere here.  Not just accepted but almost compulsory….  Thought it time to catch up with what’s been happening in my life.  Where to star?

Well, I’m relaxing and passing the time until 8pm when I need to report to the Busarus ready for my trip across the Irish sea to Leeds and the next step on my latest adventure.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring?….  Hoping I can get some sleep on the ferry and bus tonight because I’ll really be on the go tomorrow.  On arrival in Leeds plan to:

  •  check out 10 Meanwood St (the house Dad’s mother and father were living I when his birth was registered).
  • Check out the shops for Doc Martins for Kirrily & Chad (not much of a selection in Dublin this year …. certainly no green ones …. very few cherry & they’re only boots….)

Soon as this is done I’ll head for Shipley, book a room for the night, leave my backpack then hunt down Mossman St…. if it still exists ??  Will still have a little time on Friday – but have to be back in Leeds early evening for the return trip to Dublin.  Then straight on a bus to Ennis, pick up car, head for Corofin and a BIG sleep!!!  before Sean calls around.  Booked car hostel this morning and rang Sean to let him know of my arrival date.  He’ll be around “after dark” …. so hopefully I’ll have time for a “cat nap”…!!!

Feeling really weary now.  It’s been a tiring morning …. hence my decision to have a relaxing peaceful pm to get my energy levels up.

Rang Airport again this morning just before checkout time – They said they’d delivered my luggage 8.15pm Monday.  I checked the desk at about 9.30pm last night (Tuesday) and they hadn’t seen it.  Turned out the Airport had delivered it to HOSTEL instead of HOTEL.  They just hung it behind their door and didn’t think about it again.  Had the foresight to get receptionist to note on my bill that I didn’t receive it until this morning – to cover me with Insurance Co.  I sure expect to be re-imbursed for clothes I bought yesterday.  So, went back to room, re-packed, made my calls to Corofin/Ennis & Limerick (Sean) and booked out at 10.45am.

Went to Busarus.  Considered storing my backpack for the day.  Decided against it.  Having been dispossessed of it all this time was feeling distrustful of leaving it in someone else’s care again….  Result was I lumped the damned thing all over Dublin today.  By 3.30pm I’d really “had it”….  Although its relatively light & easy to carry, it gets heavy carrying it for hours on end.  Another lesson learnt here.

Checked out Sin Fein bookshop – Trinity College (bought some Celtic stuff … more weight to carry around).  Took lots of photos of Dublin.  Will finish off now (they’re starting to look at me rather weirdly here).  Will leave my backpack on for one final trek down to Busarus and stay put till bus leaves ….  Note – man’s conversation in Bureau of Exchange.

Thursday October 5th 1995 (pages 22 – 34)

7.30am  Well – here I am in Café at Bus Station (Leeds).  Arrived in at about 6.40pm – it was still pretty dark, just beginning to get light.  They had a guy on duty near women’s toilets which I was glad about with it being so deserted and all …. My next little challenge – How to get to Shipley??  Saw a sign to Shipley as we were just coming out of Bradford.  National Express timetables here had no mention of Shipley so I’m guessing it may be a local bus.  To keep myself amused (and as a souvenir for Dad) I bought a  Yorkshire Times.  Then a guy in charge of station turned up.  I’d seen a sign pointing to Tourist Information and asked him how far down it was .. “big white building at end turn right” in a strong Yorkshire accent “at 9” is what I think he said next but he was so brusque I didn’t want to persist.  Sat shivering in Sharp wind for q while then noticed that the young woman who’d been sitting outside having a smoke when I arrived had opened Café.  Nice hot coffee is good.  I enquired how I might get to Shipley.  She wasn’t really sure but thought a local bus left from across road.  Another likely confirmation to my detective work.  Don’t really want to wait round here till 9 o’clock so may “steel” myself to go ask the gruff “Busman” – Maybe he has a heart of gold beneath that ?? exterior?  Must mention I feel quite at home in this part of the world with so many sharing my hacking “smokers” cough.  Quite a cacophony in early hours of morning on bus form Anglesey (Wales) …

Oh!! 2 more people have turned up for refreshments in the “deserted café”… We can of course only have drinks … “too early for food yet …”.  We weary travellers are grateful.

Oh yes!  Changed my plans since yesterday and am sure they’ll change again before day is out …

I’m not going to hang around Leeds to check out shopping …. Will get straight to my planned destination (Shipley) … With so little time before bus takes me back I need to focus on my mission.  Any time left over can be spent on other activities.

Wow!! Quite a crowd in here now …  2 more customers have arrived for drinks & chocolate bars …

The trip from Dublin was pleasant & largely uneventful.  Smooth trip across Irish Seas.  Gale force winds that have been whipping the coast for past few weeks died down.  Had a Guinness, pack of Taylor’s potato chips, bought 2 coasters & tried again to change my Australian $ to Sterling £.  Got the same story as form the girl in exchange in O’Connell St, Dublin …. “better to do it on the ship… I’ll have to change it to Irish £ first & you’ll “miss out twice”.  This time the story was to change it in Leeds for same reason.  Thought about it for a while then went back with a £20 Irish note – didn’t want to arrive in UK with no money before banks opened & looking for an Exchange Bureau.  Just as well I followed my instincts.  I know they were trying to be helpful….

So, ferry trip was calm.  Irish ferries are magnificent!!!  Passenger section like a 1st class hotel “Oisin” Lounge … “O’Reilly’s” pub …. “?” A La Carte restaurant.  I had a most pleasant doze and woke up just as the ferry was docking.  (4hr trip) passed quickly when you “snooze” much of it away.  Only unpleasant experience was when we dis-embarked in Wales.  Some crazy guy picked a fight… There’d evidently been some “carry-on” on way over about a girl.  Ferry officials restrained him pretty quickly & called Town Police.  All this at about 1.15am whilst we were waiting to collect our luggage…. Had a big sleep on bus and awoke as we arrived in Liverpool.  What I could see of countryside from Manchester to Leeds was fascinating.  Undulating hills pretty well all the way and appeared to be heavily populated.  Bit hard to tell for sure though, in the dark.

Just paused to get another coffee & spied some freshly made sandwiches!!! Yum!!! – corned beef “home cooked” proper corned beef & just touching the right spot (thoughts of Mum” – should help me get rid of this thick head & faint headache probably due as much to lack of food as lack of sleep.

