Day 1: Into the West
Missed how all this started? Read part 1 of Genealogy Adventure: A Joyce’s Return to the Homeland – The Bet …
The following Friday I started on the road to Galway at 9.30am. I convinced my Kiwi friend Stephen to come along to witness and document my glory. I booked us into The Delphi Mountain Resort, right wham-bam in the middle of Joyce Country. He’s very outdoorsy and the adventure centre would keep him happy while I was hatching my plans in the spa jacuzzi.
We arrived at Oughterard just after noon and decided to take in Aughnanure Tower Castle beside Lough Corrib. It was Built by the O’Flahertys c. 1500. It’s worth mentioning now that my Mother is an O’Flaherty and I have the blood of Grace O’Malley running through my veins. This explains my aversion to authority and my stout seadog legs. The O’Flaherty family motto is “Fortune favours the strong”. I felt I was now on the right path and Alex should invest in a sturdy pair of knee pads. I picnic here with Stephen and take in my relatives handiwork from a distance over a ham sandwich. It’s a solid and dominating structure with a lower level storage room at ground level with two banqueting halls above. There are toilet facilities on each of the higher levels so the party goers didn’t have to leave the comfort of the heated large rooms with immense fireplaces. The second and first floor both have fabulous vistas out of the north and south landscapes. There are arrow holes over the main doors for protection purposes. I’ll have to get one of them for the TV license inspector. We get back to the tour mobile and drive for ten minutes. Suddenly, Stephen pulls the hand break and leaps from the car. He jumps into Lough Corrib and yelps with the cold. Kiwi’s are prone to doing things like that. It’s their southern hemisphere polar magnets. Don’t get me started.
Onwards through The Western Way, Lough Corrib grows smaller on our right and Joyce Country descends from the Heavens and rises up in mountainous form. I really am quite overwhelmed when I see my mountain in the thick of Joyce Country named “Bunnacunneen”, standing all 577 feet proud. I dry my eyes and we head for Leenane, a small fishing village in Killary Harbour. A short drive around the fjord takes us through a gap in the mountains and we reach our lodging for the next three nights at the foot of Ben Creegan. Delphi Mountain Resort is situated 10 minutes walk from Delphi Lodge which was built in the 1830’s by The Marquis of Sligo. The name “Delphi” coming from the site at which the Delphic Oracle resided in the valley Phocis where Apollo Slew a dragon named Python. With my mind buzzing with the thoughts of a dragon descending Ben Creggan and killing me before I finish my mission, I head for the spa to build up an appetite. After a spell in the spa and a splendid Lamb dinner with Stephen in the hotel dinner, we head for the bar where Stephen runs into a fellow New Zealander Corina, a manager in the resort. Are you paying attention Alex? Southern Hemisphere Regional Inconceivable Magnetism Polarised. S.H.R.I.M.P. I’m working on the t-shirt design on the back of a beer mat in the bar when Corina, fellow go-getter outdoorsy type signs us up for sea-kayaking tomorrow at 2pm. I lie and tell her I’m already booked in for a facial at that time. Being the great manager she is, she says she can re-arranges my spa appointment. I tell her I’m psyched, have a double Irish and head for for the thatch. I dream I’m eaten by a giant underwater dragon in Killary harbour that night. Stephen can only identify me by my dental records, worse still … Alex wins the bet.