Ballybunnion by the Sea(Pecker Dunne) - On the Trail of the Ancestors,Castleisland to Limerick to Adare to Ballybunnion,Ireland - 26th July 2016

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July 26th 2016
Published: July 30th 2016
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We are not sure what we might discover about the ‘mysterious ‘Maria Dillon, my great grandmother who married Daniel Mahoney in Timaru in 1881 but we have not been able to trace her place of birth in County Clare or when she actually arrived in New Zealand.

We are going to take a drive to Limerick which is on the Clare/Kerry county border and see what the city library might have in its resources that we haven’t been able to find so far online.

So far we have been able to find an entry in Griffiths Valuation from 1851 that may relate to her father as a tenant farmer at a location in Clare and we hope that we may be able to expand on that information.

Needless to say it is a typical Irish morning and because we were up a little earlier with what might be a long day ahead of us the usual clearing of the early morning drizzle was still to happen.

We couldn’t be sure when or where we might get some lunch so we had a hearty breakfast by adding in a fry up to our usual muesli and toast. We or should I say ‘I’ did have to finish off the black pudding so that was an excuse in itself for our bigger than normal breakfast.

By the time we were ready to head off the cloud had started to break in the southwest so we were hoping that the drive north would be in dry conditions.

We did our usual thing of getting a park outside Den Joes and used their free wifi to check emails and get a travel blog launched. At least this morning the store was closed and there was no one around and we didn’t feel as obvious as we have when there had been people coming and going into the takeaway.

The N71 north climbs steadily out of Castleisland and as we reached the summit of the hills behind the town the drizzle returned.

The land of the south west coast of Ireland has a gentle slope towards the sea and our view as we crested the summit looking north was one that is quintessential Ireland, a patchwork of rolling fields in shades of green and wheaten brown. It is very relaxing to the eye.

Half an hour up the road and we passed through Abbeyfeale where had stayed at a B&B on our last visit and memories came back of the meal we had at a small pub in the village with the fire of peat smoking away in the grate giving the inside of the place that unique smell that comes with this form of heating.

The road swung more northeast and the land flattened out although we still had low hills to our right.

It has been pleasant driving here in Ireland without the large number of trucks we encountered in Europe and the wide road meant you can maintain a good consistent speed on the main roads.

Not far from where the road turned into a 4 lane divided highway south of Limerick we came across the historic town of Adare. When we say historic, almost all the towns have a long history, but some show it off more than others and Adare was one of those with its line of houses and businesses making the regular height appearance on both sides of the road as the N71 passed through the town.

Then at the northern end is a row of thatched cottages of which two had succumbed last year to fire but a notice informed us that they were to be restored which we can see is a very sensible idea to maintain the quaintness of the town. Hanging baskets outside above every front door made a wonderfully colourful sight and we could understand why so many people had stopped to stroll the town.

We were on a mission but decided we would stop here on our return journey.

A series on road interchanges we arrived in the large city, for Irish standards, of Limerick and found our way to a downtown car park alongside the most well known feature of the city, the River Shannon.

The library resource centre didn’t have much in the way of other information other than what we have been able to find online but it did us the opportunity to check out the Clare County Library website that had had more historical links added since we had checked it last earlier in the year. This includes a vast number of microfiche records from the various Catholic parishes.

The records online were too large to just sit and go through them in the time we have available and anyway we need to narrow down the number of parishes that Maria might have been born in to start to work through the records.

Three hours later and we returned to the car and headed back towards Adare.

It was now mid afternoon and we hadn’t had any lunch so a stop at one of the many pubs in the town was in order.

The town was still busy with people strolling and shopping and it wasn’t hard to figure out the country with the biggest representation today, the USA! Americans come in their droves to Ireland to check out their heritage as so many Irish found a new life in the USA more so at the end of the 19th and start of the 20th centuries.

At the northern end of town we had driven passed the remains of the Desmond Castle which looked a perfect photographic opportunity so after we had a snack of chicken wings and chips plus the obligatory Guinness pint at a cute pub we walked back to the castle to find a spot to view the structure a short distance away on the other side of a small lake. The only problem was that there was now a heavy flow of traffic slowed down ahead in the town by the many tourists crossing the road and because there was no footpath to stand on we had to give the idea of taking photos and video away.

Although the day was stretching on we had time to sunset on our side and so headed west for the seaside town of Ballybunnion which we had visited in 2008 where we had had our first Guinness on Irish soil.

Like the drive up the N71 it was another enjoyable drive through rural Irish countryside and with little traffic we made good progress towards the coast.

The weather was changing though as we got closer to Ballybunnion and by the time we had reached the cliff walk we had come to do the sky had darkened and there appeared to be rain out to sea that we thought would eventually make landfall.

Ballybunnion is a holiday seaside town with all the attractions such as fun parlours that are typical of locations in both Ireland and the rest of the UK where city people go for their summer holidays.

Despite the breezy, cool conditions the holidaymakers had been down on the wide, windswept beach making the most of their short holiday. Hardy souls are the Irish!

It had been very windy on our first visit and we hadn’t been able to do the cliff walk but this time the breeze wasn’t going to put us off.

As we started the short 2km trail 2 teenage boys were ahead of us returning to their holiday caravan in one of the several caravan parks in the town. They were still wet from having in the sea for a swim and looked chilled through.

The trail gives expansive views down and across the flat, sandy beach. We had to look twice to believe our eyes when we noticed a couple of teenage girls in the low surf below us and then further out a man swimming in the sea. As we have said, these Irish are hardy souls!

The information we had read stated that you could often see dolphins in the water below from the cliff walk but despite our best efforts of checking the scene we didn’t see any.

The incoming rain made us hurry back to the car for the short drive home through the outskirts of Tralee, again.It seems the rose town has an attraction to us.

The hills of the Dingle peninsula set up a sight we had never seen before, as the rain stopped leaving strange fluffy formations of clouds on the hillsides with the light making them brilliant white against the dark forest of trees. In the sky these fluffy formations were scattered around as well as the rain cleared.

Back home we mulled over the fact that we hadn’t been able to add any significant information in the tracing of the ‘mysterious’ Maria Dillon and with only one more day in the Emerald Isle it looks like the research will have to continue online after we get back to New Zealand.

It had been a good day out, any day that you have the opportunity to consume a Guinness is a good day, and we had discovered the delightful historic town of Adare and got to walk the cliffs at Ballybunnion.

PS:the song reflects the laid back feel you get when you visit County Kerry and places like Ballybunnion,despite the breezy wind,and we will miss Ireland when it is time for us to move on.Enjoy the song on Youtube as usual.

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