Wednesday, May 12, 2010

On Monday, we went to the Iveragh Peninsula, which is the second half of the Ring of Kerry. The first half was the Dingle Peninsula- one of the first places we visited on the trip. It was basically a long bus trip that resulted in a lot of interesting historical sites from the Iron Age (5th Century) to now. We passed a few scary, haunted places that I did not take pictures of because I was worried about having bad luck! Many of the stops that we made on this trip have been heavily tied to Irish mythology or the Great Famine. You might notice that they come up here a lot, but this is because the markers are still all over the land. It is against the law to knock down a "ruin," and because of the desperation people went through in the 1840s (during the Famine), thousands fled their homes to escape hunger and eviction. Sadly, they were not often able to save themselves. Over one million Irish men and women died during the Famine and over a million more went to America, never to return. That being said, Famine Villages are still very common in the countryside here. They usually consist of a few large stone buildings surrounded by houses of people who fled. They usually consist of a few large stone buildings surrounded by houses of people who fled. They look like small ghost towns on the horizon-- essentially because they are.

The first haunted place that we passed is an old castle built by a Protestant landlord who had an obsession with the Middle East, and apparently built his castle accordingly. During the Famine, he let all of the workers on his farm starve, and did not offer any help at all. Ever since he died, it is a cursed place. There are no tours there, and none of the locals will take a picture or come close to the castle because of its reported hauntings. Speaking of cursed
castles, we learned how to curse people today. Apparently, if you walk around a well saying what you want to happen to the person while walking counter-clockwise, they are screwed. Keep that in mind if the occasion ever comes up.

Right next to this haunted ruin, we stopped at Rossbeigh Strand (Beach, but they call them strands). It is below Ballaughaoisin (mouthful!), the road of Oisin. Oisin is an Irish man like Rip Van Winkle. One of the fairies apparently fell in love with him, and took him to the land of the fairies. When he wanted to go back home, she let him go back, but the problem was that fairy world has a different time on it than the everyday realm. Apparently, one year in fairy world is 100 years in real time. Thus,

when he came back here, his one order was not to ever set foot on Irish soil. to make a long story short, he did set foot on Irish soil, aged 100 years and died. The pass next to the beach is apparently where he made his journey. The beach we stopped at is supposedly the place that he stepped onto Irish soil. I don't blame him-- it was gorgeous!

Next, we went to another haunted place. I would not

normally post a haunted building picture, but this one stands for a purpose. This is one of the best examples of a Georgian mansion (or was once), and actually belonged to the daughter of Daniel O'Connor, "The Liberator" before she died. Upon her death, it was given up to the English government (who ruled Ireland at the time). Then, they made it into a "workhouse," or a building where impoverished people went for food in exchange for labor. Four years before the famine, this mansion was turned into a workhouse, which has always been under speculation, because it is almost like the English planned on needing a huge place to house many Irish starving people. When the famine hit, this one mansion had as many as 2,000 men, women and children living in it (it was designed for 80 people to live in
originally). When they came for relief, families were split up by sex and age, given hard labor and one bowl of food per day. Many people died before ever leaving the workhouse, and most never saw their families again. When they died, the Irish were buried in mass graves in front of the house, making it one of the most haunted places in Kerry.

Next, we went to the original home of Daniel O'Connell, the famous Irish "Liberator" (above). O'Connell is a famous man in Irish history because he 1) is responsible for Catholic Emancipation in Ireland and 2) did all revolution peacefully. He was a great orator, and for many years was considered the most persuasive man in Ireland. We later visited Derrynane, the home where he spent most of his years. O'Connell, upon achieving peaceful emancipation for Catholics (of which he was one), made it is his goal to gain peaceful Irish emancipation (you probably know that never happened). He was arrested and jailed for sedition, and eventually died of cancer before ever seeing his dream come true. Later in the day, we went to see the only cathedral in Ireland not named after a saint. The town where he grew up had to go to the pope to have a cathedral named after him, but they

did anyway because of their devotion to his peaceful passion and life. The pope apparently respected O'Connell's work so much that he sent a stone from the Catacombs in Rome to work as a corner stone for the cathedral.

On to more really old history. Next on our trip, we stopped at one of three Iron Age forts. Cahergall, pictured here, was built around 400 BC, and no one is 100% sure what it was used for. It is possibly an old place of defense, entertainment, or religion. It was constructed without any type of mortar, and still stands today, untouched by human reconstruction. We had a great time climbing on it :-)

In other news, I finally got a good, up close shot of some sheep!! Baaa-aa!

In other news, we travelled to the beach where Daniel O'Connell buried his beloved wife, Mary. I am standing in front of it. Since I have already posted a picture of a haunted place, I'm not going to risk posting one of a cemetery- I'm pretty sure its bad luck. Anyway, she was buried in an old stone chapel on this beach. Beautiful. She is not buried with her husband, though, because he is in Dublin. His last requests were body in Dublin, his heart in Rome, and his soul in Heaven (or something).

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