Tag Archives: Youghal Ireland

Packing a LOT into & on our last DAY

Ireland 2005 Day 10

cat youghalyoughal turret overlooking youghalOur last day in Ireland. We have so many things to do. Becki and I start with an early walk. I show her the beautiful garden I discovered. Then we explore the church yard. We are just a step behind the man with the keys opening up the locked gates for the day.

The church yard has graves everywhere. Front, sides and back. Behind the church and up the hill to the city wall the graveyard continues. There are new and old graves. We climb a turret in the city wall. We can see everywhere from here.

We are due back at nine to help pack the costumes for shipping home. We meet the guys and drive to the Mall Arts Center as B,B & D’s costumes are in the car.

Everyone has assembled to move the process along. I make lists of what goes into each box. It doesn’t take too long to finish up. We load the boxes into our car and Carl’s car until a decision can be made about which courier to use.

Becki and I head for the Tourist Office to meet Pascal and see the jewelry she has. Her office is on the second floor. It’s a cute cluster of filing cabinets and desks etc. The girls who work with her were at the Rendezvous.

She clears off her desk and gets a black cloth to display the pieces. Becki and I have a hard time picking but we finally make our choices. I leave to go to the ATM machine to get the funds I need. Becki is still finalizing her decisions. Back, I pay Pascal and go downstairs to shop in the gift shop. Becki joins me, we tell Marsha, who is shopping, about the jewels. She wants to see what Pascal has. I take her up to the office. She is as delighted as we are with the selection.

Downstairs I run into members of our group shopping. Becki is doing some last minute shopping too. lebame tells me that we are to meet the mayor for lunch. She wants me to take pictures as discussion about twinning with Manteo is to be discussed and preliminary papers signed. We are to meet at Harvey’s dock at one. I am in my jogging clothes. I need to go change.

Donny has gone on ahead of us after the packing was finished. No one else in my group knows about the lunch. They are all too busy anyway. I shower and change and head out to meet whoever. No one is anywhere around. I circle the parking lot and decide I must have gotten my information wrong (not unlike me).

I go back upstairs. Donny and Becki suggest I ring lebame’s doorbell and see if anyone is there. I go back downstairs and around the corner to her building. I ring the bell, lebame answers. She says Carl was looking for me and then went on. She is not sure where the luncheon is to be, but she thinks the Quality Inn outside of town. She tries to get into the office to call The Nook which is where she sent Carl to look for me. The office is closed for lunch. Just then Chris comes around the corner. lebame borrows his cell phone to call the Nook. I go upstairs to ask Bill to drive me or I can drive myself but Bill can go faster.

contractor and undertaker

Typical Irish sensibility, put together what works together best for you. We found it very amusing.

lebame has not been able to reach anyone. She suggests stopping at the tourist bureau to check. Bill is in the shower. I know driving myself will go a lot slower. Bill runs downstairs barefooted. We are off. I reason all of the offices are closed for lunch. We decide to check the Quality Inn. We head out of town past the lighthouse toward The Strand with only a vague notion of where we are going. We pass where I think lebame is talking about. We are ready to turn around as we are in the country when we see a sign for the Quality Inn. It is several kilometers more down a couple of country roads which puts it on the ocean. It is a beautiful setting. But there is no luncheon going on. The staff suggests I try the Raleigh Hotel. We drive back to town. As we are passing a restaurant called The Tides I tell Bill I think that is where they are, but I have no basis for this (trust the dousing Sandra trust the dousing). Bill almost runs into a parked car looking for Carl. He thinks he sees him in the window, but we do not go back.

We try the Raleigh. They know even less than the Quality Inn folks. Bill is sure the luncheon is over anyway. I want to try the tourist bureau, but they are closed for lunch still. We check the Mall Arts. They are open. The girls tell me that the group is at The Tides! Back we go. I hop out and check. Yes, they are and have only just finished their appetizers. They say Bill can join in. He is in the car waiting for me to report. He declines, no shoes you see. During this entire escapade I was not panicked just determined to go the extra mile, or kilometer. I figured John was there with his camera which turned out to be true. But lebame had asked me to do this and I did not want to let her down.

The lunch is excellent. John and I take some great pictures of the document signing.

Actually what Bill saw in the upstairs bay window of The Tides was the mayor. Her short hair makes her sorta look like Carl.

bill distillery bill tasting midleton distillery midletonWhile we were shopping earlier we learn that Joe, our bus driver, has been hired to take us to Midleton to the Jameson Distillery this afternoon. Becki feels pressure to stay in town and tidy up her shopping. Marian tells her she can shop there. At last minute Becki caves in and joins us.

The old distillery is amazing. To check a batch of whiskey to see if it was ready the workers struck a match to a sample. If nothing happened, the batch was not ready. If it burned it was perfect. If it exploded it was overdone. No wonder they had their own fire department.

Bill gets selected to take the whiskey taste test. Three kinds of Irish, all of which is distilled three times, Scotch only twice, and lowly bourbon just once. The three tasters pick their favorite Irish and then compare that to a fine scotch and aged American bourbon. They pick their favorite. Of course it must be an Irish or they fail the test.

Midleton is a special blend of Jameson that is bottled in limited quantities each year. You can only buy it at the distillery. Donny buys us a bottle and also a bottle of 12 year old Powers packed in a nice tin. Our Midleton is packed in a wooden hinged box. It is numbered and the label is signed by the master distiller. Ours is number 027822 bottled in the year 2004.

