Toledo Irish: A Very Special Trip to Ireland
by Maury Collins
My Father immigrated from Mullintoura, Ballyhooley in Co. Cork to Toledo, Ohio. Over the years, he married, and had a family of four children. He also had some health issues over the years. By 1954, he had accumulated thirty days of vacation.
It was decided that my Father would go back home, taking one of his children. Since I was the only son, they decided that I should be the one to go. We spent the month of August in Ireland.
I have returned to Ireland twice since that time. Penny and I went on a tour with Larry Minor’s group in 2003. Most of the group consisted of fellow Toledo Hibernians. When we went to Kinsale in County Cork, my cousin Mick and Eileen Collins met us. They took us back to the homestead and held a dinner for us in Fermoy with over forty cousins welcoming us back to Ireland,
In 2010, I won a trip to Ireland in the Toledo Hibernian raffle. The cousins took turns every day taking us around to different sights. We spent time at the homestead and there was another dinner of the cousins. It was a wonderful time but there were still places in Ireland I had not been too.
Earlier this year, my son Moe Collins told me that he and his wife Roxanne were thinking about going to Ireland to celebrate their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. At first, I thought there was no way Penny and I could afford to go, but we were given a gift, which made it possible. Plans were made for the last week of August.
Roxanne was working on an itinerary. She asked me if there were any places I wanted to visit? The first thing, which we all wanted, was to spend a couple of days with family. I then told her about the four items on my “Bucket List” The four of us sat down and worked out our visit.
Now what made this trip more special than the others? It was sixty-five years to the month from when I went to Ireland with my Father, and now I was going there with my son.
One of the things on my “Bucket List” was the Rock of Cashel in Co. Tipperary. I have seen pictures of the castle. I have even written articles for the Hibernian newsletter. Nothing prepared me for the actual visit.
It is majestic. On the inside we found an ancient tapestry, statues and a sculpture named the Cross of St. Patrick. Outside we found cemeteries with beautiful Celtic crosses.
Penny and I went to church in Rathcormac, which is the church my father attended.
We visited the graves of my Grandparents and the two of my aunts and uncles we
stayed with in 1954.
I said a prayer for each of you reading this.
On our way to Galway, we made a stop in the Burren to see the next item on my Bucket List. Situated on the high Burren limestone plateau, the Poulnabrone Dolmen is one of Ireland’s most iconic archaeological monuments and is the second most visited location in the Burren after the Cliffs of Moher.
It is the oldest dated megalithic monument in Ireland. The radiocarbon dates from Poulnabrone indicate that the burials were deposited at regular intervals over a period of 600 years between 3800 and 3200 BC. Again, I have seen pictures and written articles, but actually being there was just magnificent. You could feel the history and the reverence of the place.
The next item on my “Bucket List” was Newgrange. I booked a nine hour tour out of Dublin with Sacred Irish tours. The tour guide was Liam Lawlor. I recommend that you use him for your tour of Newgrange.
The tour also included Trim Castle and the Hill of Tara. The passageway in Newgrange was very narrow. Liam pointed out different items carved into the stones to look for before we went in. We walked around the outside where photography was allowed.
Newgrange was built around 3200 BC, making it older that Stonehedge or the Pyramids. Looking at the size of the kerb stones, especially the one at the entrance makes one marvel at how it could have been built back then.
From there we went to Trim Castle. The largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland; it was built by Hugh de Lacy when he was granted the Liberty of Meath by King Henry II in 1172. It was a powerful seat at one time. There was a set of stocks at the castle. A large board with three holes, one for the head and two for the arms. I was selected to be the person put in the sticks; imagine that!
The next stop was The Hill of Tara in the Boyne Valley. It is a ceremonial site associated with kingship rituals. From the time of the first Celtic influence until the Norman invasion in the 12th Century, the Hill of Tara was Ireland’s political and spiritual capital. A standing stone known as the Lia Fáil (Stone of Destiny) at which the High Kings were crowned.
According to legend, when the true King held the stone, it would let out a screech that could be heard all over Ireland. I held it but nothing happened. The “Mound of the Hostages” is a megalithic ‘passage tomb’ and is the oldest monument on the hill of Tara, dating to about 2,500BC. The name “Mound of the Hostages” derives from the custom of overkings like those at Tara retaining important personages from subject kingdoms to ensure their submission or death.
The last item on my “Bucket List” was to visit Glasneven Cemetery and Michael Collins’ tomb. We had a short time on our way to return the rental car and get to the airport. The museum and visitor’s Center would not open until eleven, so we were on our own. We found Michael Collins’ grave. We also found a large Brown marble plaque dedicated to the people involved in the Easter Rising 1916.
Just the enjoyment of being there with my wife, my son and my daughter in law was a highlight of the trip; it was a blast. Seeing my Irish relatives is always a joy. The things on my “Bucket List were special and each one was even better than I had imagined. Going to Galway, home of the Claddagh Ring, where Moe and Roxanne bought silver Claddagh rings for their twenty fifth anniversary was memorable.
We stood by the cam near the Temple Bar. Roxanne called her son, Brendan (my grandson) to bring up the cam. We all waved at him. It is a small world.
One last thing. We were in a pub in Dingle listening to traditional Irish music. The band asked for volunteers to come up to sing. My son volunteered and we went up on stage to sing “Dirty Old Town.” I’m waiting for a recording contract.
* Maury Collins is a charter member and past president of the Toledo AOH division. He may be reached at [email protected].
Don’t Forget, Send Maury [email protected]) and John ([email protected]) your Toledo Irish events news and pics so we can let everyone know. Deadline is 10th of the month, for the following month, so Jan 10 for February issue, etc ….