Sunday, August 06, 2006

Moved on to Limerick

Last night I attended a brilliant concert held in St James Church, Dingle. There were five musicians, each superb. Two played the violin mainly, two played the guitars, and the fifth played the pipes and whistle. They played mostly as individuals or in twos. I especially loved the guitarist in the second half and bought his CD: he could make such a range of sounds with his strings. He soon teamed up with a young fiddle player and she was lively and just so skilful. At the end they got the sound technician to join them on stage. He has apparently been responsible for organising these kind of concerts in Dingle, but this was his last one and he is about to leave Dingle permanently for Hawaii. The sadness of the musicians was clear.

It was another misty morning in Dingle. Maybe it is like this most of the time when it is not raining! I caught the 10.15am bus out of Dingle along with many others. Some of the departees at least were leaving as accommodation was very tight in the area for Bank Holiday weekend if you hadn't booked. Three young German women from my dorm room were in this position and had to ring widely to find an available bed.

Dingle certainly was not the isolated area I had imagined: it was full on tourist-land. Maybe the locals get the magic of Dingle back in the winter, but there appear to be a huge amount of extra holiday homes and second houses going into the area. It will never again be the romantic place of the past.

Personally I was ready to leave the south-west of Ireland behind. It is very beautiful but also very full of summer tourists (like myself!) The bus ride out of Dingle was up through hills with the mist on the tops of them. Then we travelled in the actual mist itself for a while. Suddenly we emerged from the mist into sunshine above the Tralee Bay and it was another gorgeous view. From Tralee to Limerick we could just as well have been travelling through farmland in New Zealand. I felt very at home.
The bus journey took an indirect route through various towns. One of these towns was Rathkeale that I had visited as a young woman to see one of Dad's first cousins. I remembered Rathkeale as being full of grey buildings, so I was interested to see if it was still grey, or whether buildings had been painted as they have been elsewhere in Ireland. Many of them have been painted! But it retained the feel of a 'real' town and not just a picture postcard.
Patrick Riordan, my great-grandfather, came from Co Limerick (Curraheen). Margaret Malone, my grandmother, came from Charleville, in Cork close to the border with Limerick. So my visit to Limerick has been to come close to where they lived. I am not going to try and reach the townlands themselves without a car, but it is still good to be here. People can spell my surname and pronounce it beautifully. Limerick is a refreshing place to be, as it is not reliant on tourism, and has a life of its own. The river Shannon is a definite presence in the middle of town. I counted over 50 swans on it this afternoon!

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