It’s now 8am and the city of Leeds is on the move out there right now… Doesn’t seem so scary now in broad daylight.  Maybe the food will give me re-newed energy & I will walk down to Tourist Office.  I have a sense that this is what I should be doing…. maybe I’ll pick up some other relevant info ??  Who knows ??…

Before I stop this little writing session, must just record the little “to do” with money.  When paying for sandwiches & coffee handed over a £5 knowing may need change for bus (I had just spent time putting away Irish Money & getting out English!!).  She looked at torn note consulted with Bus Drivers here having a meal break, then came back and said “I’m sorry I can’t accept this”.  Me thinking its ‘cos it was badly torn handed over a smooth new £10 and she said she couldn’t accept this either.  Long & short of it was, I had carefully folded away my £15 English & was trying to use £15 Irish.  Not surprising …. I’m juggling 4 currencies at the moment:-

  1. Australian
  2. Irish
  3. English
  4. Hong Kong

Before I get home I will have added Italian to this.  Not bad for a 2 week holiday …

Time to relax before taking off on my next little “sortie”.

 

 

Mum’s Diary of her trip to Shipley and Ireland, October 1995 Part 1

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This is a treasure that I found not long after Mum passed away. It was a diary she wrote when she took a cheap, whirlwind trip to Shipley, Yorkshire UK to try to find where her Dad, Harry Scarborough Crout lived before he came to Australia at the age of 16. As this was well before the Internet, and Mum’s blogging, this is almost a travel blog that I decided that I needed to be added to her electronic blog.  This will immortalise her words for everyone to share.  The first thing that struck me in the aftermath of her death from lung cancer was how this diary captured her life as a smoker.  How much her life revolved around it and how much she loved it until she was forced to give up five years or so before she died.  Thank goodness she did and we got at least those extra five years.  The second thing that struck me was how much finding out about her history meant to her and how completely capable and independent she was before she suffered her breakdwn in approximately 1997.  What fantastic timing for her to do this when she would be so emotionally and physically affected in the following years.

These words are those of my Mum’s, writte in pencil, just brought to life by me almost a year after she departed this life.  [Another year has passed now, and I’ve found this draft post, and thought I would post this as part 1 and then continue the story on and incorporate the folder that my Mum made when she got to Shipley for Grandad]

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Page 1 is a shopping list

Hong Kong – Modem, phone, Nutrix (Kirrily)

Ireland – Fridge magnet, Jenny shoes, Chad shoes, Kirrily Shoes (Cherry Docs), Dictionaries – Gaelic & Eng, Childs gaelic b/book, Cartoon (gaelic), Jacket? – Donegal, Hair Clasp Kirrily, Earrngs (me), Bodran, Tapes

The following two pages are a proposed itinerary

Deart Adelaide 1/10 – Dublin – Leeds – Shipley – Leeds – Ennis – Corofin – Galway – Ennis – Dublin – Rome – Adelaide – 15/10

Sunday 1st October 1995 (pages 3-7)

9.40am – Sitting on tarmac at Sydney waiting to take off.  Flight was delayed in boarding and now there’s a bit of a back-up.  Shouldn’t be too long (we were told).  Feeling sleepy, but pretty happy.  Being at airport at 4.20am and having a restless night (sleeping on Cullen’s futon) has added to my normal lethargy at end of school terml.

9.45am – We’re off! Adelaide to Sydney flight was comfortable/window seat/breakfast (nearly dozed off) was feeling a little disgruntled about my seating for Sydey – Hong Kong flight – 76C!!  Right at back of plane.  Glad I didn’t ask for a re-allocation in Sydney and decided to “go with” just what the Universe dished out.  Turns out it is at very back of plane (Qantas 747) but is one of 4 seats that are doubles only (rather than 3) AND the best part is I’ll be able to stretch across two seats (all being well) in my little corner of the plane and get some sleep – after lunch that is.  Non smoking flight is a pain.  I’ll try not to think about it and get some sleep instead.

8.40pm Hong Kong time – Well here I am sitting in “Windows on the World” restaurant in Hong Kong airport.  What a relief!!  Had plate of fries, coke, coffee and am enoying a smoke in the smoking section!! of restaurant.  Most humane!!  The first thing I did on arrival at Hong Kong was to have two smokes – after a smoke free flight from Adelaide to Sydney to Hong Kong!! Took a photo of the “smoking area” sign to remember the occasion.  Had to put my watch back 1 1/2 hours on arrival cos it was getting too confusing and didn’t want to miss my flight to Rome.  So I’ve been here in Hong Kong 3 1/2 hours now (5 hour stop over).  First 2 hours were a pain saved only by endless smoking.  Had to wait in hot humid stuffy arrivals area until Alitalia Transit desk opened at 7 o’clock.  Ended up being 7.20 but my patience was rewarded by getting a smoking seat on the 13 hour trip to Rome.  Although I’ll likely sleep much of the time.  Managed about 4-5 hours sleep Sydney to Hong Kong, so that was pretty jolly good.  Had to use an Australian $50 note to buy my tucker and got change in Hong Kong dollars.  Think I’ll go and buy another carton of smokes with some of it.  Will help reduce my expenses in Ireland.  From memory they’re pretty dear there??  Well flight is due to board in 30 mins (9.20pm).  So need to finish this smoke and get myself into gear.

Monday 2nd Oct 1995 (pages 8-10)

2.15pm Dublin Airport – Well here I sit in restaurant having cappucino, smokes and about to chuck down some vitamin tablets after what is (at last count) 38 hour travelling.  Don’t quite know whether to laugh or cry.  Cry I think it’ll be, but I can’t afford the luxury right now.  Have to get my head together, energy levels up and plan my next course of action.

Was feeling OK (if a little tired) until I found out that my luggage didn’t arrive with me.  Well, that’s a first!!  Also having some real bad stomach cramps and need to go to toilet.  Woe is me.  Where is my Tour Organiser??  OK the story they told me here at Dublin that they’re not surpirsed my luggage didn’t mak it and they’re amazed I did.  Too many tansfers to check it safely all the way through.  Three is the maximum.  Figured it probably stayed at Rome while I moved on.  This would not surprise me.  Rome was a nightmare and although I was there 4 hours I almost missed my flight due to the fat that when we arrive about 4am there was no staff.  Those that were there were exceedingly rude, arrogant and unhelpful.  Must pause and find a toilet!!!!!

(the nightmare of Rome continued on Page 57)

The ideas are flowing, now I need the priorities

Ok, so now I get it Mum.  When you have all of these ideas of what you want to write about and share with anyone who is following your stories and thought patterns, but you have trouble organising yourself to prioritise your time.

Mum used to talk about how she felt like the spirits of her Ancestors were “bothering” her, jostling to the front of the queue when they got impatient for their story to be told.  I haven’t (yet) felt that as such, I’m sure as I turn more in to my mother {chuckle} this will happen.  For now though, I feel like I’m having ideas and starting a few different things, so that now I’ve got multiple stories on the go and I’m not sure which one to focus on first.

