Saturday, March 29, 2008

Unconditional Love

I was looking for something in my room a little bit ago and I came across these pictures. These are pictures of my Ellie dog. Patrick brought her home about eleven years ago. He named her Cinder because at the time that was the color of her hair (I think). I called her Cinderellie, Ellie for short. She was the cutest little puppy, part chow, part shepherd, part ?. For some reason, she bonded with me. I think it might have been after her first haircut! You see, her hair never really grew back right after that first haircut. The vet did all kinds of tests to see what might be wrong and there was absolutely nothing that could be found. So often times when the hair would start to grow back in patches, she wasn't the most beautiful dog in the world, except to me. Everyone made fun of her beauty! Through the years, Ellie was always here when I came home from a long, tiring, and tough day at school. She followed me everywhere I went in the house and always sat at my feet. At night, she slept at the foot of my bed. She was never quite put together right and had several surgeries through the years, always coming through with flying colors. She took arthritis medicine regularly. Last summer, she started having trouble getting up on my bed. She completely stopped and would lay down next to the bed. I took her to the vet in September and found that her arthritis had gotten progressively worse. He tried several different treatments and nothing helped. Sometimes when she got up to greet me, she would yelp. It broke my heart! Finally, at Thanksgiving, I knew it was time. It was such a hard decision, but one I knew had to be made. Patrick, Cameron, and I went to take her to the vet. I was able to stay with her until she went to sleep and that is all I could do. Cameron and I left and Patrick stayed. I have her ashes which is something I never thought I would do. I never understood why anyone would pay for that and I did exactly that!!

Our vet has written something very touching on his website about having to make this decision. I am adding it to this blog.

In the beginning we have a puppy or kitten. The giggles, laughing and playing that is done at this stage is awesome. We can shout let’s go and our puppy runs to the car. Here kitty, kitty brings a purring bundle of fur running for a daily treat. At night they may snuggle in, sharing the warmth of their body with you. Life is good.

During the middle years our pet may become more sedate. They like lying down at our feet or in our lap, content to be with us. They have no remote control issues, they just want to share our space and feel our warmth. They are still excited to go bye-bye. They may love to play. They definitely enjoy their treats. We may have changed their diet due to weight gain because we love feeding them treats. Our pet may start to get up slower, walk slower, and have less interest in what they used to enjoy.

At 11 for dogs and 14 for cats our pet has lived approximately 60-70 human years. They begin to experience the full aging process. We may notice they really hate being outside in the heat, struggle to stay warm, seem to sleep all the time, their hair coat may not be as bright and shiny and their appetite may not be as good. Our pet may not see or hear as well as they used to. They may not remember how we potty trained them and make mistakes. We may get frustrated because there is extra care and cost of care involved. We may find ourselves thinking “When will I know it is time to say good-bye?” Contrary to what people think, very few pets die from old age. As pets age they are more prone to illness. Just as in humans, if these diseases are not prevented or treated your pet may suffer. The unconditional love a pet displays everyday is enormous. They can be in pain and suffering and will still attempt to wag their tail when they recognize your voice. When it is time, it is hard for us to say good-bye. Remember, your pet is living in the moment with no specific event such as weddings, birthdays, or anniversaries affecting their need to live a longer life. Their moment is you. That moment is on a daily basis with no future plans that drive them to hang on for just one more day. Allowing our pets to suffer because of age, disease, or lack of care is inhumane. Unfortunately this is not uncommon because we may be afraid to experience the loss of our pet. Many times we delay making decisions because of our own discomfort and loss. When we start to question whether it is time, we already may know the answer.

Reality Check

It was back to school and back to reality this week, although the week was quiet. We are getting ready for AIMS testing in another week................

I have missed doing my blog, but haven't quite figured out what I am going to continue to do this on. Most of the things that happen at school aren't things I can write about on the internet--at least not until I retire!! Then watch out!!!!!!!!!!!! My cousin, Phil, loves my stories! I don't think that he believes that these kinds of things can happen, but they can and they do!!

I am hoping to do a few more "roots" kinds of things as soon as I can find a letter that my uncle Matt wrote several years ago about a trip that he went on to Leadville, Colorado. My grandparents and great grandparents moved there for the mines and the railroad before moving to Arizona in 1912 and 1903 respectively. If you noticed the picture of the house on the side of the blog, that is our house in Douglas in 1932. It still looks pretty much the same. My aunt Teresa was born in the house and still lives there. It has been in our family since 1918! I grew up in that house. There are so many wonderful memories at 858!

My day to day life is rather boring, which is a good thing because school certainly isn't! I do intend to tell a little more about the leprechaun in Limerick, but I have to wait until I get some pictures downloaded onto this computer. So that chapter is yet to come............

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sweet Home Arizona

What a long day it has been today!! We are home minus three suitcases that will hopefully be delivered tomorrow. We left the hotel at 7:00 a.m. (12:00 a.m. Arizona time) and got to the airport and the long lines going through customs.

Over the last several years, I have gone to several family functions from Georgia, to Idaho, to San Jose and Modesto, California only to run in to a student, parent, or former student from our school. Today, in line with us for our flight to Philadelphia was half of the Gilbert High School Band. I knew that they were going to be in Dublin for the St. Patrick's Day Parade, but didn't realize they were staying the week. So here we are in Dublin and I get a big hug from a former student and see another former student and his dad. I also talked to a couple of teachers that I know. I guess I can't go anywhere!!

