Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Welcome to Dublin (ok, again)!

Hello from the other side of Ireland! Last Sunday, we packed up and left Kerry behind. Sadly, we also left Kimber and Dorothy behind, and personally I have missed them a lot here!!!! Since coming, we have been on a major day trip, a Dublin city trip, a play, and have had five hours of traditional class outside of the adventures. Needless to say, it has been quite a week :-)

We started the day with a class about child abuse in schools for impoverished children that we not closed down until the '70s. Of course, a very light topic and a great way to start the day- ha ha. The joke is not about the pseudo-orphanages because unfortunately that is true (the joke was about the light material). It was actually a great lecture to start getting into James Joyce because he writes about the lower classes of Dublin. In fact, in Dubliners, which we are reading for class, there is a similar story with implications that the boys who go to such schools concur with the research of our lecturer.
Next, we stopped at Dublin Castle, which I have written about before. It is definitely not the most beautiful place we have ever been, but still a great place to go to see Ireland "as it was." I could not capture it in a picture, but we also took a tour underneath the castle to see the original viking structure that built the castle now. It was really knocked down and forgotten, so the excavation discovered one of the original bridges that would let boats through the moat and one of the original corners of the castle. It was awesome. Also on this tour, we learned where the word "dublin" originates from. Apparently, there used to be a small, dark body of water in front of the castle when it was originally built in the 13th century. In Irish "small pool" is called "duv lin," which is what people took to calling the city.
This is the only remaining original tower of the castle before it
was essentially dismantled and redone. It was actually only redone in the 18th, meaning that its "new" restoration is about the same age as the United States. Crazy!
We took a short bus ride around town to get acquainted, and made another stop at St.
Patrick's Cathedral. This is a picture of all of the flags, helmets and spears that belonged to the original "Knights of St. Patrick" that still stay at the main altar. No, I did not take a picture during a mass- the priest in the picture was practicing with the girls' choir there.
After a hard days' work, a few of us went to get dinner, as we were meeting up with Professor Conner for the official city pub crawl. We stopped in to a great sushi restaurant. to other people who live in the Midwest: we really need to acquire an ocean or something because cheap, delicious seafood is seriously lacking in Missouri!!
On the pub crawl, we went to four different pubs and learned a lot about Irish literature... of course... Anyway, this is a very classy
picture of Eleanor and I at a picture of James Joyce, which is located at the "Davy Byrnes" pup, where we ended. If you read Joyce's Ulysses, you will understand that reference. As I have never read Ulysses, I cannot 100% explain it. However, we have been reading Joyce in class lately (his short stories Dubliners and A Portrait of an Artist As a Young Man for next week, if you're interested), and I can't wait to read it.
Tuesday, we had a full field trip day to some of the oldest holy sites in Ireland. We began at Bru na Boinne, which contains passage tombs at Newgrange, Dowth and Knowth (all different sites). The tombs date back to 4000 B.C. and were spectacular, although I will admit that they did all look very similar to me. We went to one passage tomb site at Knowth, which is hard to explain, but hopefully the link in this sentence will work well. One of the really cool parts of the community is the way that the mounds and holy sites were used over and over for different purposes. For instance, they were first built as passage tombs(the picture to the left is the pathway to the passage tomb, which we couldn't enter), but later communities built small towns or structures that needed protection (like houses of important leaders) on top of the burial mounds as a form of support. There are
three different main time periods that used the land before they were re-discovered in the 1960s and excavated. Today, we went to the National Museum and saw a few of the artifacts discovered in the excavation.
The picture to the right is actually one of the smaller mounds in the community.

This is a view from the top of the mound, where important people frequently lived (even though it was above a passage tomb). With a view like this, I would want to live here, too!
Next, we went to the Hill of Tara, which is the oldest and most holy spot in Ireland (in many people's opinions) because it was used by the original high kings. There are many legends that also take place at Tara, such as the legend of Diarmid and Grainne. I have actually referenced this before with Fionn Machuil, who was the king of the fairies in the legend. Diarmid was a man, and Grainne was a fairy who fell in love with him but was betrothed to Fionn, who eventually attacked Diarmid and let him die essentially. You should look up the long version, as it is worth reading! The point is that many of these legends and myths take place at Tara because of its holy quality. It also is supposedly one of the places that St.
Patrick went to in order to convert the High Kings of Ireland to Christianity. There are many other burial passage tombs there to indicate its age, as well. This is not a great picture of Tara because it is so huge, but also because most of the mounds that used to denote holy places have been worn down over the years. However, if you click here,you should be able to see the different indentations well. Tara is actually as of yet fairly unexcavated, which is why there are still some mounds, but also why they do not know a lot about all of the religious activity that took place here.
Our penultimate stop of the day was to Trim Castle, where the movie Braveheart was mostly filmed. Isn't it true that the movie takes place in Scotland? Why yes, it is. However, according to Aunt Sally, you get better tax benefits in
Ireland, so they chose Trim Castle, an authentic really old castle (12th Century), as the best place to film the movie. The picture on the left is of the castle and the picture on the right is the view from the castle.
We concluded the day trip with a visit to Monaster
boice, which has been a holy monastery site since it was founded by St. Buite in the 6th Century. There, the largest high crosses of Ireland may be found. Professor Conner wrote a really great article about these crosses, but I will have to get his permission before sharing the link. Basically, they have really great and intricate carvings that show how Ireland's religion is also very tied to its Celtic culture, with pictures of scripture that also incorporate Irish culture and acknowledge the ties to the "old Ireland" that Christianity somewhat effectively replaced, or edited.
Today, we went to an amazing exhibit on W.B. Yeats at the National Library. I did not take any pictures, but did buy some postcards to put in a scrapbook. This was followed by a visit to the National Museum, in which we saw the Tara Brooch and learned a great basis for Viking Studies. Also, no pictures. We then went to a play at the Abbey Theatre (which was partly founded by Yeats) called Bookworms and then trekked to the oldest pub in Ireland, the Brazen Head. Yes, the picture I have chosen to post for the beginning paragraph of this post is the one of us at the pub. C'est la vie!

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