Mayo, Day Seventeen

The rain’s steady but gauzy thin when we set out. Our boy laughs, delighted with the way the wind blows the wet into his face.

It’s all cool and fresh as daisies.

Rain is fun! Photo by Kat

BW’s done some research, and there’s a ruin nearby we’ve never been to. Kat handles the ribbon of road as if she’d been born to it.

The world’s misty and wind’s kicking up. And that’s as lovely in its way as sunshine. We change from our ribbon of a road to a thread of one, passing cattle and sheep, then a gaggle of geese we pause to let cross the road.

We come to a gate with a sign reminding us to close it behind us, and now the thread becomes a cow path, winding and climbing with the hedgerows close enough to brush.

Muddy trek. Photo by Nora

Inishmaine Abbey sits on a rise above Lough Mask, a beautiful situation in the green fields where black-faced sheep watch us warily as we walk.

The lake’s gorgeous and wide, steely-colored under the layered sky. With the tide low, you see rich brown silt at the edge.

In we go to wander about, to wonder at the stone niches, the carvings. The boy prefers to sit and play in the gravel.

What gravel, Grandda? Photo by BW

And the flock of sheep all turn to face us as if posing.

First line of defense, though Murray (on far left) is distracted. Photo by j a-b

Kat says this is the Ireland she remembers, all misty rain, spreading wet green, gray stone ruins.

I see the geese gliding over the water,  a little boat doing the same, and hills rising into the troubled sky. It’s all a painting come to life.

Lough Mask still life. Photo by BW

Across the field to the next building, and—carefully—up the curving stone steps. The view is breathless, and even with the gloom, you can see for what seems miles and miles.

Sheep in the meadow. (When they aren’t defending.) Photo by Kat.
Thin view. Photo by j a-b
Pano time! Photo by j a-b
Grownups! I wasn’t ready! Photo by kat

We enjoy every minute before we walk back to the car.

On the way out, there’s a herd of cows right by that cow path, reclining. Kat wants a picture, and as BW obliges her, the big cow close to the car gets to her feet.

Kat says: Close enough! And drives on.

Second line of defense. Whatchu lookin’ at? Photo by BW

Into Ballinrobe for lunch at Flannery’s. It’s just right, warm and dry and welcoming. I’m going to share the barbecued beef bap with the boy as I know I can’t eat it all, and want a taste. We couldn’t finish it between us, but both enjoyed what we could manage. [Ed. Note: in the first edition of the post I had nap from Nora’s copy and it was too early to figure out what that meant. Mystery solved! Spell check struck again. A bap is a lbread roll sandwich. Thanks all! ~Laura]

Lunch place. Photo by Kat

We take a wander around town, end up at Divine Bakery. And it is, no question, divine. The scents alone are swoon-worthy. We get a couple of pastries to divide up later.

And we note Divine is right next door to the town dentist.

It seems apt.

It’s a friendly town with locals smiling and saying hello as we pass.

We’re heading next to Glebe Stone Circle, and the boy drifts off to sleep.

It’s sign posted, but you can’t drive to it. Kat finds a safe spot to pull off the road, and opts to sit in the car with Griffin as he naps while the rest of us walk—carefully again—up the surprisingly busy little road to where you cross into the field.

More carefully as a lot of sheep and cattle have been here. Watch your step!

The little dance is on the highest point of the field—and fenced off, I think to keep the livestock out. A huge limb has come down from a big tree, and has fallen right between two stones, then against the fence and out. It still has leaves and prickly little fruit on its upper branches.

Force of nature. Photo by j a-b

As with the abbey it seems this is the kind of day to see these sites, the the air damp and misty, the gray and the green soft and velvety.

I admire the stone fences dividing the fields—my people who came from Ireland and Scotland were farmers, and stone masons. As a boy my own father worked with his building stone walls in D.C. that still stand. So it’s sentiment along with admiration for me.

Son and mom. Photo by BW

Back to the car where the boy still sleeps, and home again.

He wakes a short time later, and Kat, hoping to finish her painting, asks if I can watch him for a bit.

Can I!

As it happens I’d been about to go for a walk, and now I’ll have Griffin for company. 

The rain’s stopped, though the air’s still rich and damp.

I walk with him through one of the stone arches and into the magical woods. It’s deep and green and quiet. But after a bit, all the boy wants is to sit on the damp dirt path, play with the dirt and the leaves on the ground—and admire his filthy hands.

Since he makes no move to eat any this time, we can play this game awhile.

I take him back to the grass, and this is another happy time for him. Back we walk to cap our adventure with a round of mash-ups.

We had a fine little time. And Kat finished her painting.


