“The radiators are cold.”  This was not the statement we had hoped to hear from our month-long guests on their first day in the cottage!

Friends of ours were staying at Teach deBúrca for the month of May. These are our first guests, which was very exciting for us, yet also caused some anxiety. Because it is a somewhat rustic cottage, if you can call a place with heat and indoor plumbing “rustic”, that sits empty for much of the year in the middle of farmland and bog, we had some trepidation about whether our friends would be comfortable and happy staying there. This anxiety was much relieved when I received a very jubilant sounding voicemail message early in the month stating that they had arrived and were very pleased with the place! However, at the end of the message was a request that we contact them to let them know how to turn on the heat, as the radiators were cold – uh oh. This was not a good sign and it turned out to be two days of conversations via phone and text message by which we tried to sort out a problem with the heat from across the Atlantic. Handling this sort of thing from a distance is not easy, but since we do know a very nice and neighborly Kilkee man who is willing to check on the cottage for us, we had a place to start. We contacted Martin and he kindly stopped by to check it out. At first he couldn’t find an obvious cause, so he built a fire in the stove and probably turned a few switches on and off. As sometimes happens with these things, a few hours later after making a funny noise, the heat came on and, as far as I know, things remained warm and cozy for the rest of month! We were so thankful for this small miracle because we didn’t want the cottage to interfere with our friends’ month-long Irish holiday, and in fact, had hoped the cottage would be a nice part of that holiday. Now, with the month nearly over, our house guests have closed up the cottage and, after a few stops along the way to Dublin, will soon return to Elmhurst. I can’t wait to hear all about their time in Kilkee, in Teach deBúrca and of their jaunts around the countryside!

May was an eventful month for Ireland as far as visitors go! Along with our friends from Elmhurst, the Queen of England and the President of the United States paid a visit! There is so much to say about the historical significance of the first visit of a British monarch to Ireland in 100 years – the first visit ever by a British monarch to the independent, Republic of Ireland. But I’m going to leave that analysis to others closer to the situation and more knowledgeable than me. However, I will say that when I saw the Queen first set foot on Irish soil and witnessed the gracious greeting awaiting her from the Irish President – Uachtarán na hÉireann, Mary McAleese, the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, and other Irish dignitaries and citizens, it gave me goosebumps and moved me more than I would have expected. For those who haven’t seen it yet, I am including a video, below, of the Queen’s speech in Dublin Castle. The two most interesting things about this video come at the beginning and at the end. First, the Queen started her speech off by speaking in Irish, much to the delight of President McAleese, which is apparent as she mouths the word “Wow!” when she hears it! The second occurrence, of less consequence but something I found charming, comes at the end of the speech when the Queen calls for those present to stand for a toast. After the toast everyone clinks their glasses together and you can hear the Queen say, “I like this clinking glass” !

Continuing the excitement of the Queen’s stay and coming just a few days after her departure, was a visit from President Obama and The First Lady. After much preparation and fanfare the President and Mrs. Obama’s one-day visit to Ireland included a stop in the small town of Moneygall, a.k.a. Muine Gall, which means “foreigners’ thicket” in Irish. Moneygall was home to Fulmuth Kearney, President Obama’s maternal great-great-great-grandfather, who emigrated from this town to America in 1850! Besides being treated to a rousing and warm welcome by the entire town, along with many others who travelled there for the event, the president got to meet his very own Irish 8th cousin, Henry Healy, whom he referred to as “Henry the 8th” during an eloquent speech given at a rally in his honor in College Green, Dublin later that day! Below is a delightful video of our president enjoying a pint at Ollie Hayes’ Pub in Moneygall (I think cousin-Henry is the young man standing behind the president who toasts with Mrs. Obama in the video)! Sláinte, Mr. President!