In New York

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Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Notes from Travel Diary

Wednesday 14th August. Dingle.

Fifth full day here and after initial disappointment on arrival, it's all working out much better than expected. Roch, Tom and I got here on Saturday about 4.30pm. We had gorgeous sunny weather all the way from Dublin to Tralee, but hard rain followed us from Tralee to Dingle. As we stretched cramped limbs in pouring rain and surveyed the scene, Tom and I soon realised that the cottage was not as accessible as advertised. We faced a steep incline up from the parking area to a path which leads directly to the cottage door. The gradient is clearly unsuitable for wheelchair access. The next day we worked out a better place to park and a better way to get Roch in - although not ideal, as the pavement is not dropped at any point, and the path is still quite steep - it is much safer than the path which leads directly from the main car parking area. Anyway, our first impression was not good and after a rather hazardous push (Tom pushed the wheelchair, I pushed Tom!) up the hill, we made it into the cottage. We felt rather better having established Roch inside and braved the elements to return with mouth watering fish and chips from the village. It didn't stop us devouring Maura's delicious pasta dish later! Kate travelled with Maura and they arrived at the cottage a couple of hours after us.
Thank God for the ramp, supplied on loan from the Irish MND Association. Without it, there is no way Roch could have access to the patio area, as promised, for the ritual cigar. The riser recliner chair and toilet frame arrived on Monday and greatly add to Roch's comfort here.

The view from the cottage

Sunday saw us renewing acquaintance with Lerick A and his small daughter Angie - it will also live in my memory as the day of the endless ham, which took forever to cook - although we couldn't have managed at all without the pot supplied by Lerick's fear an ti*.  Lerick and Angie accompanied us on our hair raising 'spin' around Slea Head in the afternoon, as Roch was anxious to re-visit the old haunts from bygone Maher family holidays and we drove to the Winestrand, scene of countless swims in the pitiless cold seas - hardy youngsters - where a voice from the past hailed Roch - I ask you, first full day in the place and we meet someone who knows him! Great to see you again, Mairead! The first drive was to be a mere shadow of Roch's 'Memory Day' to come on Tuesday, when Paudie organised the tour proper for Roch, their sisters Mariannne and Laura, and his wife Ger. A real trip down memory lane and a great day out for them all. A hot, sunshiny day, with plenty of laughs mixed I think with a good deal of nostalgia.

Muireach - the old house
Lerick stands guard in the Dingle rain as Roch enjoys a cigar

Maura, Tom, Kate and I headed off on a boat trip to see the famous Dingle dolphin. Funghie did not disappoint and showed up on cue to entertain. Afterwards, we headed to the Winestrand where I surprised myself by braving the freezing waves. I don't think I really warmed up again until after the family meal at the Skellig Hotel - ten of us gathered together to celebrate the occasion while Maher memories were shared.

We were expecting hurricane weather today and it's been windy and showery, but no hurricane so far. We have a magnificent view of Dingle bay from here, right out on the patio. A quiet day. I think Roch is tired after all the activity yesterday. I took a walk into the town and enjoyed a bit of solitude, even the rain didn't bother me. But as I trundled round the damp streets I felt myself becoming heavy hearted and experienced that peculiar detached feeling I get sometimes when alone and not distracted by conversation or the company of others.  In Dingle bookshop as I stood at the counter, waiting to make my purchase, I was aware of the presence of other customers and watched their interaction with the bookseller as from a distance, although standing close to them. Like an actor in a play, or like watching somebody else play the part of me. Later, a meaningless conversation with  a heavily pregnant young woman in a Chemist shop - what product would be best for brittle nails, we pondered. I felt like a pretender, in fact, I was pretending - actually I couldn't have cared less. 

*fear/bean an ti = literally translated from the Irish it means 'man/woman of the house' but used in common parlance meaning the proprietor of a guest house.

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