Sunday, July 22, 2012

Ireland: the Passing Countryside

Many of my posts lately have been within an urban setting. There is a reason for this-I am not one to rent a car in another country, I prefer to travel by public transportation. While this has its advantages in terms of ease of travel and a chance to interact with local people, it also limits where I travel as I explore the place. As  someone who formerly taught social studies, I have a very strong sense that the land plays a strong part in the development of  cultures.  To totally miss seeing and experiencing the land found outside of urban settings is to miss a chance to better understand a place and its people.

The first week that we spent in Ireland was with a tour group (Harp & Eagle Tours) exploring County Clare in the west. It was a good introduction to Ireland, and the daily coach trips gave an opportunity to see and admire the landscape while we traveled.  The majority of the photos in this post were taken either through a bus window or when we took a break in our travels to explore. Rolling hills, farmlands, narrow country roads, wild horses, and an occasional disused castle were all part of the passing landscape. I was repeatedly struck by Ireland's rugged natural beauty and want to explore more of it in future travels.

I hope that you enjoyed your visit and will come again. In the meantime, may your travels be interesting and enjoyable.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dublin: Buskers of Grafton Street

Dublin's Grafton Street has almost a carnival atmosphere, in part due to the numerous buskers/performance artists.  There was a larger concentration of them on a weekend day than I had seen in any other city. I'm sure that one reason was the economic times, but I hope that another was a longing for anaudience and the chance to perform.  That there were musicians of various abilities wasnot unexpected. Music is an important part of Irish culture-it seems to be everywhere.  The man in the rubber suit who posed as a stature was similar to artists I had seen in Malaga, Spain and brought back memories of those times. Then there was the unexpected-the sand sculpturer, the maker of giant bubbles, and the "wee man".  Finally, there was the dancer in blue with his ageless energy as he danced the steps of tradition.  Together, their performances added to the memorable experience of wandering down crowded Grafton Street.

Thank you for visiting, feel free to stop by again.  In the meantime, may your travels be interesting and enjoyable.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Ireland: Signs of Times Remembered

                                                          Bunratty Castle

                                             Clonmacnoise Monastry

                                                        Daniel O'Connell, Ennis


                                                         The Great Hunger

                                                       Faery Ring Center

                                                          Portable Church

                                                              Portal Tomb

One of the many reasons that the trip to Ireland was enjoyable was the sense of its history that was found almost everywhere. What I have attempted to do in this post is present a sampling of the historical range that I discovered as we were bussed  from place to place in the West or walked among sometimes winding streets. As someone with a love of history, it was wonderful to find so much preserved and accessible to the curious.

The portal tomb, openly standing in the rocky and desolate Burrens, had an otherworldly air.  The same can be said for the faery ring at the edge of the Burren with its messages of wishes left behind. Both lead us to think about the Old Religion found in Ireland before the time of St. Patrick. Things religious are also evident in the Clonmacnoise Monastry which has overlooked the River Shannon since the 6th century C.E. that the portable wooden church which allowed Catholics to worship by being placed at the tidal line (where British landlords had no legal powers of prevention). Dublinia is a modern venue in which the settlement  of Dublin is traced from its Viking past and through its historical/cultural transformations.  Bunratty Castle is also a place where you can tour examples of cottages of different parts and times of Ireland, as well as dine at Durty Nelly's Tavern.  Sush a variety of possibilities!

One of the things that also struck me was that the reminders of Ireland's past were found everywhere. In a central square in Ennis the statue of Daniel O'Connell stands commorating the man who gave Irish Catholics their first place in politics under British rule.  On the side of a road is a powerful statue in memory of the Great Hunger. The images of a child and his mother separated by the authorities in a city poorhouse are compelling beyond words.

I can only try to show the range of history here, and it is only the surface.  If you have a chance, I encourage you to explore the history of Ireland on your own.  Thank you for stopping by, I hope that you enjoyed your visit.  Until the next time, may your travels be interesting and enjoyable.