Better yet, send them to see Paddy Gleeson. And so it was. The directions went like this. Take the road out front, go to the right. Bear to the right at the fork. Go through the crossroads and Paddy’s house is the eighth one on the right. It is yellow.
We finished our pints and thanked the gent at the bar who had spoken to us through the barmaid and entered back out into the golden yellow light of the Irish sun. We encountered no problems to find Paddy’s. We counted the eight cottages and were only thrown off by what appeared to be an attached structure. We parked in a small lane shared by the possible eighth and ninth home. Looking to my left I saw a person standing in his open door way looking at us with curiosity. “Are you Paddy Gleeson?” I asked. He nodded and waved us in.
We entered into a one room living area. A worn and thread bear chair was in front of an open hearth. A peat fire burned and warmed the small quarters. The floor was stone and the furnishings Spartan. A cupboard, a table, a dresser and a small refrigerator were the only comforts he had. Two more chairs were pulled from the table and he positioned us in front of the fire with him.
He waved his arm around the room indicating the string of cards that hung from all four walls. Testimony that on May 20 he had turned 100 years old. Cards came from all over the country. He proudly showed us the article in the paper, the card from the President of Ireland. He also confided that he was given 2000 Euro for his accomplishment. He had many more cards, too many to string up with the others!
He offered us whiskey or wine. We accepted the wine. He poured the remains of a bottle into two small glasses, having none for himself. We drank to his heath and then he asked if I wanted to hear his memories about my family, the McGraths.
Unfortunately, he remembered another clan of McGraths who are not related to me. Yet the stories were interesting. This family had sent a son to the Scotland Yard. They also remained in the area and have a cement business. This was not my family.
Paddy Gleeson was a testament to righteous living. He never married being the quintessential Irish bachelor. Living simply with the whole community looking out for him. Having visitors arrive and sit in front of his fire finding their pasts.
We entered back into the soft yellow light and headed towards Ennis.