18 Jul 2006

Leitrim lanes and Sligo castles

We had a great weekend with my brother, sister-in-law and their 2 daughters. It really was as perfect as we could have hoped for. The children enjoyed playing outside together in the sunshine. My niece C. adores her big cousin Lady and wanted to emulate her hairstyle, so I had to put C's hair into 4 plaits too. Thomas played with cousin E. who is almost 3. They had fun on a toy tractor and Duncan showed them how to drag each other in the trailer.

I went for a run -4 miles!- with sil. I. She's been running for a while now and is much fitter than me, but I manged to run most of the way though I walked up the hills. Our route was along narrow, isolated country Leitrim lanes, past bogs and low mountains. I thought of the John McGahern's Memoir in which I've just been reading his recollection of walking the Leitrim lanes in his childhood. I. told me that he died a few months ago. I hadn't even heard and feel a bit shocked and bereaved. Last night I read the heartbreaking passage about his beloved mother's death when he was a boy:
Those who are dying are marked not only by themselves but by the world they are losing.
He would have known he was dying when that was written. He was a wonderful, author who wrote truthful accounts of lives and family, place and the seasons. May he face the rising sun.

We went to a 'Game and Country Fair' at Makree Castle in the afternoon. Last year at the same event, Duncan had wandered off and it took us 15 fraught minutes to find him (standing by an ice-cream van). Amazingly, he recognised the place although it's just crowds of people and stalls in fields. He pointed to a group of stalls and asked for 'brown sugar cubes', meaning fudge. That section contained the shopping stalls, though how he could tell them apart from a distance, I don't know. He was on great form, stayed by me (with lots of reminders) and with Thomas, really enjoyed patting loads of well groomed dogs, there for the pet show. Gordon joined a queue to buy ice-creams for everyone. Duncan was getting a bit anxious at having to wait, and it wasn't helping him that I kept reassuring him that he would get ice-cream soon. So I walked close to the van, and pointed to each of the people in front of Gordon in turn, saying '1st that man gets ice-cream, then that woman, then that man, then that man...then Daddy gets ice-cream for Duncan' and I repeated this information as the queue reduced. He must have understood better what was happening as he was content to wait then.

All the children enjoyed the day. Lady liked the falconry display. Duncan was enthralled by some dancing horses and afterwards, he was singing the Gipsy Kings song played . Even when lyrics are in English, it's usually just a collection of sounds to him and although he has no problem repeating the phrase, it's good when someone says it slowly enough for him to hear the individual words.

We bought a selection of good cheese, olives and bread and feasted after dinner when the children were finally asleep. The next day we had a relaxed walk, played and ate some more before heading back to the north east and home.


Anonymous said...

Lovely day and I read a review of McGahern's book a while ago----it sounds good and thank you for the quote. (My husband is Irish American and we mean to take Charlie to Ireland, someday.)

Sharon McDaid said...

Hi Kristina
You're welcome!
When you make it over, we should try to get together (it's a small country!). Could you just imagine Duncan and Charlie together; they'd probably 'get' each other so well!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the book link. Will buy. It is just so wierd that you mentioned Sligo... I found out not long ago that my grandma was born in Donegal (I thought it was somewhere else originally)and that her family lived in the surrounding areas. A couple of days ago I was remembering being in a pub in B'ham when I was in my late teens and an old guy from Ireland telling me that I looked like a Sligo girl. I always wondered what it meant. Thought nothing of it..till two days ago when I was glancing at a map and happened on Sligo. I came over all funny and went over to Oak and said: "We have to go to Sligo." He just sighed. He thinks I'm a balmpot. And then I read this post...now googling Sligo and Donegal and it looks really beautiful.

Sharon McDaid said...

I love Donegal. It's the most beautiful county in Ireland. I grew up in a border town and spent a lot of my childhood in Donegal. Sligo is lovely too.
You'd love the book 'Memoir'. It'd have you crying buckets though, it did for me. I just love McGahern's attitude. The book is full of great quotes, like;
"I am sure it is from those days that I take the belief that the best of life is life lived quietly, where nothing happens but our calm journey through the day, where change is imperceptible and the precious life is everything."