With a birthday card to mail, I decided to take advantage of a mild, if still overcast day, earlier this week and chose to drive a bit into the Loop Head Peninsula to the small fishing village of Carrigaholt, thinking that Eoin could go seashell hunting on the Shannon shoreline that lies within view of the picturesque Carrigaholt Post Office and the attached Dolphinwatch office. While Eoin wandered down to collect shells, I went ahead to post my card. Having already made the acquaintance of the amiable postman, we exchanged greetings as he processed my card. Looking around I saw a few people mulling about, mugs in hand browsing the large selection of books, pamphlets and odds and ends that surround the small, crowded room with the service window. I asked if he had fired up the espresso machine that he hadn’t plugged in last year due to the thin crowds of people. He said no, but that he was serving herbal tea. So, never one to resist an opportunity to turn an otherwise humdrum errand into a pleasurable experience, I requested a cup of peppermint tea and spent some moments of leisure sitting at one of the tables in front of the lovely stone building, surrounded by pots of flowers, sipping tea and listening to the cool jazz emanating from outdoor speakers. Meanwhile, Eoin enjoyed searching for a 10-year-old’s treasures along the quiet shore of the River Shannon. I call that a win-win situation!
If you look across the bay into the distance, between the flower-pot on the blue bench and the green post box, you can see the ruin of Carrigaholt Castle, built around 1480 by the quarrelsome McMahons, and full of the ghosts of a very colorful and violent history. I thought how strange, all these centuries later, that I was sitting there within sight of those empty windows, peacefully enjoying peppermint tea from a flowery mug, cool jazz filling the air.