Dublin’s cemeteries: Mount Jerome and Glasnevin

I am fascinated by old cemeteries.  Some of the monuments that people choose to memorialize their loved ones tell a story about who those people were when they were living.  In Dublin we have visited two cemeteries,  Mount Jerome and Glasnevin. They both have different but fascinating stories that helped me to understand the sometimes sad and valiant  stories of the Irish nation.

Since its foundation in 1836, Mount Jerome has witnessed over 300,000 burials. Originally an exclusively Protestant cemetery, Roman Catholics  have also been buried there since the 1920s.  It is an older monument type of cemetery.  There are many angels pointing the deceased to heaven,mt jerome angel 5x7 netmt jerome pointing angel 5x7 bw netin case the loved one might have lost their way to their heavenly reward.  There are many praying angels (perhaps for those who the living are afraid they have lost their way). mt jerome praying angel closer 5x7_netBut the one I liked the most was this giant dog on top of a monumental grave howling to the sky.  Whether he is missing his master or protecting him it is hard to tell.mt jerome dog full 5x7 bw net

The Glasnevin Cemetery has a more national pride vibe.  This is a description from Wikipedia of the desperate circumstances that the Roman Catholics (who were the majority of the people living in Ireland) were reduced to when trying to bury their dead. “Prior to the establishment of Glasnevin Cemetery, Irish Catholics had no cemeteries of their own in which to bury their dead and, as the repressive Penal Laws of the eighteenth century placed heavy restrictions on the public performance of Catholic services, it had become normal practice for Catholics to conduct a limited version of their own funeral services in Protestant churchyards or graveyards. This situation continued until an incident at a funeral held at St. Kevin’s Churchyard in 1823 provoked public outcry when a Protestant sexton reprimanded a Catholic priest for proceeding to perform a limited version of a funeral mass.[2] The outcry prompted Daniel O’Connell, champion of Catholic rights, to launch a campaign and prepare a legal opinion proving that there was actually no law passed forbidding praying for a dead Catholic in a graveyard. O’Connell pushed for the opening of a burial ground in which both Irish Catholics and Protestants could give their dead dignified burial.”  This was not that long ago.  Daniel O’Connell is buried in this graveyard underneath a very tall round tower.O Connells grave 5x7 net We paid for a tour (€10 each) and got to go into his crypt under the tower.  We had an excellent tour guide Niall who told us all the stories of the National heroes who are buried in this cemetery.Glasnevin cemetary guide Niall net  This photo was taken in the O’Connell crypt.  One of the creepier things was that in a room adjacent to O’Connell’s tomb, there is a pile of caskets stacked up.Glasnevin cemetery Oconnell coffins netThese caskets belong to direct decedents of the great man who want to be buried with him.  There is only one caveat,  only their bodies can be stored here.  No wife, child, husband or auntie allowed to be with them.  I believe there are only 9 decedents who have decided to take the cemetery up on their offer. So far. And there is not much room left.

The most famous Irish hero buried here is Michael Collins ( yes, that man in the movie Michael Collins).Michael Collins grave 5x7 netThere are always fresh flowers on his grave and there is a mysterious French woman who comes every year to say a prayer and put flowers on his grave.  This is what the site IrishCentral has to say about her.” A mysterious French lady will visit Michael Collins’ grave once again this year (2016) , continuing a 15-year tradition since she fell in love with the Irish revolutionary after watching the movie “Michael Collins”. She is known as the “Mysterious French Lady” and she appears like clockwork at his grave and lays them down gently before saying a prayer. The woman has been identified as Veronique Crombie, a lecturer at the French National Museum who admits to a passionate love for the Irish revolutionary.”

Here are some other photographs of the graves in this giant cemetery.Glasnevin cemetery celtic cross 5x7 netgrave angel old 5x7 netThe Irish are very good at honoring their recent political heroes who fought so hard to secure their rights and to make their homeland a free Republic.

