As promised, more photos from my experience of the Port Kirwan Come Home Year:
From Port Kirwan, here’s part of the 1 Km road that leads to Clear’s Cove and to the 540 km Newfoundland East Coast Trail; it wasn’t that long ago that there were no trees here, all the land was cleared.
About halfway to Clear’s Cove, maybe 300 meters north of the road, is the foundation to the house my grandfather, Jim Aylward, built when he was newly married to my grandmother, Mary Ellen O’Neill, and I’d guess it was built a bit before 1920; Pat Aylward showed me the foundation, and it took a small bit of exploration to find it, the new growth of spruce and pine is quite dense and has taken over the ruin, the foundation is on the right-hand side:
I made a few trips to this site, including one trip with Monica O’Brien, Barry Trainor and Monica’s young friend from Labrador, Juliette; here we are holding chunks of slate from the foundation of the house:
In my grandparents’ time, the view of the cove would’ve been unobstructed by any trees.
Here’s Clear’s Cove:
As you hike up the spur of land the juts out to the south-east, and look back to Clear’s Cove, this is the view; the land with the red hay barn belongs to Pat Aylward, and has been in his family for a long time: I imagine that’s what the cleared land in the area used to look like. Apparently, the cod fishery was extremely active in the Clear’s Cove centuries ago, with many people living in this small area:
I apologize for not remembering the name of this bluff that is at the top of Clear’s Cove; everything has a name, but not names that I can easily remember. Isn’t this a terrific view to the north? The Ferryland Lighthouse is also visible here, though it’s not on my photo:
To the south, the view is of the opening of the 2 km long Fermeuse Harbor, home to various coves, nooks and crannies with the local–and long-ago–names such as Trixie’s Cove, Blow-Me-Down, Kingman’s Cove, Riverhead, Northside, Admiral’s Cove (now Port Kirwan) and Clear’s Cove:
One of the highlights of my trip was the view from the top of Clear’s Cove; this was the view of the vast North Atlantic from my relaxed perspective:
I saw lots of whales from up there–not sure what type, but they were big, humpback perhaps–and seals.
I later met several folks, well into their 70s, who told me how they remembered running around up there and playing in the tidal pools that formed just over the cliff’s edge….which would’ve been excellent fun, for a child, but in these days I just can’t imagine any parent allowing their child the freedom to run around a place where they could possibly fall and be killed.
Later that night I returned to the cove; part of the scheduled events for the Port Kirwan Come Home Year was a bonfire at Clear’s Cove: here are some kids on the beach at twilight getting ready for the fire, which was quite large:
I spent a bit of time at the bonfire, then headed back; and the best music of that night was in front of Pat’s meat-locker, where I first met a lot of the Brophy clan. Here’s me vamping a bit while Tommy and Daisy Brophy sing (lovely harmonies) either a great Irish ballad….or in my opinion a more questionable Jimmy Buffet song; it seems both are equally popular along the southern shore. I will say that Tommy and Daisy made even a dreadful Neil Diamond song sound….really good.
There was a bit of a cold wind that night, hence the fire….built in an old steel and enamel washing machine basket; I’m quite certain I saw the northern lights that night, too.
The BEST part of the musical get-together was this fellow, who’s name I’ve forgotten–I’m sure someone will help me out here–who’s married to….Charlene Brophy….I think I’ve got that right: he sang the Russian National Anthem. In fake Russian.
You would’ve had to have been there. Someone said they were putting it up on Youtube but I can’t find it:
Pat Aylward was clearly enjoying the music….he was up just a few hours later to make a Jigg’s Dinner (here’s one–but not the only!–explanation for how the name came about).
Here he is–does he look like he was up till 3:00AM the night before?–serving up Jigg’s Dinner with Catherine Brophy, the dinner was superb:
Here’s Charlie Brophy and my Aunt Mary:
And after our Jigg’s Dinner here is Mary trying to convince little Patrick about something….and clearly he’s already got his mind made up:
If you look in the background of this photo you’ll see a red tractor; after the Come Home Year was over, Pat cut the hay on his land at Clear’s Cove; here I am in the freshly mowed paddock with little Patrick:
Some of Pat Aylward’s cabbage; his vegetable garden is amazing:
And, finally, towards the end of my stay I went up with Pat to his land above Port Kirwan; this is a truly magical place. You see all those white granite boulders in the background? That’s just one of the many rock piles on the periphery of the property, all of which were cleared from the land to make this beautiful place, truly a labor of love over many generations:
So, it should be clear why I had such a fantastic time in Port Kirwan! I want to thank everyone I met there for their graciousness and hospitality.
I’ve recently received some lovely photos from Ed O’Neill from the Come Home Year; I’ll re-size them shortly and post them soon.