26 September: 126 boys graduated from Milton Hershey School in 1962; 30 were “college preparatory;” and as a result, Joe Broyan and I were in the same classes for four years. Now after more than 49 years, we had a good chance to sit down and talk.
On our way, we stopped in Enniskillen, home of the ancient Innesklin Fusiliers. Their regimental headquarters museum was not open until later in the day, but we walked around the castle and a security guard waived us on inside. The castle, dating to the early 1600s, could easily have been designed by Disney.
Our GPS took us to Joe and Ann Broyan’s home out a wonderfully scenic road. Joe met Ann, a native of Ireland, in Monterey, California while he was in the army. They married and farmed for a while in Lucerne County, Pennsylvania but land prices there were too high to make ownership likely. Coming to Ireland to help Ann’s parents who had health problems, he found Irish land prices (at the time) too good to miss, and unlike Pennsylvania, winters were mild with no ice.
They moved to Belcoo in 1978 where they reared seven children in a home full of books. All but one have scattered across the world. One is even a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps and has served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
They built their own home, and say their girls learned how to lay block at an early age. Ann says that once when the children were all out in a field cutting hay, a tourist bus stopped so the tourists could take pictures of the Irish children working. She said she just prayed the children would keep their mouths shut so that their American accents wouldn’t spoil the illusion for the tourists.
They raise cattle and sheep and cut a little turf. They also have three donkeys as pets. Joe didn’t say so, but I gathered he has been quite successful for when we compared notes, we found he owned properties in a checkerboard pattern all down the road (peculiarities of Irish law prevent putting large contiguous properties together.)
We hated to leave, but we had reservations in Westport. On the way if not in a very straight line, we visited the Ceide Fields, where they have found 5000 year old ruins of a Neolithic village founded at a time when Ireland was forested and farmers were clearing the land. Climate change caused them to move away, grasses and mosses grew and eventually covered everything in a meter and a half of turf/peat. From the site of the village, we could look across the sea to Islya, Scotland.
At dinner in Westport, we had rack of lamb and “Banoffi pie” which was great. I’ll not try to describe it, but Alie plans to make it when she gets home so you can ask her for it the recipe.