Tuesday, 12 August 2014

County Clare - Day 6 & 7: Kilbaha

Saturday 10th May
Woke up very snug in my bed this morning and decided to stay put for a while.  The weather outside was atrocious, rain and blowing a gale.  To say nothing of COLD!!!  Goodbye to any plans for today - I had hoped to visit the lighthouse, but no point in this weather.

Up later, and a quick trip out to the car (brrrr!) to bring in my books and laptop.  I set myself up on the dining room table in front of the heater and spent a lovely day working on family history and doing the finishing touches to my presentation for Kilrush & District Historical Society.  What better place to write about family history than in this place which has played such a part in it?

The little wood heater took the chill out of the air, but by late afternoon it was cooling off and I found a single bar radiator which I set up near my feet.  What I would have given for my nice warm slippers!  Pip and Karen arrived in the evening and we spent a couple of hours over a meal and a chat.

Sunday 11th May
Quite sunny this morning for a change, but still cool and windy.  The sun porch at Kilbaha was a great spot to enjoy breakfast and a morning cup of tea.

Loop Head Lighthouse

Up to the Loop Head Lighthouse after breakfast - clear enough for a spectacular view right across the Shannon to the Kerry mountains.  Did the lighthouse tour, and had a quick walk around the perimeter before returning to Kilbaha.  I stopped by the Kiltrellig graveyard, just to get the feel.  Mary Anna(Pilkington) Griffin died in 1887, and her son Bob Griffin who died at Kiltrellig in 1904 are both buried either there in the graveyard, or just over the fence in the adjacent Kiltrellig land.  Family diaries confirm their burials, but there is nothing there to mark exactly where.  The cemetery backs onto Kiltrellig so it provided a view over what would have been the home paddocks and a good idea of what the outlook from Kiltrellig Lodge over the Shannon estuary would have been like.  Kiltrellig Lodge was the summer residence of the Pilkington family, built by Thomas Pilkington in  1834.  It became the permanent family home for the unmarried Pilkington siblings after the death of their parents in 1884, and remained the family home until the death of the last of my grandfathers siblings, Annie Pilkington, in 1961.

Kiltrellig Lodge c1950

 The house was in a state of disrepair at the time of Annie's death.  The story goes that as the house became more and more dilapidated, she would just close it off room by room until at the end she was living in just 2 habitable rooms.  It was eventually demolished.

I then met up with Pip and Karen again, and Pip took me for a walk around the cliff tops, past the ruins of Doondahlin, to the Turret and the Rock pool.  The scenery really is spectacular.
Cliff-top view

The Rock Pool

The Turret - built as a smoking house for the men of Doondahlin

After our walk, we met up with Seamus and Ailish Connolly, friends of Pip's who live with their young family just a short way up the road from Kilbaha cottage. Seamus knew all about Kiltrellig and the Pilkington's, mentioned Miss Annie and Miss Edie, even though both they and the house would have been long gone before he was even born!  Enjoyed a cup of tea at their house, and heard about Ailish's plans to open a gallery with a friend.  This is now up and running as Kilbaha Gallery & Crafts, which also incorporates a heritage centre named for a local identity, Henry Blake.

It was difficult to tear myself away from their hospitality, but the drive to Dublin wasn't going to get any shorter, so eventually I made my goodbyes and left.

Kilbaha & Kiltrellig
Kilbaha cottage at left.  The two single storey buildings on the right are the Kiltrellig cottages and are still owned by family connections.

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