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This is an online diary of my latest trip to Ireland.
Dennis J. Ahern

Friday, March 18th

As luck would have it, Jim was going out past Oranmore today and was able to deliver me to Oranmore Lodge Hotel and Conference Centre, which saved me from having to hike from the bus stop with all my gear. He was very interested in the program and is hoping to come back at the end of the conference to see if he can slip in at the back and hear my talk on "Using the Internet for Irish Genealogy". I told him to say he was my driver and that he was there to collect me and they would probably let him in.
When I was checking in they could not find my name on the list of guests. I told them that I was a late addition to the program and that I would be speaking Sunday and that Marie Mannion had assured me I was booked in for Friday night and Saturday. They went ahead and assigned me a room, a nice double with full bath and a bay window overlooking the front. After I got settled I went back to the desk to check and they told me everything had been sorted out. Then I lay down for a nap, my first of the trip if you don't count the jet-lagged arrival day. At home I always have a nap in the afternoon, with my feet elevated on a cushion. Oranmore Lodge
Oranmore Lodge

I'm not sure on just what is included complimentary to my stay and was reluctant to eat in the dining room for lunch. I had seen some sort of office park up the road and the other side of the dual carriageway (divided highway) and set off in that direction to see if I could find a convenience store. It was mostly industrial buildings and a leisure centre, but a mile or so there was a petrol station with a fast food concession and convenience store attached. The takeaway was a FarePlay chain and there was a selection of sandwiches they could make: ham, chicken, roast beef and cheese, and an egg mayonnaise with streaky (American style) bacon that tempted me, but I decided to splurge on a roast beef sandwich. I realized it was a mistake even as I watched them make it. At home I would expect some rare roast beef freshly sliced off a recently roasted hunk of meat. This looked like some sort of processed, pressed meat product with a rind on it. At 4.29 euro I was tempted to say I changed my mind, but I wimped out and accepted my lot. To balance the menu I bought a package of McVitie's chocolate covered hobnobs, a sort of graham cracker with frosting. I had considered some almond fingers, but the McVitie's come in a cardboard tube with a plastic lid which makes it easier to take from place to place. I've had them on previous trips and I picked up a litre of milk to keep in my room in the mini-bar fridge in case I wanted milk and cookies before bed. Or, if dinner is too dear in the dining hall I will have cookies and milk for my meal.

The newspapers today have reports of the various St. Patrick's Day festivities. One of the Galway papers was gratified that there was only one stabbing this year, whereas Dublin had two dozen arrests for assaults and drunkenness. The floats in Dublin had a new obstacle on the parade route where it crossed the new LUAS line and they had to get under the overhead wires. One reporter referred to it as doing the LUAS limbo.

I had my lunch sitting at the table in the bay window overlooking the car park and entrance. From here I could see people arriving, but no familiar faces. There is one of those immersion coil tea kettles in the room with a bowl of tea bags, instant coffee and sugar packets. There are instructions not to set the kettle down hot on the surface of the minibar, but to use the tray provided as the heat would damage the veneer. I say minibar, but there are no tiny bottles of Bailey's to tempt me. Besides, if I wanted a drink I could drain some of that bottle of Jameson's that Olive Coleman's dad gave me in Cork.

After lunch I wrote up my account of the Galway parade and puttered around until about five when I had a nice hot bath and played my pennywhistle in the tub. Bathrooms have great acoustics but whenever I lay all the way back in the bath, the mouthpiece of the whistle being downhill, the moisture collects near the embrasure and throws the pitch off-key. Besides, one can only get so comfortable with musical instrument before it demands your undivided attention.

