Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Monday, May 20th

Black

      Jog this morning! Followed the coastline for a bit, then went down a little side road. It was a lovely day, and there was green on both sides. White flowers bloomed and the air smelled just like it should. Not a whiff of anything else! Had to make it back in time for breakfast. Focus on what is important now after all.  The Irish do breakfast right! It usually consists of meats like bacon and sausage, porridge, yogurt and cheese, soda bread, fresh jam or bread. And always hot tea and some form of coffee (depending on the location).

New Grange.
    We did not walk into these, but they are ancient burial grounds that are dated from before the time of the pyramids.  From afar the look to be giant grass covered hills. The tip off that they are man made is their unusual size and smoothness of the slopes. Inside is a dark warren of passageways. We are told there is a man chamber, which has an opening that is perfectly aligned with the summer and winter solstice so that the light will shine in and perfectly illuminate a beam of light. It is possible the people who built this thought this was when the dead’s souls can leave this world. Sounds awesome, but we gave it a pass. Seeing it from afar sufficed.
 
Slane
                While on the road, we passed through this small town in county Meath. We found a little artsy type store that functions as a co-op. Meaning that around 13 artists bring their works to this shop, and volunteer to work once every two weeks at the store. It was extremely interesting, with all different kinds of styles. Pottery, jewelry, purses, poems, cards, digital design, antique furniture refurbished and painted nicely to look more modern. The last one was done by the lady in the store the day we stopped. She is a cheerful one, who has fibromyalgia. But she says even though it is excruciatingly painful, she does her best to get out of bed, and do what she enjoys. I found that really inspiring.  
                We found a poem we liked, although didn’t entirely understand the meaning, one of the ladies shopping at the store (who of course knew the lady already working there) told us it was by an Irish poet, Francis Ledwidge. He had gone to war, because he did not want the British saying their brothers did not help them out and fight along side them. He died in the war at a young age, but left behind wonderful collections and books of poetry. 
                Tourism seems to be tough on this town, she said few tour buses go through and stop now since they closed the bus parking lot. However, the business is doing well! I think this carries a lot of meaning in what kinds of places the people of Ireland shop at, or perhaps they just enjoy supporting good friends. If you ever go through this area, do stop. It’s lovely and charming, and there is a bakery that I eyeballed (but was not open when we went through).   


                Trim Castle

 



                TRIM CASTLE The only castle we paid the fee to get into, and completely worth it! It is the largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland. Very much intact, and allowing the imagination all kinds of freedom with such a well put together set up. We decided to do the tour inside the castle itself (deff worth it). We saw the different levels, heard the history of the castle, which was built in 1176. It is a crucifix in shape, and includes 20 sides with its towers, and is surrounded by a ditch, curtain wall, and moat. Originally used for defense, since the fellow who built it, Hugh de Lacey, previously had his fortress made of wood burnt to the ground by the inhospitable Irish. Can’t really blame them for doing so. King Henry II gifted the land to de Lacey, who would pay knights to go to other areas, build castles, and take over those other areas as well.
                We heard of the improvements and extensions the son, Walter, made when he took over, and the reasoning behind it. Eventually it was no longer needed to be a defense fortress that could survive under siege, because the soldiers and Irish town people had intermarried and all was peaceful. Perhaps most interesting to me was the spiral staircases all turned clockwise. This was explained that since most were right handed, this provided an advantage to someone defending the top of the stairs. While a right handed invader at the bottom trying to ascend, whose left arm would be first, would find it very difficult to get a sword around the side of the stairs. Let’s not forget the booby traps on the stairs as well! Prisoners who thrown into a pit, whose names was based off the French term “oublier” or oblivion, since they were forgotten once put in there. All around the castle, outside the walls, was a moat. While it is lovely now, surrounded by green meadows and other ruins, it sounds like it was a very serious place at one point. Trim Castle was not bought by the OPW (Office of Public Works) until 1989…before then it had belonged to a duke or a lord or somebody who eventually could not afford the upkeep. Before then though, it wasn’t a public place, it only recently was cleaned up and set up for tours.
      
                The family stayed just outside of town again at a lovely B&B called the White Lodge. It was run by an ex homicide police officer. It wasn’t far from town at all, but the idea of walking in the dark to a touristy bar was not in my energy for the night. Curling up with a blanket absolutely was. 

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