From Dublin we flew to Philadelphia and had to go through Customs there. What a pain!!! Anyway, we got through and had very little time before we had to fly to Baltimore on one of those very small jets. We got to Baltimore just in time to get on the plane to Phoenix. I am sure that is why all of our luggage didn't get here!! The flight to Phoenix was long and we got here around 7:15. I sat next to a lady who is writing children's books. We talked a lot about this topic and she showed me a couple of her books on her computer. She is going to donate some of the books to our school as they have to do with fire and burn prevention.

By the time we got the report taken care of for the luggage and got home, it was almost 9:00. The pugs were so excited, especially my little black girl pug, Blanca. She cried and cried!! That is why I love dogs and their unconditional love.

Cameron had drawn welcome home with a shamrock on the carport. It was a bit hard to see, but I will look at it tomorrow. He was asleep, but woke up long enough to give us a big hug.

For those of you in Arizona if you ever need a good travel person, I would recommend Gina from Other than the lost luggage, everything went so great. Thank you, Gina!!

It is good to be home, especially after such a great week. I am going to continue to do this blog. I am not sure what about yet. I have had so much fun with this. I appreciate the comments and the many emails I have gotten about it. I decided to post two pictures that I found on a website from my very favorite place on earth, the Chiricahua Mountains in southeastern Arizona. The picture of the water is what we call the bathtub. It is about a mile hike from our cabin. The only way you can get to it is by walking as there is no road, just a trail. The other picture is the entrance to Cave Creek in the Chiricahuas where our cabin is. My reason for putting these up is that I am very thankful to my great grandparents for coming to Arizona. It is a great place to live!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Saturday Night

Our last day in Ireland has been another great one. We wanted to see the National Museum of Ireland since it was closed yesterday. We walked to it because Patrick said it wasn't very far! It wasn't far for him............. I think it was at least 5 miles away, but I walked it with him. Two blocks to him was six to seven to me!!! We just got to the hotel and have to take our car back. I just spoke with the family we were to have dinner with and we won't be able to make it because we just don't have time. We have to be at the airport very early tomorrow morning.

So we will be saying good-bye to Ireland for now. Thanks to everyone for reading the blog. I hope you have enjoyed it.

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,

And rain fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again

May God hold you in the palm of his hand.


Irish Stew--A Little of This and a Little of That

It is Saturday morning around 9:00. My computer says that it is 1:59 A.M. in Arizona. I am having breakfast downstairs in the hotel. As I am sitting here, guests from the hotel are coming in for breakfasts. You hear so many different accents and so many different languages. Patrick is still asleep. I think the jet lag and going non stop for the last many days has started to hit us. We need to be out of the hotel by noon. We will be staying at the airport tonight.

Last night we were able to eat dinner in the hotel dining room. It was interesting how they set it up. I mentioned yesterday about pubs being closed on Good Friday and how no liquor is sold. However, if you are a hotel guest, you can eat and drink in the hotel restaurant. They had the doors to the outside locked and the window shades down. In order to get into the restaurant, you had to go through the lobby and past the desk clerk. After hearing the story of the ferry boat and the drinkers yesterday, I don't know why they don't just check into a hotel!! Things were quiet and not much was going on. I started reading "Trinity" by Leon Uris again. This has always been my very favorite book. Leon Uris wrote historical fiction and he always did much research before writing a book. He wrote several books about the Holocaust such as "Exodus" and "Mila 18." He has always been one of my favorite authors. "Trinity" was written in 1976 and I have read it at least four times. I wanted to wait to read it again because I wanted to have this experience.

I mentioned that we had dinner in a thatched pub in County Mayo called The Shebeen. I put a picture of it on an earlier blog. As I was reading, I came across the word shebeen in the book. I don't remember this word at all. During the British rule the Catholics were not allowed to have alcohol so they made their own called poteen. It was a white mountain dew stilled in illegal stills which could be broken down and moved in minutes ahead of the tax collectors and the Royal Irish Constabulary. The actual partaking was done in shebeen, a converted byre buried in the village. Just a piece of trivia for you.......

There has been so much to see and tell about. One thing that I forgot about and remembered when I saw the picture was at the Waterford Crystal Factory. They made the most incredible scene from September 11th. It was the firefighters carrying the body of Father Mychal Judge, the priest and chaplain for the New York Fire Department. I am going to put the picture on today. The picture is great, but it is something to really see in person. I think they should put it on display in the U.S.

During our drive around the country, we saw sheep everywhere. They are even by the side of the roads like you see cattle down in southern Arizona. The sheep had different colors sprayed on them and I am wondering if this is some type of a "brand" so that they know which farmer the sheep belong to. They go up the sides of the mountains to graze and seem to be everywhere--inland, by the coast, etc. There are a lot of woolen mills around and with the cold weather I can understand why. Patrick bought a woolen sweater jacket in Blarney and has worn it most of the time.

The computer battery is starting to run down so I better close. I have really enjoyed writing this blog and think I will continue when I get home. Not sure what the theme will be. Thanks to you, Carol, for encouraging and then teaching me how to do this!!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Dublin--Sightseeing on Good Friday

After breakfast at the hotel, Patrick and I got on a bus tour of Dublin. Because it is Good Friday, many places are closed. When we were making plans for this trip, I didn't realize that Easter was this week. After remembering this, I tried to get reservations for Dublin when we first got here, but there was nothing available because of St. Patrick's Day weekend. It is interesting because everything closes down on Good Friday and on Christmas Day by law. At least that it what a cab driver told me. He also told me that there is a ferry that goes across the Irish Sea to Wales and it takes about four hours. It has become a tradition for "drinkers" to go on this ferry because they can drink as soon as the boat leaves the shore They have bands on the boat now and have made it a big party. It seems to me it would be easier to buy it in advance then spend eight hours on a boat!!

