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Mother’s Day a prelude for Irish journey

Mom wanted to return to Ireland once more.

It was a journey we took six times over 20 years, but I was afraid she wasn’t fit for a seventh.

Alas, Eileen Mannix will get her wish this summer.

I will bring her ashes back to the home of our ancestors.

Mom passed last October at the age of 83.

She’d fallen, broken a foot and faced surgery.

Although she sounded in good spirits the night before the procedure, I had a bad feeling.

My fear became reality.

After an initial phone call that Mom had made it through surgery OK, I received another, more urgent message.

The family was rushing back to the hospital.

Not long after, my youngest sister called with the words that brought me to my knees.

“Mommy’s gone,” she said.

Gone to heaven.

Of that I have no doubt.

Mom will be foremost in my thoughts and those of my six younger siblings on this Mother’s Day.

My memories are many, the fondest from our time in Ireland.

Her mother came from Sligo, Yeats country.

Her father, from Glengarriff in West Cork.

Visiting there and the rest of Ireland’s enchanting west coast awakened me to my heritage.

My mother’s gift to me.

The brooding Connemara and its majestic Twelve Bens mountains, feeling the veils of mist kiss our faces.

Spellbound by Benbulben, Sligo’s magnificent table mountain, its striking profile aglow in the sunset.

Gazing at breathtaking seascapes where black cliffs and blue ocean collide off Kerry, Kilkee and Glencolumbkille.

All of them appropriate vistas for mom’s ashes.

There are also the towns, like Miltown Malbay, Kilorglin and Murrisk, where we’d stop in a quiet pub and a uniquely Irish magic would unfurl.

First, a fellow sitting alongside would pull out a fiddle, joined by a fellow on a tin whistle, another on a bohran, another on a squeezebox, and we’d be swept along in a spontaneous and spirited session of traditional Irish music.

Mom would sing right along.

Ireland always made her feel young, happy.

Even when it was raining.

Like the time we descended from foggy cliffs overlooking the Atlantic in County Kerry.

It began drizzling, and we were lost.

Then a man and his dog appeared outside our car.

Where will this road take us? Mom asked him.

I can still hear her laughter at the Kerrymans poetic answer: “Follow this road, madam, and it will take you anywhere in the world you want to go.”

All the way to heaven.

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.

Mannix About Manatee, by local columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee County. Please call Vin Mannix at 745-7055, write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, Fla. 34206 or e-mail him at vmannix@bradenton.com. Please include a phone number for verification.

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