Thursday, December 30, 2010


A stop at the bakery for rolls and a still-hot loaf of soda bread.


"...can be traced back to 3000 BC..."  We've enjoyed many family discussions about ancient civilizations... people.  It's strange to stand on a rock formation that used to be someone's home 5000 years ago.  5000!  To think!  To stand on an important archeological site, reading about the tools... various homemaking devices and such... unearthed by scientists... to tell a story...

...about family, children, farmers, hunters... and my children's favorite, Vikings!
I'm looking around me as I type.  What stories does my life tell?  What story would the archeologists tell based on their findings in my home?

What romantic tales would they script about my marriage?  What childhood entertainments would they chronicle?
Would they know our family's favorite recipes?  Our traditions?  Who we worship?  I reach for another handful of the Kettle Corn my 15-year old son delivered a few minutes ago, bringing two bowls up to the library, "I love you, Mom.  Love you, Dad," he said as he handed us bowls of love.

Just south of Limerick, at the Lough Gur, we learned about the lime kiln, the Grange Stone Circle, the Stone forts of Carraig Aille.  About the tribes that made their home here in the valley, protected by the surrounding hills.

We walked the path around the lake, wondered about the Tower House, (closed to visitors and looking as if it might be a barn on the backside of someone's farm), and imagined ancient life.

At last we drove to Limerick, parked near King John's Castle, crossed the River Shannon, and found the meeting point for the Angela's Ashes Historical Walking Tour.

More stories.  Never tiring of the stories. 

There's many churches throughout the city of Limerick... and a deep and controversial church history.  It was heartrending to hear about the rule of Protestant England and Ireland's fight for independence. 

Our guide was adept at sharing about the history of Limerick from McCourt's perspective while giving us the-other-side perspectives.  Tenderhearted, witty, and a phenomenal story-teller, our guide led us through the streets of Limerick pointing out important sites, telling us how-it-was-then and how it is now, his anecdotes both insightful and entertaining.  We marveled at his energy when he informed us that he was headed south the following week... to be tour guide for a 750-km (approx. 466 miles), trek across Northern Spain.  Said he'd led that particular walk for several years.

Frank McCourt, in his memoir, Angela's Ashes, tells about his alcoholic father... about finding his father at W.J. South, bent over a drink, a child's casket next to him... Frank's younger brother having died earlier that day.

In the playful Irish accent and fairytale-like way that Irish have, our guide told stories of hardship but also of love, perseverance, hard work, and undying devotion during a difficult time in history.  He talked about family and survival and the importance of never quitting. 

(See how attentive the children are in the photo above?  Well, at least half the crowd anyway... sigh)

The sun set.  The city lit up.  We searched for the warmth of a fireplace to dine by.  ...With the added bonus of an American football game on the wide-screen. {wide smile}

When I proceeded to take a picture of the hearth, a man leaned over and tapped me on the arm...

"Why take pictures of a fireplace when you can take a picture of two handsome sons taking their mother out for the evening?"

I smiled.  "Alright.  I agree!"  And I took a picture.  Of course, we made introductions all round, bantered for a bit, while I took the opportunity to point out to my sons the brilliance of grown sons taking their mother out on the town.

Ah, stories.  How grateful we are for the opportunities to make these memories!  The stories we'll refer back to... the treasures we'll unearth in our own family archeological digs...

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for taking me with you guys...again....Wonderful storyteller you!!