Pet sitting in Greystones, Ireland

Now we are on the other side of Ireland in a place called Greystones, County Wicklow.  We are taking care of two sweet kitties and two hens. pandy facenetpearly face netchickens netI love kitty cats and these two are very sweet and want to spend time in your lap purring.

We are also about an hour by public transportation from Dublin. Greystones dart bw netWe have been mostly hanging out at home, using the bus to get our food to cook.  But we did go to Dublin one day.  We took a student tour of Trinity College which was very good. Afterwards we went to see the Book of Kells exhibit.  It is a 9th-century book of the four Gospels, with almost every page highly illustrated.book of kells netAfter seeing the exhibit we went up to the Long Room library.  “The main chamber of the Old Library is the Long Room; at nearly 65 metres in length, it is filled with 200,000 of the Library’s oldest books and is one of the most impressive libraries in the world.” ( Trinity College site)

long room library net

Notice the ladders, this is the top floor of the 2 story Long Room

We walked down Grafton Street to look at the shops and heard this lovely singer entertaining as people strolled by.

Grafton street singer net

She had a great voice

We are close to the ocean here in the house and have made a short trip to a town nearby Dun Laoghaire to see the seaside city.  We walked along the harbor.Ireland rocky shores 5x7 netDun Laoghaire cannon 5x7 netblue mosaic 5x7 net

The weather has been Irish.  It is sunny for about two hours and then the dark clouds and the rain wash in.  So we keep our umbrellas handy.

 

Exploring Belfast, Northern Ireland

We have been in Belfast, Northern Ireland now for a week.  I have to admit I was a little reluctant to come here because of “The Troubles” between the Catholics and the Protestants at the end of the 20th century.   But peace has been place now for almost 20 years and Belfast is flourishing.  They have constructed an excellent tourist exhibit about the Titanic and her sister ships.  The ship was built here in the Belfast shipyards in the beginning of the 1900s.  belfast titanic 5x7 netIt is a modern architectural building that has some excellent exhibits that document this period of human grandiosity and folly, when they believed they had created the unsinkable Titanic. titanic belfast ship drawings netThis is a photograph of the ship’s designers hard at work coming up with a truly remarkable ship.  But they forgot to add enough lifeboats for all the passengers and crew in case the unthinkable happened. There are complete mock ups of the first class cabins with exact replicas of the luxurious furnishing.titanic belfast 1st class room 5x7 net  It was an intense experience.

It was easy and inexpensive (a weekly bus pass was £15 each) to get around the city on the big, pink buses.Belfast pink bus 5x7 netWe took a different bus to Hillsborough Castle which is 20 minutes outside of Belfast.  This is really a large Georgian town house where the queen comes to stay when she visits Belfast.  Hillsborough Castle Ireland netWe had an excellent tour given by this lovely guide, Helen. Hillsborough castle guideShe told us all about the history of the house and how it is still used by the English royal family.Hillsborough castle diningroom netHere is the dining room all set for lunch with china and crystal.  The extensive gardens and grounds are stunning.  Here is a photograph of the garden lake.Hillsborough Castle Lake netIt rains a lot here and there are lovely flowers everywhere.blush rose 5x7 netpurple spike flowers netTomorrow we are off to Greystones, which is a little below Dublin.  We get to take care of 2 wonderful kitty cats and 2 chickens.

Goodbye Galway

So we bid a sad goodbye to Galway a couple of days ago. galway sunset 5c7 net It is a wonderful city to visit, and we enjoyed our week there very much.  This was our apartment in the student section of the city. Galway our apt 5x7 netWe remember what it was like to be a young university student with all of those stairs.  This is the city where the Claddagh ring was first made. Galway Claddagh 5x5 netDavid bought me one 17 years ago when we first came to Galway, and I am wearing it today.  If the heart on the ring points to your body that means you are taken, if it faces away that means you are available.  claddagh ring netI am definitely taken.

