Monday, March 19, 2007


It sounded like a good idea at the time. Even though I've never been big on tattoos, the thought of KBMG getting tattoos to remember the trip by creating a certain family connection seemed to put the thought on another level. Bobby was very interested so Joe decided to inquire further and get some more information. The first "parlor" we were directed to looked skanky enough for Bobby to consider "maybe I don't want a tattoo so badly after all". Joe then got some more information on getting a tattoo without any accompanying diseases and was directed to a place very close to the Crane Bar, scene of the previous night's session.

You'd think the sign on the outside of this tattoo parlor would make it obvious enough and that it would be open, however, it wasn't.

Bobby slowly peels away the bandage to reveal his new art

"I like it..."

It's a Harp, the national symbol of Ireland, with a collection of shaped lines that are supposed to spell out the word Ireland.
Molly wasn't fooled either.
After being told by the owner of the parlor that he didn't do tattoos on anyone younger than 16 and need parental consent for those 16 to 18 (an example of a responsible tattoo artist) we all breathed a sigh of relief and headed back. Then came the idea of investing in a black magic marker and doing our own tattoos, trying to make Katie believe that they're real. After slowing the pace of pedestrians crossing the bridge over the Corrib river by laughing hysterically for 10 minutes, we decided to put our plan into action.

Joe "Tat-Man" Reidy works his magic while Bobby bravely tolerates the pain

After acquiring some black magic "tattoo" applicators, we found an inconspicuous place to both apply body art, however temporary, and have lunch. The King´s Head Pub performed both functions fairly well.

"Boboo" Fleet Applies yet another masterpiece on another, if inattentive, customer

The fuzzy photograph belies the true quality of Joe's tattoo. It also makes it difficult to see that Ireland is spelled incorrectly ("Irelind") which was all a part of the "it wasn't really expensive at all" part of the joke.

Making the old "Mom, I just got a tattoo" joke believable requires special touches like making the skin red (Bobby was ever so grateful for the Indian burn I gave him) to putting bandages over the freshly assaulted skin. It was nice to have an audience as we did in the hotel lobby when we set the hook as the desk clerks roared with laughter at Katie´s reaction. Had Molly not picked up on the fraud, the next phase of the joke was going to include, "Mom, I feel really sick".

Galway Wins

After our tour of various differnt Reidy Points of Interest, we headed back to Kilmurry but stopped in Kilrush again to get something to eat. We went to Crotty's Pub but they stopped serving food at 4:00 but we liked the atmosphere of the pub too much to leave, so we picked up a couple of pizzas at the pizza/pasta take out joint across the square. We realized early on that two pies wouldn't cut it so we quickly ordered two more.

Guinness, pizza and loads of laughs were great and what topped it all off was the soccer game on the telly. Milan FC vs. Liverpool as I remember and we watched it at Crotty's until half time, then headed back to Kilmurry and a pub in Quilty for the second half. When a couple of pints and the game turned into a nice long chat with the bartender just before he tossed us out after closing, Joe decided now would be a great time to hike out to the castle ruins visible from the Donnellan's house in Kilmurry.

A late night walk sounded like a good idea, especially since it was so clear, but we were faced with a couple of disadvantages in our quest to get to the castle. We had no flashlight and it was extremely wet. We found a path thought to be the quickest way there, but I stopped when the muck we were walking in started to reach my ankles. Joe, as a resident of Portland, Oregon, pressed on fearlessly into the dark, wet, muck. I had witnessed Joe in this unstoppable state before on our 2004 trip when he went out for a walk in Cashel in the pouring rain and came back some time later, soaking wet. It wasn't long before he returned, having discovered a dead end and even more muck. He decided to try a different route as I changed my course back to the cottage and my warm, dry bed.

The next day, we headed out for our next adventure, Galway. Of the three destinations that we would attempt outside of Clare, Galway and Dublin were left. There was the very cool idea of catching the train for Dublin in Limerick to Dublin, but the fact that we were all still operating on Central Standard Time prevented us from getting to Ennis or Limerick early enough to catch the train that would get us there in time to make a meaningful visit.

That was that. Galway won. There would be no complaining once we got there, though. In fact, there was really no complaining on the way either. It did help that we had a nice drive through country called "The Burren" , an area of limestone hills.

Castle tower framed by limestone hills in the Burren

Another look at the Burren down a lonely lane

Galway is one of the largest cities in Ireland and we managed to time our arrival right at rush hour. Fortunately, both cars stayed together and we found a spot to park relatively quickly in order to hunt for a place to stay. The Eyre Square Hotel was the second blip on our radar screen and had a good enough deal for us to stop looking and start enjoying the city.

