Last week was strange....

I spent the whole week in Ireland and it never rained. Not even once. How unusual this is only one who knows why the place earns its name 'the Emerald Isle' will appreciate. I have always got wet there. Always. 

And yet, last week it was dry. Freezing. Johnny English freezing, the kids say (in Johnny English Reborn his wheelchair has 3 settings; Fast, V fast and F fast; out of politeness F anything has become Johnny English something)absolutely Johnny English freezing.

I visit family over there. My father came from the town land of Collow near the town of Drumquin near the county town of Omagh in the county of Tyrone. Such details matter, in a country where everyone knows everyone else and can trace back a friendship or a feud for a thousand years. I once blasted an Irish supply teacher's mind by isolating her down to her mother's house opposite a golf course...

And the place is lovely. The Sperrin mountains roll along above the drumlin fields of sea-wave curvosity. There is not a clear sightline in the county, except when one finally reaches the summit of such beauties as Pigeontop

(292m above sea level) or BessyBell at 420m. Only then does one see the full quilt displayed, fields of sheep or cows, for this is rich milk country, or at this time of the year the dark red ripped furrows for the crops of Ireland; potatoes, wheat, corn.

And the sheep never sleep, for at Easter the lambs are born, their mothers bleating frantically at what must be a painful manoeuvre, sans tens machine, sans gas and air, to rest briefly when the wet white bundle slips softly to the ground until the lamb, hungry and bonding desperately for milk bleats its plaintive cry, a good octave higher.

And the visitors come. You've come home, they say, regardless of the fact that I was born in England, lived here all my life, have never had a homebase in Ireland. But the link to the land, like the feuds, goes back for generations.

I will probably never live in Tyrone. Never buy a small white cottage and paint the door red. I recognise that the Ireland I hanker for is a will o the wisp, an invention of my own, where every glen has a fairy and every short man a leprechaun. Where the milk is always creamy, the hens are always laying and the sun always shines. 

It's a tale, a yarn spun around the peat fires that burn on cold days. My place is here, with decent wifi connection and a coffee shop on every corner. But I appreciate the old country, and I am grateful that occasionally I can visit my Irish 'home' and belong.

And you, my poor readers, can read all about it as I catalogue the places that we visited; it was a good week, but a quiet one. I went to places I had never thought big enough to sightsee. Small pleasures are the sweetest, after all.


  1. Glad you enjoyed yourself.

  2. Oh my goodness that sounds lovely. I am so glad you are sharing your story with us.

  3. Your week sounds wonderful, Jem. :o)

  4. I have never been to Ireland. But I understand the pull of places that feel like home.

  5. Thank you all for the comments! I had a really good week. There is so much over there that noone knows about.

  6. What a beautiful post! My family originated in Portlaoise...I just wish I could get all the info to find relations still there. I have been over 3 times but the yearning to be there pulls from the moment I get back on the plane to head back to the states.

  7. I've never been to Ireland and I long to. And as for no rain I am jealous!

  8. The fire looks very welcoming, perfect for curling up in front of with a filofax and a batch of new stickers!
    Lisa x


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