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.


  1. Thanks for sharing. Very interesting.

  2. Oh dear, I just completely love Ireland. I was with you every step of the way on this post (especially the driving piece - for me that was the worst part of the trip, I thought for sure we were going to die). Thanks for the reminder of the beauty and the history!


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