Our last days in Ireland were spent in the north, in the areas where my Dad grew up and where many of our relatives live. The majority of our time was spent catching up with our relatives and sipping on the many, many cups of tea we were offered.
Most people we had not seen in over two years. It was really good to see them and catch up with them. After all, there was a lot to catch up on. The children had grown a lot, a few babies were born and of course there were a lot of questions and stories about our last year. All our answers and entertaining tales were rewarded with top notch Irish hospitality.
In the spare moments we had between house hopping we visited my Dad’s childhood home. Although the house had been worn by time and weather it was still very familiar to my Dad.
Behind the house he showed us where a garden had once been. In another area he recalled how, at age nine, he had once delivered a litter of pigs when his parents went to town , leaving him looking after a pregnant sow. Inside we saw the area (600 sq ft) that, at times, was shared between thirteen people.
Parts of the roof had fallen in but a remaining part of the ceiling still held the hook that his family used to hold the only light source, the faithful Tilly (kerosene lamp).
During a different intermission from visiting family, we relaxed on the beaches of Port Steward. The beach is among the nicest of the world. Packed white sand stretches on for miles and the surrounding city is lined with cafes and ice cream shops. Sadly, the Irish weather does not compliment this area. It was far too chilly to swim in but we did briefly dip our toes into the Atlantic.
On a different part of the coast, in Belfast, we saw where the Titanic was built and had once ventured into the same waters. Belfast features an excellent museum covering everything concerning the Titanic. The museum also provides some history into the industry of Ireland before the construction of the Titanic.
We were amazed at how thorough the museum was. We read the letters sent from the Titanic and the interviews of the survivors like, Father Browne. There were many photographs displayed as well.
One of which was a photo done by Father Browne. When he took the photograph after he disembarked the vessel he did not know he had snapped the last shot of the Titanic afloat. However, Browne’s photograph was not the last of the ship entirely. We also saw the underwater photographs of the sunken Titanic.
After touring through the museum we walked to the pump house and dock where the Titanic had once been. From that dock the ship would have set out towards it’s final destination in Canada. After saying our goodbyes to our family in Ireland we embarked on our own transatlantic.
The journey was a lot shorter than the Titanic’s would have been, if successful. Not to mention, returning to Canada by plane, we did not have to worry about icebergs. Upon arriving back in Edmonton, we had completed our circuit of 56,000 miles in 320 days.