The bus tour was very interesting even though we didn't get to go into a lot of places. Trinity College was open and so we were able to see the Book of Kells. It is the gospel that was written by monks on calfskin. It is absolutely amazing to see what it took to write this. The time and energy is something really hard to comprehend. My friend, Nikki, told me to be sure to go to the Long Room. It is the library of Trinity College and it has over 200,000 books in it. I think that is just about what we have in our house!!!! Kerri would love all of this and would probably appreciate it more than any of us. I hope we will be able to all come back one day soon.

We saw St. Stephen's Green, Dublin Castle, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Phoenix Park, the Guinness Brewery, Jameson Whiskey building, and many other amazing buildings on this tour. You can get off the bus at any stop and then get back on when you are finished. They run every 10 minutes or so.

Patrick wanted to do some shopping and I did also, but we didn't want to go to the same places. We went our separate ways and agreed to meet back at the hotel. I was able to get some souvenirs to bring back that I hadn't found earlier in the trip. When I came out of one store, it was raining really hard. I took a cab back to the hotel and that is when I found out about the history behind Good Friday and all of the closings. The cab drivers are very nice and have lots of information.

We are staying one more night in this hotel and then we move to the Hilton at the airport. The grandparents of two of our kids from our school live here in Dublin. I had told Leo, the father, that we were coming here over break. His wife, Susan, called Kerri just after we left and gave her their phone number here for us to call as they wanted to get together with us. I have met them several times over the years. We spoke to them last night and they have invited us over to their house for dinner tomorrow night. We are hoping we can make it work!

It is almost 5:00 and hopefully we will be able to eat here at the hotel. I must say that even though the food is similar to that in the U.S., the taste is different. Bacon really tastes like ham--I think it must be. The pepper has an unusual taste to it. I have eaten mostly fish and chips and they have been good.

So one more day and then it is back to Arizona. I am looking forward to being warm again!!!!

Dublin, Friday Morning

I don't know why I didn't put this in yesterday. I just wasn't thinking when I was writing. Judy wrote in a comment about our Mary in Douglas. She is not doing well and I said prayers for her, too. I have holy water for her. Judy is right. Mary has a special place in our hearts. She has always been there for us. While we were growing up, she was there every day to make sure that our clothes were clean, our house always looked great for so many friends to come to--which they did all of the time, to fix our lunch every day so we never ate at school during our kindergarten through 12th grades, and to give us love. Since we have been grown, she has always been home when we went there. The summers that we spent in Douglas when my kids were younger were always with Mary at the house. Kerri, Patrick, and Cameron love her, too. Since my mom died, she has stayed at the house for Teresa so that she could be with us. Mary never had a lot of material possessions, but she always has love. Every time any of the cousins came to visit, there she was making tortillas. Cecilia and Marion always hid tortillas so that they would be sure to have some to take home!!! We love you, Mary!!!! I am putting in a special pictures for you, Mary. This is the Celtic Cross at Knock. It is so beautiful in person. Kerri, please make sure she gets to read this.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Knock on Holy Thursday

We just arrived in Dublin. The weather has been really bad all day. We spent a couple of hours at the Knock Shrine. I can't explain the feeling that I had there.

We are having trouble with the wireless here at the hotel. I had to come down stairs to put yesterday's in. I am going to write more and then add some pictures to the previous blogs. I also just realized that one of my posts earlier this week was saved and not posted so please go back a bit to see the previous ones.

At Knock, I got Holy Water and spent some time in the chapel. I also got Cameron a rosary and prayer book from the Shrine for his First Holy Communion and Confirmation in May. I said a special prayer for Phil and am bringing him some Holy Water!

After going to Knock, I have many questions for my aunt Teresa about dates and times when our great grandmother came to the United States. It is hard to explain, but I really felt a connection there. I would like to come back again and spend more time in this area. It is beautiful. Westport, where we stayed last night, is a small town, but very busy and very beautiful. The pub where we ate was all locals and that was really fun.

Traveling anywhere in Ireland isn't very far in terms of miles, but the roads make things take so much longer. Today as we traveled across Ireland, there are many new roads being built and we were on a "divided highway" for much of the time.

We are staying in the heart of downtown Dublin tonight and tomorrow night. We walked a long way to find a place to eat tonight. There were many places around, but we walked to see what was available. Tomorrow is Good Friday and all of the pubs and restaurants and everything else will be closed. The desk clerk told me that we would have to make reservations to eat somewhere. I checked with the hotel "pub" and they are open. She did say that all of the tourist attractions would be open. I don't really have much I want to see tomorrow. I do want to go to Trinity College and see the Book of Kells.

Both Patrick and I are really tired tonight, but it is a good tired. We don't have to get up and go tomorrow as we are in this hotel for a couple of days. It will be nice not to have to rush in the morning.

This whole week has been an incredible experience. I definitely want to come back and spend some quality time in a few places. I thank Patrick for taking me here!!

County Mayo, God Help Us!

Another glorious day in Ireland!!! We don’t have wireless internet today and I’ll have to wait to post this until tomorrow morning or when we get to Dublin tomorrow evening. I am writing it and will cut and paste.

