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Dreaming of Irish cottage with Grandma telling stories in front of the peat fire..and a cuppa tea...Help me find Grandma!

Dreaming of Irish cottage with Grandma telling stories in front of the peat fire..and a cuppa tea...Help me find Grandma!

Old Oct 25th, 2005, 11:32 PM
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Dreaming of Irish cottage with Grandma telling stories in front of the peat fire..and a cuppa tea...Help me find Grandma!

You know how reality has a way of interfering with your dreams?

Can anybody point me in the direction of a B&B which would come close to my Irish dreams...of sitting in front of a cozy peat fire with a cuppa tea (milk and sugar of course), listening to Irish Grandmother (with a great Irish brogue) telling stories until our eyes are wide as saucers and we totally believe?

Okay, if you can't tell me where to find my Irish dreams, then tell me where yours came true!

I'll be visiting Ireland (land of my Irish grandmother's birth) next summer for the first time with my 2 young adult daughters and hubby. (Surprise for hubby...I learned he had an Irish great-grandmother, so we're all going "home" for our first visit in a sense.)

We'll be in Northern Ireland (near Belfast), County Mayo, County Clare, County Kerry, and Dublin. We have 15 nights to find the spirit of Grandma!

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Old Oct 26th, 2005, 02:29 AM
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Melissa...it's only in the movies. Don't buy too much into the image as you may be disappointed. There are nice old traditions still left but the country has modernised from this or else we would have collapsed as a country. Admire the scenery, friendly people but don't expect the Quiet Man movie either. It is the one movie my Irish Born mother hates! She feels its an ignorant and racist potrayal of Ireland and most things inthe movie would never happen. People are educated, the cities are more modern and cultural and there are still traditions of story tellers, cafts people/artists but don't expect it everywhere. Irish laugh at the leprechaun type expectations people have of Ireland. Don't have too many old style expectations. Enjoy it for what it is

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Old Oct 26th, 2005, 12:02 PM
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SiobhanP, I appreciate you letting me know what Ireland is really like. I cannot let go of that dream though, because the grandma in the dream is literally my grandmother! She really did sit in the rocking chair and tell us stories until our eyes were huge! She made them up but didn't call them stories, she told them like they were real. I added the fire and the cottage to the picture. Actually grandmother added the cottage too...it comes from one of her stories! So I promise, I'm not believing those leprechaun stereotypes of Ireland. I just miss grandmother and I know something in Ireland will remind me of her...maybe something unexpected.

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Old Oct 26th, 2005, 12:51 PM
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Well ..... The Donegal Thatched Cottages (not a B&B, but self catering) on Cruitt Island north of Burtonport might get you close to that idea. OK, they are purpose built (not sure how long ago) but are designed to give you that "genuine Irish" feel. The views are magnificent, they have a fireplace with a rocking chair in front, pine furniture, white with red half doors, just like the movies. You can find them at: http://www.donegalthatchcottages.com/

I stayed there and enjoyed them. They are fairly rustic other than the dishwasher and washer/dryer. Build yourself a peat fire and spin some tales.

Bill
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Old Oct 26th, 2005, 01:43 PM
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If you wish to see what Irish thatched cottages were like in the past there are samples reconstructed from the original at Bunratty Folk Park about 10 miles from Shannon and also thatched cottages at Muckross House Farm which is right beside the car park of Muckross House in Killarney National Park. I did not hear any stories being told by the open fires though but some of the guides were pretty good.
 
Old Oct 26th, 2005, 10:49 PM
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You can stay in a 1930s-era thatched cottage used in the very early film "Man of Aran" on Inishmore in, naturally, the Aran Islands.

There are just four rooms for rent, the most expensive of which is 47 euro. The views are across the water to the Connemara pins on the mainland. Expect a peat fire, isolation (in the off season) and a hostess who was born and raised on the island and worked as a chef at Buckingham Palace before going home.

