Friday, June 28, 2013

Dublin Doors

Many of the cities in Europe have their share of fancy entryways but I think Dublin might outshine most. segue here...

From that to this:

Yesterday someone very special turned twenty-two. Megan, Meggers, Megres, Meggy Moo, Megs: Happy Birthday!!! I can't wait until you're here in a few months, we're going to have so. much. fun. Love you!

And now, just for you, a very real representation in song form of your age...just kidding. I came thisclose to putting that horrifying song's music video in here. You know which one I mean. But I thought, why ruin her first day and get it stuck in her head? Oh, it's in there now? Just cause I mentioned it? Might as well watch it now:
Bahaha, just kidding. I'd never do that to you. Happy weekend!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Long Room

Trinity College is beautiful. The campus is so full of history! We decided to take the Book of Kells tour and as much as I wish I could show you it, this Google image search will have to suffice because "No Cameras Allowed." It was fascinating to see the script and the miniscule details added in between each line of handwritten script. I never knew that the Book of Kells was the four Gospels. The pages that were turned to for our tour weren't the elaborately designed ones like the page shown above. but the illustrations added just to the beginning of a sentence and the tiny animals drawn in between the lines were just awe-inspiring. 

No real segue here...I try not to recommend movies too often in general, I tend to forget the parts that are less than family-safe, but I do recommend this one if you're interested in the Book of Kells and can handle some animation: The Secret of Kells. I watched it at The Little in Rochester the first time and I've returned to it every so often because it's so good. You can watch it on Netflix and it looks like it's even free on Hulu for the time being! Let me know if you like it.

Now, I may be scorned at for this next bit but I thought that the best part of the tour was the Long Room of Trinity's Old Library. Sorry in advance for the quality of these photographs. I could just kick myself for not bringing my regular camera out on our day around Dublin. 

Magnificent. I could have spent hours there. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Cliffs of Moher

I will always remember my first sight of the Cliffs, despite the rain and the wind. They are breathtaking and unbelievable in real life. We stood speechless and stared for as long as the ripping wind allowed us and then even longer.

Ireland is such a beautiful country to visit. Being that it is known as the "Emerald Isle" we were prepared for the weather that makes everything green in the first place. But I don't think we were as prepared as we should have been...we were armed with umbrellas and our trusty semi-rainproof coats that have been worn over and over again in this blog. It wasn't enough...
 This is the last time you will see the umbrella on the left in one solid piece.
(photo by Chris)
(photo of Chris)

I actually remember taking the picture above. I don't think I'll ever forget it. My umbrella had just been whipped in the opposite direction and when I finally got the wind to push is back into place, the metal had all been bent and stretched out of place and it now wrapped itself around me in a less-than-helpful state. Chris gallantly offered to switch my cheap umbrella for his sturdy USA made one and I didn't even hesitate. What then ensued was a ten minute walk that should have taken two, back to the gift shop area and ultimately, shelter. 

We were both more than a little annoyed at the situation when both our umbrellas were attacked once again by more than 45mph winds and we just started laughing at the hilarity and helplessness of it all. We were honestly lifting up one foot after the other and not moving anywhere, our umbrellas flapping loudly and violently around us, threatening to take us off the ground into a not very graceful Mary Poppins-esque episode. It was honestly my favorite moment at the Cliffs.

Regretting his chivalry I think.

Note the angle of the ground and you can imagine how far Chris and I are actually leaning into the wind to make any sort of headway. But really, this was by far my favorite part of our cross-Ireland tour and I am almost glad the weather wasn't beautiful. Almost. Maybe we will return one day and spend enough time in the country to be able to decide when we will visit the Cliffs again, picking a more fortuitous weather-day. However, I'm grateful to have seen their beauty in whatever the weather!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Irish Countryside

We're returning to Ireland in this post. There's so much from the last two weekends to put down and remember, so please bear with me.

One of our days in Ireland we hopped on a tour bus and rode across the country to the western shores and the Cliffs of Moher. The day was a gray one. The clouds didn't lift until our last few minutes of the tour when we ended up back in Galway. And the winds, they were violent to say the least. But the land itself seemed wild and prone to misery, making the weather fitting.

This landscape is called the Burren, the land in Ireland covered completely in limestone rock. 
This road is actually considered a two lane road. These two buses beg to differ. I also begged to differ while we traversed it at a rather stiff pace with cars coming the opposite way and also the opposite side than I'm used to. 
The pictures above and below feature what was once a burial place for the Irish of the past. With the soil being so thin and the ground yielding to rock too close to the surface, the ancient people of Ireland buried their dead in a Dolmen. This one is one of the larger ones, holding quite a few people but I tuned out the grisly details so if you're interested, you'll have to research this on your own
An interesting story came with Lemaneagh Castle, shown here through streaming rain drops down the window. In fact, after scouring the internet I found several stories to align with the tale our guide told us as well as several even more dramatic and a few that seemed more calm and probably most likely the real version of things. But I will relate just one to you, the one closest to our first hearing of it. This is the story of Red Mary and the lengths she went to in order to remain in the castle above:

General Ireton was attacked by Conor O'Brien, who fell mortally wounded but would not surrender. His servants brought him back, nearly dead, to his wife at Lemaneagh. 'She neither spoke nor wept,' but shouted to them from the top of the tower,- 'What do I want with dead men here?' Hearing that he was still alive she nursed him tenderly till he died. Then she put on a magnificent dress, called her coach, and set off at once to Limerick, which was besieged by Ireton. At the outposts she was stopped by a sentinel, and roared, and shouted, and cursed at him until Ireton and his officers, who were at dinner, heard the noise and came out. On their asking who was the woman, she replied,- 'I was Conor O'Brien's wife yesterday, and his widow to-day. I'll marry any of your officers that asks me.' Captain Cooper, a brave man, at once took her at her word, and they were married, so that she saved the O'Brien property for her son, Sir Donat.

At Lemaneagh it is added that one morning, after her marriage to Cooper, they quarrelled while he was shaving, and he spoke slightingly of Conor O'Brien. The affectionate relict, unable to bear any slur on the one husband she had loved, jumped out of bed and gave Cooper a shove so he fell to his death from the fourth story window. 

Now, whether that is true or not I'm not sure but it was then told to us as we drove along that she later married 25 more men, each one suspiciously dying before she acquired a new one. Black (widow) Mary might have been a better name.

These walls are called penny walls because for every yard that was built, the laborers were given a penny.
Looking out at the ocean all I could think about were the people on the other side of it. I'm so grateful to have planes that connect us quicker than boats used to do and the internet that makes the distance seem even smaller than that. But it still feels very far away when the rain is pelting you while you stare at the waves, thinking all you want to do is sit against that radiator in the kitchen and listen to family talking around you.

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