After a great meal in a restaurant called McSwiggan's that was just out that way, to the right, down the road a bit, and then it'll be on your left, you can't miss it ( I think we got identical directions from two entirely different locations, there are few 90 degree angled streets in Galway) where everyone who didn't get the apple pie had a awesome dessert, Joe and I headed for The Crane Bar for a session while KGMB headed back to the hotel to enjoy the end of "Rag Week".

"Rag Week" is sort of a "Spring Break" for the University students who have just finished finals. It tends to involve overindulgence in adult beverages and can be very loud. Thursday was the last night and it promised to be the loudest.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Slievedooley and the "Reidy Side" of County Clare


After spending some time in Dingle, we headed back up County Clare to finally visit the "Reidy Side" of Clare. We decided to take the more direct route back to save time and minimize the fingernail scratches on the inside of the rental. We didn't quite time our arrival on the return ferry ride as well as the way down, so we found ourselves simutaneously pressed for and, killing, time.

Dr Barrett's hours posted outside his office

Gino discovers more hard evidence supporting a relocation to Ireland

This headstone is marked for Martin Reidy, our great-great grandfather, Thomas's brother. It is likely that many other of our ancesters from Crossderry are buried here. Click on the picture for a full size, legible version (most pictures will do this, by the way).

The grave just to the left is where Patrick Reidy from Slievedooley is buried. Patrick was our great-grandfather Michael's (the "Mick" I refer to in the title of this blog) half brother. Michael's mother died, presumably in childbirth, and his father, Thomas (brother to Martin, above), remarried and had at least five more children.

Patrick's son, Thomas, is buried at the foot of Patrick's. It was this Thomas Reidy that was the last Reidy to live on the Slievedooley farm. He died in late 1995, little more that two years before Joe's & my first visit and initial "discovery" of the farm in 1998. He was a batchelor farmer and had no family to leave the farm to so he left it to the children of his neighbor, John Finucane, who were like family to him. For those of you keeping score, Thomas would have been our grandfather, Joe Reidy's, first cousin, making him our first cousin, twice removed.

The close proximity of the Crossderry Reidys and the Slievedooley Reidys may indicate that the burial plots have been in the family for some time, and if so, many of our ancestors would be buried here.

Kilfiddane Cemetery

Three headstones mark Reidy graves in a prominent place just outside the church.

A view from inside the Abbey ruins at Kilfiddane Cememtery

Katie achieves the space suit look.
I think someone told her that ghosts don't mess with aliens.

The home at Slievedooley

The house on the left with adjacent sheds center and right.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Slea Head

In County Kerry, the 'Ring of Kerry' drive looping around the Iveragh Peninsula gets all the hype as a must-see trip of natural beauty, but the Dingle Peninsula and particularly Slea Head are probably just as good without nearly as much traffic. There's even less traffic in February.

We had good weather in that it was misty and rainy, adding to the drama of the land/seascape.

Molly & Bobby caught in the act of conspiring to commit some mischief. Nothing else can explain the huddling and grins in this picture.

Hmmm... More grinning.

Here's a good family shot suitable for framing.

Another good family shot except Katie's napping.

Big Bird and Cookie Monster wave from a walk on Wine Strand.

"Look Ma, no hands!"

Monday, March 12, 2007

Head South

As with all my other trips, we were having so much fun that the inevitable debate about whether we should stay or visit someplace else came up, only this time it was complicated with where else to go. Since Switzerland, Wales, and even Kinsale in County Cork had been ruled out as being too far away, we were trying to debate between Dingle in County Kerry, Dublin by train, and Galway. These three places formed a triangle that we were directly in the middle of and would have to get back to by the end of the trip. We decided to go to Dingle on Helen's recommendation so we headed out bright and early at 10:00 to go to Dingle.

To get there, we would head south to Kilmer and take a car ferry to Tarbert, County Kerry . The Shannon is fairly wide at this point and the ferry takes about 20 minutes each way so it leaves every hour on the hour from Kilimer and on the half hour from Tarbert. We very unintentionally timed it perfectly so that we drove right on the ferry about three minutes before it left.

KGBM on the Tarbert Ferry

The ferry ride is nice because it gives you a chance to get up and stretch your legs and take in the countryside while still moving. Getting out on the water is fun as well but it's not like being on a sailboat or anything.

The tide was very low when we crossed, lower than I had ever seen it, but what was interesting was the debris left on the road from the tide coming in so high. We would later talk to a woman living in Dingle who told us that the high tides had been rising to levels not seen for some time. Global warming, perhaps? Well, it was a full moon, and I'm not talking about Katie's threat to jump into the sea naked on her birthday. That might have irreversibly impacted tidal levels.

On the way to the Dingle Peninsula, we would stop in Listowel for lunch. Listowel is a nice little town in the area where our Quille ancestors (Katherine Reidy, Joe's wife was a Quille) were from. It is also the site of an annual literary festival which seems to be a big deal. We had a great lunch at the Horseshoe Bar just around from Scully's Corner where Megan and I stopped at over the summer and Joe and I have been to at least once before.

