The following is an excerpt of an article written by my new found cousin James B. Hayes.
In the May-June 2008 issue of Dublin’s “Ireland of the Welcomes” magazine, there is a several-page photo-article by a native of NYC, James B. HAYES, former publisher of “Fortune” magazine, now living and writing in Colorado Springs, in which he reminisces about a particular trip to Ireland many years earlier in which he was struck by the remarkable thoughtfulness of one gentleman, in particular – Mr. MURRAY, proprietor of Murray & Son Ltd. Drapery, Charleville, Co. Cork.*
Jim HAYES recalls: “My first impression of Ireland was dark and jumpy and grainy. It came in the form of primitive 8mm film shown by a proud Irish father in a darkened living room on the upper east side of Manhattan. Silent home movies showing jerky figures cutting peat in the bogs of western Ireland, kissing the Blarney Stone, or pulling their strange looking rowboats onto the beach. God only knows where the films came from but my father subjected his family to these viewings once or twice a year six decades ago. It was all quite puzzling! ‘Why are they digging up that stuff in those fields?’ I asked. ‘That’s how they heat their homes,’ he explained. That made absolutely no sense to this city boy. I knew that to heat your home you simply turned on the radiator, listened to the pipes clang for a few minutes and finally heat arrived …. For the next four decades additional impressions were largely second-hand tales told by friends returning from visits to Ireland, literary portrayals or backdrops to movies. Most of the returning travellers rhapsodised about their time in Ireland. A few, shocked by the humble condition of their family’s origins, preferred not to talk much about it.
My own own travels took me all over North America, most of Europe and Asia, but I never had occasion, nor a burning desire to visit my father’s roots in Ireland. He made his first visit as an adult in his 60th year and continued thereafter every year until his death at 85. He talked endlessly and happily about days at Dunraven Arms, in Adare, and walks along the river Maigue, (his father was born in Bruree in 1851, so his roots were Limerick).
Shortly after his death in 1985 and partially motivated by respect for him and the remarkable life he led, I decided it was time for a first-hand look at Ireland and the opportunity to form my own opinion of this island nation. I would be in London on business during the autumn of that year and planned to tack on a couple of weeks to tour Wales, then on to Ireland by way of the Holyhead-Dun Laoghaire ferry … I was prepared and excited about what I was to see and the chance to connect with this side of my family’s ancestry. My time in Ireland would be spent tracing many of my father’s footsteps with visits to the spots he had spoken of so favourably for so many years – Dublin, of course, and the counties Limerick, Clare, Kerry and Cork. After several disappointing, lacklustre and overcast days in Dublin, we set out on the drive across the heart of Ireland. Destination Kenmare. Matters failed to improve – roads in poor condition, unkempt cattle in the fields, tinkers parked along the roadside and no sunshine anywhere. I began to fear I would be one of those American visitors who chose not to talk much about their time in Ireland. But a stop at the Rock of Cashel (Tipperary) impressed and reaffirmed the remarkable history of this ancient nation …
Now, Mr. MURRAY, in Charleville, Co. Cork, was a gracious man who remembered fondly the DAVEY family and asked that his best regards be transported back across the Atlantic. After inquiring about my itinerary and praising the day’s destination of Kenmare, he proceeded to sell me every sweaters anywhere close to my size, as well as sufficient Waterford Crystal to meet my personal use and gift-giving needs for decades. He made the experience so pleasant that I happily gobbled up a significant percentage of his in-store inventory. ‘The roads to Kenmare are not well marked,’ he said. ‘It is getting late in the day, and will soon be dark so I wrote out directions for you.’ Indeed, while his clerk was tidying up our transaction he spent the time carefully writing out in great detail and with a fine hand, the most precise driving instructions from his store in Charleville to the B&B in Kenmare. He wrote of the churches I would pass, described roadside statues, intersections, farm houses, sharp bends in the road, hills and valleys. It was beautifully written. They were perfect directions and greatly simplified an otherwise confusing drive in the dark … Things were definitely looking up for his first-time visitor.
The next morning in Kenmare was one of those vividly sparkling days with sunshine glistening on the bay and the Caha Mountains. My surroundings were dazzling. It was as if my person and my mood had been magically levitated into a completely new and different world. And I loved it! That was the moment when my romance, my addiction to Ireland began. Mr. MURRAY was the tipping point ….
I have honestly lost track of the number of return trips to Ireland since that day. Certainly upwards of twenty-five … A 2005 trip with three generations of the HAYES family was a magical time for all of us, complete with a visit to see the now 92-year-old (and still working) Mr. MURRAY. His description of the drive to Kenmare so many years earlier was a generous act of friendship and thoughtfulness that abruptly opened my eyes to the real charm and essence of Ireland — The people.”
— Excerpts, “Mr. Murray’s Consideration, a gift of friendship.” *Mr. MURRAY is a relative and family friend of a colleague of Mr. HAYES, Mike DAVEY at “Sports Illustrated.” The original shop (M. J. Murray Drapery and Boot Warehouse) had been damaged by a bomb during the Troubles but rebuilt.