Same time last year, we were in Ireland (wearing sweaters and not suffering from a heat wave in Seattle). With Tom Tom sitting on the dashboard, a portable GPS car navigation system device, we drove around Ireland (with my husband driving on the wrong side of the road). If you are planning on driving in a foreign county, I highly suggest that you get a GPS. Most of the time it helped us find our destination, but I am warning you, there were times when Natalie (voice in GPS) sent us on a totally different road because she couldn’t recognize the new roads. (Getting lost in the middle of nowhere was frightening and exciting) So we had to depend on the old faithful Atlas and road signs. Road signs were written in Irish and English. Pretty cool.
Ireland was everything I thought it to be—beautiful. The rolling hills, green pasture dotted with sheep, cows, blue sky, and miles and miles of land with no cars or houses in sight made me feel closer to heaven. I tell you, it was remarkable to be in a place where no man-made noises could be heard. It was quiet, peaceful, and sublime.
While there, we decided to visit Howth Castle. Legend has it that the pirate Grace O'Malley attempted to pay a courtesy visit to the 8th Baron Howth. She was told that the gates were closed against her. She got mad. In retaliation, she abducted the grandson and heir, the 10th Baron demanding that the gates must be kept open to unexpected visitors.
The castle was not open to the public when we got there. My husband asked a staff member if it was true about the extra plate set on the dining table for Grace O’Malley. The man said yes. The hearsay about anyone bearing an O’Malley name is welcome to the Howth—we don’t know. The man we talked to joked that we have to prove we are related to Grace O’Malley to gain access to the castle.
Since we had our rental car, we were able to visit places Ireland was famous for. Like the Portal Tomb and Cliffs of Moher, pubs, markets, and local places. Oh yeah, kids could go inside the pub with the adults. My kids thought it awesome.
Before we left the US, my mother in-law asked us to visit Clifden, the place where my husband’s ancestors came from, to see if we could find information about the O’Malleys and perhaps fill in the missing pieces on the family genealogy. We found the parish and were surprised to see this sign:
So if you’re an Irish living in US and wish to trace your family history, you can go online and visit www.familyreasearch.org or go to Family History Library in Utah. Definitely cheaper than flying to Ireland. :)