Beautification, Irish-style

(Note: Spacing kind of crazy – still working on formatting when inserting photos!)

The Irish seem to take seriously their obligation to keep their homeland looking like the little piece of Heaven that it’s reputed to be. Even though an awful lot of real estate seems to be  in some state of devolution, returning to the earth, it still looks beautiful in the process.

My grandfather’s cottage in Co. Leitrim is not much more than a few crumbling walls and a fireplace, but it looks as if the arms and fingers of the earth were reaching out to embrace it and gather it in.

The fireplace is the only thing left standing inside, but it was the most thrilling thing to see. Before he left for the States in 1906, my stonemason grandpa carved across the front his name (James Loughlin), a heart, and two shamrocks  to show how much he loved this place.

The granary, built by my great-uncle Michael, still stands next to the cottage, and Michael’s handiwork is memorialized by a hand-carved plaque set high up in the front wall.

The setting is sylvan and peaceful and I don’t know how my grandfather summoned up the courage to walk down the mountain for the last time. He was never to return.

My grandmother’s cottage in Co. Roscommon is still occupied by Dad’s cousin Mamie, who keeps it neat as a pin. The whitewashed walls look as if she takes a scrub brush to them every day.

Three of the Mulligan sisters, Eileen, Lizze and Mamie – all well into their 70’s and beyond, with nary a grey hair among them!

Dad’s parents, James Loughlin (right) and Mary Mulligan in Brooklyn, 1910, with Mary’s brother John Mulligan (father of Eileen, Lizzie and Mamie) – he returned to Ireland. On their laps are my Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Kitty.

Traipsing around the south of Ireland, we came upon evidence of local efforts to enhance the natural beauty of the area.

Glengarriff exhorted its citizens to make an all-out effort to keep their town looking spic-and-span, hoping to win the title of Tidiest Village in the County Final Litter Challege.

And the Glengarriff Garda (Police) station was manicured and pretty in pink. My sister Tara noticed one of the

local constables strolling down the path, and asked him who took the time to do all the gardening. “I do,” was his proud reply. “Well,” she mused, “you must not have a lot of crime around here!”

The Beara peninsula is a starkly beautiful and exceedingly quiet arm of land reaching into Bantry Bay. Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, up on Healy Pass, a tiny pub is advertised by an old gas pump almost buried in flowers.

In Castletownbere, on the same peninsula, an abandoned house  seems to be in the process of  being absorbed into the hill behind it, yet maintains its decorum with the remnants of a lace curtain in the window.    

We could do worse around here than to follow their lead!


About rangermoi

I'm a former park ranger and teacher, mother of two no-longer-teenage sons, avid cook and reader and the Official Family Memory. I thought I'd better get some of those remembrances down before they all leak out of my senior-moment-affected brain!
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2 Responses to Beautification, Irish-style

  1. Tara says:

    Thanks for the walk down memory lane! Maybe we could do it again next year??

    • Claire says:

      This was wonderful to see. Old buildings often have so much character in them, and your grandfather’s cottage shows it. Thanks for sharing a heartwarming story.

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