Today’s adventure entailed a 3-hour trip to County Mayo, where my great grandparents were from. My mother’s grandmother was from Swinford, and approximately 3 miles down was her grandfather in Foxford. Considering how close they were to each other, you would think they’d cross paths while in Ireland, however this wasn’t the case…until they both decided to venture to America. That’s exactly where they met over 70 years ago, in New York City.
Swinford and Foxford are both quaint little towns with a lot of farms and one town square each. We walked the streets of both locations, and went to my first Irish-Catholic Mass in Swinford. Today is Palm Sunday, so we found it fitting to attend. It was amazing to worship in the same place my great-grandmother once did many years ago. From what my mother told me, she was a very religious woman.
My mother has always told me, for as far back as I can remember that I was special because Nana, or Nelly as her husband would call her, came to visit my house in Iselin, New Jersey when I was only a few months old. Karen, my sister was asleep at the time and I was fussing a bit, so Nana held me. I swear, I could feel her today with me, I know she was there sitting right next to me in church, perhaps even holding my hand.
After Swinford, we headed to Foxford but only to practically miss the town because of its small size. We stopped to ask a stranger where we were. “You just drove right through it,” said Mrs. Brighty Gallahger, or (GALLA-HER) as the natives say. She was the sweetest elderly lady with one of the best accents I’ve heard since I stepped off the plane. She wanted to know if we knew anyone from Foxford and indeed she knew them too! She knows of my mother’s maiden family, the Mulroys, and also knows one of her cousins, Joan I believe. What a small world! She spoke of many things, family, her husband and even invited us over. We politely declined, but she said that we should stop by another time. She gave my mother a palm from the Foxford church and a flyer for the Knock Shrine.
Also in County Mayo is the Knock Shrine, where the Virgin Mother, St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist appeared to 15 witnesses both young and old, at the south gable of Knock Parish Church. We all prayed at the shrine, and touched the rock that the apparition appeared on. A very spiritual moment and truly amazing.
There after, we walked through the town and stopped for a cup of coffee before the drive back. Awesome day!
Tomorrow, we’re heading to Galway to visit some ancient sites and do some shopping. Tomorrow evening is our last at the Bunratty Castle Hotel, before we head to Dublin. Can’t wait!