I wanted to stay there!! – (above Florrie with Trish)
I’d had a taste of green, soft, Irish, sights, sounds, colour (grey) 🙂 pubs, food, Grafton Street, O’Connell Street, Ha’penny Bridge, Stephens Green, Trinity College (again; wish I could go there!) visiting Florrie in Fourth Avenue, buses cleaner than in the 80s, bus out to Celbridge, three storey bookshop (Grafton Street) cakes, Butlers chocolate/toffees, RAIN, green, green, green – great for the soul!!
It felt like home – in my genes; in my cells!
I love Australia for all its faults, but the one thing that really kills me is the landscape! This won’t gell with many of you because lots of the people I know are attached to the land, particularly in country Australia. It’s a harsh and unforgiving landscape and for me it eats at and attacks the soul. It is the most stressful part of living in Australia. When is this alleviated? Early in the growing season when suddenly everything is green; for a second! Some people may cultivate a luscious garden, but with a lot of toil and use of precious water. It’s a lot of work finding the ‘soft’ in the Australian landscape.
Of course, this is very personal to me and everyone else is entitled to feel differently!
I didn’t need to SEE anyone; I could have just BEEN. And that is probably what I needed to stay there for.
I made the effort to catch up with some family; but not many were available. Anyone in touch with me on Facebook has known for about two years that we were going to be visiting in 2013. There were two particular relatives that I was surprised were unavailable and one old friend (but her father has recently passed, so understandable). The old boyfriend is a worry! Maybe it’s a good thing we didn’t end up together. He couldn’t make a decision and in the end I said “it’s obviously not high on your agenda; we’ve only a few days, so don’t worry about it!” Funny thing is that he hasn’t said anything to that, but still comes on line on Skype every day, so he hasn’t disconnected.
The voice in my head is saying “dude, you weren’t really fussed if you didn’t catch up with anyone – except for Florrie – so it doesn’t matter” But of course it does! Even anti-social gits like me want to be wanted! (People, you know me! I’m private and reserved and not a people person – it isn’t me!)
So, we did catch up with some relatives – one lovely girl totally unknown before Facebook contact – Pamela; daughter of Aunty Teresa (and therefore cousin). Pamela is so gorgeous! She is loud and funny and articulate and Irish – and so welcoming!
We had dinner with Pamela on our first evening in Dublin at the North Star Hotel. Pamela was more excited at the recent refurbishments (I think 🙂 ) than catching up with her Aussie cousin (and Eric!!!) It was a really nice evening; easy. Like when we caught up with Rachel in the UK – no awkwardness at all. Thanks Pamela!
They say Dublin is a village – and here’s proof! We were staying at Cassidy’s Hotel in Upper O’Connell Street and went walking down to Grafton Street and surrounds, and who do we run into? Pamela! Just finished work and on her way to the airport for her visit to Glasgow. When you’re in a city (of approximately 1.5 million) where you don’t expect to meet someone you know and suddenly there’s a friendly madwoman waving at you (sorry, I mean friendly woman waving madly! 🙂 ) it feels awesome! Just as it did when we first met at the Spire on the Tuesday (newest favorite meeting place in Dublin) – hello, friendly face waving!
We grew up knowing the Byrne side of the family (mum) much more than the Shelleys (dad). I think that’s probably normal – women make the effort to keep the social familial stuff happening and it (again) makes sense that it’s easier to do that with your own family than the in-laws. Add to that, the Shelleys are very private and keep to themselves a lot – we don’t know the Shelleys very well.
Pamela is a Shelley and not only are we alike in our attitude and likes – we knew we were Shelleys!! As we’ve lived in Australia most of our lives anytime we’d say ‘it’s a Shelley thing’ we mostly mean’t as in the six of us! What I realized, beginning with Pamela is that the traits we recognize as Shelley are across the board – being reserved and private, being at the top of the list!
We caught up with Davy Shelley (uncle) too – travelled by bus out to Donaghmede. I remember Davy and his lovely wife Emily from my visit with them in the early 80s. Davy is a widower now and instead of inviting us to his ‘bachelor pad’ we visited with Tracey (cousin) her daughter Hannah and little Alex. AND that was easy too! He is lovely and from the moment I spoke to him on the phone, I could hear my dad! They laugh the same, make the same faces – dad has more hair!!! LOL 🙂
Even though most of his kids live close by they still keep to themselves a lot – although Davy is clearly proud of them and close to them all! It’s beautiful seeing the loving relationship he has with Hannah, who is a very lovely girl! Thank you Davy and Tracey for the very warm welcome; we loved it! Davy and I have been ‘friends’ on Facebook for a little while. Now we know each other and it will be a warmer Facebook friendship!
