We flew back into Dublin on the 11th October to rain and cloudy skies but the next day the sun came out again.  Everything does look much nicer when the sun is shining.

On Friday night Barney and Caroline took us to Dublin’s National Concert hall to hear the symphony orchestra playing Tchaikovsky,Chopin and Glinke.  It is a beautiful building and we enjoyed the concert.

We went on Saturday to Isobel one of Maurice’s other cousins for lunch which was lovely and on Sunday we went down to Wicklow to Brigid another cousin for lunch.  She lives in the middle of open fields with grazing sheep overlooking the rolling hills, a lovely location.We came back to a dinner party in the evening at Caroline’s house with two of her sisters (and Maurice’s cousins) and some of her friends.  A good night was had by all.

Maurice and I did a tour of the Jameson’s whisky distillery on Monday morning and I got to be a taster which was good fun.  We compared Jameson’s to Johnnie Walker Black Label scotch and to Jack Daniels Bourbon – ugh!  I don’t mind the Black Label but the Jameson’s Irish triple distilled whisky was by far the smoothest.  A good start to the morning.  After that poor Maurice and Barney were both in the dentist’s chair on Monday afternoon having  root canal (ouch) procedures.  What a nasty coincidence.

We caught the train and the bus then down to Clonmel to Paul and Nell McCarthy where  we stayed for 2days.  Unfortunately Nell had to fly urgently to England the second day as her father had died and Paul drove her down to Cork to catch the plane.  Maurice and I had a very relaxing day by the fire as all day it was very wet and windy and we went to a very good restaurant in Clonmel town in the evening.

Paul drove us to the bus in the morning and we went off to Wexford again to see Fritz at the Franciscan Friary again.  The Friary is in the middle of the town and there are a lot of shops, cafes and restaurants in the main street which is a pedestrian one.  I managed to buy myself a good pair of walking shoes to replace my old ones which I have been wearing for the last few months.

Maurice and I went for a long walk around the town in the morning and walked along John St where his grandmother grew up.  It was a lovely sunny day and even quite warm in the sun, though we still had our heavy coats on.

We went to get another of Fritz’s books called “love from Zambia” and the friars suggested that we try “Cenecal” religious bookshop.  We went to the tourist office to check where the shop was and the girl looked at us blankly.  Another woman there said “Oh you mean the holy shop”.  They didn’t have it there but we managed to find it at another bookshop in town.  Fritz once met an African in Northern Ireland.  He was accustomed to stopping all Africans he saw on the street and asking where they came from.  He got chatting to the guy and in the course of the conversation asked him if he was catholic or protestant, to which he replied “isn’t it bad enough being black!”

The next day was sunny and almost warm again so we went for a long walk down on the wharf where a Spiegel tent was being erected.  We had seen one of these in Perth for the annual festival.  As I was taking a photo of it a young man came along and asked if we wanted to see inside.  He was the promoter for the Spiegel tent and told us the history of it.  It was built in 1922 and belongs to a dutchman who owns 9 of them.   There are only 12 in the world.  They are an amazing feat of engineering in the way it is erected and also that it can hold three trapeze artists dangling from a central rope without a central pole unlike circus tents.  There are going to be various performances there by many people over a week as part of the fringe festival to go with the annual Wexford Opera festival the following week.
We took Fritz and some of the Friars to the Chinese restaurant that they like for lunch.  They had a wonderful gift of 20,000 euros from one of their parishoners so that they were in the process of having a lift installed in an already positioned lift shaft in the Friary which will make it much easier for Fritz with his walking frame to get to the ground floor rather than having to struggle down the stairs with help.

I also managed to find Sean Roche of our old Greyfriars Folk Club days in the 70’s who is now living in Cork and he has promised to go up and see Fritz which he will really enjoy especially if he brings his guitar.  He is a wonderful traditional folk singer.

That day we caught the bus back to Dublin and Barney and Caroline took us on a dinner cruise on the canals in Dublin.  It was fascinating to see the city from the narrow canals.  On the banks the trees were lit up and it was interesting seeing the city from below.  We went through several small locks and under several bridges where there were only milimetres to spare.  The dinner was delicious and there were only 5staff to do everything – a chef and assistant, one waitress, the captain to steer the boat and one person to operate and move the large beams of wood to open and close the locks.  The wooden barge was rebuilt in Holland 3 years ago and was beautiful inside.  It was a perfect night with no wind an again almost warm for the time of night and season.  Lucky again.

Sunday was again sunny for most of the day so we walked into Dalkey after doing some much needed washing.  In the evening we went over to Bray to Caroline’s sister Brigid for dinner which was very enjoyable and we had a few good laughs.  It was nice to be at Caroline’s which is a home away from home for us.  On two occasions we saw foxes in the back garden at night and one crossing the road.

A lot of the shops and houses in the area are preparing for halloween with ghouls, spiders and skulls adorning windows and doorways.

We had a nice lunch at a new Avoca cafe at Malahide Castle with Margaret and Roy McCabe on the Monday before they flew out to Florida.

We have sent some unused clothing home and swapped most of our winter clothes for Summer ones in readiness for the hotter weather in Dubai and India.  We will take our heavy coats and some warm clothes to London which promises to be very cold.

It was lovely to see all Maurice’s family and spend time with them.  The weather changed the last couple of days we were there to foggy, rainy days so we are looking forward to warmth and sun after our stay in London from the 25th October.

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