Saturday, April 4, 1998

Joe's Day Three - Uncovering The Ancestral Reidy Home

In retrospect, this day is probably one of the most exciting and important days of my life. It is day I shall never forget. And here it is...

We woke at 10am and ate breakfast at Limerick Inn. I scarfed as much food as possible and it kept me full most of day. We then headed towards Mullagh (the home village of our Donnellan cousins) and on the way there we listening to Los Lobos - Kiko, a great album which really set the tone for Ireland. After arriving in Mullagh, we talked to Theresa Donnellan for awhile then headed out for Labasheeda (the nearest village to the Reidy townland of Slievedooley). On the way we stopped at scenic cliffs that was just south of Killkee for an hour and a half. As we drove thru Kilrush, we spotted a storefront that read "Reidy Motors". This was pretty exciting on it's own, but after spotting a truck just leaving from in front of the store that read "Donnellan", it almost seemed like a set up.

After arriving in Labasheeda, we walked down to church where Thomas Reidy (my great-great grandfather) was married to Catherine Moore. We then met Father Long from the church, when Ed proceeded to babble on and on about our family history (Ed's a bit of a babbler). Father Long eventually told us we were wasting our time with him and to find one Willy Lillis, who I suppose knew a lot of village history. We never were able to track down Willy, but we did end up in Casey's pub in Labasheeda where I attempted to communicate with a local man who was near impossible to understand. No, scratch that. He WAS impossible to understand.

Soon after we drove east towards the townland Slievedooley, where according to the Clare Heritage report on the Reidys, graciously provided by Tom Reidy, Jr. our cousin in Texas, is where the our great grandfather Mick Reidy was born. Ed and I had no clue as to where the house would be or even if there WAS a house still standing. We stopped at a random house in the vincinity and met John O'Neill. It turns out he had the same Clare Heritage report on his family and told us the Reidy home was just around the corner. With great anticipation we made our way there and discovered the house where my great grandfather Mick Reidy was born and raised.

To think we were probably the first Reidy offspring from this line to pay back a visit to the home still gives me chills.

It turns out that the last Reidy to live there was Tom Reidy who had died only 2 years prior to our visit. He was unmarried and had no children, so the house was willed to the neighbors son, Eddie Finucane with whom Tom was very close to. In our time there, we met Eddie's father John who showed us the millstone from Ambrose Moore dated 1846. Here's an old photo of Tom Reidy, that the Finucanes have:

The next stop was the gravesite for the local parish where many of our ancestors are buried. This was an unforgetful moment, as we approached the site, it was getting dark and raining. Located here is an old ruin church with celtic headstones off to the side of it. All of our Reidy connections from the area were located here.

After spending quite a lot of time at the gravesite, we went into Kilrush and ate at Coffey's pizza, then headed back to basecamp (Mullagh). For the evening we went to Moroneys (1 of the 6 pubs in Mullagh, population 200) where some guy on guitar was set up and playing cheesy american songs (Elton John type stuff). After he was done, the owner's wife was going around asking for people to play or sing. It had been some time since I had played any of the great ballads I picked up from Tom Dahill's tape, Live at Harling's Upstairs, but I thought I'd probably never get an opportunity like this again, so I went for it. I borrowed the guitar from the main performer and to a swing at the old song "The Sea Around Us", written by the Behan family. What probably sounded like a disaster since I wasn't used to singing into microphones, and the fact that I forgot half the lyrics, turned out to be a good thing in the years to come.

Since forgetting half the lyrics, I went back to that Tom Dahill tape and relearned them, along with several other songs. Not only that, but in listening to that tape so many times, I became intrigued with the jigs and reels that Tom performs. This is the point when I decided to pick up the irish fiddle.

Friday, April 3, 1998

Joe's Day Two - Limerick

Ed and I got the rental car at the Shannon airport and we were off. It was a riot driving on the left side, and I was amazed by all the different styles of cars and how new they were. Ireland was a lot different from my tour bus visit 12 years ago.

After checking into the Limerick Inn where we had stayed before, we went into Limerick City for lunch. I believe the restaurant we ate at was called Maxs. It was quite tasty and I really enjoyed the people watching from the window seat. I was particularly impressed by the bold colors and the character of the store fronts. Something you rarely see in the states. It was also so funny how it felt like 4 in the afternoon but it was really only 9am.

During our visit in Limerick, Ed and I did a little shopping. I bought a "tourist cap" since it was rainy and a bit chilly and Ed bought a 100 pound sweater (currency not weight) from an overly pushy but cute sales woman. After a brief rainy walk in Limerick, we took a drive through the country side looking for castles then ended up at the Craggaunowen Project which was much like an outdoor museum. After, we ended up in Tulla and had a toasted cheese sandwich in a pub where the locals seemed pretty intrigued by us two Yanks. Now, it was off to Durty Nellies, where we met a group of Americans and talked about politics. Oh joy. I was exhausted and not into it that all.

After grabbing another bite to eat in Limerick, as punchy as I think I've ever been, I crashed hard back at the hotel. It's so great to get to Ireland, but it's also great to take that first sleep in Ireland.

Thursday, April 2, 1998

Joe's Day One - Arrival to Shannon

So the day finally came. Though it was 3 years after the initial suggestion, and not the original 2 as planned, and we were without Katie, it was still about to happen. The return of Reidys back to Ireland.

The travel started by waking very early for flight to New York but with a stop in Seattle. I remember being very anxious. During this time I was preparing to take the F.E. exam, or what is also known as the E.I.T. It is an exam engineering students of all disciplines take soon after graduating. And here I was, jetting off to Ireland just a few weeks prior to the test.

During the flight to New York from Seattle, I had a chance to really study hard and it was a great way to pass the time on this long flight. When I got to New York it seemed foreign, most likely because I was in the international terminal, a terminal I would get to know VERY well, almost too well, in later journeys to Ireland (particularly, the hard concrete floor). For dinner had a great deli sandwich, the type of sandwich NY is known for - extremely thin sliced deli meat piled high. It was so good and left a memorable impression on me. While waiting for the flight to go to Shannon, I was able to pass more time by studying. I was looking forward to connecting with Ed, but he was nowhere to be seen. Then they start boarding the plane and still no sign of Ed. I thought was tavelling to Ireland by myself for small section of time, until Ed shows up right at the last minute.

The flight over to Shannon was on Aer Lingus and I was so impressed - good quality seats and everything seemed so high tech. Ed and I had plenty of good laughs in anticipation of this big trip, but it was a long, long flight.

After landing and waiting for the baggage, I was hoping to sneak out and have a smoke. I asked one of the security guards if that would be feasible. In an irish lilt, his immediate response was one that you wouldn't typically hear in the states: "Oh no, it's a bit like hell. Once you get in, you can't get out".