No place like, etc., etc

I suppose the difference is that, in Ireland, my own story is interwoven with other bits of story.  So a visit to some friends beyond Sligo today became a sort of pilgrimage.  First to Mullaghmore which was the nearest seaside to my childhood in Enniskillen and where Alison’s parents used to rent a house.  Memories of Trooper Malone who used to smoke fish using the oak chips from Rodney Lomax’s boat yard and who did a wonderful imitation of the Lyon’s tea advert: ‘Teabags they said?  Never, I said …’  And behind the Pier Hotel now gentrified with seaweed baths is the remains of the old shed in which the Major presided over the lobsters in their sea water baths – ‘Leppin’ around all over the joint’.   And over it all is the shadow of Classiebawn, home of Lord Mountbatten, who was murdered here in 1979 on one of the worst days of the Troubles – three died here and 18 soldiers in Warrenpoint.  And on to Drumcliffe where Yeats is buried, ‘Cast a cold eye on life, on death.  Horseman pass by.’  Just down the road is Lissadell, home of the Gore Booths, of whom Constance became Countess Markievicz, one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising – who had a swimming pool named after her in Dublin.  Fame indeed.  Just round the corner, an Armada Trail, commemorating the loss of ships of the Spanish Armada in 1588.  Close to Sligo, we visited Rosses Point, major golfing centre but remembered by me because I sat down in the sand dunes and found that I had alighted on the carcass of a long dead dog.  A buttock-clenching moment which lives with me yet.  Around and through it all runs the simply astonishing prosperity and growth of the new Ireland – the first time since the Great Famine that the young have not had to emigrate to find work and home.  Indeed, even here in Dunfanaghy, there is some consternation that the latest development of holiday homes is being built by a group of Lithuanian building workers.

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