Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rock of Cashel, Muenster, Ireland

The Rock of Cashel, on which sit a castle and cathedral, was the seat of the Kings of Muenster, Ireland, for many centuries. Most of the buildings presently on the site date from the 12th to 14th centuries, but the Kings ruled there for several hundred years prior to that.

The Round Tower

Celtic Cross

Hoare Abbey, a Cistercian Monastery, below the Rock of Cashel
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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Innisfallen Abbey

We drove to Killarney today and took a small boat across Lough Leane, the lake on which Ross Castle sits, to see the 7th Century ruins of the monastery on Innisfallen Island.

The monastery ruins are on a 21-acre island in the middle of Lough Leane, which in English, means Lake of Learning. The High King of Ireland, Brian Boru, is said to have been educated here.

Looking from archway to archway inside the monastery ruins. Only the foundations and a few walls are left standing. It was fun trying to identify the buildings of the small monastery: the church with its sacristy, chancel and altar; the chapter house where monks met to conduct their business of the day, the cloister, the kitchen and refectory, the library and scriptorium, the infirmary, the storehouse, etc. One can almost imagine Brother Cadfael living and working in a community like this.

Thirty-nine monks wrote The Annals of Innisfallen at this abbey over a period of 300 years. The manuscript is now kept safe in Oxford's Bodleian Library. It is an important record of over 2500 historical events, spanning nearly 1000 years of Irish history.
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Boatman on Lough Leane, Killarney

Our boatman waits for us to finish exploring the small, 21-acre island on which Innisfallen Abbey sits.
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Ross Castle, Killarney

We toured Ross Castle after exploring the ruins of Innisfallen Abbey. What amazed us on the tour was the life expectancy of its occupants in the 15th century: 25 to 35 years! The servants who lived outside the castle had a life expectancy of 55 years! The main factor for this difference: the nobility dined off pewter plates (made of tin and lead, known poisons), and they lived in a virtually windowless castle where the damp, moldy castle air was full of soot from the smoky fireplaces and the tallow (animal fat) candles! The peasants ate off wooden trenchers and worked outside in the fresh air all day.
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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Beehive huts at ancient hill fort on Dingle Peninsula

These stone huts were built inside a circular Iron Age hill fort (1000 BC to 1200 AD). The construction used a technique called corbelling -- slanting each stone outwards and downwards, so that rain would run off easily. No mortar was used, and the structures are remarkably well-preserved.
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On the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

The Dingle Peninsula on the West Coast of Ireland is laced with pristine coves and dramatic cliffs and mountains along its edge.

The peninsula juts out into the Atlantic Ocean.

A lamb at the B&B where we're staying

This is Banshee. We stopped for tea and a scone at a cafe along Slea Head Drive, the road that loops around the peninsula. Banshee, the cafe dog, was pretty insistent about playing ball with us. When we were done playing, his owner said that he would be happy to pose for photos. She pointed to a rock, and he dashed right up, and sat and posed for us. You can probably find photos of Banshee like this elsewhere on the net--he'll pose for anyone who has played ball with him! He has even appeared in the Washington Post, his owner said. (See the 3rd photo in the Post's slideshow.)

Traffic jam outside Dingle Town

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Georgian Doors in Dublin

Georgian architecture abounds around the squares in Dublin--St. Stephen's Green, Merrion, and Fitzwilliam. Colorful doors, peacock fanlights, 4 floors, basement flats, wrought iron balustrades, ornate door knockers and foot scrapers are the hallmarks of this style.
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Wind Farm in the Irish Sea

If you click on the picture, you may be able to see the wind farm in the Irish Sea. It's off the coast of North Wales.
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Rapeseed fields from the air

And here are the rapeseed fields from the airplane, as we flew from Birmingham, England to Dublin, Ireland.
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Afternoon Tea in the Cathedral Quarter

Afternoon Tea in the Cathedral Cafe - a pleasant, bright, peaceful spot in the day. The lady next to me recommended the Victoria Sponge, and it was good! Wish YOU (yes, you, whoever you are!) were here, in that seat across from me.
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Silk Mill (sketch)

I bought a cheese and bacon sandwich and ate it while sitting in Silk Mill Park at lunch time. Afterwards I sketched the Silk Mill opposite me. It is the first factory in the world, if you define factory as a purpose-built building for mass production of goods, having its own power supply, local labor force, and access to a transportation network for delivery of raw materials and distribution of goods. I did the sketch on a Daler Rowney watercolor postcard with watercolor pencil and a water brush. I finished it in the hotel room later on.
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