Thursday, September 20, 2007

Our Ireland trip from A to C

ABC: What our bus driver called many of the ruins--"another bloody castle." They really are everywhere, some accessible for tours, other in farm yards with the animals, some just a pile of rocks.

Here we see a 4th century fortress attached to a 17th century house and there is a cow and bull in the yard.

Alumni tour: Our AHI tour group was primarily from the University of Georgia and the University of Illinois, with one couple from Indiana University. By the final week, we were almost interchangeable, and had become good friends, sharing stories, travel tips and health tips (Irish coffee for our shared colds).

This is the Illinois group on one of our final excursions, at Woodstock House and Gardens, a national park near Inistioge being restored to its mid-19th century look. Lots of unusual plants and flowers--including a large redwood--and thick limbed bushes that looked like what we see in Florida. Four miles of foot paths.

Anniversaries: The U of I Alumni Association sent a bottle of wine to our room for our 47th anniversary. We also celebrated the anniversary of my birth--so there was a candle in my dessert the night of our "graduation" party.

Billboards: The Irish countryside is beautiful--just as green as you could imagine, fields outlined with rock fences around pastures filled with beautiful cows, black faced sheep and muscled horses. One thing contributing to the beauty is the lack of billboards. Nothing to block your view. We didn't see any until getting close to Dublin. According to the stats, Irish agriculture is about 9% of the economic output, but I think they should throw in a little tourism into that figure--truly the most beautiful rural scenes I've ever seen.

Cill, Church: Cill in Irish (Gaelic) means church, and we saw a lot of them. If you see Kil- in front of a place name, there’s probably a church in its history, like Kilkenny where we spent 5 days. Ireland was Christian before it was Roman Catholic. Many churches and monasteries were partially demolished by the various invaders--the Vikings, the Normans or the English--and there's been so much divisiveness and wars in Ireland between the Catholics, Church of Ireland, and Protestants, I couldn't begin to keep score. But from what I learned in the lectures, and overheard from the people and guides, the Irish are a bit schizophrenic when it comes to the Catholic church. Although they would not think of converting to something else, they also don’t want the church to control their lives as it did in the past. Few young people go to seminaries now, depleting the priesthood and religious orders. Maybe the scandals started it, but the booming economy, called the "Celtic Tiger" is the death blow--perhaps their most serious invader to date. I hope it doesn't become just a part of the history lectures and tours.

This is Ennis Abbey, originally scheduled for our first day, but we were delayed getting in due to fog in Shannon.

Replicated windows in the Black Abbey in Kilkenny.

Coole Park and Thoor Ballylee: Coole Park was the estate and home of Lady Gregory, a playwright and friend of W. B. Yeats, which we toured on September 11. Then it was down the road to Yeat's summer home, Thoor Ballylee, a 16th century castle. We saw a film at both places for additional information. The morning segment before the excursion was a literature lecture that I had a little trouble following--too many parenthetical phrases and too many beliefs in mysteries and fairies.

1 comment:

JAM said...

Wow, it's just so much. Those windows are amazing.

And I thought housing here was expensive.