We left Galway around 9:30 this morning after a great breakfast at the B & B. All of the places that we have stayed have been very nice and the people very friendly and helpful. Whenever anyone asks where we are from and we tell them Arizona, their first comment is about President Bush. I have been very surprised by this and it has happened several times. They do not like him at all, at least with the people that we have talked to. We haven’t even brought up politics and they do. They actually use fairly bad language about him. They love President Clinton and have all said that he is greatly responsible for peace in Ireland. I did not know this and am going to have to research it when I get home and have some time. They are all very much against the war in Iraq.

We traveled from Galway to Connemara and passed by the “Quiet Man Bridge” from the movie. Connemara is beautiful and wild. We stopped at Kylemore Abbey and went on a tour of this beautiful place. It is now a boarding school run by the Benedictine Nuns, but it was originally a home for an English doctor who was married to an Irish woman. He built it for her as a second home. It is on a lough (lake) and the grounds are magnificent. After she died, he built a gothic church in her honor on the grounds. It is a small replica of many gothic cathedrals in England.

From there we traveled on the narrow roads again, but today there has been very little traffic and people have not been driving so fast. We traveled on the coast and then inland around many lakes and even a fiord. Once again the beauty is breathtaking and so different from place to place. Every now and then there is a pine forest that is so thick you can’t see light in it.

We then went to Crough Patrick which is a holy place dedicated to St. Patrick in County Mayo. There is a statue of St Patrick about halfway up the mountain and a church built on top of the mountain. It is about a 3.5 hour hike to go up and back down. Patrick walked up to the statue, but we didn’t have time for anymore. It is overlooking Clew Bay. We stopped at the Famine Memorial and then drove on to Westport and our Bed and Breakfast. We are going to dinner at Sheebeen’s which is a thatched roof pub not far from the B & B. This area is much more rural than anywhere else we have been and absolutely beautiful.

This is Europe’s spring break because of Holy Week and Easter being on Sunday. There are tourists from all over Europe. Because of the European Union and the Euro, it makes it very convenient and less expensive to travel within these countries. Something else that I have noticed that I didn’t see when we were here before is the number of people from other countries and languages who live and work here. The other night our waitress told us that she was from Malaysia and had come here with her boyfriend for jobs. She said that she would not be able to do well in Malaysia and here they are doing very well. We heard on the radio the other day that they are concerned about all of the people who are here illegally. So Ireland has a problem with illegal immigration, too. I guess it is world wide wherever the economy is good!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Where the River Shannon Flows

Another glorious day in Ireland. We left Limerick around 10:00 and drove across the River Shannon. From Limerick we went to Bunratty Castle which is really pretty much a tourist trap. We then were on our way to the Cliffs of Moher. It was my day to drive and it is not getting any easier. The roads are so narrow and twisting and people really drive fast!! Even though things are not far apart, it takes quite a bit of time to get from one place to the other because you can't drive that fast. At least we can"t....... We went through a small town in County Clare not far from Ennis. There was a butcher shop and the proprietor's name was Bernard Roughan. I remember Teresa saying that we found some Roughan's in Ennis. I am wondering if this could be a relative. Roughan is not a common name. I took a picture of the butcher shop, but we didn't stop. We arrived at the Cliffs of Moher and walked up to them. They are cliffs that overlook the Atlantic Ocean and they are breathtaking!!!

After we left the Cliffs, we drove to Burren region. These are unbelievable rock formations. I had never heard of them, but Patrick had researched where he wanted to go. Once again, I wish that Cameron was with us so he could remember all of the information! There were some ruins where they found bodies in 1986 found bodies and artifacts that were from 3000 B.C.

We then went to a cave not far away that was found in 1940, but not made known until 1976. It reminded me of the story behind Kartchner Caverns. It was amazing. I really enjoyed going through it.

We were then on our way to Galway. What a beautiful drive!! However, we got lost when we got to Galway and couldn't find the Bed and Breakfast. We stopped and asked several different people and got several different directions. We finally called the family and found out that we were very close.

We took a taxi into the city center to find a place for dinner. It is hard to find any place serving food after 8:00. They stop serving food and only serve alcohol. I find this surprising!! We walked through the city center where they had the streets barricaded off permanently which is great. You can walk through the very narrow streets. We found a pub that was still open for food, had a great dinner, and came back to the B & B.

Tomorrow is County Mayo, God Help Us!!!

St. Patrick's Day Continued.........

It's Tuesday morning and I want to finish yesterday's adventures now that I have had a good night's sleep.

After we left Blarney, Patrick wanted to go to Kinsale to see and old fort that he had read about. Kinsale is on the ocean and had an incredible harbor. We got lost in Cork trying to get through the city. On one street, there was two way traffic and cars parked on either side of the road and it was very narrow. Two cars could not get down the road. It was scary because people drive very fast here. We finally got headed in the right direction. The road to Kinsale was very narrow and winding, but is was a beautiful drive. It was very cold, windy and overcast yesterday. We got to Charles Fort and the view was breathtaking. It is the closest port to Europe so it was a place invaders came. There has been so much information about so many things, I need Cameron here to remember everything!!!

