Saturday, 18 May 2013


Dripsey Castle

         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 . . . . .

                                  Water for the Woolen Mill

         So we decided Thursday night  Dripsey it was  to be for our
          day out.

         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
       day out.


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