Just Pinch Me!

I left home around 9:30 a.m. on May 16th, and arrived in Atlanta with far too much time to worry. Our flight to Ireland was not due to leave until 9:50 p.m. The text messages between my kids were flying fast and furiously as each one made their way to their perspective airports and then eventually became silent. There were over 800 flights cancelled out of Chicago O’Hare and I watched anxiously as Keenan reported his flight delays.

I had made all the flight arrangements for the trip and though Keenan was telling me his flight had still not taken off, I could see his plane heading towards Atlanta on a flight tracker. I was beside myself. I begged him to please approach the desk to see if he couldn’t get on a different flight as he got more and more annoyed with me. It turned out the Delta had rescheduled him for a later flight and I had never heard of an update!

Taylor and Seana were the first to arrive. Keenan’s plane unloaded with around a half hour to spare. Once we were all together I could breath again.

I had gotten us a block of seats so that we sat 2+2 during our overnight flight. As we loaded into the plane I told the flight attendant about our “miracle girl” and how we worried if we’d ever be able to make this trip together. “Janna, like banana” took special care of us during the flight and would refer to Seana and I by our names throughout. It was a long, 8-hour journey. I don’t typically sleep on a plane but I had worried myself into exhaustion. After dinner and a glass of wine, I know I slept some before dawn broke.

We had a less-than-stellar experience in Dublin Airport. It took nearly two hours to clear immigration which could have been cut considerably if we’d not been so excited about our arrival that we forgot to get wheelchair service for Seana! I had promised Stephen that I’d look out for her and I’d already failed. We all had to snake slowly around that miserable line. The rental car was an additional poke in the eye. I had rented from Sixt and researched whether or not I needed the CDW insurance. Accordingly to my “member benefits” statement my credit card would cover damage.

“Not so fast,” said the man at the Sixt counter. “Do you have that in writing?” He suggested I call my credit card company and have them send me an email verification. I tried. I called Capital One who then attempted to connect me with kind folks from Master Card. After waiting on hold for too many minutes, I gave up and purchased the insurance. By the time we had the keys to our rental car we’d been in Ireland for 3 hours!

I always like to say that when Bill rides with me in Ireland he becomes so much closer to God. He frequently calls out to The Savior; something like a panicked “Jesus Christ!” I can testify that my children had a similar conversion on our first day of driving on the left with a manual transmission. It truly is a religious experience!

Trim Castle

I’d planned to explore a passage grave farther to the north prior to working our way to Trim, and then on to Wicklow for the night. After the major airport delay I definitely needed to recalculate.

Instead we went directly to Trim Castle. If you’ve never seen a castle before, this one catches your breath as you round the corner in Trim. I loved hearing the exclamations from my passengers!

We immediately set about exploring and I bought tickets for a 3:30 p.m. tour of the keep. You must take the tour to get inside

Trim Castle is referred to as an Anglo-Norman castle. It was built by Hugh DeLacy in 1172 AD and sits along the banks of the River Boyne. It truly is the stuff movies are made from having been used in the filming of several, including “Braveheart”. It’s an impressive structure as are the walls around it.

It had started to rain and by the time our tour began, we were pretty soggy. Like the true Irish, we all had rain gear but had not thought to take it any farther than our luggage which of course, was still in the car. As we were waiting for the tour to move inside, a lovely American fellow (with a very nice umbrella) made a rather large portion of small talk with the guide before he could get started. There’s one in every crowd and had he not quieted soon I may have tackled him for his umbrella!

I’m not a big fan of organized tours but sometimes it’s worth it to gain access to a site as well as to hear the history that otherwise might have been missed. Our tour guide was an earnest fellow and it was just fun to hear his “accent”. I think the story of how the upstairs inside toilet emptied down the white, castle wall was especially awe inspiring. We really did enjoy the tour and it was incredible to be able to stand at the top of the castle and take in the view. I thought of my sister Sally who had braved her fear of heights and stood in the same places we explored with glee.

Nap time

Well, don’t ya know this sightseeing is exhausting? As we headed to Wicklow the traffic outside Dublin came to a screeching crawl. My co-pilot did her best to keep me company but soon all my little packages were fast asleep. As a mother, I always enjoyed seeing the faces of my children when they were asleep. That look of sweet innocence helped them stay living through the tough days!

