“Are you the lady who lost her keys?” This was my greeting during our first visit to Maud’s Ice Cream Shop in Kilkee! If you don’t remember that story, or perhaps never read it, I will refer you back to Blame it on the horse and my misadventure with keys last July. But the point being, the people of Kilkee and the surrounding area, the shopkeepers in particular who I had the most contact with, have been very welcoming and have made this summer unique from the last in that they remember us and have welcomed us back at every turn.

Dublin is a great city where I love to wander, shop and eat. But for the “Irish experience” of the friendly people sort, which has made this country famous, I have had to come to the West of Ireland, Kilkee and the Loop Head Peninsula. The familiarity of the people who run and work in the shops probably says a lot about just how much I frequented places like Diamond Rocks Cafe, Naughton’s, The Pantry, Keatings, Jo Soap Laundrette and Maude’s Ice Cream. However, considering the vast number of visitors this place takes in during the summer holidays, I was delighted by the immediate recognition and welcome I received from people remembering us and details about our stay here last year, such as Eoin’s watersports activities and our house in the bog – and my missing keys! And though everyone is generally friendly and helpful, I think they go that extra mile when they learn that we own a place here. Although we are blow-ins who don’t stay for the entire year, we have still made an investment in the area, both materially and emotionally, and I think it is appreciated. But, it is not only the people in the shops who have made us feel welcome. The local man who has been so helpful to us all year-long by checking on the house when we’re away, showing up to let the heating oil man fill our tank and looking in on our friends during their stay in May has dropped by twice since we arrived just to check to see if everything is alright! A busy man, he is here and gone like a whirlwind, but has made his neighborly presence known in a way that makes us feel like a part of the community.

And we are still meeting people. For instance, yesterday during a stop in nearby Carrigaholt, I met the man who runs the prettiest Post Office I have ever seen – and I told him as much! Not only is it lovely to look at, but at least while I was in town, soothing classical music could be heard emanating from the open door. And on top of that, this is a Post Office after my own heart because it also serves as a coffee shop! Not only did the friendly man wave and say hello from his doorway, but he walked up to my car, began a conversation and, after learning that I owned a cottage in Lisheen, invited me to stop in and visit the shop when I’m back in Carrigaholt. I took him up this invitation sooner than he probably expected when I dropped in again only a couple of hours later asking for, and receiving, the recommendation of a plumber from the area! Local tradesmen, by the way, are another group of people I am getting to know quite well around here!

A very pretty Post Office!