our last day together!
The students and i took the train back to Dublin from Kilkenny, then a taxi on to the town of Swords. E did a little exploration of the medieval castle
So, at this point, I will simply give up on getting my posts done in a timely or an organized manner. I"m starting now with yesterday (28 May, Day 13). I am now traveling with only 7 of the students: Asia O, Asia S, Candy W., Jessie N,, Summer M, Felicia H and Sean K. We said goodbye to the rest of the group in Dublin on 26 May
bon voyage to the majority of the group
and spent the morning exploring the Natural History Museum, then off to Kilkenny on the train. It was great. The trains are really efficient and easy to be on, and a lot of fun for Hawaii students who have never traveled by train.
In Kilknney, we castled (I'll probably post on that at some time) and abbeyed, then, yesterday spent the morning at Dunmore Caves and the afternoon walking along the None River just north of town.
Dunmore Cave is a Karst formation with a long, somewhat gruesome history. Recently, a lot of what was assumed to be legend was found to be truth when bones of many of the refugees from a town massacre were found in the caves. But, our visit wasn't scary at all, and we had a great time visiting the cave and learning about limestone (so different from our basalt).
Here are a few of the better photos of the morning:
After resting up from the trip to Dunmore caves we decided to go for a walk North of town along the Nore River. I'm not sure what happened, nor how permanent the change will be, but Saturday was the first day that felt like summer. We left the hotel at 5:30 and walked for nearly 3 hours but didn't need the jackets and sweaters we'd carried until the very end of the walk.
It was fun to get out with the students into some semi-natural landscape and explore the ecology of the area:
Day 6 -- Saturday, May 21
I started the day with a run with Carrie, then on to a nice lecture by Niamh about Yeats and the impossibilities of giving voice to the Irish condition through the Gaelic language. It is strangely ironic that the only way that the passion and mythology of the Irish people could be told was through the language of their conquerors and that the Catholic story was written with a Protestant pen..... It reminds me of my Penn State Cultural Ecology course when one of the Anthro grad students drew the lecture off topic with his fascination of emic vs. etic perspectives. Sometimes the outside voice is the strongest support for the inside knowledge.
Our first stop was Creevykeel, an ancient megalithic site that demonstrates so strongly the continual nature of human change. The original site (or at least what we consider original, it could be much older than we even know) is many (5-6) thousand years old and once held 3 tombs. It was reconstructed in the late 1930s but before that was subject to many changes as different cultures inhabited the landscape, each with their own needs and wants. There is evidence of a post-Christian kiln and smelting area, built from the original tomb, and it looks very likely that the farm wall that keeps cattle from grazing the site was also built from the stones left there by the ancients. We move and change and that which is sacred to one generation may become simply utilitarian over time......
The Celtic crosses and most of the tombstones seem to be sourced from local stone
And, finally, to Glencar waterfall: a cascade that pours down from Benbulben Mountain. The area is beautiful with the crazy flat-topped, glacially-formed mountain providing a green backdrop to everything else. It was great to be there in the Spring when the flowers were in bloom. The rhodedendron are beautiful, but I am finding myself infatuated with the wild garlic. No wonder that Yates wrote of fairies near these falls.
Despite my good intentions (and you know what they say about those), I have not been posting on a daily basis. Here, Day 6, is my third post.
Part of the problem is that we have been going full blast since our arrival Most days start with breakfast at 9am, on the road until 6pm or so, dinner at 6:30pm and evening activities that go until about 10pm. 10 is when the bands show up at the hotel pub and no one wants to miss that kind of fun, so most of us are hanging out until at least midnight, appreciating the music and interactions. The bands are usually there until 1 or 2am, and if the jam session really gets going, they sometimes don't leave until the next morning. I've been doing a good job of getting up early enough to get in a seaside run before breakfast and often have company on it (which is novel and fun). Last night was the one exception when just about everyone collapsed into an early bed. Good thing since tonight a famous Irish musician (Johnny Gallagher) is coming and his show won't even start until midnight We've been told that no one on the lower floors will be able to sleep so we all might as well plan on attending.
Here's my longest run:
But, yesterday (I'll get to today some time):
We walked to the AMAZING Sliabh Liag cliffs after spending the morning at a reconstructed old-style village (with a store FULL of gorgeous Aran/Donegal sweaters). The day had started off cloudless -- the first day I'd seen like that here. But it wasn't long before the clouds had rolled in, and the day mostly moved between misty and downright soggy.
At Sliabh Liag, we parked the bus at the base of the hill and those who didn't want to walk up took a shuttle to the upper parking lot. The rest of us walked in the mist, exclaiming at the beauty with every bend we passed.
It turned out Carrie and I were the only ones (stupid enough?) to walk back down the road -- the rest took the shuttle. However, I was so wet by that point, it wouldn't have really mattered if I'd walked or ridden -- wetter wasn't possible
Today we visited a few sites: first St. Patrick's well - named after Ireland's patron saint with a monument and a tree from which to hang cloth ties in hopes that your wish will be granted (much like going to temple in India!). Then on to the caves at Ballyshannon where Catholic priests hid to conduct sermons during the times of English rule. Finally to Donegal Town where we visited the castle (built by the (in)famous Donegal ODonnell cheifs, then rebuilt by the English/Scottish B , then, most recently reconstructed by the Office of Public Works. All of these places were magnificent examples of the interplay between the environment and human activity and culture. St. Patrick's well is actually a natural spring situated near the backwaters of a river. The beauty of the place creates a serenity that fits nicely with Christian worship of the island's most important saint. The caves, carved from the native limestone cliffs provide shelter and protection from casual eyes for those in need of hiding. Donegal Castle is nearly entirely built from local limestone with wooden floors (that presumably once came from native oaks, though none are to be found in the area today).
It was a long and tiring flight (or series of flights, to be more honest): We left Hilo on Saturday night and arrived in Dublin at 7am on Monday morning. Phew!
The best part is that EVERYONE'S flights arrived and almost all of them touched down early. We came in on seven flights, so that is something to be impressed by.
It was fantastic to see Niamh and John again and great to be back in Ireland. The country blessed us with an amazing cloud-free sky (and temps about 11C -- brrr!). We had an easy day, with a little nap for me, followed by a walk around Dublin and dinner at a restaurant (19-something or other) that specialized in locally-sourced foods and gourmet recipes. It was delicious but I was so tired that I could barely keep my eyes open for the whole dinner.
Now that I've slept all night, I'm looking forward to the upcoming travels. I have met almost everyone (4 people opted out of yesterday's low-key events) and think that this is going to be a good group to travel with.
Looking forward to sharing Newgrange with everyone later today.
I am Mela, Pam, or Pamela. My first experience in Ireland was in 1990 when my best friend, Shannon, and I biked the island. I am very happy to have the opportunity to share this special island with students from my own special islands.
Me, in South Korea, visiting the statue of my zodiac sign -- can you guess what year I am?