Sept 18 Co. Kerry

Just now I’m lying in a bed only a few miles from the 2 story farmhouse where Bridie grew up.  We looked at it from the main street and she said the girls room was the far left, the middle window (also upstairs) was in the hall and the last window was Nana’s bedroom.  Across to the other side was the boy’s room and one other.  Downstairs was a big sitting room, a kitchen, and a back room.  It is midway up a hill and their land for the milking cows went up behind them.  Just down the road toward the Shannon River was the house where John Linnane (our great-grandfather) grew up. 

The town of Ballybunion is only about 1,000 people but it feels big after being in the country.  The beach and the castle remains were very beautiful.  The old curved street of shops persists but with new storefronts.  The Cashen River comes in on the south side and you can drive to it and look across at the Killarney mountains and Dingle mountains.  Apparently there are places in Dingle where they speak Irish (we call it Gaelic but they always say "Irish"). 

We are at Tony’s house and it feels just like a house in the central valley of California—thin doors and walls, simple decorations, views out to horses and pastures and CATs moving around soil.  Farmers in reflective vests are always walking up and down the road—no idea what they are doing but it looks to be a serious matter…probably checking on cows here and there on different plots of land. 

View out of Ton'y front window toward a neighboring house.  John Linnane owned fields on the other side of these hills down to the right outside of this view--that's where Bridie grew up.  If you walk down the road to the left and take the next left you end up on Littor Strand, River Shannon.
Kathleen is really a lovely, excited host.  She stopped at a grocery on the way out and picked up cereal, milk, bread, butter, and tea for us (they just say "grocery" instead of "grocery store").   She also picked up some cake that we ate with tea after 2 heaping bowls of lamb stew.  The chunks of potato and carrots where massive and the lamb was in small pieces and I was pleased to death with the hearty, delicious flavor.  Her daughters seem a bit stunned by our presence.  They are sweet and we all get along well enough.   Con, Kathleen’s husband, is really hard to understand so it took us a while to warm up to him.  Tonight I fell asleep on the couch and he teased Lindsey for singing at the bar last night and I think we bonded in laughter.  They all can’t believe we are going to work on farms so we keep our confident faces and our fingers crossed. 

We watched a video of Bridie and Carol and Peggy when they came to visit in 1977.  Bridie probably just found out she was sick at that point.  Carol was a long-legged, limber little tomboy and Peggy was so small and shy.  Bridie was enigmatic and lovely—smiling and waving real big, talking to everyone.  Kathleen thought she might be able to copy the video sometime.  Kathleen said Bridie sent over a white dress for her first communion—it was to her knees and had a veil.  I guess everyone after her in the family wore it for their communion.  We read a letter from Bridie to Kit from 1976. She said it was hard on her when the family moved because it was hard to make new friends.  Cathy and Patty were at college at the time.  This is the first time I really thought about how it might have been to live in an American suburb with an Irish broke (accent).    

Our great-grandfather John Linnane is buried here

Lindsey falls in love with a milking cow that is sheltered from the rain
Littor Strand along the Shannon
Great-grandfather John Linnane's grave--he was buried with an American flag for his service during World War I.  He was in the next line of soldiers about to go over the hill toward the Germans in the trench when they decided to retreat.
The view from the car as we descend from Kathleen's toward Lisselton/Listowel
The pig races after the horse races.  Look carefully at the pigs.  Irish humor is strange. 

Kathleen's lamb stew recipe: 
serves many

2 lbs lamb, diced
2 spoon of sweet chilli (her favorite ingredient)
bit of S&P

John Linnane is in the back row on the far right with a black cap on.  This is a photo of veterans (I believe from Co. Kerry or maybe even just Listowel) of World War I.

John Linnane's service in U.S. army (from Noel):
Entered service May 21, 1918 in Chicago
# 495 361
More notes but unclear handwriting

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