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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Around Dublin

 It's hard to believe that today was our last in Ireland. It rushed by like the speed limits on the roads. More than anything else we wanted to see the Book of Kells that luckily a friend said was a "must see" since we'd never heard of it. Good thing I bought fast track tickets online a month ago because even now the lineups are impressive. More about the Book of Kells later.

Things that caught our eye around the city --


    Fun name and eye catching door.


   A whole store of knockers. Who uses knockers anymore?


              And the knockers.


And a very nice door with black knocker.


       Guy on left in vogue.

        
Must have been hot in those getups.


You could put 15 country roads side by side in some Dublin streets. This one is wider than Toronto's University Avenue.


I'm struggling to read Joyce's Ulysses for the third time. So we visited the James Joyce Centre.


This is the original old 7 Eccles door featured in the novel from the late 1800s.


   The Hoards of Ireland on display at the National Museum 

Between the Neolithic period through the Iron And Bronze Ages the Roman and Medieval Eras, people hoarded their valuables in the bogs. They buried stunningly beautiful gold ornaments, copper items, coinage and tools into the bog, sometimes for personal safe keeping, sometimes to hide, occasionally as offerings to Gods. They often intended to retrieve the items and had perhaps forgotten the location or had to flee the area. Perhaps they'd gotten killed. Those were brutal, brutal times.


This fellow is wearing in his ear the gold Bronze age (2500 BCE to 500 BCE) object that you see below. The object contains gold nuggets.



               A gold neckpiece.

Bog Bodies

I love learning about ancient peoples but not necessarily their violent deaths. The bog people, on display at the National Museum are fascinating because they are so old, dating back to 8000 BC and so well mummified in peat bog.

Bog bodies are exciting for scientists because they retain their skin and organs. So with careful measurements and MRIs, quite accurate models are made from the specimen. The head below was created based on the body below it.


The head modelled from the bog body below. These people are white. Chemicals in peat tans the skin.


The fellow is 2500 years old, from the Iron age and was probably killed by an axe during a ritual sacrifice. I wonder how you would feel if you were about to be scrificed. Maybe to be chosen would have been an honour.


Tollund man lived in present day Denmark in the 4th century BCE. He is the best studied bog body and so well preseved that people thought he was a recent murder victim.


            Tollund Man.
       The Book of Kells

The Book of Kells, on display at Trinity College, is an illuminated manuscript of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It was created by monks in a monastery in Ireland around 800 CE. The beautiful text and illustrations are written with feather pens and a variety of inks made from natural dyes from around the world at the time combined with substances like arsenic on vellum made from calf skin.

It's a miracle that the Books have survived because they escaped Viking and other plunderings, raids, fires and wars. At one point the four books were buried in the ground. The manuscript takes its name from the Abbey of Kells where it lived for centuries. 


 Pages  from the Book of Kells.


We'll remember the friendly Irish people, their smiles and laughter despite hardship. I'll always have the beautiful green countryside in my mind's eye. Bob will never forget the roads.


     From the window of our Doolen B and B.

This road was for two cars, but you had to edge off the road to pass. On the left side of the road you can see a road narrowing sign that makes you think they've got to be kidding.

Bob and I send you best wishes and thoughrs until our next adventure.  Be well, Lynda
























Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Cavers and The Burren


             Hardhats waiting.

As we descended the wet metal stairs into the dark cave of Doolin and then walked bent over along narrow passage ways, our hard hats sometimes bumping the stony clay overhead, I felt queasy and couldn't fathom how two young students had the stamina and bravery to crawl on their bellies following an underground stream in hopes of discovering a cave those almost 65 years ago. They had just four hours for the round trip and I wonder if they were sure they'd get back out. They were students charting the caves of the Burren area with their university, had left their group, had gone exploring on their own when they noticed a small stream disappearing at the bottom of a huge limestone cliff. They pulled back some boulders and dug their way into a narrow passage and managed to wriggle their way along for a half kilometer until they reached the large chamber that contains the Great Stalactite.



 The Great Stalactite 7.3 metres long is the longest free hanging stalactite in the Northern Hemisphere.



A grade four class created fairy houses from the area clay and placed them in the dark forest near the spot where the cavers started to follow the stream underground more than a half century ago.

The Burren

In the cracks of the 350 million year old limestone of Burren, Arctic, Mediterranean and alpine plants and flowers grow side by side. The melting of glacial ice removed more vegetation after the last ice age leaving the awe inspiring rock that you see in these photos below of the Burren. Today we took the coastal route from Doolin to Galway, mesmerised by so much rock. No wonder houses are made of it here.

                 Nature's art.
  
    Peeking over the edge.
     Beautiful patterns in the fissures.
       Bob at the ocean's edge.
     Clinging to the rock.
 Off in the distance a mountain of rock the goes on forever.
See you in Dublin tomorrow. 
  








