Day 5: Westport (August 20, 2019)

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I’m still alive! And well, some things don’t go as planned. I had written most of a very detailed account of August 20, and then coming back to finish it a week later it seems to not have saved. (Good internet and spare time are hard to come by with this type of travel)

So let’s see what’s still in my noggin… (have you ever spelled noggin? it looks weird doesn’t it? (The word, not my noggin…)

After waking up to a lovely pouring rainy morning amidst the pleasant scenery surrounding Croagh Patrick Hostel, I enjoyed the complimentary breakfast and proceeded to plan out some next steps. The best starting point seemed to be the nearest library since they all have resources to help guide lost white Americans in tracing their roots. (like there’s literally a 101 guide book…)

Before heading out I realized I needed a nap, and so I let myself take a nap – which was glorious – even though it wasn’t yet 11a.

In any case, I got up again, organized and re-packed my snack bag, and set off to the library in Westport, about 15 minutes drive from the hostel.

I successfully kept the car, myself, and all large things around me intact and proceeded to park outside the library. 

The librarian knew exactly why I was there upon seeing me (there must be a “where’s my family?” look), and fairly indifferently led me to the local genealogy section and proceeded to hand me the aforementioned guide book.

She also informed me that I was arriving during the kick off of Heritage Week taking place all throughout Ireland, so there was an overwhelming amount of events *just for me*.

I sat there reading through the guide book and taking pictures of anything I might want to refer back to or found generally entertaining (serious archival research). After a couple hours my parking was running out and I was also starving. (I realized that in Ireland I feel obliged to follow the “no eating in the library rule”, whereas in the states I’m shameful to say I’ve felt entitled to eat my snacks wherever – regardless of signage – for reasons I don’t have time to unpack right this minute) 

So I proceeded to drive two blocks from the library (also didn’t want to abuse the 2 hour parking limit even though I’m 99.9% sure it’s not enforced), and park near Main Street. Oh wait – before leaving I did spend about 20 minutes sitting in the car recharging on snacks. (there was a surplus of parking spaces)

Like the pub the night before, Main Street Westport could have easily been mistaken for Main Street Minocqua, WI (my home town). 

I spent some time browsing the local shops and came across a handful of items that my mom had brought back for my brother and I a few years ago – Irish Whistles, bodhráns, scarves and the like. The various grief monsters in the grief ocean around my stomach slowly began peaking their heads up…guilt at not treasuring these items enough (which really isn’t possible as *enough* is an illusion in this case); deep gratitude and appreciation that can’t be expressed in person; sorrow for the world for losing such a kind human – all coupled with the short circuited impulses to purchase things for my mom that she might like…

Well I managed (mostly involuntarily) to put the lid back on everything bubbling up inside and made it to the end of Main Street. I needed to find a cafe with wifi open past 6. (With hopes of catching up on some writing…) 

I found a gem of a place at the end of one of those cute alleyway streets, The Gallery Tapas and Wine Bar

The sign on the door said Closed but a quirky old(ish) man barged past me into the place and signaled for me to follow. 

The owner (not the barging man) greeted us and invited us to sit together at a large table in the back, introducing me to the old(ish) man, Paul, a quasi-local from England. 

Paul was a stream of consciousness jokes kind of guy and I soon learned I would not be writing anything during my time at The Gallery, which was fine. Soon enough another local, also Paul, joined us and I struck up a conversation about finding family ties in Newport – the largest town near where both my grandpa Chuck’s parents lived before leaving for the states. )(and about 15 minutes drive from Westport) Paul #2 knew of a woman in Newport who knew everyone, and he told me to head to her dollar store Ashling’s and see if she could help. 

So I proceeded to finish my delectable meal of Moroccan falafel with salad along with a pretty strong ginger beer, chat with Paul and Paul and Tom (the owner) and Fiona (the waitress) for a while longer and headed back to Croagh Patrick Hostel – with my genealogy guide book pictures on the my phone and a starting point for Newport the next day. 

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