Saturday, October 4, 2014

Life Without Connectivity

How ironic that, as we seek to reconnect with the homeland of my husband’s ancestors, we leave behind all the connectivity we, in our current generation, have taken for granted.

Arriving in Ballina, the town where my husband’s great-grandfather John Tully was baptized, we settled in for the night in a local bed and breakfast. The proprietor’s website advised us they provided Internet services for guests, but unfortunately we were unable to actually connect to that service.

Taking a previous hint from some wise soul along the way, I had understood the caution to mean I should cover my bases by posting a place holder here on the blog. Although the post on Friday may have seemed redundant to you, that was its real purpose: to cover for me in case I couldn’t tap into wifi and update the information.

Though that leaves me a day behind in the saga of our travels, the extra day’s padding will help, in case we run into the same problem as we continue our journey into these out-of-the-way places on the western side of the island.

When you and I last met—the prelude to Thursday evening’s drive north to Ballina—we had just covered the episode so aptly characterized by Wendy as our “Keystone Cops” corollary. You will be glad to know we safely navigated the “bad roads” north of Cork on the way to Limerick and survived the adrenaline rush of the country route from the main road down to the river’s edge in Ballina.

We descended to the County Tipperary town just before twilight, checked into our room at the B&B, then hurried back into the village to grab some dinner. We wanted to take up Erin Flannery’s recommendation and try the fare at Gooser’s Restaurant.

Parking our car on a side street, we walked down the hill to the main road, which afforded us a view at twilight of the iconic bridge over the River Shannon. Smaller than it appeared in the photos I’ve seen online, the bridge’s size easily explained the comments I’ve read about the traffic jams incurred by drivers from both of the twin towns seeking to cross what is essentially a one-lane road spanning the river.

The rushing noise which accompanied the sight turned out to be a flock of birds circling the now-crumbled steeple of the Cathedral in Killaloe across the river. Perhaps you can spot the flock as they passed the church and flew out over the water. We stood there, at our vantage point above the river, transfixed by the sight and the sound of their flight.

The evening at the restaurant greeted us with the delightful lilt of the Irish version of the English language. There are still some episodes in which I turn to my daughter for assurance on whether I’m hearing English or Irish being spoken. Our ears having taken it in for a few days now, we find ourselves unavoidably echoing what had previously been such foreign sounds.

Of course, we weren’t there just to listen, but to dig in and enjoy the Irish fare the pub had to offer. Both my companions opted for the Irish stew, but I resisted the temptation to follow suit and instead took advantage of a wonderful presentation of salmon—along with the ever-present potatoes which seem, in multiple permutations, to accompany every dish.

Despite still battling jet lag, we managed to close the evening at our customary late hour. Between unpacking, reflecting on the day’s experience, and checking and re-checking what limited notes I had printed as backup for our trip, there was simply too much to do to ready ourselves for the next day’s events. Plans for the morning included a drive to Nenagh to see what could be found on our Tully and Flannery ancestors on the north side of the county, as well as a stop at the Catholic church and cemetery in Ballina. Another day’s adventure would await, following yet another Irish breakfast, but our first quest would be to access the Internet. Funny how, despite foreign surroundings or pursuit of historic records, job number one seems to be to reach out for modern technology’s connection.

 Photographs, above, courtesy Chris Stevens.


  1. I like potatoes so I would have picked something with potatoes!
    You are settling in to traveling. Thanks for sharing the adventure! :)

    1. Oh, Far Side, this is the potato lover's haven! Everything comes with potatoes!

  2. I think the birds flying about the church is eery! Maybe the ghost of your family stirred them up to greet you.

    1. It was the sound of the birds, more than the sight of the flock of them circling the tower, that was so arresting at twilight. It was quite the greeting!

  3. I guess the Irish are making up for that Potato Famine.

    That flock of birds swirling around the cathedral looks like bats.

    1. Wendy, that's what I thought, too, at first: bats. But we each took a close look, and they definitely were birds. Still, it was an eerie experience!


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