It's magic. Check out http://manofarancottage.com
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Old Oct 26th, 2005, 11:50 PM
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Wow, you guys are nice, thanks for helping me look for "grandma". Even just listening to you makes me feel I've been there. (I have a big imagination, thanks in part to grandma.)

Bill, what a homey idea. Rent a thatched cottage, build ourselves a peat fire, and tell stories! Whether or not it will happen I love the idea. Hey, when I'm a grandma that's just what I HAVE to do with my grandkids!

Aardfert, we might have time to check out those reconstructed cottages at Bunratty...we'll have 1 night near the airport upon arrival. (That is, if anyplace lets us have a 1-night stay...I hear they prefer you book 2-night stays...) Thanks for the idea.

Worktowander, Inishmore is a good idea...hubby saw a photo and said he wanted to wander about there anyway...I was going to book 3 nights in County Clare (that's on the itinerary), so that would mean breaking up that stay...But I will have a look at that Man of Aran cottage. Are those cottages often white by any chance? A little white cottage often featured in my grandmother's stories!

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Old Oct 27th, 2005, 04:17 AM
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Melissa5 - sorry did not mean to rain on your parade just don't want you to be disappointed. The Man of Aran cottage sounds exactly what you would like. Minish Mor is like a time warp in parts. We went 2 summers ago to get away from Dublin and you either get the ferry over or Fly (10 minmute flight!) which we did. The pubs off the beat and path away from the harbour will have trad music and various people just steppiung in and singing. Its a unique place. There are also several B&B's if you cannot get the man of aran B&B and you can rent bikes or get a tour around the island from various operators. We cycled from one end to the other.
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Old Oct 27th, 2005, 06:33 AM
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Well, Melissa, we had almost exactly the experience you're describing except that we could never get that damned peat fire lit. Ours was in a cottage (rented from a friend) on the west coast of Ireland in Conamarra between Ballyconneelly and Roundstone and quite near Clifden. Just saying 'Ballyconneely' makes you feel Irish! We stayed there for a week before traveling on, shopping in the local shops, cooking at home most evenings, having lunches and the occasional dinner in a local pub. Our cottage was a whitewashed box with a black roof, a red door and a yellow gate. Our instructions from the owners included remembering to keep the gate latched 'or the neighbours cows will get into the garden'. One of my favourite days was one where it rained so hard all day and the wind was so strong the rain was practically horizontal. Of course, we couldn't go out in that weather so we cozied up on the big couch in front of the (unlit) peat fire and just read and snuggled all day. Another wonderful memory was when we went to the 'Community Show' in Roundstone where all the local people including some of the children put on a very charming show. We were possibly the only 'outsiders' there and were made to feel very welcome.

Can I suggest that with four people you might consider renting a cottage? As I said, we had a personal connection for ours but you might find something through VRBO.com. We loved Ireland -- I hope you find your dream trip.
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Old Oct 29th, 2005, 12:36 AM
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SiobhanP, don't worry, you aren't raining on any parades, you are very generous on fodors with offering advice to those of us planning our first visit to Ireland. Nothing like advice from a local! I always enjoy hearing your perspective.

I would really like to spend the night on Inishmore, but am wondering if the Aran Islands can be appreciated as well with a day-trip? But by spending the night, you get to be there before the day-trippers arrive, and after they leave. Spending the night in a time warp sounds good to me. But it's also a matter of weighing the pros and cons...the more places we try to spend the night, the more it breaks the trip up into 1- or 2- night stops. I'm trying to keep some 3-night stops so we can relax and go wandering down a less-travelled path as we please...

But I have wanted to fit in that Man of Aran cottage since I first read about it. It would mean losing a day in Westport/County Mayo area or losing a day in Dublin...

Wonder if they have trad music every night in the summer on the island of Inishmore? that is where the Man of Aran cottages are, right? Don't have my books handy right now.

Thanks!
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Old Oct 29th, 2005, 12:41 AM
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HDM: Thanks, it sounds like you made your dream trip, and you must be very warm people to have created such nice memories with an unlit peat fire! Good for you! I'm glad you felt like insiders and not outsiders.

