Mayo, Day Eighteen

Our last day in Ireland is a full and fun one. Glowering skies, bits of blue coming and going as Kat drives us to Killursa Church. 

We go our windy way as the boy sings his traveling song. Happily, it stays dry, and we find the pretty church and cemetery. 

The direction of the drive. Photo by Kat

They’re actually digging a grave when we arrive, using pick and shovel in the rocky ground. 

Photo by Kat

I love visiting Irish cemeteries as they often make gardens in the plots to remember their loved ones. Spreading purple lobelia, bold red begonias, even hydrangeas covering graves where people leave momentos—poems, photos, and in one case a little thatched roof cottage.

There’s a sweetness to that.

I see a couple of Sweeneys, and wonder if they were distant cousins.

Photo by Nora

The ruin of the church is beautiful, and it feels like the right kind of day to pay this sort of visit. Not quite gloomy here, not quite bright. And the dead have views of the green hills, the grazing cows and sheep across the road.

Griffin laughs heartily at something (one) no one else sees, and seems to make a friend.

BW is unable to resist and asks the gravediggers if he can take a photo. They’re more than happy to pose.

A pause for the Yank. Photo by BW

We head on to Ross Errilly  Friary, a massive, fabulous place we’ve visited before. We have this marvelously spooky place to ourselves.

Just inside the entrance is a newish grave with markers, flowers over the mound. We wander through with everything echoing with the spirits of those long-dead monks.

I always love the little road down to it, with the pretty houses and glorious gardens.

You could walk for hours here, inside and out.

Ruins. Photo by j a-b
The resting place. Photo by j a-b
A view from above. Photo by j a-b

Griffin wants the gravel, of course, and Kat and I take a break, sit on a low wall while he tosses stones or pushes them over a little stone threshold. At one point, he decides we’re not paying attention and tries to sample one.

Pay no attention to the gravel by my hand. Photo by Kat

We both give that ‘eeh!’ 

At the same time, and apparently loud enough to give him a serious jolt. His whole body jerks in reaction, and he wings the stone in his hand. If there’d been a runner rounding third and heading for home, Griffin’s pitch would have gotten him out.

Then he bursts into tears. Real ones, big, fat drops rolling. He’s: You scared the CRAP out of me! 

We have to laugh even as Mama picks him up to comfort him.

Wandering more, up stone steps, into openings, down again.

Peeking through. Photo by BW

BW, Jason and I are together when we hear Griffin wail.

Off we go. It seems he was determined to get another taste of gravel. We’re not sure if the wail was reaction—doesn’t taste so good after all—or insult that his mom reached in and took it out of his mouth.

But he gets over it.

We go out for the view, watch a big brown cow circle the castle to a feeder. And Griffin can play in the grass on the green rise.

Family. Photo by BW

One more stop on our day, and we’re off to Kinlough Castle.

It’s signposted, so we follow down a tiny lane that gets only tinier. Jason’s nav says to turn on what looks like a cowpath, but intrepid Kat makes the turn, and goes over a steep hump of a bridge to a gate.

She maneuvers her way off the road that isn’t a road, and stays with napping Griffin while we hike across the field of rough grass and sheep droppings.

This place, an old keep, looks as forbidding as they come. Glowering gray in the glowering sky. It’s fenced off, obviously unsafe, so we stay back and just study it.

The facade alone says Keep Out. Photo by j a-b
A bottom to top pano. Photo by j a-b

I wonder if it was more welcoming once, or if it always had this dour look to it. It’s fascinating, must surely be haunted. I’m surprised if the sheep wander very close.

Back we go for Kat to prove her masterful skills. The only way to get out is for her to back up over that hump of a bridge.

Jason goes out to help guide her. The you’re too close to something signal shrieks the whole time as there’s about room enough for another coat of paint on either side of the stone walls of the bridge.

The warning red lights surround the view on the screen—Griffin sleeps on—and Kat just slides between the walls and over the bridge.

Back we head for a snack, for packing. Griffin wakes to visit and play.

We have dinner at Cullen’s where Griffin decides our waitress is the best ever. Every time he sees her he laughs, squeals, grins. She play the game back at him.

I walk him out once to take the air, and he’s thrilled to see her again.

Then he conks on the bench for a bit.

After a fine meal, I give the boy a mash-up session while Kat packs and Daddy takes turns entertaining the boy before bedtime.

A quiet night’s sleep, a short workout on a rainy morning.

We’re packed and about ready to head to the airport.

It’s been a long, lovely time. 

Last family selfie.
A final look. Photo by Kat

Nora

35 thoughts on “Mayo, Day Eighteen”

  1. Safe journey home, hope you are all refreshed and reinvigorated. Thanks so much for taking us on your trip.

  2. Thank you very much for sharing your vacation. I know you have had a lovely time, and I enjoyed tagging along.

  3. What a glorious journey around Scotland and Ireland…especially the bits seen through Griffin’s eyes! Thank you

  4. Great trip for you…vicarious thrill for me…. I think I have been to both of these ruins…for sure the Friary…safe trip home.

