The Irish countryside hadn't changed at all.This picture could be taken straight from my book cover.
Whole towns, however, had vanished since my last visit 8 years ago. How is that possible? Driving down the country from Dublin, all I saw were green fields. I used to know the route like the palm of my hand: every town on the way, almost every bend in the road, and most certainly every location for a pit stop. Where were Moneygall and Toomevara?
The new motorway (M7) was built cutting straight across fields circumnavigating towns that lay on the route. The tourist is now getting an even greener impression of the Emerald Isle. A new sign stuck out in the countryside, however: Obama Town. Since President Obama visited his ancestral home in Moneygall,a village of ca. 315 people, it had turned into Obama Town.
From our lovely base in Killaloe, we toured around Lough Dergh. Garrykennedy on this one sunny morning was a picturesque as ever.
Killaloe itself still had the same landmarks that were burned into my memory: "Fine Rags" where in our second year I looked for a summer dress and left with a useful Barbour rain hat that got a lot of wear.
Another place that almost broke my heart, utterly neglected and sad looking was the house where my youngest had his boy-scouts meetings. Many houses in the town had fallen into disrepair.
Some of them were for sale and full of hope, stuck out the For Sale sign by one Harry Brann. He was the real estate agent we bought our farm from. He died, however, almost 20 years ago! Only in Ireland...