Monday, September 19, 2016

From Dingle to Doolin


They say that that hardy surfers ply the stormy Atlantic shores for big waves. They rent jet rescue skis to pick them up when they crash. Yesterday we wound our way around the charming Ring of Dingle and I wish to God someone had told us not to bother with the Ring of Derry because we'd be nine hours richer and a whole lot less tuckered. 



The beach at Inch, one of four that stretch more than ten miles. The Dingle peninsula is the most westerly point in Ireland and Europe. 


      Surfers catching a wave.




                       Dinner?


          The roadside.


  Dingle is one of many "Tidy Towns" in County Kerry. It's an ingenious concept to encourage town pride. Our guide in Kinsale said that Kinsale entered the contest five years ago and came in last. The shops had drab fronts and there was litter. The ingenious owner of the local paint store spearheaded a grand cleanup. Two years later, the town won the cash award and she was a well off woman.

We should bring this contest into our cities. Downtown Ottawa and Vancouver could use a cleanup.
The competition has eight criteria: Community involvement and planning; Built environment and streetscape; Landscaping and open spaces; Wildlife, habitats and natural amenities; Tidiness and litter control; Sustainable waste and resource management; Residential streets and housing areas; Approach roads, streets and lanes.


The result is spruced up places like this one.


             All dressed for work.


A public toilet is the sign of a civilised community.



On the 20 minute ferry from Tarbert to Killimer across the Shannon River en route to Doolin.


Crotty's pub in Listowell. Irish pubs are amazing -- many with music at night and spectacular food.


          The cliffs of Moher


These cliffs are a breathtaking 214 meters in height with brilliant waves crashing into the shore.



This is an island where Puffin birds nests. They weren't visiting as we peered down.


You could spend a week mixing shades of green. The fields go on forever unbroken by houses. It's breathtakingly beautiful here and when you get used to them, the narrow, winding roads have their charm.


A cottage abandoned during the potato famine. Before the famine there were 40,000 people in the Dingle Peninsula and now only 10,000. So only the lower fields are cultivated these days.

In the mid 1800s my mother's parents left Ireland during the potato famine. They would have lived in a cottage like the one above before emigrating to the new world. Originally the animals were kept in the house. But later they lived in the attached extra section.

Because the main diet of West Kerry families, (both animals and people), was the potato, when the  black rot hit, they were doubly affected. Catholics suffered mightily under English rule, and had to pay taxes for the privilege of keeping animals.

After a week here we've found our stride. I'm sure we each lost five punds in sheer terror the first few days and I would love to hear audio recordings of all the shouts and curses inside rental cars as visitors grapple with right hand drive, stick shifts on the left (Ireland is a country of stick shifts), narrow roads with tractors, gigantic tour buses, vans and non natives in the wrong lane on one side and stony hedgerows on the other with you squeezed whitefaced somewhere in between.

The Irish are a hardy, resilient, congenial and friendy people. It's odd haow we get wrapped up in our little world, sometimes worrying about little bits of nothing, especially those of us who have the privilege to travel. We sleep in our beds at night, like bits of sand on the planet. Sometimes I lie in bed at night and imagine what people are doing at that moment in all the places we've visited and then my life falls into perspective.

On to Galway. See you soon. Be well.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Ring of Kerry


Today we circuited the 200 km. Ring of Derry, in the Iverage Peninsula, the largest of the four peninsulas jutting out into the Atlantic on the southwest coast of Ireland. An English artist who lives on part of this coast says she returns home to Portsmouth for two months in the winter, that the storms are so bad that the rain bites into you horizontally, that you can't walk or cycle without being blown over. So this is why the coast is called The Wild Atlantic West.


We stopped at a cafe en route for some Irish coffee just as this cylist was talking into her iPad, to record, I suppose the beginning of her Ring of Derry trip. I asked her where she was headed. She said, "I'm cycling 100 km. and camping out tonight." I said, "You've got quite a load." And she said, "Probably too much." 

But she was eager and all full of vim and vigour. We watched her leave, helmut and pack askew and the load way too heavy. Paniers would have helped. But even so, the route is hilly with twists and turns. We passed her about 20 minutes later stopped by the side of the road trying to adjust her back pack. I wonder how far she got before turning back.


     Most cyclists we passed had no gear.


   A view to the sea over pastures with sheep.





We met artist Nicole Tilley today in an art centre en route. She is multi-faceted -- does etchings, paper cuttings and theatrical shadow installations. Nicole received a Masters in Fine Art from The National College of Art and Design in 2011 and I discovered later that has since won many awards. You can see some of her work below.




   An installation at the art centre


    A giants table that looks inviting but is way too big to settle into.


              Ruins along the way.



        The Skellig Chocolate factory in the middle of nowhere.


     Waves crashing onto the craggy shoreline looking down from high above.




   A cliff inthe background.


  Cars are wheel to wheel with no room to spare. We were enroute today foe nine hours and bed  feels so good. 


           Good night. Sleep well.