Now Joe takes us to Ferry Point so that we can see Youghal from across the cove. Becki has been itching to get to this point since we first got to Youghal. It is directly across from our rooms. Donny and Bill have divided up the few houses on the spit and figure running a pub and B&B from there would work. On the way from Midleton to Ferry Point, Marian falls asleep on my shoulder. This is the way the week has turned out. We are all now family.

another across the way across the inletIt takes us a while to get across the river as someone has crashed the rail the night before in a drunken drive. It is a small bridge anyway and now it is down to take turns traffic.

Carl is having fits. He has things to do before the party he and John are giving for our hosts and hostesses tonight. We tell him we will help. Breeda says they will not know the difference. We tell her in this case she would (the gifts are baskets of goodies not yet completely put together).

Ferry Point is lovely and Carl is glad we did not skip it. Marian’s in laws live just up the road. They have castle remains on their land. Joe’s sister rents the house on the spit that is Donny’s B&B. We see her in the yard and wave. We are going to be late for the party. But this is Ireland, everyone is late. And Joe, Marian and Breeda are with us so they will be as late as we are.

Back at the Harvey Becki and I grab Gloria and we sprint up to Carl & John’s apartment to wrap the baskets. Carl has cellophane paper but no ribbon. It’s me to the rescue with my ribbons I got from the little boys.

Becki and I go home to freshen up. We will wear our new jewels from Pascal, even though Carl said casual dress.

Off to the Nook we go. A few of our guests are there but the evening is early and even though we are late the party is only just beginning to get going. Tommy Bulman, my Irish sword friend, sees me come in. He pulls me aside and hands me two packs of pictures he has had printed of our day at the craft fair. He says that the one package has pictures for me. The other is for sharing. How sweet. Like I said we are all family now. I’ll be sending him a group of pictures from my lot including his sword photo. Tommy has also made me a list of Irish phrases for me but it is in his car and we do not connect again. No worries I have his address. He is proud of the list as he quit school quite young, but he knows how to speak and write Gaelic.

It is a wonderful night. Iona has walked over from Myrtle Grove. Carl has a gift basket for her. When he hands out all of the gift baskets later everyone is delighted. Mid-evening Marsha assembles us to give lebame a gift from the group, she is the glue that holds us together. Bill has brought his guitar. There is much music, singing and merriment.

Then Bill’s G-string breaks.

john and sibs

Breeda’s brood. Shiv, Claran & John.

A new friend Michael has a replacement and he and Bill strum together. Everyone sings and dances, jigs and solos. Breeda’s rugby player son sings a haunting Irish ballad.

The mayor has a gift for Carl. It is a piece of Waterford crystal. And also a piece of Waterford for John Wilson, the mayor of Manteo. During the gift exchange Carl begins a story about arriving in Youghal and trying to park the car he has rented. The mayor steps in and fills in a few amusing details. It seems that upon arriving in Youghal from Shannon airport, Carl pulls the car into a street space. Being from a small town himself he understands small towns and limited street parking issues so he calls out to a lady close by to ask if it is okay to park where he has. She goes over to him. She is dressed in pajamas and floppy slippers. Her hair is rumpled. She begins telling him the parking rules.

Carl is looking at her wondering whether to believe her or not since she very much looks like a bag lady. Just then the town constable comes along unlocking the various gates and so on. Meanwhile the floppy slipper gal, who has slipped into town to quickly sign some papers figuring that no one of importance would see her, has figured out that Carl is one of the expected guests from North Carolina. She welcomes him and tells him that she is the mayor. The constable laughs and tells Carl that she actually lives in the home for the mentally unstable up the way, to pay her no mind. The mayor explains to Mike that these are the guests from North Carolina and to please acknowledge who she is. Mike repeats his story adding that she has probably forgotten to take her medication. Carl begins to believe Mike since he is so convincing and the mayor doesn’t look very mayoral. And since it is okay to park while he gets the room keys etc from the tourist bureau he moves on.

Later that week at the opening reception, the mayor addresses the audience. Carl sees that he has been a victim of Irish humor.

me and marsha irish toast irish friends breeda flowersFor once we have started earlier than usual at the pub and so end up leaving not that late, even so it is after midnight. We are still the pub closers, for our group anyway. Goodbyes are sad. Everyone is in tears. We would stay longer but we must pack and drive to Shannon in the morning.

We are walking home with Greg. Suddenly I remember that we have not made our Abbey Road picture that Becki wanted to do. The perfect crosswalk is back a few blocks. Everyone is hesitant. I declare that if I can walk back in my party shoes surely they can make it. And Greg can take the picture. But Bill points out that Becki is still walking home. Greg tells Becki to turn around. She does. Bill is amazed, saying we should have had Greg to herd us along all week.

Even though it is after midnight, there is occasion traffic fortunately only one way but still it is usually someone hurrying home so we time our moment in the crosswalk. Becki has on a light jacket so she is the barefoot Beatle.

We take a picture of Greg climbing a street light.

Back home we get to packing. We must leave by seven in the morning to make our noon flight.

abby road ireland

Recreating Abbey Road cover Youghal style. Heading home to the Harvey one more time.


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Ransoming the QUEEN’S Gown

Ireland 2005 Day 9

street fair

Youghal street fair

Today there is a craft and goods fair set up between the two streets at the Clock Gate. We are to parade in costume and the madrigals sing to draw attention to our Rendezvous Dinner to be held this evening at the Walter Raleigh Hotel. Joan has a wench costume for me to wear. We parade to town single file lead by Greg also in costume, then the YaYas and I (now a YaYa). The queen is last.

