Celebrated connections

On the drive back to Dublin we stopped at Clonmacnoise, a monastic settlement that used to be the most famous destination in County Offaly until somebody discovered that Barack Obama’s great-great-grand-something-or-other came from Moneygall.

The complex beside the Shannon felt less remarkable than some of the other medieval sites we’d visited, but we enjoyed the high crosses in the museum. Some of the reliefs looked like stony versions of marginalia from the Book of Kells.

Nearby is one of the most thoroughly ruined castles I’ve ever seen.

Farther east we made a minor detour to Mullingar, where my great-grandmother grew up (the family pub is pictured in the header image up top). It seems unlikely that the Texas Department Store was around in the nineteen-aughts; otherwise, judging by family stories, the town today is probably about as glamorous as it was back then.

We saw a couple of buildings that looked like they might conceivably at one time have been Gaynor’s, but the pub itself is long gone. We did not visit the Ulysses Pub, which pays tribute to Joyce with photos of footballers.

Is “celebrated” exactly the word?

We celebrated getting back to Dublin with dinner at the Winding Stair, a restaurant that wins points for also being a bookshop, and for a bread-and-butter pudding that might contain more warm butter than bread. Then we took the bus back to the airport and got ready to go home, which, eventually, we did.

Some things had happened here while we were away. Not all of them were bad.

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