We then drove on what was an even narrower, more winding road which is a main road in Ireland. They have the initial "N" in front of the number of the highway--if you want to call it a highway. "R" is for the routes off the beaten path so to speak. They are in the process of building "M" roads which are more like freeways, but they are few and far between. The road from Kinsale went along the coast and then took us over the mountains. Patrick was getting very nervous driving!! We stopped in Bantry Bay which was unbelievable beautiful. As cold and overcast as it was, the water was an aqua color. We also saw more brown land in the mountains. Everything is so green here that this was unusual. From Bantry we went along the Ring of Kerry and through Killarney National Forest. I was amazed by the different landforms and vegetation.

One thing that I have noticed is that there are a lot of new homes everywhere. They all look great. In the middle of town is where you see the old buildings and the old churches. There are so many churches and they are all beautiful!

Most of the towns were having parades yesterday for St. Patrick's Day. We didn't stop for a parade as there were too many things that we wanted to see.

Last night we went into the center of Limerick for dinner. Limerick is a town of about 100,000 people. There were many young people out on the streets and you could tell that they had a fun day.

We found a great pub that had traditional Irish music from a band of four men. It was definitely not a tourist place which was so much fun. The crowd was getting into the songs, dancing the jig, etc. Many of the songs were about the English and the IRA. Many of you know my stories about the "little people." Well, it happened again. Patrick had gone outside and a very drunk (I'm going to call him a leprechaun) asked me to dance. I said no and he stood there and kept grabbing my arms and pretending to dance. I thought Patrick was going to laugh himself somewhere when he came back in and witnessed this. Of course, he took pictures and the leprechaun didn't even notice!!! I called my friend, Mary, to tell her about it!!!!

It was such a great St. Patrick's Day! I thought the one we spent in New York was the best, but this one tops it!!!!

The dollar is very weak right now so things are expensive for us. One Euro is equal to about $1.61.

We are off to Galway today. I'll write more later!.

Monday, March 17, 2008


We just arrived in Limerick about 25 minutes ago. We had some trouble with the wireless internet in Blarney and I wasn't able to post any pictures last night. Patrick was able to get them on so there are a few pictures posted from yesterday.

We started out the morning at Blarney Castle where Patrick kissed the Blarney Stone. I kissed it 30 years ago and didn't want a "double gift of gab." And I didn't want to climb to the top of the castle, lay on my back while some man held my legs, and lean over the ledge to kiss it. I decided I can use my advanced age as an excuse!

It's late and I need to get some sleep after all of the traveling. I will post St. Patrick's Day tomorrow. It was amazing in many ways!!!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Blarney Spoken Here!

What a day!! We left our B & B in Waterford after having an incredible breakfast this morning. We went on the Waterford Crystal Factory Tour. It was awesome even though most of the artists weren't working today because of the St. Patrick's Day Holiday. The tour was great. The artists that work there take about 8 years to become masters. They spend five years learning and then another 3 years. If they become an engraver it takes an additional 2 years because they have to go to Art College. We saw all of the trophies that they make for different sporting events, the Super Bowl and the Nobel Peace Prize. Our guide told us that they make three trophies for these big event--one for the event, one for them to keep at the Waterford Factory, and one "just in case" something happens to the original. The "just in case" ones come back to them if nothing happens. They always send an engraver who has about 10 minutes to engrave the winners name on the trophy. It was an incredible tour!! We went to the shop and I can truly understand why everything is so expensive.

After our tour, we headed for Cashel because Patrick really wanted to go there. I drove and we had to take a detour because of a fatal accident on the road. We went on a very narrow road and it was nerve-racking!!!! People drive too fast and they were driving really fast on this detour. The road was barely wide enough for one car, let alone two and some very big trucks. At one point, we had to cross a bridge that was only meant for one car and it was awful!!!!!! I was driving the entire time....... But we made it to Cashel and went to Church there at St. John the Baptist's Catholic Church. We then went to the Rock of Cashel where St. Patrick baptised the King of Muenster in around 350 A.D. making Ireland a Christian country. We had to hike up to the castle and it was absolutely beautiful. It is hard to believe how old things are here.

We then drove to Blarney to our B & B here. We arrived around 4:00 and got settled and then walked down to the downtown area. It was too late to kiss the Blarney Stone, but we were able to go to Blarney Woolen Mills and then to dinner at a local pub. One of the most amazing things was that they have COORS LIGHT on draft. I couldn't believe that!!!

We are back in our rom and it is around 10:00. We will have breakfast tomorrow and leave for Limerick on St. Patrick's Day.

We talked to Kerri earlier and then to Teresa and Judy. We have seen a lot of dogs, but no pugs. Patrick says it is because pugs are such "woosies" and couldn't handle the cold weather. I agree, but I miss them

This is an incredible adventure!!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Arriving on the "Auld Sod"

