Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Exploring the North Kerry!

Wow, you think to yourself. I haven't seen any updates on Catherine's blog lately, but I know she would have told me if she had gone back home. YOU ARE RIGHT! I just moved to Dublin, and it's hard to find internet here (again)!!! Not to worry, I am going to be in Ireland for three more weeks, and you are sure to hear about it, ha ha!!!

Ok, a week ago today, we were still in County Kerry exploring. We actually started at a pretty fun/ funny jail that the guide knew almost less about than we did. I am happy to say that we got something out of it, though, as a few of us had a great time taking pictures with the wax figures.

We began at Carrigafoyle Castle, a 15th Century castle that sits on the mouth of Shannon River. It was in a perfect position to pillage ships coming in, which is what they did. Actually, they would charge ships going across a "tax" of 10% of their pillage to get across the river. Actually, Professor Connor's family apparently originates from this castle. It is referred to as a very historical site on the Shannon even by people not related to the professor :-)

And now, some pictures of us playing with wax figures at a North Kerry jail!! I cannot actually explain what they are, but it sure was fun :-)

Wax prison guard. Wonderful.

Trying to sympathize with a prisoner. Hard, though, since he was not a real person!

Ok, guess who the people are! Ha ha...

After the certainly memorable experience at the prison, we went to a Cloighteach Rath Tuaidh,
or Rattoo Round Tower, a historic tower used by monks in the 12th century. No one is 100% sure what it was, but it was a great lookout point, but also used as a historic pilgrimage point. There are a few signs that it was used by priests back in the day because of markers to show priests that lust was a bad thing (according to Michael, our official Irish professor). It was not used as a silo, as I was told by the people who knew what it was :-) The door was extremely high up because there used to be a set of stairs up there, but imagine living in a tower as a monk :-) When we finished, we went to an old churchyard next door that had a view of the tower from afar. In case you are wondering, we look funny because it was raining a fairly substantial amount at that time :-)

After this experience, we went out to lunch. Our last stop of the day was referred to as "God's Acre," which was one of the most sacred places we visited in Ireland. God's Acre was a small plot of land (an acre, to be exact) that the starved and unknown of the famine were unceremoniously dumped during the mid 1800s. Picture a very humble plot of land with handmade memorials and a simple altar in the middle to commemorate the dead. Hundreds, possibly even thousands (because they don't know) were left in open mass graves during the Famine because their families could not pay for them to be buried by a priest. Now, they have services every month to commemorate the dead, but at the time, it was simply visited by people trying to get rid of those who died in the famine. When we went, you could tell that God was there, looking over those souls. They were forgotten in their lifetime and left to starve, but will always be remembered and cared for by God today.

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