Monday, June 30, 2008

Ireland - Part I: Local

It’s been a very local past few days. I arrived happily in one piece last Thursday morning, but because of a text message time stamp gone awry, Mom and Dad picked me up about 2 hours after I’d landed. Mom and Dad bought a car, a very serviceable Fiat, which I think could be packed in one’s luggage, it’s so small and petite. I keep thinking of those old cartoons in which you see little puffs of clouds coming from the rear of the car, going “put put put.”

We’ve been keeping fairly local since I’ve come here; on Saturday Mom and I visited Boyle Abbey – a lot of it was under scaffolding since the OPW is restoring it, but we had a nice look around and poked our noses into some dark corners. We also toured King House, a Georgian mansion that belonged to an English family who took over the region. Yesterday we did a whole lot of nothing, but today Mom, Dad, and I took a mini-road trip and drove to Sligo Abbey, formerly a Dominican friary founded in the mid-13th Century – about an hour away. This was a very neat abbey; there was a lot to it, and a lot to walk around and see. (It’s much larger than the Boyle Abbey and more open to visitors at the moment.) It took us a good hour to walk around and see all that there was to see – various graves and carvings were throughout the abbey, a cloister (filled with more graves), lots of beautifully carved stone masonry, and apparently the “only sculptured 15th Century high altar to survive in any Irish monastic church.” We drove down to the beach afterwards, and had some lunch, and admired the ocean and beach, which was completely covered by not only the high tide but huge, massive rocks that made walking on the beach an impossibility.

Tomorrow we’re heading down to Co. Kerry and Co. Limerick, visiting various cousins and Aunt Mary, before going to attempt to see Skellig Michael. My sense of traveling as it pertains to driving really changes when I’m here; those short one-hour drives take as much out of me as a four-hour+ drive back in the States. The roads are so much curvier here, and narrower, that unless you’re on a highway, it takes total concentration to drive – and that includes being in the back seat. (It gets really bouncy around back there.)

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