Patrick and I left Phoenix at approximately 12:10 on Friday, March 14. We arrived in Philadelphia after having to wait in a holding pattern for about 20 minutes. We had to change planes about an hour and we were very close to the gate. We spent an hour on the plane waiting to take off because there we so much traffic. Everyone on the plane slept all night and I woke up just before we landed in Manchester, Great Britain about 8:00. We had to jump through hoops with customs, but everything went fine. We just made it to the Aer Lingus terminal and got right on the plane. I slept the whole 45 minutes it took us to get to Dublin. I don't even remember taking off. We had no trouble with luggage or anything and got on the shuttle to get our rental car. That also went smoothly and we headed out with Patrick driving a stick shift on the wrong side of the road. It was overcast and then started raining quite hard and there was a lot of fog. We stopped in Wicklow and had a snack as we hadn't really had time to eat since we left on Friday. Everything was bustling there and everything is so beautiful and green even in the fog. There are so many "roundabouts" which remind me of the traffic signal in Bisbee. We stopped in Wexford and took pictures of one of the immigrant ships. It was closed for tourists to go through, but we could take pictures. We then called Breda, the owner of the B & B we are staying in to let her know we would be there after 6:00. We arrived around 6:30 and she was waiting for us and has been so gracious. Our room is up some very steep stairs and has a double and a single bed and bathroom with a small shower. We went to dinner at Murphy's Pub in Holy Cross. As we were driving to the Pub, we saw a huge Hasbro toy manufacturing plant. Breda told us that Ireland is the second richest country in Europe. That is so nice to know after so many years when this was not the case. It use to be that Ireland's greatest export was its people. We are back here in the room and I can tell you that I will sleep very well tonight. We have been traveling for about 24 hours. Patrick is going to try to put some pictures on the blog.

It has been so great to hear from so many people and so many of my wonderful cousins that you are reading the blog. I have had many emails. I love to see the comments that are left!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Thirty Year Old Memories

Tonight I was at school for a wonderful program put on by our fourth graders. Our music teacher, Clare, is the best there is. As always, it was a wonderful evening. Parents and children were all so positive. It was a good way to begin spring break!

When I got home about 7:00, my aunt Teresa called from Douglas and reminded me that she had left some things at Judy's from our trip to Ireland in 1978. Judy brought them over and there was a great letter that she wrote to the family after her trip. Of course, 30 years ago we didn't have computers, so it was type written. We tried scanning it, but the paper is so thin. I am going to retype it here for our family to see (and anyone else who might be interested.)

April 23, 1978

Dear All:

I had a wonderful vacation, it was perfect from start to finish. John and Joan had Judy fly to Dallas on Thursday afternoon shortly after we arrived. It was a real surprise and a perfect ending to a great vacation. We stayed in Dallas until Sunday evening.

I left here on March 11th at 1:00 A.M. and flew to Washington. Mary and Tom had Ellen, Nick and their two darling children, Pat, Phil and their four darling children, Phil's dad and Mary's brother George and family and Tommy for dinner. We had a real good dinner and visit. I left Washington on Sunday morning and flew to N.Y and then to Frankfurt. Sheila, Jim and Kerri met me there. Kerri loved me so much, kept patting me and kissing me, this went on for a week. Jim thought she didn't realize how much she had missed us until she saw me. On Thursday we started out on a trip through the southern part of Germany. We went to the Black Forest. It's beautiful. I never saw so much snow in my life. We went into Austria and Switzerland and went to Mass on Palm Sunday at Garmish. Judy Frances, we saw the area where you used to live and work. All of Sheila's friends had me over to their houses for either dinner or parties. They sure are a nice group of people.

On Holy Saturday, we flew to Dublin. A teacher that Sheila teaches with went with us in our car and two other teachers were in another car. I got a lump in my throat when we landed in Ireland. There was a special feeling when we got into County Mayo. It's hard to describe. The people are great, very friendly and go out of their way to be helpful. Sheila did a good job of driving. It's on the wrong side of the road and of course you shift with your left hand. The car was a new Avenger, made by Chrysler, bright red. We had a little trouble finding our way out of Dublin, but after an hour were on our way to Wexford where we spent the first night. Everything closes up at 11:00 P.M. so we stopped in Ashford at Marty O'Gara's restaurant to have dinner. It was cold. There was a fire in the fireplace in the bar and after we ordered dinner, they suggested we sit near the fire. We visited with two women and the owner. These women wanted us to try the Guiness beer, so they ordered for us and then told us not to drink it unless it was on tap because it wasn't much good in the bottles. We stayed in the Talbot Hotel in Wexford and went to Mass there on Easter and then started out for Cork. On the way we stopped in Youghal at Ahern's Pub because the women had told us it was nice and they had good sea food and they did.

There is a lot of house construction going on all over Ireland. Everything looked prosperous. We stayed in Blarney that night and the motel was full. Everybody was on vacation because of Easter and everything was closed on Monday. I was talking to the man at the motel and I mentioned my Grandfather's name was Roughan. He said right away "Oh, that's a Clare name." We looked in the telephone book and there are two pages of Scotts, 20 Godfreys, but there were only four Kneafsey's and nine Roughans. The next morning we went to Kiss the Blarney Stone and then on to Killarney.

On the way there was a lot of traffic coming the other way because there was a car rally that started in Belfast and was going all the way around Ireland. In the bar in the Motel at Killarney, we met two delightful young girls from the North of Ireland. They wanted us to visit up there. They said the fighting wasn't as bad as the paper said. They said you stay out of the area where the trouble is and you're O.K. One also told us she sure wished she was related to us.

We left Killarney on Tuesday morning and stopped in Limerick. I called Patrick Kneafsey. He told me his family all came from County Mayo and that his Uncle Bill had died on Good Friday at 83 years old. Twenty five years ago he had cancer and they had given him two months to live. He went to Knock and his cure was one of the recorded ones.