It is a sunny day, a bit chilly but the sun is nice. The madrigals sing at the fair and then we mingle with the crowd. Some of us buy a bit of food. I get a mulled wine and Chester Cake. The cake is awesome. I ask the lady for her recipe. She is dressed as Mary Queen of Scots and has had a good time getting her picture taken with Barbara. Her real name is Frances. She writes down the recipe for me. She is a little old lady who recently got married again. The extra cloth from her wedding dress has been used in her costume. She baked all of the goods in her booth, cakes and pies, early this morning.

tyntes castle

Tynte’s Castle is right in the heart of the town

Now we move on to Tynte’s Castle. It is a town castle, mostly a very tall tower shaped building, than a sprawling edifice. It is amazing to have a chance to see the inside of this structure. Tom, who had us to dinner at his pub a few nights back, owns the castle with his two brothers. They are restoring it. They have just purchased two cinderblock sized stones for a doorway. They cost 700 sterling.

We parade up the up street to the castle. All of the shoppers, merchants and car folk wave to us. We go inside the castle tower which for now is all that is open at this stage of its renovation. We assemble here for photos and then the madrigals sing for the video that is being made. The room is fairly small but open all the way up so you can get an idea of things to be done. Exposed doorways and wonderful huge wooden beams are visible.

After the singing we march back to the fair where the madrigals sing again. I am getting chilled. Pascal, a young French member of the committee, offers me her shawl. As she is selling Sharovski jewels at the fair for a friend she is dressed for the weather, so I take the shawl. There is another photo session and then we are excused. I do not see Pascal to return the shawl. I stop to say good bye to Frances as her booth is nearby. She admires my shawl and says she has one just like it. She says she has loaned it to the French girl selling jewels. I laugh and say this must be her shawl. Later before I leave the market, I return the shawl to Pascal. She promises to show me the entire jewel collection later at the tourist bureau which is where she works.

youghal gang street costumes craft fair barbara and her guysI want to buy a few things at the market but have no euros. Donny doesn’t either but he heads for the ATM machine to replenish our supply. A cute lad selling flowers wants me to buy. I tell him I will be back when I get some euros. When Donny gets back I buy a beaded necklace which I have also promised to procure when I get cash. Then I go to get my flowers. The stall is maintained by two boys who are about ten years old. They have picked the flowers and made scented pinecones. They also have a basket of ribbons. I hand them five euros to buy the flowers which are three euros fifty. They tell me I can get pinecones and ribbons plus the flowers for my five euros. They want to be sure I get a fair deal. They keep telling me to get one more pinecone or ribbon. I want to be sure they are getting a fair deal. I tell them I am satisfied. They insist I take some ribbons. They dig in their box for the most scented pinecones. The mom who has been visiting a nearby stall and has her own things next to the boys returns and asks if they are treating me well. She says that her husband has been doing all the video work of the festival group.

market flowers

Flowers I bought at the fair.

We go to the Mall Arts Center to undress and pack up costumes, either for going back to the states or being transferred to the Walter Raleigh Hotel where the Rendezvous is to be held. Finally all the costumes are settled and we have swept up the dressing rooms.

Back home I dress the window with our flowers. They are prettier than any I have seen for sale in the shops. Becki says we have just enough time for a soup lunch before meeting at Myrtle Grove. It seems that we have been invited after all to tour Myrtle Grove. But only us. The owners are very protective of their heirlooms and privacy.

mrytle grove

Myrtle Grove is still occupied today

Myrtle is the house Raleigh would have lived in when he was in Youghal. It is still privately owned and lived in. We are so excited to have this opportunity to see history closer to the way it actually was rather than in a museum type setting.

BBD&I go for soup and no sooner have we eaten and returned to the Harvey where we are to meet than we find Marian and Greg walking toward Myrtle Grove. The rest have gone on by car. We are cautioned by Carl, lebame and our Irish friends to not take any photos inside the house. The grounds are permissible but not inside.

The entrance to Myrtle Grove is literally right next to the St Mary’s Church entrance on the quaint cobblestone up up street. Once inside the gate we feel like we have stepped back in time. We all know that the shops and town homes of Youghal are just outside the wooden entry but here inside it feels like we are in the countryside and another era. We take a lot of photos of Chris, who has come dressed as Raleigh, in front of the manor.

ds myrtle grove holly berry myrtle groveWe are to tour inside in two groups. The interior is truly amazing. There are so many family antiquities that anyone could spend an entire day or more in just one room. We all love the family touches, pictures, papers and such. Our lovely guide, who now maintains the house with her sister and brother, tells us great family stories. She continually apologizes about what she considers her lack of tour guide knowledge. She does fine by our account. One of my favorite stories Iona tells us is on herself. As a young girl she used to ride her pony all over the lawns and to this day her mother blames her for the poor condition of the grounds which is not true, they are beautiful.

Now it is time to get ready for the Rendezvous. As the result of a few miscommunications we feel that my costume is no longer at the Raleigh Hotel so I dress with my French silk skirt and an extra ruff and Elizabethan hat Becki has on hand, even though Joan told me earlier that she had an extra wench costume at the hotel.

me dressed up john costume guys at the bar donny close upWe drive to the hotel so that we can get our costumes back to our apartment easier after the show. Joan says my costume is fine. As Gloria is also costumed for the event I think she has worn the extra wench costume so this works out perfectly. She, the YaYas and I decide to go into the bar for a drink while the rest are dressing. The local paper photographer takes our picture. Maybe this one will make the paper too. I have not seen the last one he took of me with Carol and Jacquie at the opening but I hear it was in the paper. He always asks for names and even writes them down. Gloria says we have gotten lots of press. She has enough for a scrapbook. We have only found one picture, that of Jacquie at the ploughing.

