When we were kids, our parents pulled us out of school and took us to Ireland. The age ranges of the O’Malley children at that time went from 14 (me) to 4 (Siobhan). Dad was on sabbatical and he took us with. The memories of that trip are, yes, encapsulated in my journal, but they are also so fresh in my mind. It’s such a daunting thing to think of now – how did Mum and Dad manage? But they did. We traveled around, we visited relatives, we lived in B&Bs, we packed the six of us into a tiny car, and we did TONS of stuff. It was exhausting (especially if you are 14 years old and slightly cranky at all times), but so amazing in retrospect and I am so glad Mum and Dad had the gumption to do it. I had assignments from school I had to work on while I was over there, and I did a lot of complaining in my journal (whatever, I was 14), but I love all of the stories and memories. Here is a journal entry from our arrival in Cork.
We left bright and early for Cork. I was so exhausted I slept the whole way.
Today is sort of grey but not bad. [Sheila, you’re in Ireland. Of course it’s grey.] We are staying in the St. Kilda’s B&B, a huge brick house in town. Cork – oh, I have been waiting to be in a really big city for a long time. The bustle — the drive — I love it. Our rooms are really large and I have a double bed all to myself. To be truthful, though, the view from the window stinks. An alley with clothes hanging out on lines. Oh, well. I love the city. [Good for you, Sheila. Stop complaining. I know you’re 14 years old, but seriously. Stop it.]
After we settled down and I relaxed, we walked into town to find a coffee shop. I watched all the kids in uniforms come flooding out of the schools for lunch. It took us a while to find a place but we spotted a cafe in this huge internal mall that sold sugar doughnuts. The stools were really high. The doughnuts were all right, to say the most. [Wow! Harsh! Sheila – why are you judging the doughnuts so contemptuously?] Since it was lunch hour, 1000s of kids were in every coffee shop we passed and sitting out on steps and benches. They practically take over Cork for an hour. [When I was in Ireland at that age, I absolutely loved seeing kids my own age, and seeing what they did, what they wore. It was an eye-opening experience, one I am very glad I had at a young age. To see your peers, doing their thing, out in the country towns, in the cities, wherever … really gave a nice sense of how big the world is, but also how everyone is up to the same damn thing no matter where you go.]
After a while, we got up and started to look around the mall. They had a great bookstore and a great poster store with posters of Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, and … drumroll … HARRISON FORD!!! [Bogart, Monroe, and Dean don’t get the drumroll. Not that there’s anything wrong with Harrison Ford. I love him to this day. Also, I hate how often I use the “drumroll” in my high school diaries. I wish I hadn’t gone there so repeatedly.] Oh, I wanted it so much, and I still can’t figure out why I didn’t ask Mum. [Huh? How much was the poster? Was it a 30 dollar poster? Why does Mum have anything to do with you buying a stupid poster of drumroll Harrison Ford?]
We went outside and while Mum and Jean went to the Tourist Office, me, Dad, Bren, and Siobhan sat down beside the river (very polluted). [Sheila, stop judging Cork.] It was so so sunny and bright. Everything glared and we had to squint. The park was quiet, in great contrast to the mad rush of millions of kids a quarter of an hour ago. Siobhan got big thrills by throwing rocks in the water [Siobhan was four years old at the time. I love the memory of her in Ireland, the wee thing!] and all that sun on my back was starting to make me drowsy. I put my head down and dozed off until Mum and Jean came back. They had a few pamphlets on tourist things in Cork. Dad wanted to go back to some bookstores and Jean and Siobhan were dying to go on a double-decker bus.
And so we went back to the Tourist Office, a cool soft place with no blaring lights [You act like being in the sunlight is akin to standing in the glare of a klieg light, Sheila. Relax.] to find out where to get on the bus. So we went back out. Oh, I love the city. There was a big fountain and everything on the go. Stripes is playing at the cinema. Bill Murray’s face makes me laugh. [Still does.] We found the bus stop and just in time. A big shiny green double-decker was waiting. We ran on, went up the stairway, and sat down up front. I wasn’t really sweating in the thrill of it all, but it was neat to be so high. [GOD! That is SO OBNOXIOUS! Jean, Siobhan, I apologize. I’m sure I was just as thrilled as they were, but I acted all nonchalant and over it. “Yeah, whatever, I’m just goin’ on a double-decker bus … in Cork … No big deal … But what REALLY excites me is … drumroll, please … a poster of Harrison Ford…”]
But we had to get off two bus-stops later, right after the conductor collected our fare.
We came back up to our rooms and I studied English for a while, so I could watch Trapper John, M.D., with gorgeous Gregory Harrison. [Hahahahahahahahaha] I really got a lot done, so I drew for a while while Mum and Dad went out to supper. [I love that Mum and Dad basically ditched their four kids in the B&B and went out to a pub together. Good for them. We were fine.] When it was 7:55 (TV shows are always on at the strangest times here), we all trooped down the stairs to the lounge, a nice comfy room with a big heater. A girl, Paula (13) was there doing her homework. I liked the look of her at first, but then when Gregory came on and I said, “Oh, I like him”, she snorted and covered her mouth. And through the whole show, she kept groaning and flipping through all her school books, wanting us to think, “Oh, my, what a lot of hard work she has. Irish kids have so much homework.” I didn’t say a word. [Hahaha. A little adolescent girl standoff. I completely remember the heavy annoyed sighs of Paula, the irritable Irish girl. I set my jaw and REFUSED to be impressed with how much homework she had. It was the least I could do for my country.]
Dad found a bookstore with all these second-hand Enid Blyton’s for only 35p each. So he’s going to let me buy them all!! YAY! [The thought of my father, Irish scholar, Irish book collector, browsing the shelves, and seeing the Enid Blyton’s and thinking of me, makes my heart crack with love. He was the best dad. What is so amusing here, though, is that I am in IRELAND and I am dying to buy things I just as easily could buy at the Midland Mall back home. But I knew in my heart that it would be DIFFERENT, and more “special” if I bought an Enid Blyton book in Ireland – It would be very very very different. I still have those Enid Blyton’s from Ireland, by the way.]