Monday, December 1, 2008
A breath of Ireland
We spent four days in Ireland over the Thanksgiving holiday and it took our breath away. Such a lovely gem perched out there in the north Atlantic and such ancient history it holds.
There were castles. The one in the picure is Classiebawn Castle on Mullaghmore Head in County Sligo on the edge of the Atlantic and just across the bay from County Donegal. The castle was the home of Lord Mountbatten.
There were ancient standing stones. This circle is called the Grange Stone Circle and dates back 4000 years. It is beside Loch Gur where artifacts and signs of civilization dating back to 3500 B.C. have been found. In a few weeks on the day of the winter solstice, if the sky is clear the sun will rise directly over one of the stones. A half a year from now on the summer solstice, if the sky is clear the sun will rise directly over a different stone. People camp out in the fields every year to experience the solstice sun rise.
There were pastoral farms where I expected to see James Herriot emerging from the barn, rolling down his sleeves and chatting with the farmer. While there were many sheep and cows grazing along the country roads, I think there are less farms in Ireland than there used to be. There seems to be a new affluence in Ireland with subdivisions full of expensive houses that could be in San Antonio as easily as Galway. The subdivisions sprawl over ancient hills and Dublin seemed like a fashion center.
There were new friends who seemed like old friends with whom we shared a coal fire, a delicious meal and a couple of hours of conversation. Mater, made famous by her daughter's writings, hosted us in her beautiful home and along with her Cousin shared the secrets of their historic community. They were so friendly and gracious--the Irish people are everything that they are reputed to be: Friendly, gregarious, conversational and witty.
We put a thousand kilometers on our rental car in our short visit--so much to see and so much to go back to.