Evidently the story of Barbara’s queen dress being held ransom by customs made all the tabloids. This happened before we got there. Customs would not release any of the boxes containing the queen’s clothing because they thought we were trying to smuggle them into the country. Finally customs said we could get the gowns for a $4000 fee. Carl almost croaked. He finally got the Bank of Ireland to post “bond” and the costumes were released one day before the first show which was the day we arrived.

It is time for the Rendezvous but few people are here. I notice that the announcement board in the hotel lobby says nine as the starting time. It should say eight. We wonder what the tickets say. Also the Irish are a very relaxed people about time, they would do well on the Outer Banks.

bill barbara chicken

Raleigh teaches HRH how to eat chicken

assisting hrh

HRH assisted by What and Sir Walter

The Rendezvous is to be like the one on the Outer Banks, a dinner with the queen type show. Bill Rea is to be Walter and Chris his son, fondly known as What. Calling out What, throughout the event, works well to cover mistakes and add extra merriment to the party. Now anytime someone says, “What?” We all holler back, “What? What? Where’s What.”

Donny & I have great seats since I am photoing for lebame.

When it comes time for the titling, our new Irish friends are delightfully surprised and pleased to have European titles. You can see they are going to have fun with them.

tynte's castle guys breeda dressed up becki and irish gals barbara pascale ann and paulEveryone has had a grand time. Carl has held up well. He is getting the ick that started with Chris and has wound its way through most of the company.

Donny has a toothache that is really bothering him now. It started this morning. I ask Breeda if she has any ideas. She suggests a clove and whiskey. She says she will get some cloves from the kitchen. She is our wonder worker. She saved Bill from totally losing his voice with some antibiotics left over from her niece’s ailment.

After the Rendezvous a two man band sets up on the stage and plays tunes for us to dance to. Most members of our group change into street clothes. I chat with Barbara’s mother, Connie, while Barbara changes. Connie loves line dancing but by the time I discover this the band has switched to slow numbers to close out their evening.

Slowly our group dwindles away. We remain conversing with members of the committee, friends, and family until well into the morning. The bartender is very gracious and does not push us along. It is well after two before we say our final goodbyes for the evening.

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Castle in the Clouds and an Irish Jig or Two

Ireland Day 6 September 2005

dressing room

Ladies dressing room. Joan, Marsha, Ellie, Jacquie, Marj

So far today I have managed to sleep in again. Becki has a school trip on her schedule with John and Chris. The guys are not due at the theater until 1:30. The madrigals will sing before the matinee show of Elizabeth R.

Donny wakes me at 12:30. He brings me the computer which I have left in the living room for Becki to upload pictures on, so that I can finish my journal in lazy style. He brings me breakfast in bed. This is very nice. Our room looks out over Youghal cove. I can see a rolling farm on a small hill all of which is on a spit into the water from the our bed. It’s a great view to write by. It is a very typical Irish day. Pouring rain which for the moment has tapered off to drizzle. The sky is entirely gray and the air is chilled.

show finale

The Lost Colony Concert Version finale. Donny is holding the flag.

ellie barbara chris

Ellie Chappell, HRH Barbara Hird, Chris Chappell


Reception after the show

Becki comes in from school and shortly they all take off for the theater. I finish my journaling, take a leisure bath and dress. Just as I finish they come in from their show. B&B have decided to go on the tour a castle about thirty minutes away. Donny wants to stay and wash clothes and clear his email.

I elect to go but have enough time beforehand to check my email. I leave to do that, Donny will spell me when it is time for me to meet B&B as we are driving our own car to the castle.

Donny shows up but I have only half finished my tasks. I do a few more and then sprint for the apartment to get my hat and coat. I run literally to the Mall Arts Center only to find the group waiting for lebame and Barbara to finish an interview. B&B are not even there yet. Finally they show up and we go to the tourist bureau a few buildings away to get a map. Since it is raining Bill drives us.

Back at the arts center the bus has arrived. Carl says there is room after all for us but we elect to stay with our car. We drive through Tallow and onto the town where the castle is located. Breeda negotiates the price for our group. Bill will buy Breeda’s ticket as well as ours. Breeda says she will give her money to two Americans that the castle lady turned away as they had no euros only American money. I split their fare with her so they can see the castle.


The castle and people actually live there


Sunflowers are universal

bill nose to nose

Bill nose to nose in the castle garden

me garden

Me in the lower castle garden

We tour the castle gardens which are beautiful. There is a working vegetable garden planted in plots. There is a small orchard. We are the only people in the garden. The weather has turned sunny on the drive over and stays that way. We munch our way along testing rose hips, apples, tomatoes, mint, anything that suits our fancy.

The grounds are vast and well kept. Boxwoods and other shrubs separate the areas. The castle is occupied so we cannot go inside. Prince Charles and Camilla recently visited. There is an upper and lower garden. The bus group decides to skip the lower garden. B&B, Greg and myself want to see the lower garden. Greg will ride back with us. We get his stuff off of the bus and wave goodbye.

The lower garden is mushy but nice. There are green lawns, big trees, flower beds and very modern sculpture. One is about six feet tall, made of bronze and has a floral design on the face. Nice enough, but when you look on the other side of this slightly bowed piece there are the elements of a nude female. Bill and I decide it is the flowering of a woman.

We almost get locked in but clever Bill has been whistling to announce that we are still here.

