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Monday, July 11, 2016

Oh IRELAND!

I said I would put something more on here from our Ireland trip. The thing is, I've been mourning the loss of my sim card, and with it most of my pictures. But yesterday or the day before, Claudette, one of the wonderful people from the tour, sent me a brand new sim card with all of her family's pictures on it. What an amazing, thoughtful thing to have done. So I'll pull ahead and stop being a baby about it...;o)
I'm taking this from my journal, which I tried to write on every day.

April 29, 2016

So the first flight to Ireland (from Phoenix to Philly) I sat next to a man and his wife and he almost never even looked at me, let alone say anything. Boring. I hoped for an interesting person to sit next to going out of Philly and lucked out. He was a very nice married man named Eamon who was going to Philly to his wife. They commute back and forth from Ireland. Anywho, he gave me some great helpful hints and even a free book. We talked about Ireland and movies and he told me places to see and eat in Dublin, (several of which we availed ourselves).

I was pretty thrashed so I fell asleep halfway through the Mr. Whicher movie I saw, and only saw half of Tomorrowland. There was a not bad dinner and some not bad snacks as well, and all the movies were free. We could have our pick of probably 200 movies, but it took a LONG time to get to the right one. Sitting next to the window wouldn't have helped me in the least since we were always above a dense cloud cover the whole time. I sat in the center of the central section.

May 1, 2016
Murt and Mum (actually he has my gift of $5 in pennies at the end of the trip.

We arrived in the morning at Dublin and met our little Trip Troll, Murt O'Shea (that's a tongue-in-cheek moniker, by the way). He was bald as a bowling ball and quite salty—maybe because he'd had to shepherd loony Americans around for 33 years, enduring their Leprechaun quips and stupid questions. I ended up asking a few of my own stupid questions and really getting slammed for it in a sort of half playful way.

The Harp Bridge in Dublin

Anywho, we drove all over Dublin while he rattled off names of bridges and who they were named after and why. I sure learned a lot more about the 1916 uprising and the IRA and Ireland's struggles to get England to let them go. Apparently they had the centennial of getting their government back the day before we got there. So the Poblacht na H eirrian (spelling might bite) or Declaration of Independence was all over the place.

We ended up at the Guinness factory/museum. I personally couldn't have cared less about the place. We didn't actually see people making the stuff. It was a huge Drink-Our-Beer push. But I did promise my friend Dave Liddell that I'd buy someone a drink. We got a free drink token, though, so I went up to some stranger and gave him mine.

I did take some nice pictures of the skyline from up there.

What I really wanted to do was go see Christchurch, where Strongbow's tomb lay, along with lots of Viking artifacts. Unfortunately I couldn't get anyone else to go. However, right next to our hotel Meyrick was the National Irish Museum. Turns out just me and Mom went at first. I took a bazillion pictures in there. There were whole rooms of ancient coins, costumes, cottage furniture, silver, jewelry, suits of shogun armor, and a whole arm for the 1916 uprising. It was cool we found that place. Everybody else went to go get drunk or sleep. My sisters went to find a phone store to buy new cards for their phones. They came later, though, and I took them back through, seeing more of the stuff I missed before. Very cool. Wah. I want my pictures.

Their Declaration of Independence
That night we Kleinmans (K's) and several of the other ladies ate in a pub near the hotel. It was the first place in Ireland I played my tin whistle. I, the intrepid (or maybe foolishly lucky) one, tried the seafood tray. It wasn't my favorite, but it was okay and filling.

Afterwards everybody else went to bed. I went out on the town with Cathy and Frank, both really dingy people...:o) We meshed well. At this writing, I don't know their last names. Anyway we walked around and took bridge pictures but didn't find a good place to listen to music.

May 2, 2016

We hopped aboard Murt's Ark and he took us down to Connamara. On the way he talked about how he doesn't believe in fairies, but he does believe in Whitethorn trees. Apparently when people lost a baby, they'd bury the little one beneath a whitethorn because the thorns would keep the wolves away. And fairies were supposed to take care of the baby. So the whitethorn tree is sacred to Ireland. In fact, when they were building one of the major motorways, they refused to cut down the tree and eventually built the road AROUND the tree.

Some of the lovely wares at Connamara Marbleworks
First we went to the Connamara marbleworks, and then to Kylemore, an abbey and erstwhile exclusive girl's school. It was beautiful and had lovely grounds. I snuck up the stairs in the bothy (despite the sign) and saw the place where the rest of the under gardeners slept. Now it's storage for extra pots.
The little chapel at Kylemore

I spent most of the time on my own. I don't know how I kept losing everyone, but I did. Maybe it's because I wanted to see things they didn't care about and vice versa.
Gardens at Kylemore with the bothy in the back.
Green velvet everywhere!
On the way to Galway (our next stopping place) we were going up Galway bay. Lots of peat bogs and hippity hop lambs dotting the verdant grassland. Apparently every foot of grazing land had to be reclaimed from the rocks and bogs by digging out the rocks and using them to build fences, and by draining and adding seaweed to the sandy soil. Back-breaking toil.
I forget where this was taken

We learned that there were a couple of towns, whose names escape me. The road between them is called The Road of Tears. Apparently, during The Hunger, (Potato Famines) one of the towns was starving to death. The people heard that a shipment of wheat had come to the other town from America, so they started walking. They walked and walked, many of them dying along the way, of starvation and exposure. Unfortunately, when they arrived at the other town, the people there told them that the word of food had been only a rumor. So all they could do was go back to the first town. On the way all of them died. Only a few who had not gone walking survived.
Road of Tears
So apparently the American Indians from the Trail of Tears heard about their plight, and since they shared so many tears, they sent food to the survivors. Thus that tribe is beloved of Ireland. In fact they love America for all the help they did during that time and later, standing by them.

Tying a rag on the rag tree
Also on the way we saw a Rag Tree, which is a whitethorn full of rags of clothing taken from sick people to hopefully heal them.

One of the biggest pains of the trip was that the bus swayed so much that I was always desperately fighting sleep. And I really wanted to hear everything that Murt was saying and see everything going past. I tried to take a picture of every tor and ruin. Many of them became "Dangit" pics because they went past way too fast to make a decent picture.

The red and white one is Blake's
We were passing through Galway when I saw banners in a park. I saw Blake on one of them and Janelle and I went to take pics of her under it after we got to the hotel. Then the others joined us looking for a good place to eat. I'd done the Amazing Race thing and gotten a map and some helpful hints, so we went down Shop Street, and High Street, crossed Cross Street to Quay Street (pronounced Key), where we found The King's Head. I had lamb stew there, which was excellent, and then a band struck up. They only played two Irish songs, however, so we left. 
 
I don't know the band but they only played two Irish songs--the rest American

Mom and Janelle went back to go to bed, so Lisa, Ju, and I went on. The place across the street was playing great music, but the girls wouldn't stay. I think they were the Chieftains, just having a jamb. I could be wrong, but they sure looked like them. It would have been cool to play with them.

Anywho, we went back and to bed.

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