I’ve been a bit selfish of late and not written as much these past three evenings (I’m older and been plain tuckered out). I’ll try to write up some brief summaries of our activities before we head out today, Tuesday, May 17th. [Turns out we didn't get it done in time to do it before we left - here we are in the evening]
Saturday, May 14:
Amy is the primary driver because she can tend to get car sick, and just because she wants to – which is her privilege because she planned the trip. Ostensibly, my job is to be the navigator, but as it turns out that’s only a position of ‘Navigator Second Class’ because of the GPS unit (however, the device seems to be a little confused at times, which gives me hope for a promotion to First Class).
We drove to Powerscourt, an Ango-Irish manner with very famous gardens that Amy was eager to see. We had both good weather and powerful rain while we walked around, but we came prepared with our handy-dandy umbrellas.
Then the real driving in Ireland began: narrow, windy, irregular roads with no shoulders between the road and the stone walls or boulders and oncoming cars (fortunately not many loreies). Amy did fine, but at times we were both feeling a little harried. We were well beyond hungry by this time and by accident came upon a town called Glencree, where we providentially lunched at what was once a barracks for housing British troops following the Irish Rebellions of 1798 and 1803. In 1858 it because a children’s prison: St kevin’s Reformatory school (closed in 1940). It became, in recent years, the Peace and Reconciliation Center for promoting good relations in Ireland. This place has quite inspired me – more on this at a later time.
We drove through the Wicklow mountains – Which were, at times, both barren, brown & not so pretty, as well as lush green, beautifully forested hills. Sadly, my main impression is that it was a strange, brown wilderness.
We made our way to Glendalough (“Glenda lock”) Monastic settlement and churches. We went through the tourist center, which was very informative and then struck out for the various interesting parts of the ancient settlement. This whole thing grew up around the person of St Kevin, who was for a short time a Christian hermit that attracted a following. Because such reclusive living cannot sustain itself or be of much earthly (or heavenly) use, a settlement was developed with craftsmen of all sorts, families, and of most importance, the “scriptorium” work of making books in many languages and across many subjects. St. Kevin died in 620 AD, but the work of Glendalough continue well past the 12th C. There are eight church remains on the spot, with very old and new graves scattered throughout (as we have seen is common). This was a trip highlight.
Arrived at our B & B, the Fanad House, home base for TWO nights. At a local pub I had a wonderful dinner of braised lamb shank, but sadly Amy only sampled the inedible, dry as 14th century leather, salmon served to her. We made our way to the Kyteler Inn, which has a very long and fantastic history, the mythical story of which I’m eager to tell whoever is interested (or even to those who could care less). We tried very hard to enjoy the “Traditional” (which we think is code for “For Tourists”) Irish music. We ended up having a grand conversation with four Norwegians.
Sunday, May 15:
We worshipped at the Irish Presbyterian church and enjoyed ourselves with the saints both there, and in the home of Tom and Helena (and 19 yr Kierian) Dowling, and John E. They feasted us for 3-4 hours straight, and delighted us with their eagerness in conversation. They endured the 19,071 questions I had about all things religious, political, Irish history and current affairs, their family and any other thing that interested me. They even told me about a Leprechaun that was captured by someone they know. It was a day I shall cherish!
To cap it all off, Amy granted me an afternoon of repose on the grounds of Kilkenny Castle. I took the time to relax and meditate on the many things I’d seen and had no time to think about. I have for some months now been trying to collect my thoughts about the world and my (our) place in it, and feel like I was able to gain some clarity about things that have eluded me. I feel rather energized!
Monday, may 16:
Surprise! We found that we have an extra day (discovered as we were packing the car) in Kilkenny. We took off for a day trip, and found Kilkenny Crystal and was given a private tour by the owner of the work they do to make their beautiful creations. It was providential that we stopped there because most crystal places now (including Waterford) import their wares (from China).
We made our way (Amy let me drive a bit) to The VEE, a marvelous view of the Irish country side and ate a picnic lunch on the ledge of a stone bridge, above a lovely stream, overlooking the astonishingly beautiful gully that went down into an enormous valley. Breathtakingly gorgeous and romantically charming!
We made our way up to the Rock of Cashel (the site where St. Patrick is said to have converted the local King Aengus in the 4th C, and where Brian Boru was crowned King in 1014 AD), but it was closed because of the imminent arrival of Her Majesty the Queen of England (drats, foiled again by her). We traveled back to Cahiar and tourized the 13th C Norman Castle that is probably the most complete castle of the kind because it was spared destruction by Cromwell in the early 1600’s by surrender.
We came back and went to bed early – our stored energies being completely spent by all of our tourizing.