In the lobby, I found Nora Hickey from Kinsale chatting with Ann Rodda from New Jersey. Nora chastised me for not having given her more advanced notice of my talk at the Cork Genealogical Society, but as it was she had just returned from taking her 97-year old father on a holiday in Tunisia. I apologized and explained how this whole trip came into being with only about two weeks notice for me as it was. Ann Rodda had just flown in from the States that morning and was eagerly awaiting the opening of the dining room at 7:00. in the course of our conversation, Nora informed me that the Rev. Denis O'Callaghan, Monsignor at St. Mary's in Mallow, had instructed the National Public Library to withdraw the microfilmed parish registers for the Diocese of Cloyne from public access. This, in effect, gives the Mallow Heritage Centre a monopoly on access to these records. This means that people will have few options outside of paying for a report from the Mallow Centre if they want to get their family's baptismal and marriage records, which, if they were born or married before civil registration began in 1864 is their only hope. This trend does not bode well for the Irish family historian. It's not clear if you can still get a letter of permission from the Bishop to view the records at the National Library. The Diocese of Cashel and Emly won't even let you do that. Back when all the parish records at the NLI required a letter of permission, I applied for and received a letter and I'm hoping it is still on file at the Library. Fortunately, I do not have any further Cloyne records to search on this trip. I'm told that the TIARA research group was faced with this sudden change part way through their week in Dublin and several people were denied further access to records they had been looking at the day before.

I helped Nora with her bags and we went off in search of her room. It turned out to be a third-floor garret in the back and she had a hard go with her cane to get there, It's shocking that a place like this would not have a lift (elevator). Dropping her nags in the room she then grabbed her bathing suit and went off to the leisure centre to soak in the hot tub. On the way she realized she had left some papers in her room that she wanted put in the bag she left at reception and sent me back with her key to retrieve them. I then left her room key at the leisure centre reception.

It turns out Mary Ellen Grogan, who had led the TIARA research trip, had already arrived at the Lodge the day before. We had a chat and one of the first things she said to me was that she had heard about my pending appointment in Dublin on Monday. I was rather surprised that she knew of it as I had only mentioned it to one person in Ireland besides Norman Mongan who was to accompany me as a photographer. I did not want it blabbed about in case it did not happen. When I was little, my mother never talked about any trips or special events in advance as they might not happen and then we would be disappointed. Once, when I was about 11 she told my little brother and I to go to bed early because the next day we were going to Maryland to visit her sister and our cousins. This is the way it was in the Ahern family.

At 7:00 I joined Ann Rodda in the dining room. She had the salmon with Maltese sauce and I had the rack of lamb with fried mushrooms and garlic sauce for starters (appetizer). We found that we had some common interest in Denmark, though mine is not of a genealogical nature, except for some research I am doing on the Civil War veterans of the town of Acton, Massachusetts. The public Library there, of which I am a trustee, was given to the town in 1890 to be a memorial to the Civil War veterans. I have been researching their pension files and other records for our archives and have discovered one of them was a Dane who arrived in New York in 1857. He was a pharmacist by profession, but did not speak Engelske (Danske for English) and took up manual labor. At the start of the War he was in New Orleans and was conscripted into the Confederate service, but crossed the lines at first opportunity and found himself with a company of the 26th Massachusetts Infantry that was mostly made up of men from Acton. He served throughout the war and came back with them to Acton to live out his days. Ann told me of a group in New Jersey named DANE (Danish Archives NorthEast) in Edison, New Jersey that I must take a look at.

As I was having my dessert of apple pie and cream, Jim Herlihy, the Garda historian, stopped by to say hello and tell me how much he enjoyed my 19th century police reports from the Cork Examiner. We found ourselves discussing the film "Michael Collins" on which Jim had served as a technical advisor. I asked him about one scene in which the British forces attacking the GPO are shown setting up artillery in a street that led into Sackville (now O'Connell) Street directly opposite the front door of the GPO. The only streets intersecting O'Connell Street now are at either end of the building, so the view, though cinematically dramatic, was impossible unless there was some street that has since been built over. He informed me that the whole set had been staged in Grangegorman and I was correct in my observation. He also agreed with me that Julia Roberts was not the best choice as the female corner of the love triangle that found Collins and Boland on opposite sides of the Irish Civil War.

I found Gregory O'Connor of the National Archives having a late supper in the Butler's Pantry and said hello. He was still waiting to get a room sorted out. Mary Ellen (Grogan) was there as well and informed me that she had exchanged her ground floor room with Nora so she wouldn't have to deal with the stairs.

Marie Mannion from the Galway Heritage Council was meeting with the volunteers in a room off the bar and I sat in while she went over logistics and then we had a walkabout to familiarize ourselves with the rooms for lectures, coffee, consultations, etc. The bookstore was all stocked in a room in the leisure centre and I wished I didn't have to carry them around for another week else I would buy an armload.

After further chat with some conference attendees in the lobby, I climbed the stairs and so to bed.

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