Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ireland- Day 3- Carrick-on-Shannon to Riverstown/Coopershill via Collooney

My trip to Ireland this year is only happening because of an award I won earlier this year through my amazing company. I work with some of the smartest, kindest, most compassionate people and to win the Heart & Soul award was mind-blowing and an incredible honor.

The prize each award winner gets is specifically targeted to their likes and interests. So it wasn’t hard for the company to determine what to get me. My Heart & Soul award earned me a free airline ticket from LA to Dublin. And with the leftover money, I decided to find a nice place to splurge for two nights while I’ve on the solo portion of this trip.

So for the next two nights I’m staying at the Coopershill House in Riverstown, County Sligo.

It was a short drive from Gene’s and I got a much later start to my day than I had planned. Apart from keeping Gene company after he got an unsettling call that left him literally shaking and rattled, I stopped by Gorgeous George’s beautiful home in Elphin, the next town over.

My visit with George is another thing that puts a smile on my face. I just love that I’ve come to know these people well enough to ring them up and pop in their house. George was kind enough to let me stop by en route to Riverstown and we had a nice visit where he filled me in on some of the back story of Gene setting up his B&B and told this hilarious story about the one (and only) time he went fishing with Gene. I was laughing so hard and even still, hours later, can’t wipe the smirk off my face thinking about what George said about the experience.

En route to Riverstown and after leaving George, I went into town to try and get something to eat. I’ve done a remarkable job so far on this trip of not eating a ton of crap and it’s definitely helped to make me feel better about myself. But, after not having anything other than an apple all day, I was finding myself in desperate need of food. Unfortunately there wasn’t anything open in town and so I drove past Coopershill for the second time and drove to a town called Collooney.

I walked into the Owenmore Inn looking for food and instead found a really chatty guy who told me I couldn’t find food there, but I could find a pint. He asked what I was hungry for and when I said a sandwich, he told me that I could go down a few doors and pick something up there. “I’ll go and get it for ya. You stay here and enjoy a pint.”

I had to laugh at his tactics, but assured him I’d go and get my own food and was thankful for his offer! He encouraged me to get the food to go and come back and enjoy a drink. Having nothing else to do and figuring, why the hell not, I did just that. When I walked back into the pub, John was just as happy to see me and offered to get me a cup of tea. When I told him I’d go for a pint, he called out to the bartender to get me one and paid for it before I had any idea what was happening.

We talked easily for an hour. John did more talking than I did and after immediately finding out that I was “Molly from California”, he introduced me that way to any new person who walked into the pub. He also introduced me to Paddy “He has 1000 sheep.” And another man sitting next to him, Jerry, who didn’t seem to be all there.

John was a total trip. A very very  nice man who was easy to talk with and fun to share my meal with- he helped me with the very large order of chips I got with my chicken sandwich. He called over to “the woman of the house” Theresa, who owns the pub with her husband, Joseph.

She sat down and talked with me for a while, recalling her recent trip to NYC she took with one of her daughters and two of her granddaughters, visiting family in Yonkers. She insisted on buying me another pint, even though I tried very hard to turn it down. And John insisted on us getting out picture taken together (me and Theresa) so it could go up on the pub’s Facebook page. John also had no problem offering me a place to stay at Theresa’s, “You didn’t book up already for the two nights did you? Cause if you didn’t, you can stay at Theresa’s. She’d be happy to have you there. It’s a great place. Very comfortable.” I looked amusingly over at Theresa wondering what her response would be to John offering her home to a total stranger, and she said “He’s right. You’d be welcome there. Any time. Next visit.”

It’s stuff like this that makes me fall in love with Ireland over and over again. I have no doubt that I actually could stay at Theresa’s if it came to it- not that it will. But the Irish really are such generous and kind people. I love how welcome and trusting they are and how genuinely interested in you they become. I mean, I will give myself some credit here. Obviously I bring something to the table if they’re able to make offers like that. But still…

Although Theresa offered me another pint, I had to turn it down and get on my way to Coopershill. I had wanted to be there earlier in the day so I could enjoy the grounds and get out and about and walk around. But in the end, I’m okay with how my day played out. I’m grateful for the unexpected visit with George, getting to see his beautiful home, for the incredibly warm welcome to Collooney and for meeting new friends. It was hard to turn the pint down and to walk away from what I knew was going to be lively and engaging conversation, but I had places to be!

The drive back to Cooopershill was quick and easy. I drove up the long and winding and narrow driveway and passed a huge pasture filled with deer (which may end up being my dinner tomorrow night- yes, I’m being serious). I parked the car in front of the beautiful, large manor and was greeted by Simon O’Hara who carried my bag into the house and up the grand staircase into my room (theYellow Room, which I requested because I wanted a bathtub).

No sooner than he left me, I ran a bath and enjoyed the first bit of true relaxation I’ve been able to enjoy on the trip. While I’ve most certainly had some peace and quiet already on the trip, sinking into the bathtub and looking out at the beautifully colored ever-changing trees, I let out a deep breath and let myself enjoy the feeling of letting go. After the bath I got into the comfortable queen-sized bed and set out to read. I couldn’t keep my eyes open for long and when I woke up nearly two hours later, I felt like I could easily close my eyes and go to bed for the rest of the night.

Forcing myself from bed, I explored the house just a little bit more. While most of the guests were enjoying dinner, I sat in the entryway, near the fireplace and in the company of animals stuffed and mounted all over the place, catching up on email, Facebook and Instagram.

It’s been nice to be disconnected, although a little unsettling all the same. But I’m learning to try and be okay with that. And to sit in what’s uncomfortable. As I’m typing this up, there’s not a peep in the house and while I’m enjoying the silence, it’s also a little unnerving. Being by myself is not something I do easily or often. I really have to force myself to be in my own company. While it may put me off a bit, it’s something I know I have to be better about. I need to be with my own thoughts and feelings and this trip and these two quiet days are good for me, even if I do feel twitches of needing to check email or fool around online. I’m resisting those urges and enjoying writing and reading and relaxing. I know I’ll be happier for it.

Tonight I’ll enjoy a long night of sleep and tomorrow I’m very much looking forward to exploring the grounds, trying the (farm to fork) food and deepening the relaxtion! 



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