I wonder if peat fires are generally tricky to light?
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Old Oct 29th, 2005, 02:04 AM
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To light your peat fire, just pop to the local shop and buy some firelighters.
Start by adding a few very dry bits of peat.
Otherwise start with paper and kindling but again gradually feed in the peat.
At one point during the War our local coal-merchant sold it. I remember that it makes a good fire and lasts for a long time once it's lit.

I have a feeling that all those cosy Irish grannies are now running their own dot com companies and have no time to drowse by the fire.
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Old Oct 30th, 2005, 01:46 PM
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Hi Mellissa,
Oh for the days of the Irish cottage with Granma by the open turf fire telling tales as they should be told. That tradition is continued on today by the shanachai who tells of yesterday like:
In my fathers time many many years ago there was an old man living in a wee cottage at the end of the bog in Cullnamana. One night as the wind howeled across the bog like the banshee on her rounds and the rain belted off the small window on the west side, Michaeleen as he was known, was sitting by his fire and his candle lit up the far corner when a light tap came to his door. Who could that be at this hour of the night - he moved slowly to the door, lifted the latch and there to his amazememnt before him was...... and so the story goes on.
For thatched cottages near the burreen have a look at :
www.harbourviewthatchedcottages.com
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Old Oct 30th, 2005, 02:20 PM
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CU - Yes, yes, yes, I know that one too, but I don't remember there being a latch ... ???
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Old Oct 30th, 2005, 08:57 PM
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MissPrism, thanks for the advice on lighting a peat fire. If all the Irish grannies are running their own dot-com businesses, it's a good thing the Irish granny in my memories still rocks and sings and tells tales! Someday I will take her place.

CU: Thanks for another interesting web-site with haunting photos that call me into an Ireland that, alas, SiobhanP says is mostly in the past, in a time warp. That's me, searching for a way into the time warp! Tell me, please, who are the shanachai?

Somebody posted some info about storytelling in one of their replies to me, but alas, I have been on so many web-sites with so many questions, I can't find the reply about the story-teller! I think it was a mention of a story-teller in County Clare.

Thanks for chatting with me, everybody.





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Old Oct 31st, 2005, 05:38 AM
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I think it was me. Peig Sayers was the name that I mentioned. Also dropped the info about the Listowel Writer's Workshop, held every June, but I think it is scheduled for the begining of June in 2006.
But, since I think I know EXACTLY what you are searching for, I offer this:

“All that trouble all that grief
That’s why I had to leave
Staying away too long is in defeat
Why I’m singing this song
Why I’m heading back home
That’s what makes the Irish heart beat”

