...is what my grandmother, my Dad and his siblings used to see when they holidayed in Ireland during the WWII years, at the family cottage...
...which I visited for the first time two days ago!
Sadly, it is now derelict and overgrown, with broken windows.
I have posted these photos on the blog before, but here it was in better days...
My grandmother with two of my aunts and my uncle as children, plus another guy called Phil.
Kids playing out front.
And later, in the early 60s. I think the lady may be one of my great aunts but I'm not sure. The stone wall has been cemented over at this point.
And now the place sits abandoned, with broken windows...
Of course, I had to climb through the kitchen one.
It was amazing! Apparently people were using it as a holiday cottage at least up to 2002, according to a notebook I found there.
The old fireplace still had coal in it. But those are definitelyNOT my grandmother's knick-knacks! Nor her furniture, not surprisingly.
It was like people just stepped away from the place for ten minutes, then never came back!
Okay, so I took this notebook. It is a sort of guestbook filled with stories from visitors from 1993 to 2002! Many complained about bumping their heads on the low ceilings.
I'm 5' 7"!
And enjoyed a Guinness and some wine at some point!
Look at this old phone! I wonder if my grandmother ever used it?
This room was the biggest mess, with the floor sort of dug up, and a wheelbarrow, pick-axe and work table in there. It was like somebody got fed up renovating and just walked out, never to return. Sad, really.
Ivy was coming in through one of the upstairs windows. Apparently the cottage is 200 years old and you can see how thick the stone walls are!
I carefully went up the staircase.
On the wall next to the stairs was a photo of the staircase and windowsill in better times.
Here, someone ripped out half the upstairs floor in one of the two bedrooms to make it more of an open room. But there were still two mattresses up there, from which you could conveniently roll to your death.
Gordon was too chicken to come in!
But it did have all the modern amenities...
I can just imagine my Nanny standing at this door, yelling at the kids to get inside for supper!
There were books and games strewn all over the floor.
Here is the other upstairs bedroom, reached by a ladder staircase.
Now I do wonder if THIS was my grandmothers!
Hatch to downstairs.
I found a whole bunch of 78s, too...
...inside the old gramophone!
And my grandmother would have liked this. She was a devout Catholic who went to Mass daily.
Eventually I had to climb back out the window, but it was hard to leave. I have heard so much about this cottage over the years, from my Dad and other family members. It is sort of legendary amongst us Rowes and we call it the "family hovel." Being in there was just amazing. I swear I could feel the presence of Nanny and my Dad. I just didn't want to go, but eventually I had to.
The garden is sadly overgrown.
The ivy is making its way inside the front door too.
The front wall and gate, now very overgrown.
Just a peak over the front wall!
And next door, they are building a great big new house. I hope they don't plan to demolish the cottage.
To think my Dad used to walk this road as a child!
And look out over this view. The cottage is near Piltown, where my grandmother was born.
I hope I can come back to Piltown. It would be even nicer to see the cottage renovated. A few people said I should buy it and renovate it, but even derelict stone cottages cost a fair bit here. My uncle seriously considered buying it at one point, but it was just too much hassle.
I am kicking myself for not taking a photo of the church my grandmother was baptized in the day after she was born, but there's a beautiful one here.
It meant a lot to me to be able to see the place. My uncle in England gave me driving directions but was worried I wouldn't find it. But I had no trouble! And I saw a cat on the road on the way in, which I took as a sign.
We are going home tomorrow. I will really miss Ireland. We're planning on coming back next year. I would like to see my grandfather's house in Wexford, too.