TRAVEL with pat and lew

finding Pat’s family in Westport

Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 9, 2007

                                   

We’ve finally completed our harrowing drive from Galway to Westport, despite the lack of good directions and the astonishingly vague road signs. Pat is coming to think that maybe her own often terrible sense of direction may be a tribal heritage.

Pull over,” Pat says at a small convenience store on the outskirts of Westport, “and I’ll call Maggie to let her know we’re here.”

There’s a problem. Maggie’s phone number isn’t listed. Now, to me, it seems ridiculous that we’ve taken a train from Dublin to Galway, and now driven to Westport, with no assurance that we can reach any of Pat’s family or that they’ll be home if we do find where they live. Pat had tried to write or email before we left the States, but had not made contact. She is not concerned in the least.

“Let’s find our B&B,” she says. “Then we’ll look for Mary.”

Dubious, I drive on. We find the B&B without difficulty, based on instructions we got at the Dublin Tourist Office. Our suitcases unloaded, we set off.

“Mary lives on that curved street near the church,” Pat says. We’ve been there before, and Westport is a small town. We find the curved street.

“What’s her address?” I ask.

“Not a clue,” Pat says, as she hops out of the car and walks up to a house she has chosen at random. I watch her in animated conversation with the lady in the house.

Pat returns to the car. “Mary lives in the next block, but she may not be home, because she visits with her daughter on Tuesdays.” Everybody knows everything about everyone in Irish neighborhoods.

Pat walks down the street. Soon, looking in the rear view mirror, I see her waving for me to join her.

“Mary’s here, and so is one of her daughters (who lives in England) we’ve never met. We’ll call Maggie from here.”

To me this is a miracle, but to Pat it’s exactly what she expected all along. The first time she went to visit her relatives in Westport was an even more unlikely story. All she had then was a name. So she went to the Post Office.

“Do you know where Mary Rooney lives?” she asked.

“And who would be asking?” the postal clerk responded.

“I’m her relative from the States.”

“Well, would you know, Mary Rooney is my mother.”

The postal clerk closed the post office, and later all the Rooney children were excused from school to come home and “meet the Yanks.”

Is it any wonder why I love Ireland so much? If this is all new to you, get the BallyK DVDs and enjoy. See our posting …  Ballykissangel (actually Avoca).

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