New England Blogs

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Loughrea Ireland

******TRAVEL TUESDAY******

Today's travel post takes us to Loughrea, in County Galway Ireland......more specifically, the area of Baileban, which translated in Gaelic means "The Land of the Whites" We spent an incredible day with our relatives from my paternal grandfather's side of the family. They were so kind and welcoming. My Dad's first cousin, Bridie, rode on the bus with us for the day. She is an amazing woman......her memory is incredible and her mind is tack sharp. She is such a special person......gentle, kind, of those people who has a loving aura around them and makes you feel like a better person for knowing them. I know that may sound corny, but it's the best way I can think of to describe her.

Bridie led our bus driver to Baileban, the Whyte Family property. It was such an incredible experience to be where my family originated. So much family history there!

The road along the family land:

My maiden name was White. My father's name was John White. His father's name (My grandfather) was William Whyte. The spelling of the family name changed at the Port of Boston to White when William arrived in America.  William was born into a loving family in Baileban, in 1888.  This is the house (which is now a storage shed) that my grandfather Willie was born in:

I can't even find the words to describe how incredible it was to be standing where my Grandfather was born and where he grew up. It touched my heart!

What an amazing experience it was to visit the family cemetery located on the land. I knew we were going to visit the cemetery but I never knew there was a little church on the property as well.

This next video embodies what this trip personally meant to me. I wasn't going to share this because it's so personal, but I decided to share it anyway. This is a video taken at the family cemetery of some of us meeting our cousin Bernie for the first time. I got rather emotional (I'm an emotional person by nature, what can I say?) :-) I'm wearing my heart on my sleeve by sharing this, but it truly signifies what this trip meant to me:

This is the gravestone of my Great Grandparents and three of their children, who were my Grandfather Willie's siblings. It breaks my heart to think of the heart ache that my Great Grandparents endured. Three of their children, including my grand father Willie emigrated to the United States *Willie was 18 yrs old when he left Ireland* and they never saw them again. Within the next couple of years, three of their other children passed way. This left them with one remaining child at home. Such an incredible loss for them.

Traveling along the family land, we passed this little bridge that ran over a small river. In my mind I could picture my Grandfather and his siblings playing in the water along the river so I snapped this photo out the bus window. I later asked Bridie if my grandfather played in that river and she replied with a resounding "Oh yes"

After we left Baileban, our bus driver drove us through downtown Lochrea, It was so amazing to see this little town, as throughout my life I would always hear about Louchrea and to be there myself was almost surreal.

We stopped to visit the Carmelite Abby in Loughrea. We first visited the churchyard and cemetery where the ruins of the original church remain.

We then went inside the current church

I lit a candle

We then headed to our final destination of the day.......the beautiful Loughrea Hotel......where the ten of us were invited to the 40th wedding anniversary party of our cousin Petula and her husband Willie. They are such a beautiful loving couple, and it was such an amazing experience to be gathered with our entire "Irish" family. We were served drink and appetizers at the rooftop deck, followed by a delicious dinner downstairs in the ballroom with music and dancing. It is another day I will never forget, and their hospitality meant the world to me.

Here is a group photo of us. I'm not sure who I passed my phone to so I'm not able to give photo credit to whoever took this group photo.

I never once used my Nikon on this day so all of these photos were taken with my Iphone. This day was all about the experience and about family!! I hope you enjoyed this personal blog post. This was the last day spent with our Irish family, and the future TRAVEL blog posts will be featuring photos from other various places in Ireland.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Lotus Flowers

Each July I visit a local water garden to photograph the lotus flowers. I always enjoy photographing these beautiful flowers, and every year I always seem to find something different. I went first thing in the morning the other day, after a night of rainfall. This provided some nice water drops on the flowers.

I also found a nice reflection this year.

Some flowers were just past bloom

Some were beginning to open up

Some were perfectly opened

And some were hugging their friends!

I'm planning on returning to this water garden next week. If I do, I will probably have a few different photos to post.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Brideswell, County Roscommon Ireland

******TRAVEL TUESDAY*******

I'm very excited to share today's travel post with you. This post is about day three of my recent trip to Ireland. It was a day spent with my Irish relatives on my paternal grandmothers side of the family.

My grandmother, Delia Hamrock, was born in 1888 in the very small village of Brideswell, located in County Roscommon Ireland. Delia had seven siblings. Her father's name was John Hamrock, and her mother's name was Mary (Geraghty)  Hamrock. Delia emigrated to the US 18 April 1906, from Queenstown (Which is now Cobh) Ireland.