Wicklow Lighthouse

The directions for our lodging referenced being on the lookout for an easily missed “red gate”. I had kept this place a secret for over a year as a surprise. I could see it, but I’ll be damned if we could find a red gate! Finally, in desperation we turned down a narrow road marked by a red post. We drove about 1.5 km and as we approached the Wicklow Lighthouse Taylor exclaimed, “Is this it? Are we staying here?” I had told them I had a surprise up my sleeve. I am writing this journal entry from the lounge area of the lighthouse located on the third row of windows up. It is nearly beyond words how cool it is here. The only real problem is that the kitchen is 106 steps up from the landing! It is an amazing piece of work from the Irish Landmark Trust who revitalizes old historical sites into lodging in order to preserve them. Check them out sometime at http://www.irishlandmark.com .

We were introduced to the lighthouse by a lovely lady named, Miriam and her adult son Brendan. When we mentioned the challenge of finding the red gate, Brendan said that the gate had been taken down the week prior and he’d forgotten all about it! The lighthouse was built in 1781. In the entry room was a large vase of Asiatic Lillies. Their fragrance was sublime. Up a flight of metal stairs was the first bedroom that Seana and I shared. Then to the bathroom. The second bedroom was next and the living room/lounge was next. At the very top is the cutest kitchen you’d want to see. I think it would be great to prepare meals up there if you didn’t have to haul all your food up 106 steps!

We had made arrangements to eat at Heely’s Pub. Dinner was decent, not delicious. It was also a tad bit stressful. We’d not had much sleep in the prior 36 hours or so and siblings were clearly getting on each other’s nerves. I felt like I was thrown back into that period of time when I really needed to see those sleeping faces! By the time dessert arrived things had settled down a bit. We returned to the lighthouse where my children presented me a gift of “A Treasury of Irish Fairy and Folk Tales”. It’s a huge, beautiful book with their inscriptions on the inside cover. I am blessed.

I did peak in at all of their sleeping faces this morning before sitting to journal. I really want this trip to be magical for them. It has given me an opportunity to see Ireland through new eyes and to even venture to places I’ve not been before.

This morning the lyrics to Ireland Mother Ireland by P.J. O’Reilly ring through my head:

Oh, land of love and beauty
To you our hearts are wed
To you in lowly duty
We ever bow the head
Oh, perfect loving mother
Your exiled children all
Across the sund’ring seas to you
In fond devotion call
If you sigh, we hear you
If you weep, we weep
In your hours of gladness
How our pulses leap
Let what may befall
Ever shall we hold you
Dearest – best of all

Dear isle across the sea
Dear loving land of ours
May your days be sunny
And your way – a way of flowers
Wide though we be scattered
By alien vale and hill
All the love you gave to us
We keep and cherish still
If you sigh, we hear you
If you weep, we weep
In your hours of gladness
How our pulses leap
Let what may befall
Ever shall we hold you
Dearest – best of all

6 thoughts on “Just Pinch Me!

  1. Renee Patterson May 18, 2019 — 8:07 am

    Thanks for doing this Kelly!! I will look forward to your next entry!!


  2. Janis Stasiak May 18, 2019 — 8:24 am

    Oh Kelly, I smiled and laughed at this ready but now I have those tears!!! You truly are a gifted writer! Take in every morsel, my friend,! Breathe it in deep! Love and hugs!


  3. Penny Daab Cushway May 18, 2019 — 2:42 pm

    Aw, my precious, clever and beloved little sister! So nice to hear your stories and loving all of you there! We had a couple over last night to watch “Waking Ned Devine”.
    (I know it was filmed on the Isle of Man)….but l felt so close to Ireland…and then, all of my family during the “toast” at the end. I wish l was with you! Continue having a great adventure….” ya can o’ coors!” 😊❤


    1. When we stopped for lunch today I heard that line from our waiter! Then I told the kids the story… followed minutes later by your comment! Perfect.


  4. Kelly, as I read your journaling I can’t help the tears that flow for you and this unforgettable adventure! What a magical place to share with those beautiful kiddos 💚. And the memories of the past trips to Ireland especially the one with your mom and sisters!
    Love that you are sprinkling Auntie Jean’s fairy dust there – I know she smiling! 🥰


  5. Kelly, you bring tears to my eyes…. I only wish I could express myself as well as you do. I am requesting you write a book in your spare time:) Thank you for sharing your talent and memories with us, you are an inspiration!


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