I took a trip to Dripsey yesterday, my daughter Jo is home this
weekend and we wanted to spend some time together and catch
I have no idea what put Dripsey into my head , it's years since
my last visit there, maybe because Jo has never been there and
we had heard of a Beautiful Garden centre and Cafe . . . . .
So we decided Thursday night Dripsey it was to be for our
As soon as we had decided memories of previous visits began
to flood my mind.
Uncle Seamus took us ( usually Mammy and me ) to the woolen
mill in Dripsey every autumn, mostly in the month November.
I would get a half -day from school and we would head off after
lunch. I loved the trip. The shop was really just a converted shed.
The building down the hill on the left was the shop.
The mill and shop closed down in 1988.
But the woollen materials were beautiful tweeds of natural greens
browns , purples and of course the traditional bainin .
The salesman whom U. Seamus and Mammy knew having
grown up in that area always gave us a great welcome, and they
would catch up on all the news while we chose our purchases.
The salesman would measure out he material with great care and
then add another half yard free ( for good luck ).
With this fine tweed would my mother would make Christmas
dresses for my sister Mary , cousin Máire and me, maybe a winter
skirt or two for herself a I even remember her making a winter
coat for my younger cousin.. This was all done late at night
when the catering for the lodgers was finished .
She was a gifted seamstress and the finisher garments were
always beautifully crafted.
Road to Macroom
With our business done in Dripsey we would head further west
to Macroom . There we would make our November
( month of the holy souls ) visit to the graveyard , and pray at Dad's
grave side and then tour and pray at the graves of all our other
relatives buried there.
Then came the social calls , my favourite was to Katie Lynch's
place in Mullen Rú,. Katie Lynch lived in a small cottage in the
hills beyond Macroom , I don't think she was related but an old
family friend who lived in the place our family had been evicted
from during the famine.
The house had no electricity and the whole place smelt of smoke
and soot. The kitchen fire was always lighting and a big black
kettle would be put on to boil. While the water was heating
Katie ( who was about 80 then ) and I would go down to the
parlour to get the good china, and a sultana cake for the
priest ( U. Seamus).
She told me that she always kept a 'shop' cake for visitors
who might call. We would wipe the sooty cups
clean with old newspaper and set the kitchen table.
Then as we drank the smoky tea , they would recount
stories about my grand father Dan Corkery.
This place had been a " safe " house for him ' when he was
on the run during the War of Independence.
My heart would fill with pride as they spoke of his heroic deeds
and narrow escapes from the Black and Tans.
Talking done it was time for our ritual visit to the ' fairy fort '
at the side of the cottage. This was really a stone circle but
U. Seamus called it a fairy fort. Here he filled me with ' other
world ' stories of fairies and druids and terrible tragedies that
befell people who interfered with these magical places.
U.Seamus's spirituality was always much bigger than the
conventional , he loved the church and all it's rituals, his faith was
deep and idealistic but this didn't prevent him believing in all
sorts of other worlds and possibilities.
After Daddy died U. Seamus was the one I turned to when
I needed encouragement to try something new.
He never lost his sense of curiosity and wonder and loved to
hear all my adventures. He was a huge support when I began
T'ai Chi and had none of my mother's anxieties about trying out
' foreign ' practises . Neurofeedback was a special favourite
and we spent many happy times together with him on Dr Fehmi's
feedback machine while I ' T'ai Chied ' in the background.
How lucky I was to have had such a wonderful Uncle . Even
though I still miss his physical presence I feel him with me often.
And yesterday he was with us on that trip , in fact I feel he
directed us to Dripsey and accompanied us on another great