Van Morrison
DOWN THE ROAD

'It was just after his eightieth birthday when we made our first-ever visit to Ireland. It was a trip instigated by my wife, Patricia and abetted by her sister Annette, her brother Tim and our friend Carole. It was they who convinced him to join us and finally follow his siblings, and his own heart’s desire to walk the lands where his own mother and father were born. We took that long, tedious flight up the Atlantic coast, passing over upstate New York where his parents had settled and where he and his children were born. Through the night we flew, crossing the forbiddingly cold and black expanse of the North Atlantic. We landed in Dublin first, where we peered out the windows excitedly, trying to catch our fleeting first glimpses of the oft-contemplated countryside. After what seemed interminable delays, we lifted off for our final hop and touched down at Shannon. It was about ten o’clock in the morning on a fine, crisp April day.
His seventy-year-old cousin Sean met us there, in the airport lobby with his daughter, Una and her four children. They had driven over one hundred miles, not to intercede, not to delay, not to interfere with or to intrude upon us. They were quite apologetic, in fact. We weren’t just more ignorant, ‘fat-arsed yanks’, coming in to find our roots and complain about every little thing. We were family, and they welcomed us all, warmly and sincerely. But they were there for him. He was the star. They drove all that way just to spend a few minutes with, to finally see and meet Jack Doody. They came all that way, just to welcome him home.
We sat in the airport pub, drank coffee and cokes and ate sandwiches and talked. Then we followed them to our turn off in Mallow, and proceeded on our tour. We spent the remainder of our first day in the Millstreet area, where Jack’s father had been born and raised, searching in vain for information and records, then reunited the next day with our newfound family. For three days, they wined us and dined us and they housed and entertained us. They treated all of us like family, except Jack. Him, they treated like visiting royalty, and in doing so, they won our hearts. The culmination of our visit was a tour of Jack’s mother’s (‘Auntie Sis’s) home of Drimoleague. After that, we parted company and spent the rest of our trip playing tourist.
We toured Bantry, Kenmare, the Ring of Kerry and Killarney. We passed through Tralee, crossed the River Shannon on the Tarbert Ferry, and visited the Cliffs of Moher and Gus O’Connor’s Pub. We drove awestruck through the Burren to arrive in Galway just in time to see ‘the sun set on Galway Bay’. We spent a night in an Irish Castle and then we drove back toward Shannon to spend our last day at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. Through it all, we stopped into nearly every pub along the way. To our friends, and for us, the trip became known as the Pub Tour. It was all grand, of course. How could it not be? Yet somehow, it was lacking. After we left the cousins, Jack grew quiet and reflective. He missed his wife and he seemed less enthusiastic.
That all changed at Bunratty. Sean, his wife Noreen, his daughters Nora and Una and Una’s children came to meet us. They had once again driven over one hundred miles to spend a few hours with us, to eat dinner and to say good bye. Jack sparkled then. He came back alive. We talked of our trip, we teased and tormented the waiter, who joined in the fun and teased and tormented us back. We made plans to meet again, this time in Florida. We forged bonds that we all felt would last forever. It was nearly midnight when we said our final good byes and watched them start off on their hundred mile drive. That October, Sean, Nora, Una and her four children visited us in Florida, and we made every effort to reciprocate for their kindness and generosity.
That Christmas, we commissioned genealogical research with a Dublin firm, to fill in the gaps in our knowledge of Jack’s father. Armed with more accurate data, and with the insights gained from our first trip, my wife and I once again returned Jack to Ireland. This time we brought his wife Anita and we arrived in the relatively balmy month of June. We flew into the Cork airport and the cousins met us there. Once again their generosity was overwhelming. They gave us a house to live in for our two-week stay, fully equipped right down to the stocked pantry and refrigerator, which was little used, as yet again, they wined us and dined us once more. We spent one night and two days in the Millstreet area, our arrival timed to coincide with a Mass said in remembrance of Jack’s father, on what would have been his one hundred and twentieth birthday. The cousins joined us in Millstreet, joined us for the Mass they had arraigned and for dinner afterwards. During our stay we visited churches and graveyards throughout the area. Candles were lit and prayers offered up in the church where Jack’s grandparents were married in Rathmore, the church in Kilcorney where his father was born, as well as Millstreet and Drimoleague and Ballydesmond. I dubbed this trip the Cemetery Tour, for obvious reasons.
My contribution to these trips, apart from financial, was in the planning and execution. I selected the itinerary, made all the arraignments for the vehicle and lodging (other than what was provided), and performed copious research. I spent hundreds of hours searching the Internet and I read dozens of guidebooks on the country and its history. I learned everything I could about the nation, its culture and my wife’s family, and I also did all the driving. I created not one, but two separate guidebooks, specific to each trip, replete with maps, lists of places to see, places to shop and even recommendations on what to buy. Each book was complete with airplane seat maps, airport floor plans, and photographs of the places I had selected for us to stay. I’m sure it was quite obnoxiously overwhelming for my traveling companions, who good-naturedly began calling me ‘The Italian Chauffeur’. Anytime a question arose, I had the answer, or the answer was “in the book”. They joked that I ‘knew more about Ireland than the Irish’. Any other comments, nicknames or opinions were tactfully withheld, or only used out of my hearing. They are polite and well mannered. Their kindness is only one of the things that I love about them.
For make no mistake, I’m quite sure I was often extremely annoying. I have very few illusions in that respect. While not necessarily a bad man, I don’t consider myself a particularly good one, either. I am cynical and sarcastic and possess very little of the ability to ‘suffer fools gladly’. I am opinionated and often highly critical, though in my own defense, I generally judge myself even more harshly than I do others.
If the Gates of Heaven are only open to those who do good deeds, then I expect, rightly so, to find myself excluded. Do not pity me, however, for there is always a glimmer of hope. It is said in some churches that if you give generously, your gift will be returned to you one hundred-fold, and although I am skeptical of many of the things they say, I fully believe the truth in that statement. I have proof.
There is a photograph prominently displayed on the wall in my family room. In it there is an old man, walking along a high stonewall. He is seen from the back, at the far end of a long gravel path. He is wearing a gray trench coat and an old, green cap. In his right hand is a blackthorn cane. There is greenery all around and ahead, and it reaches up and disappears into a fine, gray mist. That photograph never fails to evoke a strong reaction from all those who see it. I find it interesting that most women are taken by a sense of sadness. It implies a finality, an ending, to them. Yet, most men have an entirely different impression. They see it as a journey, a continuation, but I see much, much more.
I see Jack Doody on the last day of our first trip to Ireland. I see him walking down that path in the Bunratty Folk Park, hurrying on ahead to see what lies around the next corner. I see irrefutable proof that Dreams Do Come True and that Hope really does Spring Eternal.'