I have this wonderful story that is the story of the Canadian Cousins – that is a big story and will take time and I have decided that I am going to follow Mandy’s suggestion and write a book – Mum’s book.  Mum always said she was going to write a book and she just didn’t know what it was going to be about.  So, I’ve decided I’m going to write Mum’s book for her.  It will be the story of discovering her Canadian Cousins existed and then how she sought them out, created a strong relationship with them and began to uncover the mystery of their family.  I will pull extracts from that to share here, on Mum’s blog, but for the whole uncut version of the story, you will need to buy the book :)  The plan is not to become a millionaire, but perhaps to raise enough funds to keep Mum’s rellies “in the ground” by paying the lease fees on their graves as they become due.  That seems pretty fair.

I also have another book that needs to be published – Grandad’s book, which was written by my Grandad in the late 70’s, early 80’s that chronicles the first 4 years of his time in Australia, when he was 16-19 years old.  He wrote it on a typewriter and the font is quite faint and hasn’t scanned all that well.  Although my Husband assures me that there is technology that will assist the transfer of it to a Word document, I’m a bit slow at working that kind of thing out, and I’m kind of enjoying typing it out – reading it as I go.  Not sure how I’ll go about publishing that one, I guess that will be the learning then to take on board to publishing the bigger one.

Then there is Mum’s trip to Shipley to discover where Grandad came from in 1995.  She has talked about it a few times in her blogs.  As Grandad’s health (and in particular memory) was fading in the 1990’s he was getting increasingly distressed about the fact that no-one could find where he came from – 42 Mossman Street, off Crag Road, Windhill, Shipley, United Kingdom.

So, Mum made it her mission to discover where Grandad came from, which she did.  Being the storyteller she was, she wrote a diary on her trip, which I took with me when I went to the UK last year.  I began writing out her diary then.  It is a fantastic story of her discovering her Father’s homeland.  Then when she got back, she put together a folder of photographs and notes and she gave it to Grandad, who was overjoyed to know that she had found his homeland and could see photos of how it looked now – his memories of his childhood came flooding back and Mum felt as though she had calmed his soul, just before the dementia took hold of him.  The saddest part was that years later Nana had told Mum that she should take the folder back as Grandad was past the point of it being useful for him and she knew how precious it was.  Mum never got it back and thought for years after Nana had died that it had gone missing when Nana’s treasures were sifted through.  This was very traumatic for Mum and she thought that someone in the family had taken it and may not have known the true value of it.

When I was cleaning Mum’s house out after she died, I found Grandad’s book – which I had never seen before and I found Mum’s precious folder she made for Grandad.  It was in with Nana’s keepsakes, and had been kept safe after all.  I am sad that Mum never knew that, but I think she would be happy for me to share the story of her trip on her blog.

So, after writing out my to do list here, I think I’ve worked out that what I need to focus on first is the Shipley trip in 1995.  I will put a series of posts together of the trip from a combination of the diary and the folder.

Yep, that’s it.  Ok, maybe I’ll see if I can make a start…. How great for me to have a place to come to clear my head about which direction I should take….

By the way, the other job I got finished this week was the final proof of the words on Mum’s headstone.  The stone should be delivered in mid October, so I imagine the headstone should be finished by the end of October, and I am pleased to say that the Canadian Cousins made it in to my life in time for me to immortalise their link with Mum in stone – Mum would be thrilled with this – I just know it (and I’m pretty sure that a couple of the Canadian Cousins will be pretty chuffed too).

The Canadian Cousin story continues to grow and unfold – just yesterday June told me that she found Grandad’s sister’s grandson (so the same generation as me – our grandparents being blood siblings) and I have sent him a message on FB.  He’ll probably think I’m some nutjob (which I’m sure many people thought about Mum when she contacted them out of the blue and told them she was their cousin) but maybe not.  We’ll just have to see.  Like June said “see, us coming together is working, I just needed a bit of a push because I would never have done it on my own”.  Yes June, it is coming together and is making the story I have to write bigger all the time!

As June says often in her emails TTFN (ta ta for now).

Kirrily

 

 

 

 

The best story I have ever read

I am in the middle of the best story I have ever read.

There is nothing I love more than getting completely engrossed in a story, so that even when I’m not reading it, I am thinking about it and wondering what will happen next.  This doesn’t often happen to me, it has to be the right mix to really pull me in, otherwise I get bored, put the book down and then never finish it.  No chance with this one.

It is a story full of intrigue – mystery, love, family, war, discovery, understanding, reconciliation, honesty, loyalty, respect and loss.

It is the story of two cousins, with the same Grandfather, but different Grandmothers, on opposite sides of the globe, finding one another and then working as a team to piece their shared history together.  A history that is more unbelievable than any fiction they have ever read and is far better, as it is the truth – their truth.

They were both the historians of their families, with a trunk full of photos, certificates and memorabilia to share.  The communication was via email, daily in the beginning, and most days with multiple emails.  Most emails contained multiple attachments and were received by the other always with great appreciation of the time taken to compile and share.  Their shared love of discovering the story spurred each other on to keep scanning and sending anything they could find that was relevant, to help map out the story, as well as bring the people alive.

This story continued over two and a half years as they both became completely obsessed with ensuring that this story was documented accurately and with compassion and understanding.

Then tragically, their story came to an end as one of them died, very suddenly.  That person was my Mum and the other person was June Kendall.  Their story started in June 2011, and with June’s permission I have begun reading the emails between the two of them.  In three days, I have read more than 130 emails and looked at every attachment.  I am so sorry to know that I only have about another 50 or so to go until this part of the story ends.

The wonderful part is that it is all there, documented for me to read and then to go back over, look at what Mum has pieced together and ordered so far, fill in some missing blanks and then share the story, here, on Mum’s blog that she started the year before they first met.

Perhaps that will awaken the passion to finish the discovery that I believe died in June when she lost my Mum.  She said that I would understand how much she missed my Mum when I read their emails, and she was right.  I now know just how important they were to each other, and how tragic it was that they only had the three years together before Mum died and they never got to meet each other, or even hear each other’s voice.

I don’t even need to ask June whether I would have her blessing to write the story here, as I know, from their emails that is what they both wanted – for the story to be told honestly and compassionately and be there for the world, but in particular the descendants to know.

There may just be other descendants, like us, who want to understand how there came to be two families, joined by the same man on two separate continents, who never knew the other branch existed.  There may be even other people completely unrelated that will find the story fascinating.