I asked him if the name Scally sounded familiar to him and he said it did. He said his father's name was Tom. He told me he was an Engineer and comes to America quite often on the East coast. I asked him to call me the next time he came and also gave him Tom's address because he gets to Washington and he said he would like to. He also said his Grandfather was a school master at something Castle and I misunderstood him and I thought it was Castle bar. He told me he thought some of the family would still be there that had come for the funeral. An uncle and aunt were retiring and moving back to stay at Murphy's Guest House and he said you won't have trouble finding it because the town is small. There was another Kneafsey in Limerick but he told me he had been transferred to Dublin and was not related to him. He also told me he had a cousin, Patrick Rice, who lived in Dublin and was interested in trying to keep track of relatives and he gave his telephone number. There was a Desmond Kneafsey in Galway that was also a cousin. When we got to Galway, I tried to call him but the telephone strike was on and the call wouldn't go through. This Kneafsey is a surgeon.

On Wednesday morning we started out for County Mayo and went to Knock. Everything there was closed because it wasn't the tourist season or there wasn't a Pilgrimage. The priest there told me they didn't keep any records until 1869, which I asked if the marriage records were sent back. He said they didn't keep them and I asked if the deaths were recorded and he said no. But he told us where to find some Kneafsay's so we followed his instructions and found the house. A young boy was there and he told us they weren't from the area and had just moved there and his father was not at home. We went further down the road and another man gave us directions to find a man who was about 70 years old and a brother to the people in the other house. He said there was a widow in another location but she wouldn't know anything. We took his word for that and tried to find the man but didn't. The road we thought may have led to his house was muddy and I was afraid of getting stuck. It was raining and the wind was blowing. We did stop and ask at another house and they gave us directions back to the first house so we decided to give it up. We went back into Knock and got some Holy Water and I have some for all of us. When we were driving around Knock, Sheila said she sure had a strong feeling that this was the area where her Grandmother's heritage came from. We went to the cemetery but didn't find anything there. We went on to Castlebar and there wasn't a Murphy's Guest House there so we went on to Westport. The lady with us was interested in this town. We went in a pub there and were visiting with the owners and she mentioned the name of her grandmother and he told her there were some still living there. So he went to the other side of the pub and got one of his customers to take us to this man's house which was on Crough Patrick. They wanted us to come in and have tea and the lady brought us some soda bread just like what Grandma used to make. She told me that the Kneafsay's lived in Foxford and there were still some living there but by this time it was getting late and the roads are good but one lane each way and lots of curves so we didn't go there. Foxford is not far from Castlebar but in a different direction. We took a different road from Galway.

The next day we went to Dublin and stayed at the Tara Hotel. I called Patrick Rice and talked to his wife and she told me she would have him call when he got home from work. He really was nice and very friendly. He is the Chief Auditor for Aer Lingus. They were also having a strike. He told me the town was Ballycastle where his grandfather had lived. He died in 1929 and was 63 years old and he never knew him. He still has three aunts living and he will contact them and see if they know anything. If there is any connection his grandfather would have to be Grandma's nephew. He told me an uncle told him that they had a relative who fought in the Civil War in a big battle in Pennsylvania and was a general. He said he would meet us at the airport. We were supposed to leave at 11:00 A.M. but he told me he didn't think we would because of the strike. We left about 5:00 P.M. We arranged to meet at the sweet place (which is a 31 flavors) and it's strange but with the crowd there I walked to him and he to me and we visited for about an hour. He reminds me of someone, but I haven't been able to put a finger on who it is or what it is. I know this doesn't mean much, but I sure have a feeling there is a connection.

I forgot to tell you when we were on our way from Killarney to Galway, we stopped in Ennis at John J. Roughan's Hardware Store. We had a nice visit with John and his wife. He said he didn't know anything about relatives but to go to the P.P. and he could hlep. The P.P. is the Parish Priest. We didn't connect with the P.P. He was out of town.

I told both Patricks that I wish there was a connection between us because they were so nice. Patrick Rice comes over here sometimes, but he said in the New York and Boston area, but will call the next time he comes.

I left Germany on Sunday morning and Kerri decided she wouldn't come home with me because her mommy and daddy would be too lonesome. She had decided she was going to keep the new baby even it it was a boy. Her daddy was teasing her and told her little boys tear up things like books so she decided she wasn't going to keep him if he was a boy. It took a while for him to convince her that he was only teasing. She told me she would see me in three months.

When I landed in Washington, Tom, Tommy, Margaret, Debbie, Barbie, Pat and her children were at the airport and we all went to Tom and Mary's for dinner. Bea Krentz and her husband came over too. We looked at the movies from the Family Reunion. Washington is beautiful. The Cherry Blossoms were out and the flowers beautiful.

The next day Peggy Mathieu came in from Phillipsburg. She is Aunt Catherine's (Grandma's Sister) granddaughter. We all sure had a good time visiting. We went down to Tom and Mary's farm and it is beautiful. This was on Tuesday. I had never met Peggy but Margaret had in 1935. We really enjoyed visiting with her. I hope she comes out our way one of these years.

Mary took us to the Kennedy Center and it is beautiful. We really enjoyed it. It was great that Debbie and Barbie could get down to see us. Barbie is graduating in May and Debbie is going back to Switzerland on a summer job for two months.

We left Washington on Thursday and flew to Dallas. Joan picked us up and then I told you a few hours later John and Judy came in. I couldn't believe it. Mary Lou was Confirmed on Friday so we were there for her big day. We met a lot of their friends and they sure are nice.

We arrived home Sunday night about 10:30 P.M. This is a mighty long letter but wanted to put as much information as I could in it in case someone else gets to go sometime and I sure hope they do because I sure would enjoy it. We've always known there was no one like the Irish but I believe it more than ever now.

