09 September 2014

Ballinrobe Library Story

After lunch this afternoon we headed out with a backpack of books to return to the library and Bill's jump drive with a document to print. We walked in the bright sunshine to the library, where Bill took a seat at a computer and I went to the desk to return the books. Mary, the librarian, commented on how beautiful the weather has been. She has not been the first person! It's been quite sunny for the past several days and when we're out, people always comment on it. "Beautiful mornin', isn't it?" they'll say. "Thank God!" The other day someone said this to us not long after I'd finished grumbling to Bill about the sun being out and the fact that it was too hot!  Mary told me that people are obsessed with the weather here, especially when it's like this, because it's so unusual. She told me that in the winter, it'll be raining all the time. Every day. I hope so.

Somehow we ended up talking about a bunch of other stuff and she told me she's lived in Ballinrobe for 35 years and working at the library for over 20. She said that it used to be located in a tiny thatched building on Cornmarket--I cannot imagine having a library in the building she means--it really is small. They moved into their current location about 17 years ago, all because of a library patron named Dorothy, who had a dog friend named Coco.

Dorothy was "Church of Ireland" and she was increasingly disturbed by the sorry state of the unused church. She was also a book lover and frequent visitor to the library. One day she approached Mary and asked if the county council might be able to use the old church building as a library. Mary said to talk to them about it. Dorothy did and in the end, Church of Ireland leased it to the Mayo County Council for 1 cent.
It needed some restoration work, not least on the stained glass window, which was sent to Dublin piece by piece and cleaned at a cost of 70,000 pounds (this was just before the euro, I guess).
Mary said that things were so much better after they moved into this space. I can only imagine how spacious it seems after being crowded into the previous tiny space!
There is a bit of work that needs doing--some damp is creeping in at the entryway, so she's been talking to the council about that.

Dorothy, the woman that set the move in motion, continued to use the library a lot. She always came in with Coco and Coco was the only dog allowed in the library. Once, when Mary was away on holiday, her sub told Dorothy that the dog was not allowed in the library and Coco had to be tied up outside. Dorothy was not happy and I'm guessing that Coco wasn't, either! When Mary returned, she said, "Don't ever do that again! Do you know whose dog that is?" Coco was never banished again!

When it became difficult for Dorothy to get into town, Mary would pick her up on her lunch hour and bring Dorothy to town to do her shopping and pick up her library books. When Dorothy was unable to get to the library, Mary brought her books to her. Dorothy was found passed away in her bed with an open library book in her hand and Coco at the end of her bed. Coco died two days later.

What a great story. I'm glad she told me--I have a new appreciation for the library now. I wish I'd known Dorothy and Coco, too.

02 September 2014

Let It Rain

Last week there was an annual outdoor mass scheduled at the abbey ruins.
The weather was uncooperative. The morning started out fine and Bill and I went out for our walk. By the time we got home it was spitting a little bit. Then the wind kicked up and the rain came down. Things pretty much continued like that for the rest of the day and into the night. The wind was blowing harder than it has since we got here and the rain was blowing sideways and splattering against the windows. I found it very peaceful--I like that kind of thing--but I was sitting here in a building with walls over a foot thick. I was pretty sure it wasn't a good night for an open air mass at a ruin. When we went out walking the next morning, we discovered that they didn't even try it.
There had been some rain the day before this as well and it has been pretty cloudy lately. All of this is contributing to a rise in the water level of the river. I suppose that the water plants are not drawing up as much water either, now that they are starting to fade.

The little falls had water flowing down both sides and splashing over the stairstep section. A few weeks ago there was just a trickle down the stairstep part and the other sections were dry. Now things are flowing once again.
The river has now covered over some of the rocks that became visible as the summer wore on.
The plants that were flowering are now going to seed. I saw these seed pods out of the corner of my eye and just loved them.
As Bill was taking this photo, he noticed the snail on a nearby plant.
The blackberries must've liked the rain as well, because there are a lot of them ready to be picked now.

We picked another container full while we were out yesterday. I'll probably make a fruit sauce using these, some apples, and pears, and stick in the freezer for future use on porridge or pancakes. There are plenty more out there.

Mayo lost the match the other day, so didn't make it into the final. We listened on the radio and tried to follow along, with the help of Google--we had no idea how the scoring works or anything. We did listen to a regional radio station, so we figured out that when they got excited, it was good for Mayo. It was a heartbreaker--went into extra time after a player from Ballinrobe tied it up at the last minute, but they ran out of gas in the second half of extra time. The next day Donegal played Dublin and won, so they'll be playing Kerry in the final game, which is not until September 21st.

Yesterday we stopped at the store for some bread and the woman ahead of us in line asked if we'd seen the match. We told her we listened to it and a conversation ensued. It was fun to listen to the game--these are amateurs, which I didn't know, and it seems like a pretty rough game, so they must love it. The play-by-play guys were interesting to listen to--one guy would be describing the action when the guy next to him would suddenly be screaming about something. Then they'd ask this guy--who was clearly an elder--about something and he would sometimes be at a loss for words until he kind of got his thoughts together.

We listened to the Donegal-Dublin game the next day and will probably listen to the final game. Bill says he wants to get to understand hurling as well. Given the fact that there are sticks involved with that, it's probably a good thing they wear helmets. I am not sure of how the schedules go and what sport is played when. We saw a house with a hurling flag outside, but it seems that rugby is the game that will be in season now--one of the pubs in town had a design painted on the window that represented the Ballinrobe RFC. And soccer (football here) from the UK seems to be big here, too. So, if I understand it right, there is football (soccer), GAA football (Gaelic football, which was what the games were over the weekend), and the RFC (rugby football clubs). And there is hurling, but not sure where that fits in!