A true story instead of a tale for March and Saint Patrick’s Day.
Erin Go Bragh
Flying in from three different cities, we met in Dublin for a B and B tour of Ireland. The we being my wife, two of her sisters, and three husbands. The six of us with our one bag apiece fit snugly into a red Peugeot station wagon.
At this point in our travel, having driven in the morning from Connemara via lunch at Ashford Castle, we arrived at the Cliffs of Moher late on a sunny afternoon. The cliffs were as fully spectacular as we had been told they would be. From the walkway along the top, it was a sheer, 90 degree drop to the Atlantic far, far below, where long, rolling swells crashed against the dark grey cliff, fracturing into white spray. The ocean was blue-grey with the blinding glare of the lowering sun reflecting off the water. We heard the distant cries of the many, many white sea birds wheeling far below. Occasionally one would soar the updraft up past us before gliding back. Over to the right, atop a higher portion of the cliff, rose a round stone tower right where it should be, silhouetted dark against the sky.
Long grasses, growing along the top of the cliff, the shade of green that we’d come to associate with the Emerald Isle, rippled like waves of water, stirred by the strong wind blowing up the cliff from the sea. An unforgettable afternoon and we lingered, reluctant to leave, until the sun slipped into the horizon.
However, unlike our previous stops, we had no B and B reservations for this night. In the long after-glow of the sunset, we drove into the nearest town, Ennis. The first two inns we tried couldn’t accommodate three couples Neither could the third, but the proprietress suggested that we try a fourth place that she thought might have room—O’Connor’s (of course!)
The adult O’Connors were out for the evening, but their absolutely charming son and daughter said that yes, there were three rooms available. They were both very fair in complexion and though the boy was younger—perhaps eleven or twelve—he took charge of showing us the rooms, quoting rates, signing us in, and, with his sister, getting us towels. The girl in her early teens, taller with a rosy blush on her cheeks, and in her school uniform, was somewhat shyer and giggled a lot. I don’t imagine they had seen too many Asians at that time, and probably didn’t know quite what to make of us, especially when we told them that the ladies were sisters, but we were from Hawaii, New York, and Canada. They offered us tea and a suggestion on where to go for dinner. At Brogan’s they placed us into the quieter restaurant instead of the more interesting and livelier pub. We had a nice meal and celebrated the day’s experiences, washed down with stout.
When we got back to O’Connor’s at 1100, the girl and boy were still up frying bacon—probably waiting for us to get in. Their Mom called then and we heard the boy say, in a tone like ‘surprise!’—“We have six bed and breakfasters!” Before turning in, we celebrated the day with a wee bit of scotch—not the Irish whiskey that would have been more appropriate. Much later during the night, or very early in the morning, we heard a car drive in and surmised that it was the senior O’Connors returning.
The next morning we met Mrs. O’Connor as we gathered for breakfast. We were the only guests. She seems a bit unraveled, having gotten in at 0500 from a pub crawl to send her cousin, who was a priest, off to Africa. Still she was very friendly and laughed a lot as she explained that though there was a curfew, if you knew how, it was possible to sneak from pub to pub as they did, ahead of any enforcement. I would guess that having to prepare breakfast for six while hung over would not have been in her plans the night before when she went out to give her cousin a rousing send-off. Especially when breakfast was the typical substantial fare of thick, salty rashers of bacon, sausage, sunny-side eggs, slices of soda bread with delicious artery-clogging butter and cream, and marmalade. Nothing like the smell of frying grease for a queasy stomach and pounding head. But perhaps that’s selling Mrs. O’Connor’s capacity short. Anyway, we told her that her children were just a joy to meet and very capable and that we were very happy they took care of us in their parent’s absence.
We packed the wagon, paid our fare, said thanks and goodbye. We never did see Mr. O’Connor. And then it was on the road again.