Back in Youghal we have just enough time for Becki to upload a bit of music before we head out to a special dinner held for us by Tom, one of the committee members. His pub is called McCarthy’s. He has planned a buffet meal for us that is beyond words. We are treated to all the drinks we want and the fabulous meal. We have our own room in the back of the pub.

ds dancing

Donny & I waltzing

carol chris ellie

Carol, Chris & Ellie jigging

After dinner a trio of girl musicians that performed at the hotel the night that Donny & I missed have been hired by Tom to repeat their performance. We finally get to hear traditional Irish music. There is a banjo, a button accordion, and a concertina. The girls are very young but very talented. The banjo player also sings and dances for us. Members of our group join in a various times. Donny & I waltz. Marilyn, Chris’ wife who is a dance instructor, does the jig. Their daughter Ellie who is about seven, also jigs. Others sing and dance. It is a lot of fun for all. Bill has joined the picking but as his voice is going he does not sing. He does tell a joke to appease the audience.

irish entertainment

Our Irish entertainment. There’s Bill Rea in the foreground picking along.

Finally Tom tells the girls to play one more tune. They do and then play the Irish national anthem. The show is over. Bill decides to go home and rest. Becki will walk him there and then join us at the Hotel Raleigh. A friend of Mirian’s, our main hostess, has organized a country dance for the ploughing visitors and Mirian wants to support the effort. We decide to support her. We have finally met her husband, Patrick, tonight. He is a very busy dairy farmer. We thank him for sharing her all week.

Aoile, one of our younger guides, offers Donny & me a ride to the hotel. We can walk but we take the ride. We are the first of our group there. We go into the bar and get settled. After a bit, Aoile goes to find our group. She discovers that they are in the events room, not the bar. There is a fee. We will pay but Aoile decides she wants to hang out with her friends at JD’s.

Shortly after we get settle with Mirian, Patrick and Gloria, Becki comes in. She has ridden over with Breeda who decides to bail out too. The music is loud and very country. While Donny is getting our drinks a young guy asks me to dance. I agree but am rather bad at following his excellent lead. He says he learned to waltz from his parents who are very good Irish dancers. He is in town for the ploughing. He lobbies for the farmers. He has friends with him. They all lobby for better farming conditions. His one friend tells me that if I want to hear really good Irish music to get up with Martin, another friend in the group. It appears that Martin’s neighbors are excellent musicians. They are all from Limerick. We get Martin’s phone number and promise to call over the weekend.

It sounds like a plan to find some more good Irish music. For once we do not close the place down. We leave before the band is finished. The group has their big show tomorrow and everyone wants to rest. Still it is past midnight when we get home.


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Ploughing Through County Cork

dead slow

We love road signs in Ireland

Youghal Ireland Day 5 September 2005.

Continuing the SandyBeachGirl travelogue and I think I’m finally learning how to spell Marjalene’s name after ten years. Sorry Marj!

Today the madrigal group is going to sing at the National Ploughing Championship. Rather like a cross between a state fair and a giant craft show, it covers three days. It is held in different counties each year and this year it is being held on a farm just up the road. The crowd is expected to exceed 150,000. Even though it is nearby, about a ten minute drive, it will take the group about two hours to get there because of traffic. Sounds like Ireland’s version of a hurricane evacuation only they are going to a fun event instead of leaving a potential disaster. Later to hear Donny’s version it sounded like a disaster (insert wink) but Bill and Becki had fun.

I plan to sleep in as there are only eight VIP tickets for our group and they all need to go to the singers. Again upon their return BB&D tell me I could have paid my way and gone as one lady in our group did just this but none of us knew that in time.

I am really tired anyway so this is not a problem for me.

I tell Donny goodbye at around 9 and roll over for more sleep. I awake at noon very refreshed. I take a shower and bring my journal up to date. After everything suits me I head out to the cybercafé to do internet things.

It is a beautiful day, sunny and clear very un-Irish like.

Back at the apartment I plug in the computer for charging and decide to go out for groceries. I make a list, grab my backpack and leave a note for BB&D.

plough signsheep irelandblack sheepcountryside fairbill fair    marsha john speech fairdonny becki fair casual fair irelandtractor ireland    becki hat acute bendI meet John coming up the walkway. The group is back. I continue on because I am sure they will need down time and we need sundries. On the way I stop in a thrift store and find a fun top and a black sweater that is a blend but looks warm, and both are cheap. Next I stop in one of two toy stores in town and find a fun theater type toy that has figures that move around by means of magnets on a stick for Martin & Lydia. Next I go to the grocery store and get the things we need. The list is short but essential, things like toilet paper and milk. Now I head for the butcher to get fresh eggs and sausage and to the bakery for bread.

The bakery lady comments on the traffic outside saying it is the crowds coming back from the ploughing. I ask her if she has ever been to a ploughing, telling her that my group is there. She laughs and says she went ten years ago when it was much smaller.

She says the idea is nice for the farmers but that the merchants stalls are too close together and that it is hard to see the merchandise and also hard for the merchants to sell since there is such a throng of people. And she says that the local town merchants will not benefit much from all the influx since most folks will go to the ploughing and then go back to their lodging without doing much shopping.

Outside the apartment I meet up with Becki & Bill. They tell me that Donny has gone to town looking for me. We see him waving to us from our third and top floor bathroom window so he is already back at the apartment. Becki decides to see if she can send any mail home as it was a tangle for her the other day, before they are due at the Mall Arts Center to sing before the performance of The Virgin Queen and Her Shepherd of the Ocean. We all want to see this show. It has debuted here and is only being performed twice. Tonight will be the last show.

I decide to try and find Becki at the café since I have all of her pictures on my computer. That way she can send some photos. Donny decides to go with me. Becki is not in the café. I take Donny on a walking tour of the shop street also called the up street. The street along the water is called the down street. I have had more opportunities to explore the town than BB&D.

