It’s hard to believe I’ve been in Ireland for a week already. The people have been fantastic and the views are fantastic. I think Ireland would be a really cool place to live, at least for a couple of years. There’s been a lot going on the past couple of days so this might be fairly long.
Last Wednesday we visited the Hill of Tara. There was a smaller passage tomb called the mound of the hostages, even though the people buried there were probably very important and powerful. Apparently when two powerful families lived near each other they would exchange children to raise as their own. It was used as a check to make sure neither family betrayed the other.
From the top of the hill, you can see a third of the country. I ended up walking down one of the lower embankments and found a fairy tree. The trees are places where people leave money or trinkets that belonged to a loved one, or as a way of wishing for something. The tree I found had money, a bow, jewelry and pretty rocks nestled in the branches.
After Tara we visited a woman who raises sheep and handspins the wool. Needless to say I bought some cool black and white marled yarn she spun. We had a short stop there, then went to visit a fairly intact monastery in Louth.
Thursday, we travelled to the west coast. The first stop was at Glenstall Abbey, a fully functioning monastery that also houses a boys boarding school. One of the monks, Brother Coalman, showed us around and answered about a million of our questions. During part of the visit we got to attend mass, which was very orderly. Hearing the brothers chant the hymns, which sounded more like singing, was completely calming and peaceful.
At Athassel I learned about anchorites, people who are bricked into a small room in the monastery for the rest of their lives. There are two windows, one so they can see the altar for mass and be brought food, the other for people to come and ask for the anchorites to pray for them. Anchorites were usually women and were allowed to have a cat. It really amazed me to be in the room several very devout people spent the majority of their lives in and died in.
Friday, Brother Coalman joined us to go to some nearby monasteries. The first was called Athassel, which helped bring the whole history of ancient monasteries into perspective. I was allowed to walk in what used to be the residence of the Prior, the refectory and even the 11th century version of the monks bathroom.
We also visited the famous Rock of Cashel and a Dominican monastery that was close by.
We dropped Brother Coalman back at Glenstall before driving to Dingle. Dingle is a more touristy area, where I’ve been told even Irish people go on vacation. We stayed at a hostel and learned some hurling skills from some Irish teenagers also staying there.
After dinner a couple of us checked out the local pubs, one which was an old hardware store. I had my first Irish Guiness. I’d like to say to sit was a life changing experience but I’m just not that big of a fan of beer.
Saturday we walked around Dingle and had a tour of the beautiful coast. Then we drove 4 hours “home”.
I made a hat
In the spirit of focusing more on experiencing than documenting, I’m going to stop here and just add some pictures.
A 99 on the walk back from first day on site