As well as finishing reading the story in the final 50 emails, I need to work out exactly how I want to go about telling it….  So, if you would like to join me on the journey, watch this space ….

 

An orange can make the world a better place

Today, as I sit and eat an orange and juice runs down my arms and gets all over my face and I get orange bits between my teeth, my world is just that bit brighter.

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You see, this is no ordinary orange. This is a very special orange – it represents something that I thought was a missed opportunity.

My Mum had an orange tree. It was her pride and joy and every year she delighted in eating the fruit, but more than that, she loved to share the fruit with her loved ones. I have vivid memories of eating oranges at her dining room table while she sat and watched, and smiled. I know as she lovingly watered it, she thought of the fruit that would come and the happiness it would bring.

When Mum died in July 2014, the oranges were on her tree as they were every year. I had not had an orange from her tree that year, she had been too ill and we had been in the whirlwind of her rapid decline in health and sudden death. Then there was the funeral to plan and the day of the funeral to get through.

My brother Cullen had the forethought to pick a basket of oranges from her tree and take them to her funeral and asked her friends and family that were present, to take an orange and to enjoy it and think of Mum.

I thought it was a wonderful idea and I took an orange, but I could not bring myself to eat it. It went rotten in my fruit bowl and it matched the gloom that descended upon me.

Last year my brothers and I were still in the throes of sorting Mum’s house out and getting it ready for sale and I went on my overseas trip following my ancestry, thanks to Mum.

The oranges didn’t really enter my thoughts too much, but as I think about it now, the fact that the tree was not cared for after Mum died, meant that it got diseased and didn’t bear fruit last year.  Cullen gave it a big prune and laid the slate for it to fruit this year. Same with the peach tree.

Then as fate may have it, I decided to buy my brothers out of Mum’s house and to keep it as an investment property so that I could keep the house that meant so much to me, in my life. It was a house full of memories – I had moved there with Mum when I was 17 and turned into an adult there (even having a cracking 18th birthday party there and then a rerun three weeks later). My Mum had sold the house to my Nana and Grandad in their ailing years and moved next door and then bought it back when they moved into nursing homes. So not only was it full of memories of my Mum, also of my grandparents who died in 2007.  It was just too important to me and the thought of not knowing who was in it, or whether it was being looked after, was too much for me to cope with and so it became clear that I needed to keep it.  Which I did. I then prepared it to rent out, rather than for sale and was overjoyed with the final result.

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Now that I am another year down the track and a fair bit stronger, the thought of sitting down and enjoying Mum’s oranges is a thought that brings me  joy.  The fact that I kept the house, and found a wonderful tenant, means that now, every year, we are able to enjoy Mum’s oranges. So, this is the first one of Mum’s oranges I have eaten since before she even got sick. This is something I thought I gave up the opportunity to do when I didn’t eat the one I took from her funeral. That makes me very happy.

I have now finished it – devoured it in minutes and it was quite possibly the sweetest fruit I have ever eaten in my life. I thought of Mum with every bite and felt her watching and smiling and saying “that’s my Girl”.

Love you Mum and thank you for all the years of looking after the orange tree so that we can enjoy the fruit for years to come. The decision to keep Mum’s house was a great one, for even more reasons than I first thought.

I know she lead me to make the decision to keep it, and I know that she had a hand in Ruth being the tenant. There are just too many co-incidences for her not to have.

I am grateful that she taught me how to trust my instinct and the Universe.

It’s a day

Today is the 6th of July, 2016. Two years ago my Mum, Catherine, the owner and creator of this blog was taken from us. Almost a year has passed since my last blog when we were in the UK. An amazing, special time.

I have hardly even visited the blog in this last year.

I have been busy finding my way in my new life, without my Mum. I navigated my way through losing a friend who had a 12 year battle with melanoma in April 2015. Then I stumbled my way through losing my oldest and dearest friend, Stacey, who had a five year battle with breast cancer in September 2015. I managed to get through both of them without Mum. Amazing what you can do, when you have no choice.

I’m doing ok, my son is now 11, I was able to move him to a school which is a much more positive place for him to be. I’m sure that would have been handled much better if Mum was here, but we got through it.  I have finally managed to get him keen on reading. The library is now a favourite place for him to go and I am delighted to see that he has discovered a series which he loves and is spending every spare moment buried in it. I know Mum would be clapping her hands with joy and sharing her love of books with him.

I have become a much easier person to live with than I was when I first lost Mum. Grief was very hard and I was so unhappy and stressed and emotional. Thank God I have an amazing husband who with the assistance of my wonderful grief councillor gave me the space and understanding to find my way.

Today I knew was going to be hard. I was prepared for it, which I’ve decided I need to be more often. I need to plan to give myself space to grieve, and then it’s likely I’ll actually cope with the day better than I expect. I spent a few wonderful hours with my Big Brother last night. In anticipation of having a hard time today and wanting to connect with him – the closest link I have to my Mum. He flew to Singapore for work today, so seeng him today wasn’t possible, but we managed to squeeze in dinner and drinks  last night.

I was talking with him about why I find anniversaries, birthdays, Mothers Days and other special dates so hard. Mothers Day this year was particularly hard. I had told myself and everyone around me I was fine and then I woke up and I was in a big, dark hole. Horrid. I wasn’t ready, it snuck up on me and it sucked. Big Time. I realised that those times are the days that I really stop and think about Mum and how much things are different now. How different I am now, and that makes me really sad.  I now feel like I don’t have somewhere else to go when things get really tough. I would always go to Mum. She was always there with a warm hug, soothing words, a cup of coffee and would help me put a plan together and gather the strength I needed to re-enter the real world. No longer do I have that safe haven, that soft place to fall and gather myself and my strength.

Of course I still have people to go to – my Husband, my Son, my friends and I have my Big Brother. Thank God for my Big Brother. I honestly don’t know what I would have done over these two years without him.  He provides a different safe haven to that which Mum gave me, but I love the fact that Cullen is so much like Mum in different ways to me. Our relationship is different to that which I had with Mum, and different to how our relationship was before Mum died. Back then we really didn’t understand each other, and now we share the fact that we are navigating our way through without Mum and realising that has had a profound effect on us. I feel like he has taken  over from Mum in being able to know when things aren’t right with me and he picks up the phone just to chat. Sometimes I don’t even realise what is coming – the tidal wave of grief, before he calls. I am so grateful for him, and I know he is of me.  When we left each other last night, his parting words about today were “It’s a day”.  He meant it in the way of today being a big day – hence the title of the post.

