“Rabbits! Rabbits! Rabbits!” According to Irish folklore, if you say “Rabbits! Rabbits! Rabbits!” first thing after you wake up on the first of the month, you’ll have good luck the whole month, and Day 8 of our tour was September first.

But perhaps not enough of us called out to the rabbits this morning, as it rained the whole day, including our 2.5 hour stop at Kylemore Abbey, and most of us were soaked to the skin by the 2 pm departure, despite “water resistant” clothing!

If you’ve been counting all the “dry days” thus far on this trip, you’re probably wondering about the oft-heard refrain, “You don’t go to Ireland for the weather.”  But we made it to DAY 8 before we saw any measurable rainfall during our daylight tour time. And that was pretty phenomenal, considering there are only 80 or so days PER YEAR when they don’t see some precipitation!

On this day, as noted above, we visited Kylemore Abbey, where the beauty and peacefulness, even in the rain, was quite restorative. I didn’t venture the extra 500 meters (each way) to the Gothic church, or take the shuttle the mile in the opposite direction to the main gardens, as I was quite wet enough just climbing the hill to the main abbey.

I liked that the drawing room looking like we were invited for tea, and the dining room was set for dinner. Made me feel like we’d just walked in on an ordinary day with “the sisters.” There was a well-done video presentation that ran in a continuous loop, and we got the history of the place and photos of the things we “missed” by opting to stay a little drier during our visit.

Later in the afternoon, we “detoured” again out towards the west coast, deep into County Mayo, for a half hour break in Westport, where I bought a “Meigh oh” soccer shirt, hat, and coat of arms flag for a certain former Irish friend of mine (I couldn’t help myself… I am a kind and generous person). The name appearing on the shirt in Celtic language particularly appealed to me, and I hope he wears it with pride, as that’s where he has his “Irish roots.”

Here’s a waterlogged photo of the bridge John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara cavorted across in “The Quiet Man.” (1951) We didn’t stop, and I was just as happy not to.

After that, we learned how peat is harvested in the bogs, dried, and burned to heat the homes. Then we were told that pigs are raised indoors, in “piggeries” for “convenience,” after one woman, (“Pat the first,” as she’s the oldest of two Pats on the trip) had a little much to drink last night and started loudly asking where the “effing pigs” were, since “Irish bacon” (we’d probably call it ham) is a staple at most meals.

Our guide/drive Joe told us that in the early 60s every home in Ireland had two pictures on the walls: The sacred heart, and JFK. And yes, those Kennedys are everywhere!