The River Suck, which is a tributary to the Shannon River, flows through the village of Brideswell:

The Hamrock homestead in Brideswell has gone into disrepair, and only one wall remains standing. Here is a photo of Miss J and I at the family home: (Photo credit my cousin MaryCatherine)

I can't even put into words how incredible it was to spend time with our Irish relatives, and I especially can't even find the words to describe how hospitable they were. I had gown up hearing about the "Irish hospitality" but to experience it first hand was beyond my expectations. Our cousin Teresa had us over to her beautiful home and gardens for "tea". It was lovely and we were served delicious homemade breads and jams........the conversation flowed smoothly.......and I felt like I was "home".
A video of Teresa’s lovely garden:

 Gramaphone from the old Brideswell home:

The whole group of extended family at Teresa's house: (Photo credit to Victor, our bus driver)

After tea, our cousin Aiden hopped on or bus with us and directed our driver to the cemetery where our relatives are buried. Aiden's brothers Michael and Sheamus met us at the cemetery.

The first burial inside the church was around 1600. It stopped being used as a church shortly after that because of the Reformation, which outlawed the practice of Catholicism. The Reformation was about 30-40 years before that, but according to the local historian, it would have taken that many years for the idea of the reformation to get down there. 

The landscape in County Roscommon was mostly flat farmland with miles and miles and miles of fields and stonewalls.

This was taken out of the moving bus window:

We stopped to see our Uncle Johnnie Hamrock's house and bike. He rode this bike well into his 90's and it has become quite the conversation piece! (My nephew Brian)

We also visited the school that my grandmother attended:

And we visited St Brigid's Well located beside the school:

The family then had a gathering for us at Hamrock's Bar in Brideswell with sandwiches and drinks being served. I had always heard of Hamrock's Pub and it was so exciting to be there. What a quaint little place this is......a very comfortable spot to sit and have a pint!

Notice what's hanging on the wall behind my Sister. I love how the NE Patriots were represented there!!!!

From here, we departed Brideswell and headed to the nearby town of Athlone to have a pint at Sean's Bar.......which is a very famous bar and is said to be not only the oldest bar in Ireland, but perhaps the oldest bar in the world!

I hope you enjoyed this post.......I know it is more personal than my typical blog posts and some of the photos are just record shots, but it was such a special day in my life and I really wanted to share it here on the blog. The next TRAVEL post that I'm putting up will feature more family photos.......this time from my paternal grandfathers side of the family. It was another unforgettable day.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Connemara Ireland Photos

******TRAVEL TUESDAY*******

Welcome to another travel day outside of New England. Today I am happy to share with you some details and photos about day two of my recent trip to Ireland.
We woke up in our Galway penthouse to mostly cloudy skies. Our bus driver Victor promptly picked the ten of us up at ten AM where we began our drive up to the beautiful Connemara region of Galway. I have always wanted to go to Connemara. There is something about the wild and rugged landscape that had drawn me to this area, and it didn't disappoint.

Our first stop of the morning was at this adorable little drive up coffee truck located roadside just out of Galway City.. It's owned and run by a brother and sister team. They couldn't have been any nicer, and their coffee and breakfast goodies were delicious.

 Here's the first stop we made in the Connemara region. The scenery up in that area is simply breathtaking!

We arrived at Connemara National Park where we dropped off the three guys in our group who spent the majority of the day hiking a mountain. Our driver Victor then took all of us girls to the adorable quaint fishing village of Cleggan for lunch. By the end of the trip, our slogan was "In Victor we trust", as all of his suggestions for us were perfect!!!!
This is our ride for the ten days parked out back behind the restaurant "Oliver's Seafood Bar"

Cleggan Harbor......the view from the restaurant:

My lunch that day: Seafood chowder. I had read that Ireland has good seafood chowder and I can attest to that fact. This was delicious! I also ordered it for lunch another day in a different area of Ireland and it was just as delicious. If you ever go to Ireland, I highly recommend it!

Another harbor view....such an adorable little fishing village.

After lunch, Victor drove us to a hidden gem of a beach. I'm not sure the name of it, but it was about a ten minute drive from Cleggan Village. I just loved this little hidden oasis. It is located way off the beaten path and it felt as though we had the world to ourselves.

Miss J, my niece Kristen, my sister Kathleen:

Miss J

From here, we returned to pick up the hikers in our group......they had a fantastic hike and all three of them came back with smiles on their faces and beautiful photos from their hike. The rest of the day was spent touring some of the off the beaten path roads of Connemara. We had very changeable skies that day which created some very nice drama for photography. 

So many sheep lining the roads!

A Connemara Pony

My cousin BettyAnn on top of the world

There is so much more of the Connemara region that I would love to see. One day just wasn't enough.....but I will return some day. The rugged wild beauty of this area is calling me back. I absolutely loved it.
Stay tuned for the next travel post which will feature a day spent in County Roscommon with our Irish relatives. I'm excited to share it with you. It was incredible.