We spent the first few days in Ireland visiting family in County Louth which is located 45 minutes north of Dublin. Louth is known as ‘the wee county’ as it is the smallest county by area.
My father was born and raised in County Louth in a town called Ardee. I visited Ireland only once before with my Dad when I was twelve years old. In adulthood, we had always planned to come back to visit. But my father died four years ago before we made that return trip which feels sad, maybe even tragic in a way. So for me, this trip is, in part, a pilgrimage to say good-bye.
My father was the only one of his siblings to move to the U.S. so while we were in Ireland we wanted to spend time with his two sisters and one surviving brother. I have more cousins than I can count here in Ireland too, many of whom were children when I was here the first time. A few of them hadn’t been born yet. Okay, since I was here, I figured I better count, seventeen, I have seventeen first cousins that live in Ireland. I was able to see most of them this trip and was able to spend time with them. The temperament, mannerisms, and familial resemblance are uncanny.
Our first night in town our family met up in a pub in Drogheda called The Thatch. We took over the back room and over the course of the evening more and more family members streamed in. My father’s sister Joan walked in and we embraced and broke down in tears. The tears were tears of happiness at being together and sadness at missing my father.
I met Paul and Brian, two sons of my father’s brother, who I had never met before because they were living out of the county when I visited as child.
We took many priceless pictures and although the lighting was not great in the pub the memories will remain vivid and bright. I am so grateful for having the opportunity to spend the evening with family sharing stories and laughing ourselves silly.