Our final day in Westport was one of a more relaxing drive this morning. We drove out to Balintubber Abbey, built in 1216 by one of the local O’Connor kings, on a site where saint Patrick had built a chapel in 441 AD. It has been said that even during the plundering and mass murders of the Oliver Cromwell period of 1650 to 1652, mass was said every single Sunday since the church was built. It’s a lovely spot and we got a history lesson from a lady on site. They were preparing for a wedding after our visit and I believe I may have seen many of the guests in our hotel tonight showing the signs of a wonderful day of celebration.
We then drove on to Turlough House, built in 1855 by the Fitzgerald family and unfortunately it was closed today as tomorrow happens to be Mayo Day and they were setting up the area for a rock concert. The grounds actually feature the Irish National Folk Heritage Center so we toured through there, looking at Ireland’s history and the real implements used in various trades over the last two hundred years.
Everyone was getting hungry so we headed back to Westport and dropped the group off in the middle of town to fend for themselves until dinner back at the hotel. I was down in the hotel bar when an elderly woman (85) asked to see anyone from the Butte group. She was listening to MidWest Irish Radio this morning and heard two of the Butte people interviewed on the radio. As I was the only one around she sat with me and we talked for two hours. Her father had worked the copper mines in Butte from 1911 to 1917 and only returned because his younger brother had died and he had to take back the running of the family farm. This lady, Delia Sheridan was the last surviving member of her family of ten. She had seven sisters who moved to New York in the ’30’s and ’40’s … give you some idea about the devastation of emigration from Ireland at that time, especially in the West of Ireland.
She knew my father, my aunts, my grandparents, their in-laws etc…and she insisted on paying for the pot of tea. She also ate a plate of fish and chips while we talked.
By the time I got back to my room it was almost dinner time. We had another lovely meal tonight, I had pan fried duck breast and a nice desert. Went across the street to a pub with a few of the group and listened to a guy sing Country and Western songs with backing tracks, sounded like Kenny Rogers in concert if you closed your eyes, not really….he was ok, I enjoyed it….got back safely to my room and I’m off to bed….early rise tomorrow…we’re on the Rocky Road to Dublin in the morning at 9am….will catch up….