Eager to leave our hotel in Dublin, we set out Sunday morning for Birr. John’s family lives in County Offaly and we were excited to be going back for a visit. But in Ireland, it’s easy to get distracted while meandering the countryside.
We had a little time to kill, and John mentioned he’d like to take me to this little town at the end of Lough Derg, on the River Shannon. As he was driving, he told me to put Port Laoise into our GPS. Oh, and it’s pronounced “Leash”.
I found it on the map and we headed that direction, enjoying the views along the way.
When we arrived, we parked the car and headed out walking. John said he’d like to walk to the water and I looked on the map on my phone and told him I didn’t see where it was.
It was about that time he realized the name of the town he wanted to take us to was Killaloe in County Clare and about an hour from where we were. So after a quick lunch we jumped back in the car to find Lough Derg.
We arrived in Ballina on the County Tipperary side of the river and crossed the bridge to Killaloe. What a beautiful place.
Before we knew it we realized the day was getting away from us and we found our way to Birr.
Pulling into town, John made his way effortlessly to his Aunt’s place. Even though it had been years since he was last there, it was second nature to drive to his family’s home. His cousin, Michelle answered the door, and the fun began.
I’m not sure if it’s just John’s family, but the Irish have a way of making you feel like you are home. As Michelle finished cooking us all a good proper Sunday dinner, other family members started arriving.
We had a grand time with so much laughter and food and drink. Little by little, more family arrived and after dessert we decided it was necessary to go enjoy a bit of the local scene at their favorite pub.
Promising to have just one drink, the six of us we were dropped off at Craughwell’s Pub.
Several hours and pints later the bartender hailed our taxi which drove us home. Even though it was already the wee hours of the morning, Michelle, John and I sat at the kitchen table talking and snacking on the remains of dinner.
Finally at 2:30am I excused myself to go to bed. Aunt Frieda is an amazing host and with the cool evening breeze coming into the window, I snuggled into a warm comfortable bed. She puts a heating pad under the sheets for those cool Irish nights, and I think I was asleep in about two seconds.
The smell of Irish bacon and sausage woke us up just a few hours later.
It was hard to say goodbye to these lovely people. But it was Monday and they had work and school and lives to get back to.
And so we hit the road to Donegal….