Monday 23 January 2017

Our trip to Ireland

Hi everyone, I hope you're all doing well.

So this is a bit late but things have been very hectic since my dad and I made an emergency trip to Ireland at the end of October in 2016.

Waiting for our flight in Calgary

As many of you know, my Grandad (My Dad's dad) unfortunately died at the end of October due to a brain bleed/stroke. I remember the day my dad asked me to come over and talk to him as he didn't want to talk over the phone, when I got there he told me Grandad had a fall and it's not looking good. I could just see the sadness in his eyes. My heart literally dropped, my heart was racing. My Grandad had a couple strokes before this and was strong enough to pull through so I prayed and hoped to God that this time would be the same. My dad told me that he will call me as soon as he knows anything else. At this point he was already looking to book a flight to Ireland as soon as possible. I left my parents and went home to shower and get my mind off of things and I just had this feeling in my stomach that as soon as I finish showering that I'm going to get a phone call I didn't want to hear......and I did. I was still in the bathroom at this point and I came out of there to Preston and he just knew what I was going to tell him. I burst into tears and immediately composed myself as I needed to get over to my parents right away. As soon as I got over there, there was nothing but tears from everyone and my heart just hurt. I hurt the most because I knew there was nothing I could do, I felt like I needed to go to Ireland with my dad as he was going alone. My mum couldn't go as she takes care of my niece and nephew full time and they didn't have passports. As a daughter, I knew my dad needed me and I didn't want him to go through this alone. So I immediately called Preston and told him I needed to do this and go with him and he completely understood. We recently just took a bunch of time off work after our wedding so I thought my work would never let me have another week off but I called my boss and explained everything that was happening and he actually let me have the week off. I couldn't be more blessed with how amazing my work treats me and I will be forever grateful. In just a matter of 30 minutes of getting of the phone with my boss, my dad and I had our flights booked to Ireland for the next day!! We had so much packing and planning to do in such little time but it all fell into place. My older sister Brynie told us she also got the week off work and had her flight booked for the same day as ours. We were overjoyed and I was SO thankful we would have her there in Ireland too!
The next day, we got up bright and early and Preston drove my dad and I to Calgary airport. It was obviously very tough to leave Pres and Kona as it was our first time being apart in a very long time but I knew that my dad needed me.

We couldn't get a direct flight so our first one was to Chicago, IL and then direct to Dublin after that. It was honestly so tiring but both my dad and I's minds were going crazy, we couldn't sleep at all and could barely eat. But we finally got to Ireland in a matter of 24 hours!


My dad's bestfriend Fintan picked us up from the airport and I was so happy to see him again after so many years. He's my little sisters God Father so we've grown up with him and he was basically like a second dad growing up. It was so weird seeing the cars drive on the other side of the road again and going through all of the roundabouts (traffic circles). It was about an hour drive from the Dublin Airport to Monaghan and the drive just flew by. I knew we were driving to my Grandads house and my stomach was just turning. In Ireland, deaths are a lot different to what they are anywhere else from my experience. As soon as a person dies, they are taken home and laid out to rest for 2-3 days. People come, pay their respects and there's lots of praying as where I'm from in Ireland, everyone is Catholic, including me. I still know all of the prayers to say and what to do. My dad explained that my Grandad isn't going to look the same and try to be brave when you see him. When we got to his house, I was shaking and I was relived to be home finally. His house still looked exactly the same as I remember and everything around it did too. We got inside and there was already so many people there, but I was over the moon to see my family that I haven't seen in many years. I hugged each and every one of them. It felt so weird coming home and not hearing my Grandad call me his wee pet or darling, but seeing him laid out like that, so pale and cold. I didn't know what to do when I saw him, I just stared and stood there, I was so terrified but I didn't want to show it. I went and held his hand and stood there even longer, tears were streaming down my face now. The only thought I didn't get to say goodbye. The last time I spoke to him was a couple days before my wedding, my cousin Ryan was coming over for it and I invited them all to come. But unfortunately my Grandad was too unfit to come and Insurance wouldn't cover anything if something was to happen. But I was so thankful I was able to have that last moment with him. We were on face time and he was bubbly like always and calling me his 'wee pet'. He kept telling me how proud he was of me and how he loves me. He was so upset he couldn't be there but told me he will have many beers in honours of me on my wedding day, and did he ever.

Landing in Dublin, sooooo green!

I'm from a small town and literally EVERYONE knew who the McGinnity's were, especially my Grandad so it was a very sad time when he died. So whenever you come to an Irish wake, there is a book at the front door where you sign your name and there was over 600 signatures in that book. Hundreds and hundreds of people came to give their condolences over the 3 days, so you can tell how overwhelmed we all were. There were people making tea and sandwiches none stop, I honestly think I had over 40 cups of tea while I was in Ireland and never got sick of it.