It is a city of trees, rivers and churches.Galway church 5x7 netThis is the Corrib River that runs through the city and where people can fish for salmon.  Most of the oldest parts of the city have been destroyed, but the Spanish arch from  the 16th century that was part of the city walls is still standing.  Galway Spanish arch 5x7 netThe people are very hardy here.  We walked down to the Galway bay promenade which is in a part of the city called Salthill.  There we watched some brave young people jump off the Blackrock Tower into the freezing (well, darn cold) ocean (54 degrees).  salthill flying 5x7 netsalthill girl flying 5x7 net But the young ones are not the only people to brave the cold ocean.  We met Aidan and his dog Ross as he was getting ready to go out and swim in the bay.  He says he does this every day, all year long, and that the water temperature does get as low as 39 degrees.  He was telling us about the group of older people who do the same thing, mentioning another hardy swimmer who had halted his daily swim only a year before his death at the age of 93. I think this is how they live so long.  Adrain and ross net

This visit to Blackrock had been late on Friday afternoon. We returned Sunday about noon, and there was no water whatever below the tower. In fact, there was a pile of jagged, moss-covered rocks. The range of the tide here is typically 12 feet, and as much as 17 feet. We were amazed that there was no monitoring of access to the tower, from which a low-tide jump would be one’s last.

We finished off the visit with a rousing show called TRAD ON THE PROM.  It was a splendid night of Irish music, dancing and song.  If you visit Galway this show should be on your list to see.

Now we are in Belfast for a week…more adventures to come.  Thanks for taking the time to read our adventures.

Adventures to Connemara and Inishmore

We have two weeks between pet sitting assignments here in Ireland, so we are spending one in the Galway area.  We have rented an apartment here near the center of the city of Galway.  The weather has overall been overcast, cold and rainy but with some careful planning we were able to catch two sunny days to tour the lovely area of Connemara and the largest of the Aran islands, Inishmore.

We took a bus tour of Connemara so that David could see the countryside (you don’t get to see much when you’re driving).  We rode the bus looking at the green countryside, the tall hills and the scattered lakes of the part of northwest Ireland.  It was stunningly beautiful.Connemara tree lake 5x7 net The bus driver Mike told us about the landscapes and the history of this part of Ireland.  We stopped for a quick break at the village of Leenane to see the start of the Killary fjord. Leenane village fiord 5x7 netThen we went on to the Kylemore Abbey.  This is a lovely castle that was built on an isolated lake by a merchant named Mitchell Henry for his wife. Kylemore abbey 5x7 net She died just four years later at 45; he was heartbroken and built this Gothic mini church in her memory.Kylemore Abbey church 5x7 net  Around the 1920s, a group of Benedictine nuns who had been bombed out of Ypres, Belgium, in World War I bought the property and made it into a girls school, which they ran until declines in numbers of both teachers and students forced its closure in 2010. Now it is a romantic tourist attraction.

The next day we took a bus to Rossaveal harbor.  While we were waiting for the bus, we had a hot chocolate made correctly with real milk and ground up chocolate at a small French restaurant named Le Petit Pois by a very friendly lady.  Le Petite Pois server netWe hopped on the bus to catch a ferry to the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland. inishmore ferry 5x7 net We went to Inishmore,  the largest of the 3 Aran islands, and it is like stepping back in time.  When we got off the ferry we found Tomas ( he is featured in Rick Steves’s 2004 video about the island) and his red van.  There were four couples that he piled into his mini van for a 3-hour tour of the island.   He took us to the end of the island to see the ruins of the seven churches.  There are actually only the remains of two 8 – 13th century churches and a graveyard.  seven churches cross 5x7 net  Then he drove us to the main tourist site, Dun Aonghasa, which is a iron age ring fort at the edge of a 300 foot cliff.  We had 2 hours on our own here at the fort.  Tomas told us that it was a 15 minute walk up to the fort.  Well, it turned out to be a 30 minute hike up hill.

Dun Aonghasa long wayup 5x7 net

See those little people?  See that long trail of gravel and eventually big rocks? 

Here is a photograph of the last bit of the up hill trail.  David says that a little old lady was making it up to the fort , so he would too.Dun Aonghasa final way up 5x7 netWhen we made it through the rock doorway this is what we saw.

