My first ever holiday. I was fourteen. Da had to work so mam drove all the way to Co. Clare with my younger brother and sister, my newlywed older sister and her husband. We had nowhere booked to stay, we just got into the car and headed off into the west towards Lahinch.
Every room in Lahinch was booked out so we headed back to Ennistymon to a lovely B&B that was recommended to us by the owner of the local Hotel. The landlady, Mrs. Kiely was larger than life and welcomed us like long lost family.
We’d head off every morning after a huge breakfast, exploring the countryside and beaches of the surrounding area,
‘Finish me off’ she’d say every evening as she piled our plates high with second helpings of her delicious hearty food.
In the evenings the adults would go to the local for a few pints and entertainment, while I stayed to mind my younger siblings.
I remember bringing them for a walk to the waterfalls and having a sneaky smoke. I was just showing off and making out I was so grown up, but the cigarette just made me feel sick. Serves me right. I warned them not to tell Ma. They never did.
One night, The Miami Showband was playing in the ballroom in Lahinch and Ma said I could go with them. I was delighted as I headed off with the grown ups while Mrs Kiely minded the kids.
I sat in my seat sipping my glass of lemonade swooning at the lead singer of the band,Fran O’Toole as people jived the night away. Ma was asked up to dance by some young local lad. I was left minding her handbag.
I never got to see the Miami Showband play again. Less than a year later, the band were attacked by the UVF , a loyalist paramilitary group, as they travelled from a gig in northern Ireland. Three members of the band were killed, including my lovely Fran.
Ennistymon will always hold a place in my heart. To this day, we still talk about the homely Mrs. Kiely and her fabulous breakfasts and dinners. There’s rarely a scrap of food left for the bin in our house as family are always encouraged to ‘finish me off’.