Sorry it’s been so long since my last post. I’ve been very busy, as you’re about to find out. Last week my boyfriend, Wayne, came to visit me from home. He flew in on Friday the 8th, so I went to pick him up at the bus station after class. Friday night I let him relax and get over jet lag, but I had a lot planned for us for the rest of the week. Saturday we went to Cashel, which known mainly for the “Rock of Cashel”, a huge cathedral complex on top of a hill overlooking the surrounding countryside.
On the way to Cashel, our bus stopped for an hour in Cahir, and upon discovering that there was a castle right next to the bus stop, we decided to explore that as well.
At Cashel, we joined a tour group, and we learned a lot from our guide! He told us about the history and architecture of the building. A couple of the things that I found most interesting were: 1) The architects and stone workers who carved the pillars, tombs, archways, etc of the cathedrals (and other buildings of the time) would often carve their own face into the stone as a signature.
2) Many of the features of gothic cathedrals during the 13th century were purposefully tilted off-center. The cross in the rose window at the top of the wall below hasn’t shifted over time or anything like that. It was built exactly as it sits now. They would also slightly tilt the peaks of archways over doors and windows as well. Why? This is meant to symbolize the position of Christ’s head as it fell to the side when he died on the cross.
After the Rock of Cashel, we went to Hore Abbey, which is situated in a field just below the Rock. There are no tours through the Abbey ruins, but it’s open for people to explore.
After our touring, we had a bit of confusion catching our bus, so we sat in a pub for a while watching rugby while we waited for the next one to come.
SUNDAY OCTOBER 10th:
We toured the Hunt Museum in Limerick with my friends Kelsey and Arianna. Overall, we weren’t very impressed with the museum, but they have free admission on Sundays, so we couldn’t complain too much. Though they had a number of interesting artifacts, we felt that everything was poorly labeled (or not labeled at all), which took a lot away from the museum experience.
MONDAY THE 11th:
I we nt to the barn all day for classes, so Wayne hung out with my friend Fearghal, who had been looking forward to meeting him. Then, the three of us met up that evening for a gaming society meeting. We played some card games, had a bit of craic, and headed home to get ready for our trip…
Tuesday morning we woke up early and caught a bus to Galway. We found a wonderful pub for lunch and had some of the best soup, sausages, chicken, and chips of our lives, and then explored some shops in Galway for a couple of hours. Around 5, we caught a bus to our ferry that took us to the Aran Islands. The Aran Islands are located off the west coast of Ireland, so in many ways traditional Irish culture has been preserved there more than it has in most other places (because English influence came from the east, and because being islands keeps them relatively isolated). There are three islands, and we stayed on the largest: Inis Mor. We didn’t do too much Tuesday night, just got settled into our hostel and had dinner.
We rented bicycles and biked around the island, stopping at the main tourist attractions. The islands are famous for their wool sweaters and other wool crafts, so there were many craft shops focused on wool clothing. A couple hours into our bike trip we came upon a small village center with three thatched roof shops and a group of local women sitting in a circle at picnic tables singing Irish songs. It was exactly what I was hoping the islands would be like and made my day!
After a brief stop in the shops, we continued on to Dun Aonghasa, a Celtic fort from 2000 BC that is situated atop spectacular ocean cliffs. We stopped for a picnic on the cliffs and explored the fort.
Then we finished our ring around this island and returned to the hostel tired and sore after a day of biking.
And what do you do in Ireland when you’re tired after a long day?? …Go to the pub!
Following the advice of the woman running the hostel, we went to Ti Joe Watty’s for the evening. We lucked out because it was ballad night, and a man was playing a guitar and lute and singing Irish ballads. We sat on our own for a while listening, and then I decided that we should migrate over to a table nearer to the singer, where a few other men were sitting, talking, and singing along. They were quite friendly and greeted us warmly when we came over. They tried to get me to sing a solo, which didn’t work (hadn’t had quite enough Guinness for that…), but it was fun to enjoy some craic with the native islanders. I also met an older gentleman from Galway who I talked to for a while, and he offered me a job on his horse farm. I doubt he remembered me when he woke up the next day… but nonetheless it was a lot of fun.
Well, unfortunately, I have to head off to class, but I’ll finish this up tonight. I promise. Sorry it’s been so long… I’m paying the price now with so much to write all at once!