After lunch, got back on the road for Dingle going through Tralee, a town of significant size and to Camp where you can either go to the left for a relatively easy drive or head to Connor Pass which is a steep, windy road that can be a bit of a white-knuckler for some. Just my luck, she was riding with me.

This is just a nice picture, it doesn't really do the road justice.

As we got near the top of Connor Pass, we found a spot to turn off and get out of the car to walk around a bit. The timing was good, because a particular passenger was hogging all the oxygen in my car and we were almost out.

The reflection of the hill on the surface of the water blends in with the rocks visible beneath the surface. If you look hard, you can see another reflection as well

An overflow stream from the lake above.

It wasn't long after our stop at the pass before we got into Dingle and we quickly found a place to stay, right in the heart of town at a little B&B called "Walsh's Townhouse" which was strategically located directly across the street from the only pub guaranteed to have a traditional Irish music session, an Droicead Beag which means "the small bridge".

View of B&B from an Droicead Beag

View of an Droicead Beag (Pub) from B&B. Joe would have "Mighty Session" here, although, not with the musicians depicted on the van, darn the luck.

The Wind that Shook Katie

As we raced on down to Slievedooley to see the home where Michael Reidy was born, the realization that the prime conditions, (i.e. daylight) for experiencing such a place, which were to include the farm where Michael's father and many Reidy's before him lived as well as the cemetery where they are buried, were rapidly diminishing. We opted to divert to Kilrush instead where we could get a quick bite to eat and save the "Reidy Experience" for a time when we could absorb it all in at one time during daylight hours.

Kilrush is a pretty nice little town with a marina, a nice little square and some great traditional pubs. It also, it turns out, has a growing population of Polish and other Eastern European people. This is a result of the open borders of the European Union and the fact that Ireland's economy has been growing a phenomenal rate for over a decade due, in large part, to their having one of the lowest tax rates in the EU. Unemployment has dropped drastically and all of a sudden, people started to emigrate to Ireland rather than emigrating from Ireland. Most of the people I spoke to about this situation didn't really mind it owing to the fact that the "Polish are doing jobs that employers can't fill with Irish". Wow, what a concept.

We grabbed something to eat at a pub just off the square when I got a call from Helen who said she had gotten a copy of "The Wind that Shakes the Barley", a terrific movie about the fight for independance and Irish Civil War in the 1920's. I had been interested in it since my visit with Megan and hadn't been able to find it in the US so Helen took the liberty of renting it for us so after dinner, we headed back to Helen and Denis's home for "movie night".

The movie was intense for those of us who could understand the characters' accents and apparently even more intense for those who couldn't (Katie was closest to the TV and still had to ask what they were saying all the time). It was also a well executed ruse on Helen's part to get us back to her house to have yet another celebration for Katie's birthday. Surprise party # two!

Since Katie couldn't eat her Birthday cake(too floury), she decided to take some of Helen's crystal stemware for herself.

Not only did Helen have a birthday cake for Katie, she also came out with rubarb pie, coffee, tea and other treats that made us wish we'd skipped dessert in Kirush if not dinner altogether.

Since Joe hadn't had a chance to play the fiddle for a whole evening, he was itching to play so much that he almost opted out of watching the movie to head to Doolin, about an hours drive, to maybe get in on a session there. Fortunately we all managed to convice him to stay without the use of rope or other restraining devices. Since it was well before his bedtime(at this point, somewhere between 3:00 and 5:00 am) by the time we got back to the cottage in Kilmurry, he cracked open the case for a little session accompanied by some toe tapping and a cereal box bodhran.

Katie watches TV off of the reflections of Joe' head.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007


On July 14, 1860, twins James & Margaret Donnellan were born in Molesky, County Clare Ireland to Peter and Bridget (nee Frawley) Donnellan. Both James and Margaret would later emigrate to America where Margaret would meet and marry Michael Reidy.

Bobby picks out a stone from the ancestral Donnellan home as a keepsake.

Molesky is just down the road from Mullagh where our cousins Tim & Theresa Donnellan live and even closer to the home of cousins Helen & Denis McGrath (Tim's sister & brother-in-law) and as a result, it's an easy visit to a site of ancestral homeland.

Molly enjoys the view from her dry perch in the car.

The house fell out of the Donnellan family when Martin Donnellan (Margaret & James younger brother) was killed in an accident riding a horse in 1915. His two sons, Patrick and Peter were too young to take over the farm and were sent off to live with other family members. Patrick emigrated to America at some point and stayed with relatives Mary Donlan (aunt) and Agnes Reidy (cousin).

I'm not sure what became of Martin Donnellan's wife, but she may have died before Martin. Her name, incidentally, was Bridget Reidy from Ballinagun, County Clare.

