April in Ireland: Part 2

After a lovely and scenic photo tour of the Wicklow mountains, we set off in our rental car (“…drive on the left, drive on the left!”) and headed south.  We had skimmed the Rick Steves guide a bit, but weren’t really sure if we’d have time to stop and see anything along the way to Cork.  Good thing we did peek at the book, because we recognized that the Rock of Cashel was a Place Of Interest when we started seeing signs on the highway.

What is it, you ask?  Well, here’s a bit from Wikipedia:

“The Rock of Cashel was the traditional seat of the kings of Munster for several hundred years prior to the Norman invasion. Few remnants of the early structures survive; the majority of buildings on the current site date from the 12th and 13th centuries. Cashel is reputed to be the site of the conversion of the King of Munster by St. Patrick in the 5th century. The picturesque complex has a character of its own and is one of the most remarkable collections of Celtic art and medieval architecture to be found anywhere in Europe.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s nice.  Is it COOL looking?  That’s what I wanted to know.  The answer is, in short, yes.  Sadly, from a timing perspective, they were doing some restoration work so there was a lot of scaffolding that cut down on the photographic opportunities.  (I was still sans regular lens, too, so what can you do?)  Still managed to get some nice, wacky perspective shots of the other side, though.  :D

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11 April 2010 

Did I mention yet that we managed to arrive in Ireland at the precise time the daffodils were blooming?  Everywhere we went, they were poking out of the ground, welcoming the sun.  This field is along the walk up to the Rock.  The little clusters of flowers were absolutely adorable.  This picture doesn’t do justice to the scene.

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Dario provides some perspective on the size of the inside of the ruins.  You can just see the round tower in the corner above the walls.  The tower is the oldest building there.  (There’s also a bit of the aforementioned scaffolding on the right.)

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Someone with architectural and historical knowledge, please tell me what this is all about.  Looks like something a bit more than a regular fleur de lys, but I could be wrong.

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Please ignore the pigeon droppings and tell me what that pope-like figure is holding.  I’m always hoping to find links between Egypt and wherever we happen to be at the time, and I must say it rather looks like a djed pillar!  OoOOoooOO!  Templar-esque, perhaps?  (Though they were, in the end, not big fans of the Catholic church.)

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Click here to get the full audio effect of this picture.  ;)

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Inside the nicely restored, museum type space.

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12 April 2010

After Cashel, we drove down to Co. Cork to stay with our CS host, Christian, in Kinsale.  We had already met Christian, as he’d been up in Dublin a few nights before and had invited us to a meeting of Linux enthusiasts and other local geeks.  …Just had to find his house while managing to drive on the left side of the road and not killing anyone!

It’s not as easy as you might think, as many of the roads in Ireland seem to be 1-1/2 cars wide, not 2.  Indeed, in the center of Kinsale there are several spots where folks must take turns.  It’s not entirely unlike the crazy-narrow driving of Naples, although Kinsale is much smaller (a few thousand people vs. a few million).  Pro: people drive more considerately in Ireland.  Con: it’s on the wrong side!

Actually didn’t get any pictures of Kinsale this time around.  Was still pretty bummed out about the lens, I suppose.  We did, however, have a mission: to find Drombeg stone circle!

Most websites about stone circles and other megalithic sites in Ireland mentioned things on the west coast, but not much for the east and south.  I had seen a wee dot on map at some point and definitely wanted to go.  I mean, you just don’t get stuff this old and unique every day in the U.S.  Everywhere I travel I love finding these things and feeling so young and humbled by it all.  Great stuff!

Anyway, we did manage to find it:

Impressive, isn’t it?  One wonders how it managed to survive for thousands of years in such inhospitable conditions.

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Oh, sorry!  That first one was much too small.  This is Dario pointing to the real one.

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*facepalm*  My bad!  Here’s the REAL Drombeg circle!  Thank you, Dario.  Couldn’t have done it without you.

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A helpful and informative sign.

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North is that way, in case you were wondering.  —>

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Ruins of the cooking hut nearby.  It is said that water was boiled by placing hot stones into it.  It’s surprisingly efficient.

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Another view.

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View of the countryside from the circle.  You can see the sea!

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And there you have it!  The best pics from our first trip to Ireland.  :)

Now that we live here, we hope you’ll come visit soon.  Plenty of fun things to do, gorgeous scenery, fantastic food, and many friendly people!

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For your traveling convenience:

(clicky for the Amazon link :) 

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