So this morning I was exhausted – I slept all morning and then felt like I was in a numb dazed state. I decided I needed to achieve something meaningful from the day, so I took myself off to Nalty Memorisls and organised Mum’s headstone. I’ve been meaning to for months, actually more than a year, but the time hasn’t been right. Today, everything fell in to place, and the deposit has been paid, the shape and design of the headstone set, and all I need to do is provide the text – that’s the easy part. I’m really pleased. It,s going to be amazing and then every time I visit the cemetery (which I don’t do all that often) I will be so proud of the headstone and the statement it makes about Mum and who she was, and what she meant to us.

The other thing I wanted to do was write a blog post, so this is my second accomplishment of the day.

Tomorrow I will wake up and it will be over two years since my Mum died. I’ll be in to the next phase. For now I’m happy to have quietly seen the day through, and ticked a couple of boxes.

We are headed off for a week in sunny Cairns on Saturday to spend with my Dad, which should be a nice getaway. I look forward to feeling warm. It’s been so bloody cold lately.

Then I will prepare to mark the one year anniversary of Stacey’s death in September and will be very pleased to post photos of Mum’s headstone here, when it’s complete.

I hope all of you here reading this today still remember my Mum often and with love. You all meant so much to her.

Until next time,

Kirrily

Shipley, Yorkshire and finding Marie’s grave

The last 24 hours has been amazing, and I’m not sure where to start, so I’ll just start writing and hope it takes shape.  I have been in Shipley, Yorkshire, United Kingdom.  This is the place that I have heard so much about and is where our English Heritage came from.  Shipley is where my Grandad – my Mum’s Dad, Harry Scarborough Crout lived with his “Mam” until in 1928, at the ripe old age of 16, he decided to travel all the way to the other side of the world to make his fortune and bring it back to his “Mam”.

Unfortunatelly (or fortunately for us) things didn’t go according to plan.  Three years after he left, in 1931 his Mum died and so he felt there was no reason for him to return and he stayed in Adelaide.  He married, lost his first wife, in tragic circumstances shortly after losing their only child durng childbirth and then he remarried her sister (my Nana).  They went on to have four children, my Mum being the third, and only girl and they had 12 children (11 who survived) and from them there have been another 11 children born.  So, as a result of my Graddad taking off across the other side of the world as a child, there have been 27 children born in Australia.  All living happy, healthy and full lives.

Mum visited Shipley in October 1995 to try to find and photograph for Grandad his homeland to bring him peace in his ailing years.  She succeeded, what a success her trip was, and she lovingly put a folder of photos and maps together that Grandad would pour over as his memories were failing and he was falling in to dementia.  What I only found out yesterday when I was reading her post on this blog about Yorkshiire, was that she thought this book had disappeared and was sad about that.  This very book I had found in Nana’s things when I was cleaning out Mum’s house a few months ago.  Oh, how I wish I could tell her and she could have had time to look back through the book, relive the memories and know her gift was safe for us future generations to enjoy.

I knew I needed to find Crag Rd, Windhill, Shipley, which in the current era of Sat Nav maps on our iphones, was a pretty easy task.  I realised this was much easier for me, driving a hire car, armed with a Sat Nav and all the knowledge Mum’s renaissance trip in 1995 had provided.  Mum had walked the very steep hills on foot carrying maps and it was only due to the help from some locals that she was able to find the information she had travelled all that way for.

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I sat on the side of Crag Road, and read Mum’s Yorkshire blog and from that post I was able to identify Grandad’s primary school and the church that he attended Sunday School as well as the library that he loved.  What was sad to find is that his much loved library, a beautiful building, is now unused and has fallen in to disrepair, with boarded up windows.  I guess this is a sign of the times.  Grandad told Mum stories of walking up Crag Road with armfuls of books and sometimes it was so windy he would be surprised that he wouldn’t get blown over.  To see these buildings and walk these very streets was pretty amazing, to say the least.

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I knew from Mum’s trip in 1995 that a redevelopment that had occurred in the 60’s had demolished the street that Grandad lived on, but I saw lots of examples of the “back to backs” that Grandad lived in.

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What I didn’t realise until tonight when I was looking at a map Mum had of the area before the redevelopment (which I had brought on our trip but not taken to Windhill) was that Grandad’s road was just behind the church.  I had gone to the church and my instinct had taken me around the back to a t junction, which I turned left at and then drove that road, which was the one that Mossman Road (Grandad’s street) ran off of.  Not at all surprising, really.

However, the best and most important part of my trip to Shipley was yet to come.  Mum’s 1995 trip resulted in contact with the Windhill Memories group who were able to locate where Marie Crout (nee Ogilvie), Mum’s Grandmother was buried – Nab Wood Cemetary.  Mum was told she had been buried in a paupers grave and knew the cemetary was beatiful and well maintained, and in a letter I discovered recently that she wrote in 1996 but never sent (because it was too dribbly) her words were;-

“To have the location of my grandmother’s grave is much more than I ever believed possible.  Knowing that I now can actually visit this special place so far from my home to pay my respects quietens the soul.  To know that Marie’s final resting place is so beautiful and well mantained is a gift beyond description.  How can I thank you?  It warms my heart so much, Milton, to know that someone I have never even met has bothered to take the time to research a matter that may seem small to some, but is so important to others.  Your Memories Group is certainly an inspiration.”

I knew the name of the cemetary and even the grave number from Mum’s ancestry bible and so with my trusty Sat Nav and my hire car I took off and again, and easily located the cemetary.  Mum was right, it was beautiiful and very well maintained.

I knew that actually locating the grave would most likely prove more diffiult.  It turned out that there was no map to tell me where section T even was, let alone which graves were which.  This, my first sortie had located the cemetary, but it was Sunday evening and there was no-one around to assist in helping me find the grave’s location, so I just explored and looked out for the areas from around the early 1930’s.  I was drawn to one area in particular.  I took some photots.

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I went back to our room, happy that I had visited the cemetary and knowing what I needed to do tomorrow to hopefully locate the grave.  The other thing I wanted to do was get information about how I could go about getting a headstone or some other memorial erected, as this is what I know Mum has wanted to do since she had located the cemetary that Marie was buried in.  She never was able to do it.

