Irish Gathering 2013

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Along the road near Leenane

Genealogy Adventure: A Joyce’s Return to the Homeland – Day 2: The Delphi Experience

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Day 2: The Delphi Experience

Missed how all this started? Read part 1 Genealogy Adventure: A Joyce’s Return to the Homeland – The Bet and part 2 Genealogy Adventure: A Joyce’s Return to the Homeland – Day 1: Into the West.

I awake and have no idea what time it is. I’ve slipped quickly into Delphi mode. At the resort, there are no TVs and getting a signal for your mobile phone requires hiking 750 feet up the nearest mountain. For me, this is heaven. I breakfast with Stephen and discuss the plan of action for the day. He suggest a bike ride up to the Doolough Pass, with a quick hike up the Sheffry hills to get us warmed up for sea kayaking. I try to look enthusiastic and mention that I was in a musician for ten years. Hence, I have the bones structure of an eighty year old well digger. He laughs and leads me out to the bike shed, I mournfully follow.

Doo Lough

Doo Lough

Biking is a great way to see Connemara. Life is much slower here, even the ponies have shorter legs, they are not in a rush to get anywhere. I use this stratagem when taking on the Doo Lough Pass. Doo Lough itself is as deep as the mountain is high which towers over it and black as Guinness. Stephen and I are awestruck by the beauty of the natural landscape in the area and curse ourselves for not holidaying more in Ireland. It really is stunningly beautiful. At least that’s what I keep telling Stephen so I can stop and take picture and catch my breath. Sheep occasionally jump down from the mountain and catch me off-guard. Stephen cycles at 40km/h and shouts over his shoulder at me as he recounts life on a sheep farm back home in New Zealand. He cycles a full two miles before he realizes I’ve come off my bike.

Cycling Doo Lough Pass

Cycling Doo Lough Pass

Sea Kayaking at 2pm and pensively I rationalize, there must be some Joyce’s working in the bay as fishermen. I can get really close to them in a kayak. Stephen helps me get into a wetsuit in the rain. I feel like a Clonakilty pudding and when I ask him if my bum looks big in it, he just laughs. He’s been doing that a lot on this trip, next time I may have to bring an Aussie. I tell him this, he doesn’t laugh.

Clonakilty Pudding

Clonakilty Pudding *

James, who is our Kayaking instructor for the afternoon, leads myself, Stephen and three other couples down to the edge of Killary Harbour. We go through some basic safety rules and get our operation instructions and then it’s pretty much heave-ho off the shoreline. I am surprisingly comfortable in a sea kayak and turn around to brag to Stephen. He’s about 200 yards ahead of me, his Māori lineage helping him slice directly through the waves. The water in the inlets of the fjord is fresh and eventually when we get further out into deeper water, the salt water tells us we’re starting to suck diesel. The water is warm today as cloud has gathered in the afternoon and it’s very pleasant to be splashed by the deep Prussian blue salt water. We stop at an underwater mussel farm in the harbour. Each buoy which floats in a long line of buoys, holds a heavy rope of mussels underneath. It takes up to three years for the mussels to fully develop underneath. So there’s not really any need for fishermen to be around them today. All other fishermen are much further out to sea, James informs me. No Joyce relatives on the water today. We head back inland after an hour or two on the water. I’m famished and thinking about mussels in white wine, tomato and herb sauce. After we dock, James our instructor takes a running jump off the pier and into the sea. For some strange reason, everyone in our party follows like lemmings. Call it crowd mentality or confusion from our group as to whether this was still part of the kayaking lesson, but Delphi is like that. It just gets to you. It gets under your skin and before you know it, you’re launching yourself off a pier into Atlantic waters. I am wondering how many of my relatives had done this in previous years at this exact pier before the bad angle at which I enter the water brings me crashing back to reality. The Dublin in me reminds me my health insurance isn’t up to date and I crawl into the back of the Vanette with the others, thankful I haven’t broken anything. We sit like wet seals in our suits as they squeak against the black sacks covering the seats while the windows mist up on the way back to the hotel.

Along the road near Leenane

Along the road near Leenane

After a quick dip in the Jacuzzi and steam room, Stephen and I wolf down some mussels at the Hotel Bar. Corina isn’t working tonight and I find myself missing her company. I ask Orsi at reception where the best seafood Restaurant is in the area, she tells me The Portfin in Leenane. She very kindly makes a reservation for 8.15pm for me. Stephen and I arrive in the drivings of rain and this place looks fantastic. It’s full of locals and our waitress explains two big parties will be in later that night. I ask around on my way to the toilet if any of the staff or patrons are Joyce’s. They all reply in the negative. Even the restaurant manager is from Dublin, I am disappointed to find out. I feel as though my clan are hiding up the mountains and when I go up, they head down the other side. When Stephen goes to the toilet, I try and cheat using his smart phone to search for Joyce’s in the area through an Eircom site. No dice. He has disabled the Internet option. Alex must have got to him. I have scallops and crabs claws which are delicious and we split a banoffee pie. We stop for a pint in Gaynor’s bar, which was famously featured in the movie the field. No Joyce’s in tonight. I go to bed with a full belly and a heavy heart.

Come back for the final day of Chris’s adventure after the weekend …

*Photograph by Georgina Ingham

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