Time to clean up. The castle’s offered to drop us off at Lydon’s in Cong where we’ll have dinner. Our driver tells us to order the chocolate brownie promising we won’t be disappointed.

The place is busy and bustling for a reason. Good food, good wine, happy service. Kat walks Griffin around outside, down to the river, out in the quiet sunlight that’s broken through the day while we wait for our meal.

The boy’s sharing my sea bass, and likes the mushroom and artichoke risotto. A lot.

I’m not a fan myself, so didn’t taste it first. He’s eating mushrooms like candy.

And all at once, without a sound or complaint he begins to expel streams of risotto. I’m quick enough to catch most in my hand—which occurs to me later is such a mom reflex. Here, let me catch your puke, baby, so it doesn’t get all over you.

He’s not the least bit upset, but Mom and Dad take him off to wash up and change. My hand didn’t catch it all.

BW samples the risotto, which he deems delish—but very rich. Too rich for our boy, apparently.

He comes back, cheerful as ever, and has a little chicken and some chips which work far better.

And we order the chocolate brownie, which is, seriously, an orgasm on a spoon. No chocolate for the boy tonight, but a taste of vanilla ice cream.

We walk home, walk off the meal, and take the path along the river, into the woods in all that gorgeous softening light. We pass a fisherman with his evening catch, and see more still casting their line in the River Cong.

It’s more beautiful than ever now, hints of gold flickering on the water, the sky moving to twilight, the woods deepening toward night—full of secrets, no doubt—and the path soft from the day’s rain.

And ahead, the castle’s lit, amber glows in windows, its silhouette regal against the night sky, the lake glimmering, just a bit.

Welcome back. Photo by BW

A lovely day in Ireland, just as it should be.

The wind’s fiercely vocal when I workout, and I see the sky’s layered again. But where it thins, blue peeks out, and bits of sun push through. Before I’m done, the light’s brightening at the horizon, and begins to bleed its way up.

I see three people standing and talking, and wonder did they travel together, or have they just met and share conversation on a pretty morning.

The boy comes to visit before his morning nap and gets a thrill as I’m actually doing a mash-up. Kat warns he might now expect me to get up and dance whenever I play them for him.

We’re going to head out again—sun’s out some—when he wakes so we can pack more into our last day in Ireland.


in today’s #RandomKatness:


32 thoughts on “Mayo, Day Seventeen”

  1. I used to holiday in Ballinrobe, as a child. Was there this summer and it is sad to see the many businesses/shops (that were thriving 40 years ago) closed down. I sed to swim in Lough Mask, help with the haymaking, go the local disco! Flannerys happened to be closed while I was there. My mam was born just outside Ballinrobe… sad how times change but nice to have the memories.

    1. Maura..its all over rural ireland now..its going to be interesting to see if rural ireland can survive in the next 50 years or will there be even cows or sheep in those fields?

    2. We stayed at Lydons when we came to see you at The Lodge. The food and service was excellent. They leave ear plugs in your room so the music doesn’t keep you up. Lol. I agree with the chocolate brownie being yummy.
      It was my first visit to Cong and the water was pristine and lovely.
      We walked a bit on the castle grounds and followed the path and enjoyed the canopy of trees which protected us from the drizzle of rain.
      Thank you again for sharing your time with your fans on the 18th and sharing your memories with us.

  2. Thank you for the tours. Love the stories about Griffin. Kat’s painting is wonderful. Would love to go to Scotland and Ireland. The countries are beautiful.

  3. They have a Cajun Chicken Bap…so maybe Barbeque Beef Bap? (whatever that is) N is close to B on the keyboard 🙂

  4. Could be the Cajun Chicken Bap (Knockmore smoked cheddar, jd and coke barbeque sauce, tomato and baby cos)?

  5. Kat’s painting is so evocative – medieval, yet modern. She’s quite the talent.

    My people also come from Ireland and Scotland (Carew, English, McCoy, Foster, McKenzie). They all emigrated to various provinces in Canada and, eventually, to the United States. I’ve been to poor Tipperary, Ireland, but not yet to Scotland. That’s what bucket lists are for, right?

    I’ve enjoyed your trip, and hope you return refreshed and ready to roll.

  6. Had to laugh at Kat’s reaction to the cow, so much like Eve.

    1. The painting and the way Kat tackles anything that shows up as a challenge of sorts shows the multi talented girl she is. Love the Hawks.

  7. Wow! Kat’s Picture is just beautiful. So real! And Laura, I also wondered what a bb nap was. Maybe “nap” is a name for a type of sandwich? I’m very interested to know.

  8. My guess for the menu item is a bap not nap. Autocorrect wants to change bap to nap also b & n are side by side on the keyboard.

