1Hanging Loose in Ireland

1991 Visits by Nolan Family to Galway, Aran Islands, Ballinasloe, Killarney, Ring of Kerry, Waterville,


July 30-Aug. 11, 1991


1: Flights to Shannon, Ireland

5: Great Golf at Ballybunion

2: Galway, Ferry to Aran Islands

6: Drive to Blarney, Brinney & Cork

3: Ballinasloe for Nolan Genealogy

7: Killarney Golf

4. Killarney, Cliffs of Moher

8: Waterville Golf & Ring of Kerry


Updated July 23, 2009



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Tuesday, July 30, 1991 – Flights from Memphis to New York and Shannon, Ireland (Betty’s account)


Our friend Lee Allen, mother of one of our son’s pals, gave us (me, husband Lewis “Buzz” and our 16-year-old son, Casey) a ride to the Memphis International Airport at 7:15 a.m. After checking in our baggage for the connecting flights to New York and Ireland, we checked in and walked to our gate for the American Airlines’ flight to Dallas-Fort Worth. Oddly, the previously booked flight to New York connecting through Nashville had been cancelled and we were routed to the west to Dallas’ Love Field.


We did arrive on time in Dallas, but had to walk the entire length of the American terminal

to Gate 20 to board the flight to New York. We had 2 ½ hours of wait time before us because of the cancellation of the original routing through Nashville on American and our purchase of tickets on Ireland’s Aer Lingus for the New York-Shannon flight.


By happenstance, there were a bunch of cheerleaders for the Miami Dolphins professional football team as well as quite a few Japanese businessmen waiting at the same gate for a sooner flight to Tokyo.


Finally, we boarded the American plane and arrived at New York’s Kennedy Airport at almost 5:30 p.m. It seemed to take a long time for our luggage to appear, probably because it went on the plane first due to our lengthy layover in Dallas. Eventually, we retrieved two large suitcases (one was missing a coaster probably ripped off by American), two sets of golf clubs and our duffle bag. We caught a taxi to ride to the terminal served by Aer Lingus and narrowly missed being too late to board the airplane for Ireland.


A lesson learned there was that it is less stressful even if more expensive to book the same airline straight through.


It worked out that we were assigned seats on the Aer Lingus plane’s 40th row. It seemed that most of the plane was occupied by Irish people, many with small children. The kids were served finger food before other passengers were fed. Unfortunately, our dinners didn’t look as good as the food served children.


The chicken breast served Betty retained its skin. With eat were peas still in the hull, and small servings of green beans, carrots and potatoes, of course. The salad was positively dreadful, with green beans, hard garbanzos, kidney beans, one slice of tomato and egg and about a tablespoon of lettuce. The roll of bread wasn’t too bad and came with creamery butter from Co. Cork. Cheese from Vermont, crackers and a mint plus caramel custard completed the not-very-good meal.


At least the Ballygowan spring water, containing what the Irish flight attendant described as “fizzy,” was pretty good. I’m sure lots of bottled water will be consumed on the flight since the serving of soft drinks without ice don’t seem to be suited to my system.


Wednesday, July 31, 1991 – Arrival at Shannon Airport, Ireland (Betty’s account)


We arrived at Ireland’s Shannon Airport at approximately 6:15 a.m. We changed some American money into Irish Pounds, or Punts, (several years before the country converted to the Euro-based currency) after going through immigration and having our passports stamped. We soon collected our luggage and got our reserved, rental car. It is a four-door, white Renault.


We finally got on the Highway N18 road heading for Galway about 7 a.m. We really had a treat when we had to stop for a flock of sheep being moved across the road from one pasture to another. An old man and his sheep dog (a tan Border collie) seemed to do a great job of keeping the sheep moving despite the traffic. 


We arrived at our hotel, the Corrib Great Southern, on Galway Bay about 9 a.m. Luckily, we were able to get into our double room once we had breakfast at the hotel. We slept until about 1:30 p.m.


Due to the famous and popular Galway Horse Races that are now underway through Saturday, the traffic on the road outside the hotel was steady.


The races are big, annual event in Galway. It was truly unbelievable how many people attended. The three of us stood by a rail not far from the crowd stadium for free, as did hundreds of the native Irish people. During one race, a hockey fell off his horse when he jumped over a hedge that crossed the track near us. In Ireland, the horses not only run, they have to jump as though in a fox hunt in an open field.


In this instance, the rider less horse finished the race with the pack. The distance was two laps around the lush, grass-covered track. We quickly learned why Irish bookies who take bets on horse races are called “turf accountants.”


Another rider somehow fell off a beautiful, gray horse that reminded us of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s mount, Traveler. The most interested comment was made by a young woman at the end of the race, who said in a plaintive voice that “my horse doesn’t have a rider.” Obviously she had placed a bet on the horse that was disqualified.


We left the races early to avoid what we anticipated would be heavy traffic pouring back to town from the track. Unfortunately, we took a wrong turn and got caught up in the traffic and confusion that accompany driving on the left side of the road and dealing with the “roundabouts” that are formed by criss-crossing roads.


Back in Galway, we went to the Post and bought some stamps so we could send postcards to friends and family back home and to change some of our American Express traveler’s checks into Irish Pounds. The best we could do on this trip was get an exchange rate of 1 pound for $1.57, plus commission. (Years later after the precipitous drop in the dollar under President George W. Bush, the rate had worsened to about two dollars per one Euro.)


We ate dinner at McDonough’s Seafood Restaurant. The fish (haddock) and chips (French fries) were very good. The smoked salmon – cooked over oak wood – Buzz had was excellent.


All three of us enjoyed seeing the wild swans swimming on the Galway Bay near a quay in the central town area, as we did on our last visit to Galway 5 years ago. All in all, we had a good day. Tomorrow, we are going to ride a ferry to the Aran Islands. We hope for a day to bicycle and perhaps buy sweaters and plan to take pictures.


(Buzz’s account of our arrival in Galway)


Rarely has a good bed felt as good as did the one in our hotel after we had breakfast following our long, all-night flight across the Atlantic Ocean.


The accommodating hotel staff readied our room while we ate so the three of us could take a nap before venturing out to the Galway Races and the sights of the town. The smoked salmon served as McDonough’s for dinner was better than any I’d had at home. Much later, we went to bed shortly after 9 p.m. that evening, but it turned out the celebrating Irish kept the hotel’s pub noisy until after 11 p.m.


The different values between the U.S. and Ireland were evident when we saw that the band playing at the pub wasn’t scheduled to begin play until 10 p.m., with another band starting at 11 p.m.


At the hotel, l looked into locating 19th Century property records and luckily found in a telephone directory the address of a local genealogy society.


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