I’ve just returned from Ireland, you know, the evergreen place that captures the imagination of so many. Even without Irish heritage, unlike my husband who’s ancestry is all things Irish, I’ve learnt to love the place. But despite the rich green countryside, the small quaint villages, soda bread, Irish stew, stone fences and old churches, it’s the people who really make Ireland.
It was our fourth time in Ireland and our second time in the little village of Bruree in Limerick. We stayed in a mill cottage beside a running stream and our hosts Jessie and Dick welcomed us back with beer and talk. And that’s what Ireland represents to me. People talk to you, they tell you things, especially if you stay in their ‘neck of the woods’.
My husband’s family originate from around Bruree and nearby Charlesville. Over time the process of documenting these family lines and stories has lead to meeting many warm and generous people.
Just last week, the night before we were to return to Australia, there was a knock at the cottage door. Standing there with an old brown case in hand was Paddy, a man my husband met the day before. He told us he went looking for old photo’s and memorabilia and found them on top of a wardrobe. That was the start of a fascinating session around the kitchen table. Thanks Paddy, you are one of the generous people I’m talking about.
And then there is Eileen. She’s ninety-five and a local icon. She welcomed us into her home, talked and laughed with us and told us stories of family members well gone. She surprised us by, at one stage leaving the room and returning with a hand written book in 1832. It was the original copy (before it went off to the printers) of a book written by a distant ancestor of my husband.
And so, we arrive home with fond and warm feelings toward our Irish friends in their beautiful countryside and lives steeped in history….