As I said earlier we were closer to the Byrnes growing up and although we couldn’t catch up with Greg and Emmett (best bud cousins in childhood) we did visit with cousin Kevin and his wife Fiona and children Philip, Rafe and Roisin – and with aunty Florrie and her husband Frank.
Last I knew Kevin he was (virtually) a snotty nosed kid. Put it this way; I was a self-absorbed teenager and he was a child!!
But Kevin and I have been in touch for a while through Skype and he was quick to invite us to visit; and we did! On the Thursday evening we were out in Celbridge, Co Kildare having delicious lamb shanks and mashed potatoes (Kevin had mash duty; because apparently he does it best!) followed by Bailey’s cheesecake (say no more Fiona!). It was all yummo – especially because the spuds had spring onions in and since I’ve been a mother I pretty much haven’t had potatoes with onions – because the kids all had fits!
Kevin is clever and well informed and we had a really great night. I’d want you on my quiz team any time dude! You and Fiona were generous and welcoming hosts – we also loved how the house was geared up for Halloween!
Kevin then went out of his way to collect us in the morning to take us on a whistle stop tour of Celbridge and district on his way to work in Dublin. Celbridge is famous as the home of Arthur Guinness (founder of the famous brewery) – and the countryside is lush!!!! Drool!
This only makes for a warmer long distance friendship for us and the Kevin Byrne family!!
However, the most important person for me to catch up with in Dublin was my Aunty Florrie (mum’s last sister) and her husband Frank. Probably because she’s my Godmother too (I don’t know) we were always closer to Florrie. We knew and loved Kay very well and knew Evelyn and her boys Greg and Emmett too. I was apparently very close to Greg as a small child and was definitely in love with him as a teenager 🙂 We knew Paddy (Kevin’s dad) and Johnny and their kids too, to a lesser extent. We didn’t know Nelly O’Brien and her family well at all, but then I think she was an unusual Byrne in that she was reclusive. She never came out (that I can remember) and as I said earlier, it’s the women who drive these things.
So, regardless of Florrie being the last Byrne aunty or uncle left to visit, she was and would always be the magnet for me in Dublin. And she’s not well and quite frail – of course she is getting older (no ages here; it’s against Shelley law!) but Florrie was always full of life and she has no energy for life left in her. It was fantastic to be able to visit with her now. Unless some miracle happens, it will be the last time!
She was asking after ‘her Patty’ (mum) and her Von (my daughter) who I think she remembers best as a child of four, not as a child of 12 (might be a misconception on my part). Florrie seemed as delighted to see us as we were to see her and Frank.
We caught up with them as soon as we got to Dublin on the Tuesday (straight to the hospital) and again for several hours on Thursday before going out to Kevin and on Saturday for a couple of hours, before flying back to Malaga.
It was very sad at the end, with Florrie very aware that it was almost definitely the last time we’d see each other 😦
Frank is her rock – and a devil!! I have lovely fond memories of Frank from my teenage years; but Frank is his own worst enemy. He’s very much “I don’t give a fuck!” about pretty much everything – fuck you, fuck them, fuck the dog, fuck the world – and then gets everyone offside, which is very sad from the outside, but he would just say “I don’t give a fuck!” Except that he does; about Florrie, about kids (especially his nieces and nephews) and animals. Maybe not grown-ups – but many would say he’s still a big kid himself, so no wonder!
Love you Frank (seriously!) and there’s always a place in my heart for you!!
Love you too Florrie and God Bless!!
One of the sad things about my family being just “us 6” here in Australia is that I don’t have a strong sense of identity – who I am and where I come from!
I am a Dubliner! That’s where I feel most myself. I love and adore my Eric and my children. I like being an Aussie. But a long genetic history rooted in Ireland is what makes me who I am!
The people I’ve met who have said I’m not Irish – because I’ve spent most of my life in Australia – can go and jump – in the Liffey!! 🙂
I flew out of Ireland wishing the next three weeks were to be spent in Ireland; not in Spain, which probably explains why I’ve been feeling down for the last week or so!
Tá míle blessings a thabhairt duit (a thousand blessings to you)
Trish, Pamela & Eric
Eric, Davy & Trish
Frank, Trish & Florrie
Kevin, Trish & Fiona
[Update] In January 2014, my Aunty Florrie died. And although this was very sad to the entire family, I’m so glad that I got to see and hug her before she passed. She was in pain and ready to go, even in the October. I think of Florrie often and even from as far away as Australia, she is loved and missed. God Bless Florrie! xx