Searching for the O'Connors in Ireland

view of the green fields of dingle peninsula ireland photo by susan wellington
View of the green fields of Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

My grandparents Doreen and Norm.
Bicycles in the air in a street in Killarney, Ireland photo by susan wellington
Bicycles in the air in a street in Killarney, Ireland.
My grandmother was an O'Connor. Back a few generations the O'Connors lived in Cork along with other ancestors in Limerick, and Galway. Possibly due to the tumultuous effects on Ireland of the potato famine in 1845-50- over a million people died of starvation- they emigrated to Australia. So of course I wanted to see the places where they'd lived.

I particularly wanted to go to Limerick. So we booked a tour with Paddywagon tours and hurtled through the irish countryside with the driver Michael singing, telling jokes and stories all the way with hands barely on the wheel. The scenery in Killarney national park, Inch beach and along the Dingle peninsula was stunning and the tiny irish towns, as neat as a pin, were postcard perfect. It was meant to take in Limerick though the trip to Limerick wasn't quite what I imagined.

View from Muckross House to the Killarney National Park, Ireland photo by susan wellington.
View from Muckross House to the Killarney National Park, Ireland.
Learning how to surf at Inch Beach, south-west coast of Ireland photos by susan wellington
Learning how to surf at Inch Beach, south-west coast of Ireland.
I really had no idea about Limerick as I'd never read Frank McCourt's novel or anything else about Ireland. But the fact that we only had a toilet break on the outskirts of town in Limerick on the way back to Dublin said it all. On the way into Limerick the bus driver Michael told us stories about the 'Irish travellers' and pointed out their caravan shanty town. I'd never heard of them but they travel from place to place and live in these caravans on the outskirts of town. According to him they can have weddings and wakes that go on for 3 days and sometimes drunken brawls break out involving dozens and dozens of men. Sounds great. Invite them over. I have absolutely no idea whether things were exaggerated or not. But his storytelling was very funny. I think I was one of the few on the bus who could understand it though through the thick accent.

That was my entire Limerick experience. I tried to buy a postcard there but didn't have time so the next day I tried to buy one again in Dublin and asked a guy in one of the absolutely ubiquitous tourist shops at Temple Bar (the club area), if they had any. Well he was amused. 'There are no cards on Limerick' he says, 'anywhere, even in Limerick.' 'Why was that' I said. 'People are embarrassed about it as it's full of public housing' etc. He obviously hasn't been to Sweden as half the housing here could be classified as public housing but there's not the same stigma to it which is good. Though maybe there should be.

Tourists taking in the view of Killarney National Park, Ireland.
horse and trap in landscape, muckross house, killarney, ireland photo by susan wellington
Horse and trap in the garden at Muckross House, Killarney, Ireland
The men in Ireland all seem to have been born charming and helpful. It was a surprising and beautiful thing. Sometimes it came with a dollop of swearing. I'd almost forgotten about swearing as they have different swear words in swedish so I don't notice it. But here I heard the f word again in all its glory. The taxi driver on the way back to the airport took the prize. Everything was feckin this and feckin that. It doesn't sound so bad with an irish accent though. He was very funny too and I think he had a hangover. He was telling us about the feckin differences between feckin men and women at 9am. He tells us he wanted to leave his wife after 2 years of marriage with the children. She says to him you're just the father they're my flesh and blood. Interesting.

I never heard my grandparents swear. Ever.

Majestic tree at Torc Waterfall, Ireland photo by susan wellington.
Majestic tree at Torc Waterfall, Ireland.
Other Ireland posts: Dreaming in Dublin 1

Jump into Ireland official website

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