I went to Ireland to visit the beautiful country where many of my mom’s family have their roots, and I also returned a family Bible, which had made its way from Ireland to Brooklyn, then Staten Island, and later to my aunt, Marian Carey Palazzo in Boonton, New Jersey in 1981. After her death, my daughter Jamie drove it from New Jersey to me in South Carolina.
Transporting it was no easy task. The Bible weighs 13 pounds, but as challenging as it was for us to bring it to Ireland, it was a piece of cake compared to what it must have been in 1862!
The Bible is approximately 170 years old, and is therefore quite worn. That was not surprising considering how many hands touched it and how many times it was moved over the years. The cover was literally falling off, so we secured it with self-adhesive bandages for its journey across the pond.
I knew getting through the security checkpoints at Charlotte airport would be challenging. We had to wait while they unwrapped the bandages and insisted on peeking through each page, looking for who knows what. I assured them that if there was anything of value hidden inside, I would have removed it long ago. Trust me. I looked many times for that certificate or photo or perhaps a touching letter. Luckily, the TSA agent recognized the age and let Dad help her open it, which is apparently rarely allowed.
Although I wanted to return it years ago, I wasn’t sure exactly how to do it without risking its loss or further damaging it. I refused to let it out of my sight. I scoured stores seeking a bag large enough to carry it, yet small enough to fit under my airline seat, and I finally located it at TJ Maxx.
After the trip across the Atlantic, it was placed in a taxi, then onto a train for a 2 ½ hour ride to Galway, passing by lush farmland brimming with sheep and cows grazing peacefully in the fields. My precious cargo remained in the bag at our hotel, while we explored Kylemore Abbey, the Cliffs of Moher, and the Burren. I highly recommend all three.
Next, we loaded the Bible onto a bus for a short ride to Castlebar, where we were greeted by our friend, Brian Hoban, who carefully placed it into his car for the ride to the local tourist office, where we presented it to the town.
After we left, it was transferred to its new home at the county library—its final resting place.
I loved waking up each morning and looking at it siting safely away from the curious eyes of my two grandchildren, but it is back home and in a place where more people will see it.
But I will miss it.