We head south window shopping. I show Donny the jewelry store I bought my earrings in and tell him that they have a bracelet I really like. He wants to see it. It is a well appointed store with Waterford crystal and nice jewelry. Donny likes the bracelet too and buys it for me.

rainbow no filter

No filter just your pot of gold if you can find the end

We continue on until the up street meets the down street just before the Mall Arts Center. We head north to our waterfront apartment to put the computer away. A beautiful rainbow is forming in the eastern sky. It is only a partial one but it gets brighter and brighter just like the ones Suzanne and I saw in Hawaii. We take pictures and cross paths with our jewelry store man who must be headed to the pub before going home.

Becki is back with some presents she has bought for the girls. It has been a shopping day for her. At the ploughing she got fun wool hats and gave me one. Bill bought her a beautiful Irish wool sweater there. She was happily surprised.

I tell her that we tried to find her on the up street. She says she had more trouble with email and went shopping instead. I tell her that I will send the email if she types it into a draft which she does. BB&D head for the theater, I head for the café. There I try to send the email but the pictures are in a form that is taking forever to go. I finally decide to pull some from my Picasa albums since I pretty much know what Becki wants and I know Picasa is quick.

After I open Picasa I am pleasantly surprised to see that Becki’s school folder has somehow weaved its way there. Great! I email it to the two addresses she has given me, herself and Cathy Evanoff, the media teacher at FFE. I am ready to leave, I check my mail one more time for no particular reason. Opps! There is a return mail. It is the mail to Cathy Evanoff. Her address must not be correct because Becki’s did not come back. So I have only sent mail to Becki. Sigh.

I am late for the show. I come in about half way through. Still it is brilliant. Everyone loves it. The storyline is Barbara as Elizabeth and Chris as Sir Walter recalling their glory days on the day he is to be executed. HRH is a ghost of course and Walter appears as he would have looked in his prime. Elizabeth appears as she would have looked on the day she was crowned queen. The wit and chemistry between the two characters and the two thespians is electric. lebame has written a jewel and Barbara and Chris deliver it to perfection.


Our great friend Breeda!

Now we head to JD’s Pub. The local mailman is singing. Everyone tells us that he is a local favorite. JD’s is the most popular hangout. We are a bit early. Bill and Donny secure a booth/table and Becki and I go up the street for Chinese take out. We will sneak our food into the pub. We are a bit hungry, but the pub does not serve food and also it is frowned upon to bring food in. Reeda tells us that the rule is you must share. That works for us.

When we get back the pub has filled. Our group has grown too. Jane and the YaYa’s (her sisters) are here. John, Greg (tech man), Carl, Barbara, her mum, lebame, the committee ladies, Gloria (props), Marge (Hunt Thomas’ mom and madrigal singer). We have an entourage tonight. The pub gets rocking fast.

bill lebame

Bill & lebame sporting her Elvis jacket

The drinks are flowing, folks are dancing, smoking is only allowed outside everywhere in Ireland, so the smokers are in and out the side door to smokers’ alley. You can see them outside our window. The lighting is reddish, very artsy looking. We all drift between the two booth/tables where we have settled. lebame appears at our table in a fabulous Elvis jacket. She bought it on his last concert tour. Only a few hundred were made. She paid big bucks, but like she says, she is still wearing the same jeans she had in high school. Since she is camera shy, I ask her how I can get a picture of the jacket. I could sneak a picture but I respect her wishes. She lets Becki wear it. Becki gives me a great Elvis pose.

connie barbara

Connie & Barbara

Everyone is happy. Marj is dancing in the aisles with John. We threaten to tell Hunt. She laughs, says she is done for the night, and bids farewell. Members of our group are beginning to drift away. Suddenly Carl summons me to bring my camera. I follow. We go outside, lebame wants me to take a picture of John and Carl with a Youghal native who now lives on Long Island. I oblige but the lighting is horrible. I keep moving them to a new spot. Finally we are at the front of the pub, as we have started out at the smoking door. Barbara and her mum are just leaving. We recompose the picture adding Barbara in it. lebame tells Barbara she will make her famous yet.

The girls take off. We go inside. Bill and Becki are dancing. It’s a good song I say to Donny. He takes the hint. We dance. Back at our table a fast song has started up. Donny tells John that we need to dance. We go for it. The song goes on forever, our postman has turned it into a medley. John and I keep looking for an exit. Finally others join us on the floor and we bail out.

irish gals

Our amazing welcoming committee

John and Carl head home. The committee ladies are still here. We join tables and chat with them for awhile about politics and culture. They are such wonderful ladies. It is getting late, they are tired and head home. So again it is BB &DS closing the bar with the local diehards. We dance a lot and finish our drinks. Mr New York is still here. He chats with us on the dance floor. I take him my card and meet his wife. Later they start dancing too. I tell her I knew a New York girl like her would have some fancy moves. I take their picture and get their email address so I can send it to them. All too soon last call is called out. We drain our cups and after three tries find the right door to leave by.

Your favorite Sandy beach girl in Ireland


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Y’all would LOVE Youghal

Ireland Day Four September 2005

top of youghal

Flowers, the city wall and the bay beyond that

It’s a typical Irish day today, cloudy and rainy, although we are told the weather is still unseasonably warm and has been all summer. But no one is complaining. Winter in Ireland is hard and that will be here soon enough.

Becki & I have decided to get up and walk early, well early for being on vacation. We have agreed on eight for our start time. Donny has set his phone to ring. Later into the depths of my sleep I hear a tap, tap, tap. I wonder who could be knocking at the apartment door and how could I possibly hear it in the bedroom. I continue my sleep only partially awakened anyway. Another tap, tap, tap marches into my slumber. Maybe it’s Becki I guess trying to figure out why Donny’s phone has not rung.