  5. I have always wanted to visit Ireland. Thank you for letting me “tag” along with you & your family. Such beautiful sights & fun adventures with y’all. Tell Griffin he makes the cutest travel guide. Be safe on your travel home.

  6. Thank you for allowing us to see what you see. It’s been an adventure for us as well. All the wonderful photos are so appreciated.

    Have a safe trip home, I’m sure the dogs will be thrilled to see you.

    Hugs to you.

  7. Thanks for sharing your great trip! What wonderful memories with Griffin you’re accumulating, and adding to those of your other grandchildren. Safe travels on your way home.

  8. My son just returned from his vacations at The States and today at lunch I told him you had been in Ireland and he told me he wish he went there instead. He speaks often of moving there so I guess it stayed inside of him like no other place.
    So happy all was good, great the most.
    Travel safely home and rest. My son was away one week and his bio rythim’s still on USA time not Europe’s.
    “See” you soon in other kind, but as lovely, logues ?
    And Thank you all – Jason, Kat, BW, yourself – for sharing your beautiful pictures. And thank you Griffin for the best entertainement ?

    1. Now I need to go reread The Cousins O’Dwyer again for the umpteenth time. Reading your vacation feels very quieting, and in a country so torn apart, its a breath I didn’t know I needed.

  9. Your trip had so many highlights that were absolutely beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing your family time with all of us. Be safe going home, hopefully arriving rested and relaxed. Looking forward to your next book, story, blog, travelogue, whatever you write is so much enjoyed and appreciated.

  10. And home to rest, replay the visit for a few days and come down from the vacation ‘high’. Thank you for sharing.

  11. A wonderful day to end a wonderful vacation. I loved the ruins and the cemetery photos; there is something awe inspiring to ruins and old places. I think it’s charming that people plant flowers and gardens on the graves. They don’t allow that in the cemetery where my mother and brother lay. Griffin, as always, is a beautiful and happy baby; sounds like he’s going to be a real charmer with the ladies when he gets older. Thank you for sharing.

  12. My Dad’s family are Sweeney’s, but there was never agreement from which island – Ireland or Scotland. I wish they’d kept better records. Thanks, as always, for sharing your holiday! Safe trip.

  13. Thank you for sharing your wonderful vacation adventure. Today’s picture of Nora in the stone window would be an amazing book jacket picture…..safe travels home

  14. Funny seeing a tombstone with the Sweeney name, as that was my maiden name. However, my family were farmers from County Meath.

  15. Thank you for taking us all in this wonderful journey of the family and for sharing your glorious photos and the ever charming Griffin.

    I certainly enjoyed your daily updates and look forward to your next travels and books…

    Safe travels home❤️❤️

  16. Your pictures day so much of Ireland. My grandmother was from Ireland, she came here and married an American Indian. My grandfather was the sweetest man, my grandmother was a nurse and treated her patients well, but the family got her looks and whippings! The pictures make me want to gather my family together and go to Ireland. Yes, I really want to go. I’ll try to get some information about where my family was from!

  17. I do love your current photo taken by BW on the back of your books NR. However when I saw the new one BW took “peeking through ” I fell in love. It is an awesome photos of you NR (good job BW!) . I think this new photo should grace the back of a new book soon!

  18. Goodness Nora that was my line of Sweeneys at the cemetery. My great grandfather, Thomas Sweeney came to Louisiana from County Mayo sometime around 1900. His youngest of 5 children was my beloved Grandmother. It was very cool to see those graves. Thank you for sharing and safe travels home!

  19. Thank you for sharing your vacation. I always look forward to these journals. Today’s pictures are great. The one of you “peeking through” is fantastic. Jacket cover worthy! Safe travels.

  20. Thank you for sharing your travels and your family—and perhaps the beginnings of a new book!!

  21. So lovely to follow your amazing family vacation. You are a Sweeney and we are McSweeney. Love following your trips

  22. I laughed at the line , when in the cemetery, that Griffin laughed at something no one else sees. You have so much of the mystical fairy in you, how could you be anything else but a master author to end all authors.

    Thanks for this lovely travelogue. I’m sorry its ending, as you probably are.

  23. Glad you had a good holiday. I felt like I was there with you. Have a safe journey back home.x

  24. Thank you for sharing your fine trip! I feel like I was there enjoying it all. I particularly like how all the old building are left in evocative ruins a trip back in time.

  25. I have to say “thank you so much”, Ms. Roberts. I have always wanted to visit (my mother’s family is from Ireland) and feel as if I just did. After reading everything, I have to say you’re as good at journaling as you are writing. And you are, of course, my favorite. Since I have grandsons close to Griffins age, I appreciated all his adventures! Thank you again.

  26. Such beautiful travel stories and pictures, you will have awesome memories. Are any of the places you visited haunted ? I love when you incorporate the paranormal in your stories, hoping for more in your future books.
    Safe Travels Always !

  27. Thanks Nora and Laura! A wonderful vacation again this year. I do appreciate the travelogues, as it’s always interesting reading and great pictures. Griffin is really one of the happiest babies. He looked adorable in his full tartan outfit. Great flowers, great views. I hope your trip home went smoothly.

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