Ireland '99: Day Five
Day Five -- August 31st, 1999
We awoke the next
day a bit earlier in an attempt to get a full day of touring done before having
to return to Dublin for a dinner with the wedding crowd. Alas, I took a break
from the bacon and had apple stuffed pancakes. Jenn had potato waffles and fresh
eggs from the hens ‘round back. I stopped and petted the two horses for quite
some time before we headed out.
|First stop was Kilkree
Round Tower, just past the Kells Priory that we visited last night.
Like the priory, the round tower was in a natural state, left alone in
a cow pasture. Such a state gives it such a rich feel of authenticity.
I was able to climb up into the lower entrance to the tower -- it is
always some height off of the ground for protection.
Once getting to
the entrance, though, I had the bejeezers scared out of me as bats/birds
flew past me and out the entrance when I peeked up the tower. A second
look received another flurry causing me to quickly give up my desire to
jump inside the tower.
From Kilkree, we then went to Jerpoint Abbey. This Abbey is one of the larger
and best preserved Cistercian ruins in Ireland. The spot is actively maintained
by Ireland’s park service equivalent. We were able to catch a tour of the
grounds and were quite enlightened about the various intricacies of the
artifacts and the life of a 12th century monk. Despite the tour
guide, the spot was very well kept and not quite the “amusement park”
atmosphere of the commercial sites. Unfortunately, we forgot to stop by the
gravesite of St. Nick (yes, as in Santa Claus) who was reportedly moved to
Jerpoint during the crusades.
We then debated heavily on heading out to see some high crosses located in the
town of Graiguenamanagh. To be honest, I wanted to go there more for the name
than the crosses :-). Opting out due to time, we headed west towards Cashel,
where we got to see towns with the names of Knocktopher, Kilmaganny, Hugginstown,
Grangemockler and Knockalufalla. Along the way we stopped to see two other sets
of high crosses, the first pair residing just south of Ahenny in a cemetery in
the middle of a cow pasture. The view alone was quite supreme. The crosses
themselves were beautiful and were placed in a cemetery still in use today. The
crosses, dating from the 8th century, were covered with the
astonishingly beautiful and ornate Celtic designs and were complete with the
removable cap stones (that allegedly will cure migraine headaches). I would love
to have a sketch of the designs.
The second set of
crosses was just down the road at Kilkieran, which includes a long needle like
cross that is unique Ireland. We also both washed our faces in the holy
Kilkieran waters, also said to have cure headaches. Our guide book comments:
“There must have been a plague of headaches, given the plethora of cures to be
From there, we
headed on to Cashel, stopping briefly in Kalsheelan for some drinks, stamps and
a chance to write the first half of today’s entry. Along the way was Fethard,
a small town built up and around a still intact ruins of medieval walls, towers,
churches, a friary and not to forget, a sheila-na-gig.
At Cashel, we romped around the infamous Rock of Cashel – one of the most
commonly photographed sites in Ireland. We had a tour guide who woke up on the
wrong side of the bed that morning lead us and a pack of forty other tourists
through the ruins. It was embarrassing to be part of the American crowd who
asked questions like “is that a seltic cross?”. Included at the site is St.
Patrick’s cross. We ran down afterwards to catch a photograph or two from the
distance in the middle of a cow pasture, and then followed up with a visit to
Hobbe Abbey, just beneath the Rock of Cashel. Jenn liked this ruin the best, as
it allowed us to use all of the knowledge gained from our previous sites in
understanding how everything stood.
On one of the roads, we rounded a corner to come across a solid line of cows walking towards us. After closer examination, we saw that a car was behind them, herding them down the road. We stopped and as the came closer, the became increasingly alarmed at the suit of our bright blue Opel. The lead cow stopped and was promptly rear ended and a cascade affect ensued. After a beep from the herding car, all of the cows released their loads (scared it right out of them) and made a simultaneous jump to get around our curious blue blob. Talk about scaring the (hmmm mmm) out of someone!
At this point,
both of us were becoming “ruined out”. The individual ruins were beginning
to be difficult to distinguish from each other, and their similarity in layout
did not help the matter. On our drive back to Dublin that late afternoon, we
passed by numerous ruins and round towers dotting the landscape. We passed by
these at 70 mph instead of examining them up close and personal. Their mere
existence seemed to detract from those sites we have visited and nearly claim a
personal ownership over. “I guess Kilkree and Glendalough aren’t the only
places with very cool round towers…”
We ended up in
Howth for the night, where we will remain for the next several days for the
wedding festivities. Carol and Miles were our hosts, and they were joined by a
friendly shelty by the name of Max (who incidentally, lost one eye accidentally
by a golf club and the other eye was heavily blinded by the well/poorly placed
kick of a donkey.) Bryn and Susan are staying in the same spot, and thus became
our traveling companions. That night at Howth, I jumped out to join Mark and his
crowd (Bryn, Pajor and Shacorky) at a nearby pub, while Jenn stayed in and later
caught up with Susan. Talking to the Purdue people, it was interesting to see
how little the core of people (appear to) change over the years. Of course, to
my dismay, their assessment of me agreed with the observation.
Proceed to the next day, or return to the Ireland '99 Main Page.
(c) Geoffrey Peters, intangibility.com, 2002. For more information
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