I call out to Becki and struggle out of bed. A moment later the chirping of Donny’s wake up birds calls out. Ah ha, Becki has been a quick one this morning.

town wall youghal

Original Youghal city wall

I dress, grab my camera and we venture forth. No rain yet only clouds. We climb the steps by the clock tower. They go up and up and up. When we start up the steps I tease Becki about repeating the circuit twenty times. She agrees. By the time we reach the top we think tomorrow will be soon enough. It’s really not that bad, somewhat like climbing the monument hill only higher. It’s a regular sort of neighborhood up here. Folks getting off to work and kids to school. In Ireland the kids wear uniforms to school. This street is still small, like all Irish streets, but very busy with morning activity.

The overlook from here onto the old village and cove down below is wonderful.

We are now above the church and its graveyard but cannot get in from here. The old city wall parallels our walk even as we start our descent about ¼ mile later. We see a lane winding up to our left and take it only to find ourselves right back where we started about fifteen minutes later. We are now on the shopping street and as it is time to go back so Becki can get ready for practice, we stop in the butcher for some fresh bacon, which is more like ham. Then we go to Collins the bakery for bread. The shop is full of baskets and barrels of huge loaves of bread in every direction. The shop lady tells us her husband bakes bread all night. We buy a brown loaf and a white one.

Back in the apartment we realize we have forgotten to buy a newspaper. I go out to get one while everyone else is prepping for the morning practice. I leave Becki starting breakfast but take over when I get back.

boat street youghal

Our home along Harvey’s Dock

There is a little time before practice after we have eaten. Donny decides to see if he can check his email and do computer business things. I plan to meet him and retrieve the computer and also check my mail etc. When I get there, Donny and Jacquie are standing outside the shop. Or rather Donny is kneeling in the sidewalk trying to view the computer screen. The shop is not open as we were told it would be. Donny is online but cannot see the screen because the glare is so bad. He gives up.We all wait a bit and then I go on to the grocery where I replenish our supplies. Back at the cybercafé, I find Donny inside just finishing up. We switch places. He is off to practice.

I chat with Cathie and Katelyn on AIM for awhile and send mail for a few folks. Then I pay up and head to the bakery to buy more coffee. So far it is the only place in town we have found to get coffee beans ground up freshly for us. The shop lady and I discuss her small variety of beans. She apologizes. I tell her it is fine. I tell her that Ireland more than makes up for it with wonderful whiskeys. She laughs. I tell her what I need to do is make some Irish coffee. Both she and her assistant start talking at once to tell me exactly how to do this to make the coffee perfectly right.

It is very simple, but very important to do the steps correctly, they say. Start with a splash of whiskey, Jamison, Power, or Paddy. Add hot black coffee. Then drizzle cream over the back of a spoon so that is curls into the coffee. Add some brown sugar if you must.

I have a full backpack of groceries plus the computer but this is too good sounding to put off. I head back to the grocery for cream and whiskey.

Back home I unload and try to take a bath. But I have not been given instructions to the tub hot water acquisition. Actually the first night here I took a bath and the water was extremely hot so I did not realize there was a hot water maze to negotiate. The water I used must have been left over from the previous folks. The shower has a heater box connected to it, but the tub has some type of switching plan in the hall. After a while I give up and take a sponge bath. For some reason I cannot get the shower to run at all, even though I know its sequence, so cannot fill the tub that way. About this time the group comes in and rescues me.

becki umbrella donny umbrellame countryside countryside youghalmarsha marian   bb countrysideIn a short while we are due to meet for a tour of unknown destination but it will be a driving one. We have a few minutes so Bill & Becki go to town to try and send some mail home to her music classes. I want to find a less dressy pair of earrings since for some reason all I have brought with me are big dangly ones which I love but not for day. Donny is sure we will all miss the bus. He promises to hold it for as long as he can.

I find an awesome pair of silver earrings that depict the Children of Lir legend. The story goes that an evil queen turned King Lir’s four children into swans. They were forced to live 300 years in each of three Irish places. Now all that is left of them is their lovely singing voices.

I get to the bus, as do B&B in plenty of time. Donny is there and the rest. It is a small van type bus. Two of the committee members have privately hired it to give us a tour of the countryside. We see the Irish Sea from a bluff. We see a section of Ireland preserved and protected by the government where Gaelic is still spoken and used in daily life. We see a monument to the America soldiers that helped with the Irish revolution. We cannot read it because it is in Gaelic, but Marian translates for us. We find this slightly amusing as any American wandering along will not know it addresses their countrymen unless they should happen to know Gaelic. We also see an abandoned church surrounded by equally abandoned graves.

mall arts

Mall Arts Center

Back at the Mall Arts Center, Marian and Tom, our tour sponsors, invite us for a drink at The Quay just down the street. We suggest our driver join us. He is happy to do so, but goes to park the bus first. We have our drinks and some of us order snacks as it is nearing dinner time. The madrigals are due to perform for the opening of Elizabeth R, Barbara’s one woman show, and then head to the Walter Raleigh Hotel to hear traditional Irish music so there is no time for other food.

At the arts center I run into my Irish sword friend who has written out a whole page of Gaelic for me but there is no time to chat now. He will get back with me later and explain it. He has brought that wonderful sword with him again.

power barbara barbara lebame laughing barbaralebame asks me to take pictures of HRH after the performance since there will be a similar set up as with the Lost Colony group in which certain scenes are restaged for a film being made. The crowd is small this evening but very appreciative of the show. Barbara’s mum, Connie, from England has flown over to see her and her performance. Barbara is sick but being the trooper that she is you would never know it from her marvelous performance.

