After a beautiful morning of driving through the back roads of Ireland with a substandard map (that doesn’t show half the roads i was on), getting turned around several times and being redirected by some friendly people, I evenutally made it to Castleblayney and found the McGuigans. May McGuigan is my grandma’s first cousin (my mom’s mom). She and her husband John used to run the general store in town, and live in the old store building in a little apartment space. It is old and well used, but cozy in its own way. They told me how their sons keep trying to get them to move to a nicer townhouse, but they can’t bear to leave their home. They were absolutely precious!! May got on the phone and called all of her sons, “Your american cousin is here, come visit!!”
We were later joined by their youngest son, Kieran, who also had great stories to tell. He took us out to the farm my grandma’s father had grown up on, and currently 2 of my gram’s cousins, Kathleen and Peter, live there. Kathleen’s health is failing, but she welcomed us and was happy to meet me. i think she was a little disappointed in me since she went on and on about how wonderful my mother is and that she played guitar and they had a sing-song of the old irish songs with her. sorry guys, no guitar, and i don’t know most of those songs 🙂
That evening, John and May, Kieran, and another son, Noel and his wife Mary, took me out to dinner at the local castle. Noel is an architect and runs an architecture business in town, so we had a lot in common and i got to ask all my engineering questions, which was fun (and yes, i admit, very nerdy). Noel also gave me some background on the northern ireland situation, which was fascinating to hear from a local, and one who grew up just 6 miles south of that mess. Noel was so friendly and such a welcoming and comfortable person to be around. He and his wife Mary offered their guest room for the night, and after dinner we headed back to their house for a cup of tea, more visiting, and finally bed. Noel and Mary have 3 sons (high school/college age), and i met two of them, trying to explain how we are related… “um, your grandma and my grandma are cousins… so we’re… uh… distant cousins” 🙂 After an amazing night of sleep in Noel and Mary’s beautiful home, I had a wonderful breakfast with them, and then hit the road to head back toward Galway where I was meeting Teresa that evening.
I think meeting the cousins was one of the best parts of my trip! They were each so wonderful and so familiar and part of who i am, although i’d never met them before, what a great experience! God is good!!