So, this morning, I took off again for the cemetary.  The rememerance book room was open, so I went in there and could see that people had put rememberance passages in for loved ones for all kinds of years.  So, I knew this was a possibiity for me to do for Marie.  No-one else was around, so I called the office that manages the cemetary, and the man said there should be someone there who could help, and he would all them and tell them to come out and assist. A few minutes later, I was releived to see a man come out and he showed me where area T was.  I was so close with my photo above, just a bit further to the right was area T – again, not all that surprising.  Now, if I could just locate the general area of grave 203.  The man showed me that some of the headstones have the grave number on them, and I thought he would leave me to trying to locate the general area (knowing there was no head stone).  However, he helped me look.  We looked like we were getting closer and then numbers started jumping all over the place and not making a lot of sense.  I was starting to think this was as close as I would get, and I was telling him that I was happy just to know I was in the general area.  I had found 206, so knew I was close, then he yells out – “its here”.  I go down the other end of the section, the row in front of the row with grave 206 and there in front of me is a marker that reads “In Rememberance” with lots of flowers and other momentos.  You see, in all of this investigation, I discovered a Paupers Grave is a public grave, is not owned by anyone and there are multiple people buried in it.  So, no option of a headstone for any of the people buried in a public grave.  There is a Garden of Rememberance however, so I can follow up on having a plaque erectd on my return to Australia.  For now, I was overwhelmed.  Here I was in front of Marie’s Grave.  I cried tears of joy for finding it and tears of sadness for not being able to share it with Mum.  I talked to Marie – I told her that I was thankful that she had allowe her son to travel to Australia.  I told her that we know her story now, thanks to my Mum.  I told her that she would have loved my Mum – a stong, independant, fiesty woman.  I paid my respects in the way that Mum had dreamt of doing.  I did it all becaus of and for Mum.  I then talked to Mum and told her I hoped she knew I was here and that she was as happy as I was that I had found Marie’s grave.  I’m sure she was, but it’s not the same as being able to tell her and hear her response.

I took photos and I left some of Mum’s hair.  The other times that I have left Mum’s hair, it has been hard to get strands out of the rubber band that it is tied up with.  This time it pulled out easily, like something was saying that this is so right, lots of Mum’s hair needs to be left here.

In the last photo if you look closely in the purple flowers, you can see the strands of Mum’s hair.

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Mission Accomplished and I am so grateful.

 

 

A great man, a great bond, great memories, a great day and a precious moment in time.

Today I fulfilled a quiet goal of mine, all before the 1 year anniversary ticked over for the death of my Mum (on the 6th of July, which my family will be soon waking up to in Australia, but I won’t be living until the following day, due to currently being in Ireland).

Today I shook the hand, talked, laughed drank coffee with, introduced to my Husband and Son, joked, compared stories, had photos taken and hugged a man who was very dear to my Mum. His name is Sean Whelan, and he lives in Killnaboy, county Clare, Ireland.  I first met him in 1994, 21 years ago when I visited Ireland for the first time with Mum. Right at the beginning of her quest to seek for Susan Kelleher, her Great, Great Grandmother who came from County Clare and emigrated on a Bride Ship to Port Adelaide in 1855, we came to Corofin to visit the Clare Heritage Centre. We were told by locals that we needed to meet Sean, as his mother was a Kelleher. We did and him and my Mum hit it off straight away. I remember him as being warm, welcoming, cheeky, laughed a lot, and smoked a pipe.  I remember the three of us went to a pub in Lehinch, a great little seaside town and I snapped a great photo of Sean and Mum sharing a cheeky joke.

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We visited a cemetary where some Kellehers were buried and tried in vain to find the headstone which was 90 years old and in bad shape, and being protected by a bull in the surrounding paddock. We didn’t succeed, but Mum and I often recalled that night in the cemetary and running from the bull.

Mum went back to visit Ireland the following year, and met up with Sean again and they kept in contact over the years by writing letters, sending Christmas cards, and later, email.

When Mum died, I found Sean’s email address on her computer and I emailed him. He was very glad that I contacted him, but very sad to hear the news. His words – “another bright star gone from our world” – were lovely. He asked me to send him some photos. It took me a while to follow up, but when I did, it was to tell him we were coming to Ireland and hoped to meet up with him. He said he was glad to hear I had “survived my great loss” and that he should be around when we were here, and looked forward to chatting.

I hoped meeting up with him would all go well, but I really wasn’t sure. Without Mum there, who was the well read, enthusiastic learner that could share historical stories and anecdotes, what would we talk about? How would Jay and Bruce feel meeting him? Could I get them to understand how important this man was, even though I’d only met him once and we may not even be related? So many questions and I think it it was those questions that kept me from calling on our first day.

Today was the day. I called after breakfast, got directions to his house which I had to write down in fear of forgetting them. It was important that I “not go past the tree mile mark out of Corofin”, I looked for the “wind charger on the hill”, looked for the “sooner bungalow painted morone” and We should find it. So much more complicated than an address out in to google maps.

So we did and it was even better than I imagined. He was a gracious, welcoming host, was very kind to Jay, very happy to see us, and conversation flowed easily. He gave us detailed directions to the same graveyard and happily hugged me in a photo saying “maybe my cousin”. It was a fantastic day, and a very special moment in time. What a way for me to prepare for the upcoming 12 month anniversary of Mum’s death.

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Then em to top it off, we managed to follow his directions and found the graveyard  and the headstone of Sean’s Great Grandfather, Andrew Kelleher. The graveyard was much better maintained than 20 years ago, the headstone had been cleaned and so was easy to read and there was no bull.

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As my Brother recently said, our Mum is the gift that keeps on giving. Thanks Mum for introducing me to Sean all those years ago. Thanks for keeping and developing the bond and for giving me all the reasons in the world to be here on this amazing adventure and giving me the courage to contact him and arrange such a wonderful meeting.

As my family awake in SA to the 12 month anniversary of that dreadful day when Mum was taken from us, they will see this post and know that Mum’s soul will be resting peacefully knowing that even without her being physically with us any more, that Sean Whekan is still connected to us.

I love you Mum and I miss you more than words can say.

xxx

Ireland – I’ve been here before -Part 2

This morning I woke up in beautiful Corofin in pain. Emotionally and physically. Last night I got very stressed trying to post on Facebook with an almost useless internet connection and then this morning I woke up dreaming of horrible stressful situations back home ( to do with my Business) as well as having an excruciatingly sore neck. I had already woken up once to an annoying noise that I thought was running water, which turned out to be a bird tweeting outside our window, which immediately stopped as soon as I told my husband it was annoying me (was that you, Mum?). I was stressed and agitated the first time I woke up, so I knew this time I needed to wake up fully to get myself out of my state.  Took a while and a few tears, and so I decided it’s time for another post.

