Hello everyone! This is just a reminder that due to a lack of wifi and poor cell reception I have been unable to update my blog and that the date these posts were written will be listed first and followed by the day they were posted in parentheses. Thank you!
March 7th, 2018 || (March 11th, 2018)
Today my father and I traveled to Ardara to meet my Uncle Allen Given and his wife, Silva. I say Uncle Allen, but in fact, he is my first cousin twice removed, since my great-grandmother Rebecca was his aunt. Anyway, Uncle Allen is the only living member of the Given family who knows where our family homestead, Hill House, is located. After a short five-minute car ride from the quaint town of Ardara, we drove out to the center of a peninsula on an extremely steep one-way road called Loughros Point road. However, the view of the cliffs that lined the south side of the peninsula was beautiful and the pale blue waters of the “wild Atlantic” were rolling up against white sandy beaches. Likewise, the coast of the north side peninsula was nearly a perfect semicircle, which showcased the raw beauty of the sea. It was in this moment of observation that I finally understood why my grandfather had visited Ireland so many times and why my father had come back here so many times. It was the most beautiful sight I had ever witnessed. More beautiful than the Giant’s Causeway.
Uncle Allen finally pulled into the gravel driveway of a small brown house. Too small for ten children to have grown up in. I pinned the location of the gloomy building on Google Maps so there was a “written” record of where Hill House was located. Uncle Allen then explained all the history that he could remember about the small house and my father recounted fond childhood memories of staying here during the summer of 1980. It troubled me to see the Hill House now abandoned and cold. I imagined the laughter that must have echoed over the rolling green farm fields, rippled across the Atlantic, and bounced off the mountainsides. I realized that it was a tragedy that I would never truly hear that laughter or experience the love that came from this tiny building. It could only be an empty house to me. But at the same time, I understood why my great-grandmother Rebecca had brought my grandfather and his brother to the beach in the United States during their summer vacations. I understood why my grandfather and his brother would later buy a beach house on a bay in Stone Harbor, New Jersey. I understood why my father spent all his childhood summers down at that very shore house. I understood why my father, in turn, would take my brother and me to that very same beach house for several weeks during the summer. I understood why I had felt some type of spiritual connection to the sea and to water in general. It was in my blood and in family history. Afterall, Murray does mean “people of the sea.”