After my parents had done a variety of traveling around on their own, and I had trudged through another week of labs, we reunited to take a trip up to Ballina in Co. Tipperary (NOT the one in Mayo, which is apparently considerably larger, but not where we wished to be). This was partially for Mum’s research, and partially for us to hang out.
It was a decent drive from Cork, mainly along narrow winding roads, which my father was still frustrated by. This was partially due to the fact that, while he is quite handy with driving stick shift, the driver’s seat is on the opposite side, and the added pressure of the fact that my mother is a nervous person when it comes to narrow little roads where people drive fast in a country where everyone drives on the wrong side of the road. After a long time of headache-inducing turns and little voiced inhales (along with a couple bags of my favourite brand of sour gummies), we finally arrived in Ballina and began by stopping by the graveyard (because that’s what people in my family do).
We started out at the Ballina Catholic Church (Our Lady and St. Lua Church), where mum was hunting for baptismal records and we were hoping to find a grave marker. From my experience, old tombstones tend to get recycled into other things when they crack off (commonly being fitted together and becoming walkways), and we had very little luck in that department, although mum did have a good long talk with the priest and found out some interesting information for her research there. We planned to go to the Church of Ireland (COI) Church (which was St. Flannan’s Cathedral, almost directly across the river) but time was not on our side that day, as rain started falling while we were at Our Lady and St. Lua, so we gave up and headed over to our B&B.
Mum had taken my advice of looking at the B&Bs instead of trying to find a hotel, and we were quite happy with the place we ended up at. Whitehorn Lodge was a small distance from the church, but the drive was pretty and enjoyable. Like most B&Bs in Ireland, it was located in someone’s house, where the larger wing was filled with guest rooms, and the family had their own private quarters in a smaller wing. Our host was a very kind and talkative woman, who was quite interested in mum’s research and had a few words of advice about who to talk to and where to go (also, breakfast was amazingly good). That evening, we ended up having dinner at a place called Brian Boru On The Hill, a reference to one of Ireland’s favorite folk heroes. They have great food, including some of my favorites, so I got to suggest those to my parents. The pub atmosphere in Ireland is quite different than pubs in the U.S., and we ended up spending a large majority of the evening there, enjoying each other’s company and getting to know the other people at the bar. Several were interested in the research mum was doing, and it was all around a grand way to spend the evening.
The rain continued on and off through the night, and while mum made her battle plans for the next day, the rest of us lounged around and used the intermittent wifi or read. So far, our trip was about par for the course, with no major obstacles, and quite a number of new friends to help us on our way. The next day, mum wanted to visit the library, the COI, and a few other places, while I had poked around and gotten several recommendations for a coffee shop, one which we had driven by several times.
If you would like more information about Ballina, I will be writing about it for the next few days, but you can also visit their tourism site here.