My AMAZING bestfriend Michaela who I've known since I was 3 was so good to me while I was there. Her and the rest of her family invited me over the day I got there and that's mostly where I stayed for the majority of the trip. It was so peaceful at their house and it helped me relax before the funeral. My dad and I got into Ireland on the Monday and the funeral was on the Tuesday, so things happened very, very fast.

Michaela & I - 2002 vs 2016. 

It was finally time to really say goodbye and I didn't feel ready. Michaela woke me up that morning as she was going to work and her lovely mum tried to make me eat something. My dad and sister stayed with my uncle so I wouldn't see them until I got back to my Grandad's, which was okay as it gave me time for myself for a little bit. I showered, got dressed and drove over to see everyone. There was already some family members over at the house that morning which settle my anxiety a little bit. My sister attempted making some toast for everyone and it was basically warm bread and butter so we all joked around about it which definitely boosted everyone's mood!

More and more people showed up to say goodbye to Grandad before the funeral and I could just feel my nerves building. The Priest finally showed up and only immediate family members were allowed in the room at this point to say the final Hail Mary's and to put him to rest. There was me, my dad, my sister, my two uncles, my auntie, my cousin and my dad's mum. We all said our final prayers and goodbyes and it was time to close the casket and that was the moment which was hardest for me. It didn't feel real at this point that my Grandad was gone. He liked his whiskey so my dad put two little bottles of it in his coffin before it was all closed, I watched my dad kiss him on the forehead for the last time and the last one to do so and that was it. I left the room and walked outside to breath and get some air. There was so many people outside already waiting for us to walk, some people I recognised, lots of them I did not know.

His house was close to the Cathedral that the service was going to be at which made the walk with the coffin not too long. People gathered behind us and on the sides of the road to pay their respects. There was hundreds of people that did so and it made me feel that he was getting the farewell he deserved. I held hands and walked with my sister and auntie all the way there and tears couldn't help but fall from my face. I honestly just felt numb.

I'm not going to go into details about the whole service but let me just say it was beautiful. There was a singer that sung her heart out for him the whole time and most of our family said a reading in front of everyone. At the end, all immediate stands outside while everyone else lines up to come and shake your hand or hug you. I got to hug many people I haven't talked to or seen in a very long time. The service was at the Macartan's Cathedral and then he would get buried at Corracrin Church. This was the Church that I grew up in and went to Mass every Sunday in. It is right beside our childhood school and we have so many beautiful memories there.
Inside Macartan's Cathedral, absolutely beautiful. The whole Cathedral was full for the service, people even outside. There is even more seats in here to the left and right that aren't pictured. 

Macartan's Cathedral

Corracrin Church

The McGinnity plot in the Cemetery and where he was buried. At this point his name wasn't engraved yet. But as you can see, my sister and I both were named after my dad's relatives. My middle name is Mary and Brynie's middle name is Jane.  
We all went back to the Westenra Hotel in Monaghan town for sandwhiches, tea and coffee. Lots of people came out to support us all and it was lovely. I got to talk to lots of family members and family friends and I could just feel all the tension and stress disappear after the funeral. Everyone got along and we all had a Guinness in honour of Grandad. I obviously didn't drink all of mine because I'm not a fan of alcohol but just the thought of it mattered the most to me. 

After everything settled down, we visited with family friends for the remainder of the trip. We drank so much tea and ate so much food. We even went back and visited our old school! There was a man in the school fixing some stuff and of course my dad knew who he was haha.

I got to have lunch with a close friend who I obviously haven't seen since I moved in 2006 from Ireland to England, we always kept in touch every now and then and it was lovely to see him!! 

So much love for my beautiful Auntie Nuala xoxo

We got to finally meet my little cousin Dáithí and he is the cutest little boy ever, full of smiles and joy!

My dad, Brynie and I seriously cannot thank everyone enough for the hospitality, love and support we got while in Monaghan. I wish we were able to visit with more family and friends but I know I won't be waiting this long again to visit!

Here are a couple of photos of my Grandad that I will cherish forever. 

My Grandad & his bestfriend Joe - our close family friend!

Grandad and my gorgeous Auntie Nuala!
Thank you Grandad for being a part of my life for 20 years and making this world a better place with your beautiful soul. I will forever miss, love and think of you. 

It took my dad and I around 25 hours to get home to our loved ones but the trip was so worth it. And I would do it again with him in a heartbeat. 

Thank you all so much if you're still reading, and until next time!

Lots of love,

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