Our trip to Ireland continued by leaving Dublin and heading for Cork, the home of my ancestors, the Sullivans. I didn’t allow time to connect with them for Sunday dinner, but I saw O’Sullivan on many buildings and felt at home. I knew Sullivans were primarily business people, but seeing the streets of Cork lined with O’Sullivan enterprises reaffirmed what I had always been told. Diving into my family heritage didn’t exactly entertain Luke, our 13-year-old grandson.
The Cork community in Metcalfe County was named for Cork County, Ireland. My grandfather, James Sullivan, named this community, and I wish I knew more. He was a businessman, but usually owned a farm, too. He was never very much of a farmer. (Father of country music stars Lonzo and Oscar)
Luke’s greatest fun in Cork was ringing the bells in the Shannon Tower. This church dated back to the 1700s, but what impressed me was the collection of books from authors I had studied in college such as John Donne. The three of us went to the second level of this church and rang the bells, but then Guy and Luke climbed the narrow rock stairs to the top of the tower where they could see the city. The first thing Guy did was put on the headset provided to protect his ears from the bells, and they popped right down the middle.
When we checked into the hotel, and Guy discovered it wasn’t air-conditioned, he started to sweat. “It’s 50 degrees outside; we don’t need air-conditioning,” I said. Guy is a creature of comfort and habit, and he wanted to hear the humming of the air-conditioner. He would soon discover that very few hotels in Ireland are air-conditioned. After wearing a jacket all week, I knew why.
Our next step was to “kiss the Blarney Stone.” As we walked with other tourists and I huffed and puffed on the uphill walk, I knew I would not be able to walk the 165 narrow, rock steps to the top of the castle. However, Guy and Luke stood in line. Guy would have never done this on his own, but he wanted Luke to have the experience. So, I waited. Eventually, a lady came down the line and said, “From this point, it is an hour and a half wait.” Guy looked at Luke, and they left the line without the kiss happening. We went to yet another local “pub” and had dinner.
Pubs in Ireland are not equated to our local bars. I would not take Luke into a bar, but a pub is a family affair. We heard Irish music and watched Irish dances in these pubs. The local color of each town/village was found in its pubs. One thing I noticed was the lack of chain restaurants and businesses, except for McDonalds and Burger Queen. We also learned that “mandatory” tipping is not part of their culture. No one expects to be tipped, so when Guy tipped waitresses, they were amazed and appreciative. We first noticed this when there was no place on a credit card receipt to add a tip. Guy learned to have enough Euros in his wallet to cover our tips. The country has a feeling of calmness and serenity, and no one seems to be in a hurry. Fast food restaurants are not in demand.
Our week took us around the Ring of Kerry, where we saw fields of rocks and sheep, and on to what they call the Wild Atlantic Way, which required driving on extremely narrow roads that twisted around the Atlantic’s edge. Beautiful drive and quaint villages. Naturally, I wanted to stop at each one, but the car kept going! “Cici, you don’t need to do any more shopping,” Luke said. He had been with his Papa Guy too long!
On our last day, we rushed through the car return area where the rain poured so hard no one thought about looking for damages. Then to the airport and through customs, barely making our flight. We hadn’t given account to customs, which took a very long time. “We may be spending another night in Ireland,” Guy told Luke when Guy feared we would miss our plane. Luke didn’t care; another night sounded good to him.
We didn’t miss our six-hour flight; landed in Boston with a two-hour layover, and then to Nashville. Luke flew home a few days later, and Guy and I are still recovering.
(Carol’s new book, A Girl Named Connie, is available at Blossom’s Florist and Boutique Unique in Glasgow on the Happy Valley Road, as well as on Amazon and Amazon Kindle.)