Before I took this trip, I was nervous about traveling alone. I’ve never traveled by myself and was worried whether I’d get lonely. But I just felt I needed to do it alone. For one, I wanted to be able to do what I wanted, when I wanted. Toni and I travel well together, but we are different people and like to do different things. Sometimes I just like to sit in a cafe and people watch and to Toni that feels like she’s not doing anything. She needs to move around and see something, or she feels like she’s not getting her money’s worth. She also doesn’t talk much to other people she doesn’t know and I enjoy it.
So far this has been the best experience. I have met so many people that I otherwise would have never talked to if I had traveled with another person or more.
To begin with, I had dinner the other night in Dublin with Deidre McEvoy. Deidre is an amateur genealogist from Rostrevor, where my O’Rourke family came from. She does genealogy for lots of people, particularly Americans searching for their Irish roots. She was able to send me lots of information, including the names of my third and fourth great grandfathers. (By the way, they were both named John — John Jr. and John Sr. My great grandfather is also named John.)
What I found most interesting was Deidre’s description of living in Belfast during “The Troubles.” She said she was a college student then and would often here bombs going off in the distance.The joke was, “there’s another car park” because the bombed buildings were never rebuilt, but turned into parking lots. She also said everyone was constantly searched by the British troops when they went through a checkpoint. At the time she said it felt like normal life, and it was only until she moved to Dublin did she realize how much tension she lived under.
Yesterday, I met two Irish men — Tom and Owen — on the train. I was sitting in their seats because I didn’t realize they were reserved. They let me sit with them and before I new it, they pulled out an ice bucket with a bottle of champagne. They offered me some champagne and we ended up talking all the way to Mallow. I have to say they drank an awful lot on the way Mallow, killing two bottles. But they gave me some tips on Dingle — like don’t go to the Aquarium because it’s a waste of money.
Then last night I met two Australians — Margaret and Jeff. They are also in Ireland doing their genealogy. Jeff’s ancestor was a Irish convict who was sent to Ireland by the British. We must of talked for two hours about everything from politics to genealogy. They did apologize to me for Rupert Murdoch.