Monday, August 15, 2011

Ireland Revisited: Recuperation with Parade

Day 12 of 35: Sunday, August 15, 2010

Safely back in the Bothy, snug within its hidden space in Birr Castle Demesne, we re-assessed our situation on this morning in light of Diane's physical condition. We called and cancelled reservations we had for two fairly extended trips away from Birr: a return to Letterfrack and Clifden in Connemara for the pony show and another one to Derry, where we had planned on walking the ground of Bloody Sunday and where I could see the last place in Ireland that my most recent emigrant ancestor saw as he stepped aboard the old bark Fanny in 1848.

Maybe next time.

We kept one set of reservations, for the southwest and an exploration of the little-traveled Beara Peninsula, and reckoned that we would do exactly what our place in a long-term rented cottage in a gorgeous private 135-acre parkland in the middle of the island allowed us to do: go wherever or nowhere, follow our whim and capability.

It was to work out beautifully.

Today, the Sunday of the annual Vintage Week in Birr, was the big day of the Vintage Parade. We had watched the one in 2006, and Diane decided that she would test her ankle by seeing as much of this one as she could bear.

View from the Bothy's private gate to the Millennium Gardens on a foggy Sunday morning.

I walked into town while the fog was still around, to get a newspaper and a Vintage Week brochure. The town's preparation for the event was evident all around in the peaceful, nearly deserted streets:

Main Street, Birr, early on the morning of the Vintage Parade, 2010.

We studied a map of the parade route before going, looking for the nearest point on it to the Bothy, to make Diane’s hobble with crutches as short as possible. We chose a point near the end of the parade route, close to St. Brendan’s Church of Ireland a block from the Demesne’s gates. A fine Irish family let us share the steps on their stoop to sit, and listening to them talk – among themselves and to many of the parade participants – was actually more interesting and entertaining than the parade itself.

Parading on Emmet Street, Birr

It turned out that the spot we chose was actually not a very good one for viewing the parade. It was after the reviewing stand, and we later found that a great many of the parade participants (including almost all that we were looking forward to, such as the steam tractors and most of the bands) decided to call it quits after their turn in front of the stand was over, not following the route all the way to the finish and past our viewing point. Ah, well, next time we’ll know better.

The meadow, Birr Castle Demesne, on a glorious Sunday.

Images from August 15th and 16th will be linked at the end of tomorrow's installment.

Next: August 16, 2010 -- In the Demesne
Previous: August 14, 2010 -- Out of the Box
Beginning of the series: Prologue, August 2