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Travelling through time: Last days in Ireland in 1952

Nan's travel journal doesn't mention her trip to Blarney Castle, but I found among her souvenirs a booklet and a photograph of her kissing the Blarney Stone.

As I continue to retrace my grandmother’s journey through Europe as a solo female traveller in 1952, through the pages of her travel journal, I chuckle to myself at some of her writings and discover that she enjoyed driving and walks along the river, what she really thought of the “fighting Irish”, and am reminded of how lucky we are to have Instagram.

Nan's travel journal doesn't mention her trip to Blarney Castle, but I found among her souvenirs a booklet and a photograph of her kissing the Blarney Stone.

Nan’s travel journal doesn’t mention her trip to Blarney Castle, but I found among her souvenirs a booklet and a photograph of her kissing the Blarney Stone.

Nan's travel journal doesn't mention her trip to Blarney Castle, but I found among her souvenirs a booklet and a photograph of her kissing the Blarney Stone.

28th July 1952

Have been over the now-famous Cork Waterford Bridge, over which there are barracks as the bridge has been condemned and is built in two designs which meet in the middle of the river. The counties could never agree over design and in consequence each built according to their own design and joined it up on the middle. I have driven over the bridge myself and been driven over on quite a number of occasions.

People I met in Youghal (relations first): Aunty Kit and Margaret, Kitty Hurley, Bobbie of course, Crissie Hurley, Eileen and Siobhan who was just recovering from an appendix operation and as a result of her visit to hospital had found herself a new boyfriend – a young doctor who attended her – I met Dennis Hurley once.

Jennie, Pat and Teresa and Uncle Will Magner, then Shamus and Noel and Dick Keating, then Uncle Jonny – who looks like the golfer Bobbie Rock and who, upon close investigation or rather scrutiny, I noticed, darkens his hair.

Also met Uncle John when on a brief visit to Inniskeen – he is very like mother to look at – has very blue eyes, and he was very surprised when Bobbie informed him who I was. We were on a little jaunt – that was Bobbie, Pat, Ben Devlin and self. On this particular jaunt we also paid a visit to great aunt Katie and her three sons. Well what a place – poor old souls completely taken by surprise and was very unprepared – full details for memory records only – probably eventually fading away. A photograph was taken but unfortunately the spool did not come out and was just a dud.

We had tea in Dunmanway and left there to return home – 70 miles at 10.30pm. Arrived home about 1.30am after a few more stops – oh yes, I drove back from Dunmanway to Ballineen about 7 miles. Oh yes, Sonny was with us on this trip and we dropped him back in Cork about 12 o’clock. Bobbie was driving for the last part of journey.

At this moment, 7.50pm on the 28th July 1952, am leaving the coast of Ireland and it looks perfect. The sun is still very bright and its rays are shining down in streams from behind cloud on the hills and sea. It looks very lovely so peaceful – not typical of the Irish people though, they surely are a fighting race. The least thing will give cause for fight and yesterday, Sunday, during a Hurley match between two neighbouring towns, Youghall and Killeagh, there were continual hand to hand fights and many injuries. A young clerical student had his hand very badly injured and marks across his back, another had had his cheekbone bent in and many others were bashed about. These two teams were renowned for such goings on when they met.

People staying next door to Magners were very friendly, the Collins family. Carmel, about 20, Patrick 22, Sally 16, Rosemary 13 and Gerard 11 and the last two were bright kids. Intend to send them a postcard sometime.

Visited Lismore on Blackwater River and where hard Devonshire has a beautiful castle – it’s setting is delightful. Right on the river slope and trees grow from the river’s edge right up around its walls – had a few drinks at a hotel here one night which were very enjoyable.

Went for a jaunt one evening to Grandmore visiting one of Ireland’s famous and historic Round Towers. There was another one at the Glendalough too.

Had a few drinks in a very nice pub and then drove on again over part of a causeway then called at another pub and had a drink and then I drove back to Youghall – Jenni, Crissie, Bobbie and Ben were with us this night.

Another evening we went for a spin to the old ruins of a monastery, which estate now belongs to an English family of protestants. There is a relic of Oliver B Plunkett kept there by the family who are descendents of the Saint of Mathew related.

The walks along the river bank were delightful – rather chilly but refreshing and were rewarded by a view of deer in the woods.

Visited an old Church which once was property of RG but taken away by Proddys. Saw an amazing tomb; think of the Boyle family. Also saw Walter Ralughus old home and the Elan Frie whereunder he sat when he smoked the first pipe and the lady threw water over him thinking he was on fire.

Visited Melleray, an abbey run by the Cistercians and this order have perpetual silence – they have a seminary there and formlands etc.

Returned to London on 28th July by “innisfallen” and train from Fishguard – very tiring trip getting on train at 3.55am.

No one home at 58 left luggage at 46 and visited Jim and Marie arranged my luggage had a slays on lounge and back home to 58 in evening. Transferred luggage by taxi on 30th and then went to Carraroo Hotel Ealing.

Nan's travel journal doesn't mention her trip to Blarney Castle, but I found among her souvenirs a booklet and a photograph of her kissing the Blarney Stone.

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