Katie clings to Bobby as she faces her irrational fear of ghosts while standing inside the Donnellan house in Molesky.

Since Martin's death and his sons departure, the home was abandoned and has been ever so gradually deteriorating thanks, in part, to relatives paying a visit and keeping a piece of family history. We've managed to visit it on each trip and it has changed very little in the nine years since the first time, however the electric fence was new since this past summer. That and the extremely soggy ground conviced Molly to gain a new appreciation of viewing piles of stone from the car, but gave Bobby some ideas on how to possibly liven up the day a little.

"I found the leak!"

After stomping around the birthplace of our Great-Grandmother and failing to get electrocuted, we decided to pay a visit to our cousin Helen and her husband Denis McGrath. They live on the road between Quilty and Molesky overlooking a beautiful set of waterfalls. They named their home "Niagra" in honor of the falls which Denis says is a bit of a joke. You can't have too long of a conversation with Denis without hearing a fabulous joke and you typically can't have a short enough conversation to miss one.

A "composite" view of the falls next to Helen & Denis's house. They are really closer than they look in this picture.

Our visit with Helen & Denis was cut short by the realization that dusk was rapidly approaching and, if we were to see all the things we wanted to see over in the Reidy side of the county, we would have to get a move on. This fact turned out to expose a downside to sleeping in as well as add to the list of reasons to stay longer next time.

KMB with Denis & Helen McGrath.

Sunday, March 4, 2007


Katie doing breathing exercised in preparation to blow out the candle on her cake.

One of the best parts of a surprise party is seeing the expression on the face of the honored person when they notice all of thier friends and family unexpectedly. This is pretty difficult to achieve when said person has never met those assemble to surprise her. All jokes about Katie being easily confused aside, she really had no idea why we were leading her to two large tables occupied by unfamiliar people, but she quickly found out and was promptly introduced to family members (distant cousins, yes, but family nevertheless) who had gathered to help her celebrate her birthday.

The Chinese restaurant was a nice cover, too. It also turns out that February 18th was the start of the Chinese New Year and 2007 is the year of the Pig! Coincidence? Maybe. Well, actually it was because the original plan was to have dinner at a new pub next door, but they couldn't guarantee that we'd all get to sit together.

Another great surprise was the nice gift they all got for Katie, considering she'd only met a few of them once. Katie must have that effect on some people. I must have developed a tolerance for whatever that is.

Katie proudly displays her gift from her Irish Reidy cousins, a beautiful Belleek Mantle Clock. The clock works, it just shows the wrong time.

Joe surrounded by Reidy women

After dinner, we all went next door to the pub to continue the celebration and find out more about our cousins. Mary Reidy Cahir took Molly & Bobby to Gerry & Sue Reidy Mulligan's house to meet Sue's kids.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Cliffs of Moher

Wow, blogboy Joe sure is keeping up with the posts. It's a good thing, though. If it were left to me, reading this blog might be like watching clay dry.

The next day started out sunny and beautiful again, at least when I woke up at 10:00. Since everyone had just gotten in, I thought I'd let them sleep in some more and wake up on thier own. Around 1:00, I thought they might like to see the fleeting sun, so I broke down and woke them up. We had a nice leisurely, um, afternoon and then decided to see the Cliffs of Moher on our way to meet up with our Reidy cousins from Crossderry.

We got there about an hour before they "closed" (I don't suppose the cliffs ever really close, but the entrance to the park closes) and the weather was blustery and rainy which really added to the overall atmosphere.

This is a view of the cliffs looking South. They are about 700 feet high.

This castle was actually built in the 1800's as a tourist attraction and viewing point for the cliffs.

I always like to take an extra picture in case someone blinks or can't quite get that dumb look off of their face quickly enough. In this case, I probably should've take three. Molly, of course, looks great in both shots.

The Cliffs recently underwent a renovation of sorts costing upwards of 25 million euros. They didn't change anything about the cliffs themselves, but rather added a beautiful visitors center or "interpretive center" built into the side of a large hill for people to learn more about the area and provide views that they might only get if they happened to slip off the face of the cliffs. They also have beefed up security quite abit, preventing people from getting too close to the edge. It seems that, as one of Ireland's top tourist destinations, it also attracted those interested in taking advantage of the 700 foot drop to the sea. Not many survived and that was a problem.

With the wind and rain, we all dutifly obeyed the rules. It's good to get close to nature, but getting too close can be dangerous.

From the Cliffs, we headed to Ennis to meet up with our Reidy cousins from Crossderry. Katie only knew that we were going to meet with Sue and her husband Gerry Mulligan, so the rest of the Reidys would be a surprise. Pretty cool idea, a surprise party for Katie in Ireland. In a Chinese Restaurant, with people she'd never met. Perfect, she would never see it coming.