  9. Kat’s painting is indeed stunning . Just wow!

    You make rain and gloom so romantic. I’m not surprised .

    Another wonderful day.

  10. You have made my Friday especially with pictures of Griffin…I can just imagine the joy you feel being around him…

    Love Kat’s finished painting…it is extraordinary ❤️❤️❤️

    1. Enjoying the mini vacation I get each day reading of your travels. Brides and their gowns keep me too busy this time of year to do anything other than dream of time away in the winter. I’m wondering what Ireland would be like then and thinking it’s time to look into it.
      Laura, I’m sure Flannery’s website is getting more traffic than it normally gets today! The only item I saw that was even close was the Cajun Chicken Bap. Maybe the BBQ Beef was a daily special? (now I’m hungry)

  11. Could it be a typo? Wrap? Or is it in reference to what you want to do after eating said bb nap? Any way, thanks for transporting me in my mind to the green Isle!

  12. so enjoy these travelogues. Kat is an amazing artist, her painting is amazing. Enjoying all the Griffin adventures. I am taking a guess that the barbecued beef nap might be a corned beef sandwich of some sort

  13. I had planned to travel from Dallas, TX for this event. A wonderful surprise from my husband. Unfortunately, health issues had me cancelling at the last moment. (So I spent the time re-reading the Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy.)

    Thank you Nora, for letting me feel that I made the trip after all. I know it is very intrusive, sharing your time writing this blog, while with your family. So please pass my heartfelt “thank you’s” to them as well.

    My husband has promised we’ll go soon, so I’m printing these logs of your trip to use as our traveling guide.

    Le buíochas ó chroí.

  14. Thank you so much for the wonderful pictures taken and the ones you paint with words. What great family memories to bring out in the future. I attended falconry meets for a few years and I miss all the bird. Harris Hawks are good natured and quiet lovely. Kat captured them well in her painting. Griffin has been amazing through the entire trip. Thank you all for letting us enjoy your vacation and family. Laura, I thank you too for keeping us in the loop.

  15. Kat is so talented from painting to picture taking, as all of you are. The photos make me feel like I’ve been there. Lovely, lovely.

  16. Replace the lovely guard sheep with cows, and it is exactly the picture in my head of Eve landing in Ireland to be with Roarke.
    As a grandma I too have used hands to catch when little ones let loose. We would do anything for the joys of our lives.

  17. Delighted that you have enjoyed your trip to Ireland, I was really sorry to miss last Sunday’s event, I fell and broke my hip and ankle which prevented me from driving down to Mayo… my 87 year old friend has enjoyed reading your blog postings as she was supposed to come with me on Sunday..but she doesn’t use laptops or smartphones very much…here first search on her smartphone was ..she knits she forgot her measuring tape and was in the middle of the Wicklow Mountains in a place called Lough Dan, she decided to ask google what is 5 inches…I started laughing before she told me..she said to me I didn t know you could buy such things….that made me laugh even louder…what was even funnier was she was telling me is story at the back of the church as we waited for people to turn up for church..and everyone wanted to know what was making me laugh so much that I had tears rolling down my face..
    We all apologise for our wet weather…however what we forget is how much other people actually appreciate it..Kate’s picture is very good..where is yours?? Safe trip home

  18. Great way to end the trip. Kat’s painting is wonderful. It sounds as though Griffin has been the heart and soul of this trip. I hope that his good nature lasts all the way home through the long flight. Travel safely.

  19. I was laughing at your quick reflexes, when Griffin expelled. Its a built-in maternal reflex. I’m so enjoying reading this- words are just poetry and art to you. Speaking of art, your Kat is one very talented and creative girl.

  20. I agree, Kat’s painting is stunning! The travelogue is so descriptive, and the accompanying photos perfect. I have always found risotto too rich, so I avoid it. Don’t blame Griffin for expelling it. Thank you, again, for sharing another wonderful day in Ireland.

  21. Awesome day! Everything is explained so well that you make one feel by your side , taking part ( except for the delicious food) I have loved the visit, which is as close as I get, at my age… this was a place I would have loved to go, as I have ancestors from there. Griffin is so good , & his mum is very, very talented! Actually, the entire group all have their own talents!! Thank you for letting your readers enjoy with you !!

  22. What a great picture! Kat has a talent for sure. I have “caught” some baby up chuck in my day….sons and grandsons and as a Mom it is a natural instinct to try to keep the baby clean and not worry about one self. I loved the pictures and lovely descriptions of the scenery.

  23. Not gonna lie I could read about your adventures all day! Thank you! Xx

  24. Jason’s sheep picture is amazing and I want one just like it for my wall. One day I’ll go take one.

  25. Ireland is my dream vacation. Thank you for sharing so many wonderful pictures.

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