It is pronounce Craig-na-man-ah.
Well, that is how I heard it.
The Irish language is a beautiful thing. The tones are soft and the lift makes it sound so gentle. When I arrived in Ireland,for the very first time in my life, I heard my name pronounced correctly.
In English it has a hard sound. In Irish, it is soft and beautiful to my ear.
And the good people of Graiguenamanagh tried to teach me how to say it. There is a sound in the ‘G’ that does not exist in English. Try as I might, I could not say it. I could hear it, but not mimic it.
They teased me about it but readily confessed that the ‘th’ sound in the word ‘think’ was beyond them. It was a wonderful round of banter with people I had just met.
But I am ahead of myself.
The day after the Edward Bransfield commemoration ceremony in Ballinacurra, we headed to the Cushendale Woolen Mill in Graiguenamanagh. It was about a 2 hour drive from Cobh through rural areas and small towns and villages.
It was gorgeous. And not one of my pictures did it justice.
We got there a bit early and had a wonderful lunch in the Duiske Inn. Filled with locals we knew the food would be good and it was. Then we strolled the town for a bit before the official meeting time. The River Barrow runs through the middle of town.
Graiguenamanagh, means “Village of the Monks”. It began in approximately 1200 as an abbey. The building still exits. We did see a channel next to the mill and spotted two bits of information.
The mill sits on a hill overlooking the Abbey. It the corn and woollen mills for the monks. The water was diverted from the river and today is ‘pure’ water–no minerals or other contaminants.
Old stone houses stood around the mill as a testament to the history of the village.
And then it was time. And we walked into a working woollen mill and met the people of Cushendale.
Meet Phillip Cushen and his son-in-law Trevor. We are standing in the spinning room. The machinery is very old ( I can’t remember how old Phillip said it was). The Cushen family has operated the mill since the early 1700’s! Phillip is a Master Weaver and it was not long before we fell into the language of weaving. It was Phillip that told me about the water. It’s purity is what allows him to create bright, clear dyes for the wool.
Business called and we discussed colors and fibers, warp and weft, scarves and blankets. The making of the Edward Bransfield Commemorative scarf in lambswool was becoming a real possibility. For me, it was an exciting, creative experience.
We must have talked for an hour or more. And then, they invited us to their home for tea!
We met Phillip’s wife and his grandson (Miriam and Trevor’s son) who was all of 18 months old. We sat at their dining room table and drank tea and ate the most incredible apple tart I have ever had.
The oatmeal cookies were right up there as well!
The welcome we received, the open spirit of these people was overwhelming. We shared a warm, wonderful day in a old, old village. I will never forget it.
And then it was time to return to Cobh. I was returning to America the next day and there was packing to be done.
The drive home in the gloaming hour gave rise to a spectacular view. I thought I would share it with you.
(My thanks and undying gratitude to the people of Cushendale Woollen Mills and to Jim and Ann Wilson who made this all possible.)