The Irish Homecoming - Enjoying the brief glorious summer and reconnecting with the family


I’m just in the door from 10 a.m. Mass. The beautiful, quaint structure is five minutes on foot from our home in Limerick. It’s right beside a school.

Many locals get married and have their children baptized at this country church. We will follow suit and hold Sadie’s christening there in a few weeks.

Sadie’s affair will be very modest compared to Colum’s New York one.  His was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 2011. We had all our New York family and friends present.  Sadie’s baptism will be a much smaller, intimate gathering with just immediate family.

Today at Mass 34 people scattered themselves throughout the traditional chapel, including my 20-month-old son Colum and I. Ninety-five percent of the congregation appeared to be 50 and up.

It’s a nice Mass. It’s short (30 minutes) but gets down to business also.

We want our kids to have some sort of religious structure as they grow, so in an effort to get Colum acquainted with God and the church I thought Sunday’s little outing would be a good start. Now I’m not so sure it was a good idea!

We were a few minutes late due to a horrendous rain shower.  I waited it out in the car until it calmed down.  Colum is fascinated with the rain and was quick to give the parishioners a weather update as soon as we tried to creep in the back of the church.

“Raining, raining,” he kept shouting while pointing outside. A few heads turned in our direction. A number of polite smiles and gentle nods were exchanged.

Anyone who made the mistake of making eye contact with Colum was further engaged.  He shook his head in disgust shouting the words rain and wet.

After finally getting him off the rain subject by asking him to whisper he sat on my lap for a few minutes. He looked around at everything.

A few minutes of quietness ensued from my corner as the priest went about his business. Just as the readings were about to start Colum noticed the flaming candles at the side of the church.

And off he went again -- “birthday, (or in Colum speak “burtdea”) Mommy,” “blow birthday.”

It is my husband John’s 35th birthday today -- he was in bed after coming off a night shift and our five-month daughter was being looked after by my friends from Tralee who were up for the weekend.

Colum was very eager to get off the seat and go over to blow out the electrically lit candles – gone are the days of real candles. I tried to tell him they weren’t birthday candles for Daddy’s birthday, but he wasn’t having any of it. He spent a few more minutes telling those who would listen – the church is so small I think he drowned out the priest – about his daddy’s birthday.

That was nearly the end of Colum’s drama at Mass until it came to mommy receiving the “body of Christ” in the form of bread. “Me bread, me bread.” I was so close to taking some of it out of my mouth and giving him a taste to shut him up, but I was full sure if I did that the priest might not baptize my daughter in a few weeks.

So we had a few beautiful days – or should I say afternoons -- in the Limerick/Kerry/Clare region last week. The farmers on my road were out with their Massey Fergusons in force. They took full advantage of the weather to do whatever they do this time of the year.

In fact the whole country grabbed onto the sun, and in between watching our Irish athletes in London perform people had barbeques, went to the beach and swam in Irish waters. Others cut the grass, took the kids to parks and pounded the roads to get some fresh air (and if they were lucky, a suntan).

John and I were off work last Friday so we decided the night before we would take a trip to Kilkee in Co. Clare.  I’d never been, and John spent many summers as a child playing on the sandy beaches there.  It’s about an hour and a half from Limerick.

We fought the whole way down about opening the windows, closing them, putting on the air conditioning.  It was muggy for Ireland.

Upon arriving at the seaside town it was overcast and humid.  Several people were out walking their dogs and children. The beach was quiet enough. Being overcast wasn’t appealing to the sunbathers.

The streets were busy, the little beach shops were doing okay and the local restaurants were getting ready to open. We parked up on the main street, hauled the cranky kids out of the car and joined the dozens of enthusiastic walkers along the promenade.

After a nice long walk – John was showing me various houses he stayed in when he was younger and he relived many memories as we strolled -- we grabbed some lunch in a small, cozy café. It was nearing 3 p.m. when we came out and the streets had gotten a lot quieter.

The sky was 100 percent blue, the sun blazed down on Kilkee, and down the road on the white sandy beach hundreds of people began to set up sun-chairs, towels, picnic baskets and all that good stuff that comes with a day by the sea.  Costa del Kilkee we joked.