I met a friend for coffee yesterday and I was telling her this story. It was then I realised that it’s a good story and a very Irish story. So I thought I would share it with you.
The week we spent in Mayo also happened to be Heritage Week in Ireland. This meant that there were all sorts of Heritage events happening around the country and old buildings that ordinarily wouldn’t be open to the public. One of these buildings was the Old Coastguard Station in Rosmoney, Westport. My aunt that we were staying with had never heard of it, but directions were procured from a friend for Rosmoney and off we set.
We found ourselves on very small windy roads, with grass in the centre. That’s how you know you’re *really* in the country when there’s grass down the centre of the road. We quickly realised we didn’t know where we were going so my aunt spotted a house that looked like someone was home and told us to pull over. Off she went into the house to ask for directions. The woman living there came down to the car to point the directions out to us and warned us that the roads got very narrow, Two things to point out here, in the city I would *never* knock on a stranger’s door to ask *anything* and it was difficult to imagine that the roads could get even more narrow.
It took another few minutes of driving but eventually we arrived at the pier in Rosmoney. And really that’s all there was – a pier. No sign of an old coastguard station. We asked for further directions, hopped back in the car and finally arrived at our destination. But it seemed deserted. Not what we were expecting from a building that was supposedly open to the public. My aunt disappeared into another house to see if she could find someone and Rossa suggested I ring the number in the Heritage Week booklet.
The secretary who answered the phone sounded almost as surprised by my query as I was that she didn’t know what I was talking about. I was put through to the proprietor who was also slightly surprised by my call. I should point out that the details had been published in a Heritage Week booklet that had been distributed with a national newspaper. Anyway the man was very nice and said that, yes, we could take a look around, that there was someone living in one of the renovated apartments in the Coastguard Station and that we could knock on her door if we wanted. We had a long conversation about how I came to hear about the Station and how the man had fielded many similar calls all week and that he hadn’t seen this booklet with the published details. I’m not sure if he forgot the advertisement or what but he seemed unperturbed.
Then he asked if I had any biscuits with me? No. That was a pity as the donkeys love to eat biscuits. Right. Did we have any sandwiches with us? No. Well the donkeys really love biscuits so if we did have any with us we could give them to them. We didn’t have any biscuits or sandwiches. Eventually I got him off the phone, he really loved to chat.
My aunt reappeared with a neighbour who seemed equally confused as the secretary, the proprietor and we were, but chatted away with us as R and I snapped away. When I mentioned the name of the proprietor it turns out he was the solicitor for my Grandpa’s estate. Of course he was. This morning couldn’t get any stranger.
Until it did. The tenant appeared and said she would let us into the main part of the Coastguard station, which sounded great, until we realised this was the man’s sitting room. With all his stuff. And he wasn’t very tidy. We beat a hasty retreat and literally as I said I was going to take some photos of the donkeys before we left, the donkeys appeared at the front door and then positioned themselves in front of the perfect view. A few quick photos were taken before we legged it back to the car. The whole thing was just too surreal. But at least we have a great story to go with some great photos.