So, here I am in Corofin.  Our trip here from Galway was by hire car.  I’d carefully done the sums and worked out it was probably a bit cheaper and Much Much easier at this stage of the trip, rather than negotiating buses and trains. We took the coastal road and visited the Cliffs of Moher – still spectacular, but Boy what a difference in 21 years! So commercialised now. They have built a big visitors centre, and car parks and you have to pay €6 to visit the cliffs, which were streaming with people. There are now walkways with steps and barriers. No just driving there, parking in the small car park and walking out to the Cliff like Mum and I did. There were shops built in to the hill. I was stunned! I’m not sure the tower had even been renovated last time. Although the Cliffs were much more majestic than Sliabh Liab, Jay preferred the fact that it was more natural – we all did.

When we pulled in to Corofin, I recognised it immediately, although it has changed significantly. I saw the Hostel that Mum and I stayed in on the left hand side, I saw the general store that Mum and I caught the “Post Bus” to Ennis outside of (this was the mail van that had a few extra seats that you could hitch a cheap trip to Ennis on, if you were lucky).  I saw the Clare Heritage Centre which is where Mum’s Genealogy search began and then I saw the bridge that Mum loved. I was pretty emotional, but pretty calm and I managed to contain the tears.

Boy, it’s changed though. The first thing that stood out to me was the lack of pubs, especially those still open for business. There used to be 9 pubs, now there are four or five. I’ve been told by locals that people can’t afford to drink the way they used to, and they can’t afford to drive home any more.

We went to Bofey Quinns for dinner – by far the largest pub/restaurant in town.

After a lovely meal we headed down the road chasing the night of traditional music and storytelling that happens on a Thursday (how lucky are we to be here on the right night) but found a sign on the door saying it starts on the 9th of July. Of course, how Irish to advertise something as being in July but means actually not on the 2nd of July!

I had been looking at a photo of Mum I had in one of the bars in Corofin, and wanted to go back for a drink and to compare it with my memory and my photo. I was pretty sure that it was across and down the road from the Hostel, but there was no pub past the Hostel. So either my vague recollection of the location was wrong, or it wasn’t there any more.  So we decided to try another local bar – Macks’s bar. Unfortunately my useless connection to the internet won’t allow the inserting of relevant photos at this time, so I’ll just write the words for now.

We met some people from Holland on the way and then met some locals in the Bar. We heard many tall tales. One guy was telling us about the perfect crime at The Cliffs of Moher – how to get rid of an unwanted wife (or husband). You just had to make sure you left “no clues” and the best way to do this was to use gloves and to put “sock over your shoes” and then if they do catch up with you and want to handcuff you you tell them you’re “itchy” and then “the worst part is if they tell you to get down (pointed a gun at you) you slap your legs an say arthritis”. He had us all (including Jay) in hysterics. We met another guy who had a twitch and kept wanting to bestow his great genius upon Jay (which was pretty creepy for Jay but we could tell he was a genuine guy), another who was telling us about his trips to Australia and how daddy long legs should be left because they eat the red backs, and then Eugene with a very thick, well oiled accent was telling us that we needed to go in to Ennis on Saturday to see the Hurly so Jay could see the “speed of the ball”. We were having so much fun trying to understand each other, it was hilarious.

I got out the photo of Mum in the pub and it made its way around the bar and after much discussion, it was decided that it was Cahirs pub which unfortunately closed five or so years ago. One guy was not 100% convinced because he didn’t recognise the booth seat, and Eugene tried to tell us that was him in the background to which his mate replied “can’t be, you’ve never owned a white shirt!”.  It was confirmed that it was down the road and across from the Hostel, so I was right.

The next morning, with a thick head, I headed to the Clare Heritage Centre armed with Mum’s ancestry bible to see if there was anything extra they could tell me about Susan Kelleher, my GGG Grandmother who is the Susan refers to in the name of this Blog. Antionette was very impressed with the information that Mum had collated about Susan and Bridget after they emigrated and believes from the clues they have that they might be able to find the death of her parents and what has happened to her other siblings. They have a system where you pay a deposit and then they put multiple people on the search for up to a couple of weeks and if you are lucky at the end of it, you end up with a full dossier. Not a cheap exercise, but I decided it was worth it, knowing how thoroughly the online available information has been scoured by Mum and her dear friend Chris – an expert genealogist. Antionette loved seeing the photos I had in relation to Susan – a photo of her, the anchor and her grave, and I emailed them to her. She told me to look and see if we have her death certificate (surely I do in Mum’s files at home). She loved hearing my recollections of Corofin in 1994 and seeing the photos of Mum outside the Heritage Centre and in the pub and hearing that we think it still has a lovely vibe. She also loved the fact that I have Mum’s hair and will be leaving some in special places, including Corofin.  I paid my money and took a walk, and spread some of Mum’s hair through the streets of Corofin, smiling as I did it.

Then Jay and I headed off to explore Ennis and visited the Dysert O’Dea Castle and archeological sights. Ennis was much bigger than I remembered. Only vaguely familiar. That was a bit of a disappointment, but I am realising that my memories are nowhere near as vivid as they are precious.

I’m feeling much less stressed and in not quite so much pain. Need to go to breakfast and call Sean Whelen, a descendent of Kellehers that we believe might be a relative, that Mum and I met in 1994 and Mum has maintained contact with over the years. It would be great if we can see him before we leave Corofin. We are also heading to Milltown Malbay as there is a music festival on that we were told about in Galway (and given a hand written message to deliver).

I am very mindful that I am fast approaching the anniversary of Mum’s death. Today is the 4th, but we are a day behind Australia, which means I’ll probably live it for the next two days. I think this is part of what my painful awakening was about this morning.

All I can do is live through it and get to the other side. A side where I will start seeing the second anniversary of experiences without my Mum. In a way, I think that may be worse, and it scares me a bit.

Ireland – I’ve been here before – Part 1

This morning I woke up in Galway, Ireland from a sad dream.  An old friend of my Mum’s was showing me the hand bag she had that was ordered by my Mum before her death and she was bragging about how she had it and asking if I received the bill yet.  I was incensed with why she thought that she should be benefiting in any way from the death of my Mum – I didn’t think they’d even been in contact for at least 15 years.  So, I took the handbag and emptied her contents on the road – all the way down Mum’s street (which was the street they both used to live on).  It was a sensless dream, so I thought, but it started my day thinking about gifts that I rightfully earned from my Mum, and in particular the memories I have of our trip to Ireland – the first time we had both been to the Emerald Isle, 21 years ago.  I knew I had to write a blog to record them as well as to recall the experience and as many of the details as I could.

Mum spent the year of 1994 working as an exchange teacher in Seattle, Washington, USA.  This was such an enormous thing for her to do, and for us as a family.  She was away from her aging parents and her kids for so long, and having to live and work in a whole new world was exhausting, but exhiliarating for her.  When I was recently cleaning out her house, I found many, many, many reminders of that year.  Keepsakes she had kept for more than 20 years.  Funny that I think of it now, that she died exactly 20 years after her year in the USA.