After all the preparations and the research and the planning, make sure you retain your sense of wonderand adventure. You can find everything you are searching for, in Ireland, but it may show up in unexpected places and in unexpected ways.

Bob
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Old Oct 31st, 2005, 06:51 AM
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And, seriously, though it is in September, a link to the Cape Clear Storytelling Festival, near Skibbereen:

http://indigo.ie/~stories/2006draft.htm

Bob
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Old Oct 31st, 2005, 06:57 AM
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And a list of international and domestic workshops:

http://dmoz.org/Arts/Performing_Arts...ing/Festivals/

Bob
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Old Oct 31st, 2005, 11:20 AM
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Thanks, Bob! What a wonderful story of a home-coming! And I agree to expect the unexpected. Maybe I can return to Ireland on a second trip to attend a story-telling festival. I would love that. I appreciate the links, I will browse around. Was Peg Sayers the name of the writer that lived on the Blasket Islands, or am I thinking of another Peg? (Haven't had time to dig into Irish literature yet, still planning the trip.)

Bob, you have sure made trip-planning more fascinating on fodors. For that alone you get a place in the line to heaven, plus I'm sure that being humble and generous with your advice bumps you up several places in line! Very nice chatting with you.

There seem to be tour buses following me everywhere I try to "go" in Ireland in July. Especially having difficulty with figuring out where to stay for our first night when we fly into shannon. Rent car. Drive to B&B for 1 night, then onto Dingle the following day.

Have considered Ennis, Bunratty, Adare, and now someone has suggested Limerick City for that first night. It's only 1 night, but it's the introductory night to Ireland, and it would be nice if was a cozy introduction, and not a line of tour buses...Maybe I should book a B&B in the countryside within a 40-minute drive of Shannon airport.
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Old Oct 31st, 2005, 01:00 PM
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Not that I'm TRYING to make your planning more difficult, but consider Agherton Lodge in Banteer, Co Cork. We stayed there in June of 2000. It had just been perpose-built by returning ex-pats that had been living in Boston. Modern, clean and huge rooms and bathrooms, in glorious countryside near my favorite town, Millstreet. You could drop in to the Museum and maybe book an always entertaining visit with my friend Sean Radley and have dinner at the Wallis Arms.

Agherton had a website on www.cocork.net
Haven't been back since 2000, but it was a memorable visit.

Banteer is only a few miles west of Mallow and under an hour away from Killarney, so the drive to Dingle town would be about 2-2 1/2 hours, depending on stops.

If you are interested, I can recommend NUMEROUS stops, routes and things to do in the area.

Bob
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