Donny has waited for me rather than go on to the Raleigh. Not wanting to interrupt the show he has waited in the lobby. So he saw neither show because as it turns out just as we get to the hotel the last song has completed. Everyone tells us what a wonderful show we have missed, complete with River Dance rivaling Irish jigging. And the kids are all local. Breeda has taped it and shows us a selection. Bill has made his Irish debut during the talent portion of the show where anyone can sing or dance. He was a big hit with the audience.

The committee ladies want to take us to a close by pub. Just then the younger of the two guys performing at the Raleigh on Saturday night pops in and tells Bill that Dave, the other guy in the group, is playing at the Yawl Inn and would like Bill to join in. Bill is a happy camper. His fingers have been itching to jam with someone.

bill yawl

Bill jamming at the Yawl in Youghal

Apparently the Yawl Inn is a bit more casual than the ladies would like because they turn us over to Aoile, the young daughter of one of the committee members, and bid their goodnights.

We decide to walk to the Yawl. It is on the shop street just beyond The Hook we were at the night before.

Becki and I stop in a shop for a chicken sandwich to munch along the way.

The Yawl Inn is small much like a college bar only again all ages are enjoying their night out. Bill immediately joins Dave and another guy strumming. Here as well, he is a hit with the crowd and also with Dave. I tell Becki they will be invited back to tour with a music group. She laughs and says Bill always finds a group to jam with. She is surprised that it took him four days this time, on their trip to Hawaii it was only two.

Again we close the bar and wander home under a hazy crescent moon hovering just above the horizon.

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Don’t Ask An OBX Local For Directions They’ve Already LOST One Colony

lost colony 2005

Several members of the cast and crew with a few Irish friends in Youghal County Cork 2005. Left to right, Greg Purcell, Becki Rea, Joan’s sister (a YaYa) Donny Ball, Marsha Warren, Carol Adams, Joan’s other sister (another YaYa), Carl Curnutte III, Joan Brumbach, Bill Rea, Sandy Ball, John Buford, Marj Thomas, Jackie Pierce, Irish kid one and two and fellow countryman.

Our family history with Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Green’s The Lost Colony, longest running outdoor symphonic drama, is not as lengthy as some but is a lot longer than many and has its own thread of fun. True we’ve never had a Virginia Dare baby in the family. For those of you who might not know, once a summer on Virginia Dare’s birthday, real babies are used in five different scenes. Lewis was the only child in our family eligible for this role since Richmond was our base when the others were the right age, but at 6 months and very active, I figured that he would not really enjoy the entire acting gig and didn’t take him to auditions.

However, we have suffered the agony of the wooden bench seats with no backs and jockeying for a good seat since all tickets were general admission. Bug spray was not an option it was a necessity. Any form of local id got you in free on Dare Night that preceded the show’s official opening and really the only night to go if you were a local. Everyone was there, literally just about everyone in the county. It was great to see wintered over neighbors with greetings of ‘Hi!’ and ‘How are you?’ creating a familiar early summer cacophony of sound not that much different from the cicadas that came along later in the season.

Once purchased seats became the norm, Emily trained us early on to opt for ones on the Indian side at her friends in the colony recommendation. One year the colony was so jammed pack with theater goers every night the best we could do was get seats in the last row of the center section.

barbara and her dudes

Bill Rea, HRH Barbara Hird, Chris Chappell Ireland 2005

New to the Outer Banks in 1984 we were lucky enough to see the 400th production of the colony when Colleen Dewhurst was Queen Elizabeth for the 4th of July weekend. Our arrival almost matched that of Barbara Hird who came on board in 1986 as HRH (her royal highness), a role which she owned for 10 years and later marketed into several amazing HRH one act plays penned by lebame houston. Lisa Bridge followed Barbara as Queen Elizabeth and she too owned the role. In 2006 Lynn Redgrave was queen for a week as a favor to director friend Jane McCulloch. Our family grew up with magnificent queens.

In 2005 Donny & I were fortunate to be included as part of the freshly formed abridged concert version of the Lost Colony. TLC was to be the feature attraction at the Youghal Through the Ages festival in County Cork Ireland. The Life and Times of Sir Walter Raleigh was the theme that year and no one knew it better than lebame houston. Board member of TLC, lebame, along with then executive director/producer Carl Curnutte III, assured the folks of Youghal that we could deliver and we did. I was official photographer and Donny tenor in the small company. He was Ananias Dare and I can still hear him start the Final March song (in this version Ananias does not get killed off) with his strong deep tenor solo beginning. “O God that madest earth and sky and hedged the seas around, Who that vast firmament on high with golden stars hath bound. Oh God our father Lord above, O bright immortal one, Secure with in thy mercy, we walk this death alone.”

This was and remains the only time TLC has been performed outside the United States in any format. And we were there. It was grand. We got a special viewing of Sir Walter Raleigh’s home, now a private residence. We were feted endlessly and got invited to the back after hours rooms of many a pub, where joviality continued through the night. We were given tours of the countryside and even had a day or two off to take on Castle Blarney and a few other sights on our own.

lydia martin old tom 2013

Lydia, Old Tom & Martin 2013

In recent history the grands have become attracted to the show. Lots of changes have been made. There are always changes every year but these are actually pretty major. The show starts and ends earlier. Time was when you could put solid money on getting home after midnight, especially if you live on the better island as we who hail from Colington Island good naturedly tell our Roanoke Island friends. Scenes have been reworked and some even cut. One of my favorite show stoppers, the girl with the dress on fire, taken out for years, is back in.  Actors now greet you after the show for photo opts and autographs.

And so with the show, our show, there is a constant ebb and flow, just like the tides around the barrier islands we call home, that is ever a part of The Lost Colony, our colony, the one that we lost, and found again.





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