…I’ve gotten quite behind on posting, but am fortunate to have found some time to catch up a bit while sitting for lunch at the Museum for Country life in Castlebar, County Mayo.
I’d heard about County Mayo all my life, from my mom and Grandpa Chuck, but I really knew nothing about it. Just that it’s where Grandpa Chuck’s parents immigrated from at the turn of the 20th century before moving to “Chicago” (occupied Algonquin territory known to the Algonquin peoples as Shikaakwa).
The day I made my way to County Mayo began in Dublin. I got up pretty early after not sleeping much at all because I was staying in a 16 bed room that night. I hadn’t put much time into planning the following days yet, so I was trying to hold down a bit of panic as I setup for breakfast and searching online.
The hostel I had bookmarked was sold out, but fortunately I was able to find another one in the area I needed to be (Newport), so I enquired into beds there and proceeded to look into whether I was able to rent a car with my U.S. license. The luck continued as I learned that I could indeed drive in the country with no special permits, so I put in a reservation, sighed a few times, and proceeded to finish breakfast and check out.
Before picking up the car I had lunch at a nearby mediterranean spot named What the Falafel? that had some delectable ginger beer, which I’d been jonesing for since leaving “New York”. (occupied Lenape homeland) The lunch platter was also delicious, and I had a nice chat with someone who’d moved to Dublin several years prior from Romania. (Another country on my “where’s my family” list…)
Onwards to the rental car place, the worrier in me was questioning whether I should really attempt to drive through Dublin and across the country having never driven on the left side of the road – with a manual car, which I failed to mention earlier. The whatever’er in me pushed all that aside long enough for me to get to the rental shop, be reassured by the kind attendant, and proceed to pull out and get on my way, on the left side of the road. (Having spent three days driving now, I’m 1. positive that I’m being protected by a team of angels, and 2. firmly of the belief that U.S. drivers should not be allowed to drive in Ireland without a minimum 20 hours of simulation exercises)
If there’s any proof needed that men can effectively adapt to doing something the opposite way, however, the publishing of this post can serve as needed. (I’ve successfully stayed alive driving for three days)
I diverted all of my mental energy into focusing on shifting to the new setup, got out of the city, and the scenery soon transformed into a picture book of imagery I swear I’ve dreamt about my entire life. (and also seen in imagery that’s come up in EMDR therapy a bunch) The brightest greens, the hills, the sheeeeeeps, the rocky barriers. And before all that…the thickest, most luminous rainbow I’d ever seen popped up out of nowhere.
I really couldn’t believe any of it. But I also needed to keep it together and ALSO keep my car within the tiny left lane in the now two-lane highway – with less than no shoulders – where cars were going 100km/hr. (which the kind rental car attendant warned me about)
So I was in County Mayo, the place my family had always talked about but really *knew* little to nothing about. The sun was beginning to set, however, and I was already late to my scheduled check in at the Croagh Patrick Hostel – so I forced myself to stay focused for a short while longer to stay in the car and complete the drive. The landscape turned into very large hills to my left with some serene waterways to my right. Given the lack of time as well as shoulders to pull over – I just held my phone up and snapped pics in all directions.
It turns out that the Croagh Patrick (a large hill with some spiritual significance) is one of the main tourist attractions in the area, but I really haven’t had a chance to learn much about it yet.
I arrived to the hostel and was greeted by the host Mary Connelly and her very protective little white furball of a dog and proceeded to get checked in and settled.
I ended the day with a walk to *the* pub in the area that was still serving food and had a seafood au gratin dish that I never would have allowed myself to order a few years ago (when I was strictly vegan). That’s a whole other trip, but the meal was excellent and I was happy to have made it in one piece, to County Mayo, to the pub in the area still serving food…a pub that could easily be mistaken for a main street tavern in my hometown of “Minocqua, WI” (some history of that area here), if not for the football (soccer) on the tele[vision].