(Adorable little cottage with pretty china cups and tasty maple syrup pancakes)
We’ve arrived in Cashel… Not the Cashel in Tipperary. With the Rock. Where I grew up. The Cashel on the west coast of Ireland, looking out onto the Atlantic Ocean… with lots of rocks… and lots of sea view beauty. But before we left Ballaghaderreen we got to visit the award-winning cafe. It’s called Meet you Here and it was well worth going back. Even though we arrived before opening time the nice lady saw our hopeful faces and unlocked the door. As well as a cafe there was a little gift shop and an art gallery in a tiny gate lodge. It was a bit like being in an adult-size doll’s house. I liked it a lot.
(Peeling paint on a farm building… I’ve been attracted to all the beautiful old farm barns we pass and finally yesterday I got up close and personal with one – want to make this in mixed media!)
Sitting for lunch in the pub on Monday it was easy to see there is a community here in Ballaghaderreen, the tables were full and everyone seemed to know each other. A lady (of a similar age to myself) came in for a cup of tea and sat by herself at a table. As the GAA conversation at the bar became heated regarding whether a foul was real or faked, she looked up and joined in. She had been sitting on her own, reading a book, I thought she was alone. Instead her membership of this community made her part of every conversation, always included. During our stay in the town I had begun to imagine the Irish small towns of the past. I imagined the now boarded up shops on the main street bustling. I imagined a retiring shop keeper having a chat with his daughter about passing the business onto her. I imagined a new arrival deciding to buy a business and hoping it would succeed.
(View from the bike on the road inland from Leenane towards Cashel)
As we left Ballaghaderreen it had started to rain again and maybe it was the lack of brightness that made me notice the housing estate with windows and doors boarded up, one of the outward signs of the recent recession. The journey to Cashel, Co. Galway took only a couple of hours and the scenery on route was very rugged. I spent most of the time imagining how it might be possible for towns with such a strong sense of community to recover their economy. Although it was overcast and there were some showers it was still possible to remember we live in a beautiful country.
Is it possible for us to live in a beautiful economy as well? Mairead.