Dun Aonghasa walls 5x7 net

The trail to the inside walls.  These people were not taking any chances. This was a triple wall defense.

The walls formed a “C” shape around the cliff edge.  The cliff edge was a sheer drop down about 300 feet to the ocean.  There are no safety rails along the edge if you are stupid enough to slip and fall it is Irish natural selection. Dun Aonghasa cliffs 5x7 net Or tourist natural selection, as you can see here; that is a straight drop to the ocean.Dun Aonghasa tourists edge net

We made it back to the ferry landing with plenty of time to shop and have a drink.  When we got home , we were exhausted but happy.  We were on the Aran Islands and we love Ireland !

 

 

Bunratty Castle and folk park: a walk back in time

The most fun excursion that we got up to here in the West country of Ireland was our trip to Bunratty Castle and folk park.  We were there 17 years ago when our son was just 8 years old.  So we had some memories of seeing this big castle through his eyes.  It has changed over time and has gotten much better.  They have added more cottages and houses from the 18th  century to the folk park.  It is a great place to take children to help them understand some of the history of Ireland.

There is the 1425 castle which was restored in the 1950s and opened to the public in the 1960s. bunratty castle 2017 5x7 netThis part of the tour was the same, climbing up many small spiraling staircases that lead off  from each of the four walls of the great hall. There are bedrooms to see. bunratty royal bed 5x7 net  Beautiful stained glass windows to look out on to the river. Bunratty windows 5x7 net  Wonderful 16th century office with a long wood table and colorful ceiling carvings. Bunratty 16th c meeting room 5x7 net  There are even toilets to show you how people in the castle relieved themselves.  Bunratty castle toilet netThat stone seat must have been cold in the winter.

After we toured the castle, we wandered through the folk park which has 30 buildings of farm and fishermen’s cottages from the 18th century.blue cottage Bunratty village 5x7 net  Here is a two room thatched cottage that a County Clare farmer might have lived in.    Here is the one bedroom that the farmer and his wife would use. Bunratty farmer's bed 5x7 netEveryone’s fireplace was also their stove and oven as this photograph of a wealthy farmer’s hearth  illustrates.  Most of the cottages were heated with peat blocks.  I was surprised at how warm they keep the room.bunratty fireplace stove 5x7 net They often used the stones that were part of the landscape to build their homes and barns.

bunratty barn 5x7 net

This was a wealthy farmer’s barn made of local stones

It was a fascinating look back in the Irish history of County Clare.

Before we left we decided to eat at Durty Nelly’s, a historical pub that has been serving the local people, or maybe just the tourists, since 1620.  The food was very good.durty Nelly's pub 5x7 net

 

Today we are finishing up our first house sit, and so we are cleaning house, packing and saying good bye to Cassie, Bella, Pipsie and Midnight.

The Burren in County Clare Ireland

We have been taking a couple of short field trips while pet and house sitting here in western County Clare in Ireland.  Lisdoonvarna is considered the gateway to the Burren.  I had never heard of the Burren before.  It is a special area on the west coast of Ireland that was left without topsoil by the ice ages.   It is a place of stones, and almost no people.burren 5x7 net  There are prehistoric artifacts and tombs throughout the Burren.  We went to a stone ring fort (Catherconnell) that has been settled from the 7th century AD  and was used up to the 15th century.  Here is a model of what it might have looked like in the past.  ring fort model 5x7 netYou can see that there are thick stone walls around the settlement.  These walls were made in the simplest way with local stones just stacked up upon themselves.  burren rock wall 5x7 net  It was fascinating to see how people lived on this land. There are tombs that have been found from the neolithic period (4000-2500 BC). Later,  we drove out to this communal tomb called the Poulnabrone dolmen tomb. Poulnabrone dolmen tomb 5x7 netIt was dark, windy and cold when we walked up the stones to see this ancient monument.  It was quite moving.  It humbled  me to see how transitory our lives and problems are in the scope of the sweep of human time. There are dozens of these tombs around, and many more still buried and waiting to be discovered.

If you get to spend some time on the Burren, you will find it fascinating.