I saved my pennies and got a loan from my Uncle, and went to visit with a one way ticket, not knowing how long I would stay.  I was 22 and in a serious relationship, which was heartbreaking to leave, for an unknown amount of time.  I was there for a total of three months, if only I could go back and tell that 22 year old self of mine to hang in there and stay for the rest of the year.  So many more precious memories and exeriences I would have to draw on now.  But, it was not to be, I had a life to return to, and Mum always knew and encouraged us to lead our own lives, regardless of how selfishly she wanted to hang on to us to make things easier for her.  I really appreciate how hard this must have been now I am the mother of a 10 year old boy.

A month or so in to my trip, we had visitors, which was great fun.  Dianne (the friend referred to earlier in this post) and my friend Leanne and my older brother Cullen and his wife Sylvia.  Great fun and laughter was had.  I remember celebrating the 4th of July, and so it was definately around this time of the year.

Mum and Sylvia had a conference to attend in Dublin, Ireland, and lucky me got to go along.  Mum and I made our way there and met Sylvia in Dublin.  When we landed in Ireland we found the college we were staying at and decided to have a bit of a rest.  We were exhausted travelling all the way across America, transferring at JFK Airport in New York and then flying to Dublin.  Funny now I think of it compared to the 20 hours of flying to Inverness, Scotland from Adelaide.  So our rest turned in to a full blown sleep with a sleep in and when we woke up, the sun was up and it was 10.  Wow, we couldn’t believe we slept all night and then slept in so long in the morning, but we were tired!

So off we went exploring to find some breakfast as we were pretty hungry after missing dinner.

How odd it was here, every shop or cafe we found was shut, but every bar we found was open and full of revellers.  What?  At 10am??  Shouldn’t people (at least some of them) be at lectures/tutes (we were at a uni after all, and I knew first hand that the life of a uni student is not all about bars and partying).

It took half an hour or so of this before it dawned on us.  It was twilight, and it was actually 10pm, which is why the shops were shut but the pubs were full.  Alrighty then.  So, it was a late night snack we were looking for, not breakfast.

Sylvia met us the next day and for the next few days they were conferening and I was plannning the rest of our trip during the day and we went exploring in the afternoons/evenings.  We had a great time.  We found some great pubs, some very funny signs, some great spots for shopping and immersed ourselves in the big city life of Dublin.  Then the conference finished and Sylvia went home, leaving Mum and I to explore Ireland.  We had decided on a three week vacation, so we had two and a half weeks left.

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Twenty years is a long time ago.  I am struggling to remember details (which is why I knew that I needed to start blogging to jot down memories as they came to me).  What I do know without thinking too hard at all was that it was a time where there was no internet or mobile phones.  No Google Maps, no Booking.com, no Trip Advisor. Planning a trip around Ireland was much more difficult and time consuming in those days than it is now.  We had to visit Tourist Information Offices and trawl through pages and pages of information and maps to work out the best places to visit, to stay and to eat.  I took most of this responsibiity on happily, being the born organiser that I am (not to mention somewhat of a control freak) it suited me.  Mum was loving not having to think so hard and make every decision that she had grown used to doing, living in a foreign Country, so it suited her too.  So, a great deal of the time was spent by me coming up with a plan for the next few days, which way we should head, what we wanted to see and how we could get there (did we catch a bus or train, get a ferry, a taxi or hire a car)?  So many options.

I have lots of great photos, which I’ll need to add once I’m home that helps demonstrate our experience. I know Mum took a photo (at least one) of me looking through travel information and she wrote a caption “My little travel organiser”.  Mum and I had been referring to me being the Mum in the relationship because I was doing the hard decision making and Mum being “baby” where she didn’t need to think about anything, just follow me.  I clearly remember getting to a point of exhaustion though and asking Mum to help with some planning.  Her response “but I want to be Baby” to which I responded louder “BUT I WANT TO BE BABY!!!”.  She laughed raucously and duly handed over the mantle of Baby, just for a little while, and I revelled in not having to think.  Ahhhhh.

We had a large suitcase each, which we had to lug on and off buses, trains and ferries and in and out of Hostels and B&B’s. We worked out pretty quickly that this “backpacking” with suitcases around Ireland was not the best idea, and we vowed we would actually have backpacks next time.  We both lived up to this.  Mum returned the next year in 1995 by herself and I have a precious diary she wrote and she refers to the backpack she was carrying.  This trip that I am on currently I was adamant (even though every person I told tried to tell me I was crazy) that our bags needed to be carried on our backs and not dragged behind us.  Boy was I right.  I say each and every day what a great decision bringing backpacks was as we are walking along small, uneven or busy footpaths, on and off trains and buses and up flights of stairs.  Bruce and Jay totally agree and laugh every time that I say it because I was so adamant having done it with Mum that we would not have suitcases this time.  I doubted myself a few times when so many people were questioning our judgement, but thankfully I stuck to my guns and we are reaping the rewards now.

Of this trip so far, this town, being Galway is the first town that I have been to before.  Mum and I loved Galway and we ended up staying for three nights, which was a lot on our trip as we had a lot that we wanted to do in the two and a half weeks.

Walking around Galway yesterday, it was vaguely familiar.  I recognised the train station and I knew which way to walk to head in to the centre of town.  I remembered though that Mum and I stayed out of town (a 20 minute or so walk), which I believe was at Salthill, and so most of our time was spent at the B&B and the pub next door and the cafe two doors down.  I remember lots of relaxing and walking along Galway Bay and the wind coming across the bay being so cold it made my ears ache.  I fondly remember the guy in the pub making fun of my accent when I ordered a “Baileys” as I knew that I wanted to drink something Irish but could not bring myself to join Mum in a Guiness (even though the signs around the streets kept telling me “Guiness is Good for you”..  I remember the people were very friendly, often they would stop when they heard our accents and asked us if we were enjoying our holiday and give us travel tips on where to go and how to best enjoy their Country that they were so proud of and wanted us to love as much as they did.

Today Bruce, Jay and I are off to explore Galway our way.  Nothing we are doing today will be the same as what Mum and I did, but I’m sure I’ll feel her presence each time I see a familiar building or another memory comes to me.

I am pleased that mostly the memories bring me happiness for the fact that I have them and I shared such a wonderful experience with her, rather than being overwhelmed with the the sadness I feel about the fact that I can’t share this experience with her.  She would be so happy to know that we are here.  It feels like it was meant to be.

But jeez I miss her.