Three Caldwell kin sailed the ocean blue (ok, we went in a plane) in search of Our Story in the old country. Certainly the event of a lifetime for all of us. Slow talking Dorthie from Texas, and cowboy Jim from Arkansas, with Lucy to guide them!
The trip was not without it’s traumatic moments — like landing in Dublin and renting a car where you sit on the right and drive on the left, and shift on the left but with the right-handed shifting pattern! And venturing forth in this car through busy city traffic with two backseat drivers — neither of which could read Gaelic road signs (not that there were any).
The trick to mastering driving in Ireland was to appoint Dorthie as the spokeswoman for informing the driver that she needed to move into the left lane with other traffic — and to inform Jim that there would be no smoking stops if he continued to yell, “You’re gonna hit the bus!”
So, wonderful memories. Tee-totaling Dorthie surprised us by ordering Irish Coffee in the pubs each evening (because she did not have a clue what the recipe was!). Jim couldn’t pass a bakery without a nibble. We found the most incredible music and dancing at the Fullerton Arms pub in Ballentoy, County Antrim in Northern Ireland. And met a lovely man who invited us to his church on Sunday morn, and then to tea with the church elders!
Oysters and Irish whiskey in Galway Bay. Lots of old cemeteries and churches. Lovely village greens to explore. Lots of rhododendrens blooming — so many that we tired of Dorthie saying, “Would you just look at the beautiful rhododendrens?!” We asked her to please just say “ditto”. And so, from the back seat came these frequent little chirps: Ditto! Ditto!
At Mornington House in County Meath, we supped with the mansion’s owners — dining on beef tips in Guiness, potatoes that tasted really like potatoes, beautiful carrots, and a cheese souffle-to-die-for.
At Killiane Castle in County Wexford, we had a feast of lamb and mussels and ale. And a long walk in a pasture full of white faced cows that made us homesick.
Jim is gone now. He left us shortly after the visit to Ireland.
We were so glad that he had come along.
We miss him.