God Bless all of you,


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Planning the Itinerary

Patrick first suggested that we go to Ireland in early January. He told me that he wanted to take me as a "thank you" for many things. Needless to say, I was thrilled.

I immediately contacted a wonderful lady named Gina Richards, who is a travel agent. I met Gina two years ago under some very difficult circumstances. Gina is the aunt of Officer Rob Targosz, the first Gilbert Police Officer killed in the line of duty. I had known Rob ever since he took an NAU graduate class that I had taught. Over the past two years, I have seen Rob's wife, his father, and his Aunt Gina at several events to honor Rob. Gina helped us plan a self-guided tour through CIE Tours.

We had one fairly large mishap that I laughed about but I know it gave Gina fits. Our travel documents came to her office several weeks ago. She immediately let me know that they had arrived, checked them over, and then sent them to us, along with the tracking number. For some unbelievable reason, the package would arrive in Phoenix, get sent to Chicago, come back to Phoenix, go back to Chicago....... Gina finally was able to have a lady who worked for the U.S. Post Office in Illinois pull the package and fix what ever was wrong with the coding!!! Thank you, Gina.

In the meantime, she gave me a website to go on to find Bed and Breakfasts to stay in while in Ireland. What fun that was!! The website is There are over 1200 places to stay and it was great fun looking over the site. We were able to make contact directly with the owners and set up our stay. Each email that I sent to the owners was replied to very quickly. Each person was so nice and so friendly. That is something I remember vividly from our trip 30 years ago. Everyone was so great and so willing to give directions, talk, or whatever.

We will be renting a car in Dublin when we arrive on Saturday about noon. We will drive south to Waterford for Saturday night. We will be staying at Dunroven (website is On Sunday we will be staying in Blarney. I couldn't resist spending one night in this town!! The B & B is called Curracbui and the website is On St. Patrick's Day we will be staying in Limerick. We are staying in a hotel in Limerick instead of a Bed and Breakfast. I wanted to be close to the downtown area for that night. Tuesday we will be staying in Galway in a B & B named Clochard. The website for this is Wednesday takes us to County Mayo where my Great Grandmother, Ellen Nephsay Roughan was from. We will visit Knock, but will stay in the coastal city of Westport in a B & B called Glenderan ( Thursday, Friday, and Saturday we will be in Dublin. From what I could tell from the website, most of the B & B's are not in the middle of the city. So we will stay in a hotel right near St. Stephen's Green.

On Sunday, it is back to Arizona and back to school!! It will be a much needed reprieve to navigate the final nine weeks of the school year!!!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ireland 1978

In 1978, Kerri and I were living in Germany because my ex was in the military. My Aunt Teresa came over to visit us. I was teaching on the Army Base during that year. We were able to take Teresa to many wonderful places in Germany and Austria. She and I also planned on a trip to Ireland. We went over our spring break which was approximately 30 years ago. Kerri stayed in Germany with her dad. I found out later when she was in first grade and Ellen Widmer was her teacher that she thought that children were not allowed in Ireland. I don't remember ever telling her that, but it was always a point of laughter between dear Ellen and I.

Teresa and I spent a week in Ireland. We arrived on Easter Sunday and went to mass in Dublin. We had a rental car and traveled around the country. We spent much of our time in churches and in cemeteries looking for family names. We found out that the English had not allowed the Irish Catholics to keep records and so we were not able to get birth, baptismal, communion records, etc. Teresa had limited information from her grandparents Matthew Roughan and Ellen Nephsay. Her father's name was Scott. She did know that my grandfather was from County Cork and my grandmother was from County Mayo, God Help Us. My great grandmother made her first communion at Knock and left for the United States just before the Blessed Mother appeared at Knock, County Mayo.

We found a phone number for a man with a last name of Nephsay in the Irish phone book. His family was from County Mayo. I am sure that he was a relative. He told us that his great uncle had recently died and that he would have known all of this information.

I think that this experience brought home to me what a tragedy it was for young people to leave their families and their homeland in search of a better life. My great grandmother was illiterate, but lived an incredible life. She died at the age of 96 in 1949. I can't even imagine what it would have been like to leave everything behind to go to a new country. In addition, she and Matthew moved to Bisbee, Arizona in 1903 so that my great grandfather could work in the copper mines. I think that as a country we are forgetting what it would be like to not have a job and not be able to provide for our family. Yet for many of us, that is how our families came to this great country. My grandson, Cameron, and I just got out of the swimming pool in our backyard. Thanks to our grandparents for this opportunity!!!!!!!!!!!! Unless we are Native Americans, we all came to this country for a better life!

Interestingly enough, I was pregnant with Patrick when we went to Ireland in 1978.

Learning to Blog

My friend, Carol, came over to help me learn how to import pictures, etc. I want to be able to put some pictures on the blog as we visit. So hopefully I will be able to do this without too many

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Getting Ready

We have spent the whole weekend getting ready for our trip to Ireland! After working the past two Saturdays, there has been a lot to do. Many last minute items needed to be purchased. I found a great "wallet" to wear around my neck with airplane tickets, passport, etc. to fit in it. Of course, Kerri and Patrick had to make fun of me for wearing it!!

It has been 30 years since I have needed a passport. I applied for a new one over Christmas break and it came within a few weeks. Was very surprised at that!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Please check this site during Spring Break, my son Patrick & I will be posting highlights of our trip through our family's homeland of Ireland. Posts should begin around March 15 or so...