The Edge of Civilization!

Welcome to Ireland!
Welcome to Ireland!

Finally in a place with regular internet connection and can start posting about my summer “abroad!”  We’re now in London, but we spent a week in the Irish countryside and it was spectacularly gorgeous.  And so, my adventures…

Hm, it’s a bit of a one dolphin town, huh?  -C.

We flew into Shannon and were coached to the Dingle Peninsula, literally the edge of Western Civilization until either the Spanish, Portuguese, Vikings, Chinese, or Irish (depending on which history book you read) made things very aggravating by stumbling across an entirely new set of continents.  We went straight from the airport to Bunratty Castle, where we were toured about by a cute, hyper old Irishman.

We stayed in the Rainbow Hostel, which was a farmhouse until the family converted it into a hostel.  I’d recommend it.  Despite the cramping one expects of any hostel, it offers a great kitchen area for mixing and mingling, lovely walks in the Irish countryside, and is about five minutes away from Dingle itself.

We also got to see some ruins like the Gallarus Oratory and a church linked to St. Kevin which had an Ogham stone (ancient Celtic script) with a oath hole in it.  Apparently, if you needed to swear some sort of vow, you stuck a finger through the hole, touched somone elses, and it was binding.  This one was often used for marriages in the absence of priests!

Oath bound
Oath bound

Dingle itself is a small seaside town, whose most famous resident is a dolphin named Fungie who showed up sometime in the 1980s and seems to have stayed on ever since.  Don’t expect a metropolis, but take advantage of the country!  The town itself is very pretty, all brightly painted houses, pubs, and the gorgeous Irish sea.  It’s also home to Murphy’s Ice Cream parlor which is rather proud of it’s general Irishness (the cream is made from a breed of cow found only in Ireland and fed on Irish grass, etc.), but let me tell you, it pays out!  That stuff is to die for!

We spent the next day bussing around the Dingle Penninsula, and it is beautiful country!  We stopped by Famine Cottages, relics from the Potato Famine that ravaged the country over a century ago, but the effects of which are still felt.  We had slightly more upbeat adventures though, such as when a small dog decided to dash onto our bus and howl bloody murder when Dr. Chapman promptly removed him!

Me on the edge of Europe
Me on the edge of Europe
The Irish coast
The Irish coast

How did my bra get under YOUR bed?! – L.

That night we stayed in a castle (yes, you read that right) that dates back to the 15th century.  The family was reduced to the state of peasants by Oliver Cromwell and forced to live in the stables.  AND it’s haunted by two ghosts, one a lady who’s father pushed her down the stairs which snapped her neck and the other a soldier who fell asleep on watch and was pushed off the tower by his officer.  What it is with pushing people down things in this place I’ll never know…

Foulksrath Castle, you know you\'re jealous...
Foulksrath Castle, you know you’re jealous…
You\'d break your neck too
You’d break your neck too
Our room
Our room
Foulksrath Castle\'s surrounding wall
Foulksrath Castle’s surrounding wall

Independence Day was celebrated by us having our majority vote to spend time in Killkenny overturned by Dr. Chapman (No vacation without representation!), who took us to Glendelough instead.  Which turned out to be gorgeous, let freedom ring.  We also saw the Rock of Cashel, seat of the old High Kings, but if you want a helpful tip, you could spend the money to get to see the castle, but there are much better ruins just up the hermitage trail for free!

Founding my St. Kevin, who ran off to the woods to get away
Founded by St. Kevin, who ran off to the woods to get away from the world and ironically founded a monastery with several hundred followers that now serves as a tourist attraction
One of the two lakes at Glendalough
One of the two lakes at Glendalough
Rock of Cashel
Rock of Cashel
Monastic Ruins, much better!
Monastic Ruins, much better!
One of the beautiful crosses at Cashel
One of the beautiful crosses at Cashel
Candid shot
Candid shot in the ruins of Cashel

Yeah…we’re Americans! -Le. (believe me, the announcement was unnecessary…)

Dublin is a pretty little city, but when the pleasures of drink, drugs, and debauchery aren’t available, entertainment can get a bit thin.  But if you’re a dork like me, you’ve got plenty to see with good friends and a lot of time!  Trinity college was a lovely campus that makes me want to weep thinking of the 1960s brick faced buildings of my stateside uni.   It also has its fair share of humorous historical incidents.  A century ago or so there was a professor who was rather despised by his students.  After a night of heavy drinking these academic giants decided to go harass him at his residence on the campus by throwing bricks and garbage through his window.  The professor retaliated by firing his pistol in the air to scare them off, but in their inebriated state the students figured he was firing AT them and so dashed off for their own guns.  A gun fight over the green ensued and the hapless lecturer wound up dead.  The students were pardoned.

Another funny story is of a gentleman who served as the provost of the college for nearly 30.  Although his staffed had urged for several years to let women join the college, he adamantly rejected the notion finally declaring one day that “Females will enter this school over my dead body.”  He amusingly dropped dead of a heart attack a week later

Amy in front of the cranky provost.  That should irk him...
Amy in front of the cranky provost. That should irk him...

We’re now in London, with more adventures to follow!  (Many thanks to Amy for use of several photos, my camera decided to be aggravating for a few days)

4 thoughts on “The Edge of Civilization!”

  1. C,

    I loved the stories about Foulksrath Castle. I don’t have any idea how it’s really pronounced, bu t I read it as “folks’ wrath” and that was pretty funny since people were shoved down/off things in moments of wrath.

    The fact that St. Kevin’s area became a tourist attraction and that people flock there- beautific irony.

    The candid shot of you (as you labeled it) is an amazing picture in general. And you look hot. Your hair is amazing! 🙂

  2. those pictures are BEAUTIFUL!!! you may have just upped ireland on my priority list of places to visit. wanna go back there with me someday? miss you!

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