Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Emerald Shores of Ireland - Part 11

The Emerald Shored of Ireland
A trip journal by David Bowers
Part 11

We headed out the front door of the castle, down the wooden stairs, and then reentered the castle through another ground level door. In this hall one long wooden table ran down the middle with the sugar and creamer stations at one end, and the coffee and tea serving stations at the other. So I helped myself to some coffee, trying the brown sugar in it, why not. I noticed the signs and decorations around the room seemed to suggest that we might just be in the castle dungeon. The full hall could not be seen as it was blocked off by a portable wall like you would use to divide meeting rooms, just past where the stairs came down from "the secret panel" We lingered around coffee for 15 minutes or so until we noticed the group starting to head out. Time to carefully make our way ou the castle walk, up the 8 or so stairs, and now through the really dark folk park back to the admission gate. The large exit gift shop was closed at this time, so they routed people out through the entrance gate, where we boarded our bus.

Ireland - Bunratty Castle Medevil Banquet

It was perhaps a quiet trip back to the hotel as Jerry let us talk amongst ourselves about all the fun we had. We were dropped off at the back door of the hotel with the directions to have our bags in the halls by 7:15, breakfast at 7:30, and the bus would meet us at the back door at 8:30. A check of the watch revealed it was almost midnight, time for some fast sleeping. I did put the camera on its charger, but not much else got done tonight before grabbing a quick sleep.

Ireland - electrical nightmare at Cork

Day 5: Saturday, September 6, 2008

Saturday morning arrived, and we had the usual morning routine. This morning we had the challenge of finding breakfast in the hotel dining room. Luckily we had passed it on the way to the lobby for the banquet last night, so we had a general idea. After first heading into the wrong banquet room, we determined the two rooms met up in the rear so snuck in the back way. The meal was similar to that served at Jury's Inn. Some differences would be a wider selection of fruit juices, and the removal of the white pudding and porridge. The setup was in portable buffet chaffing dishes, and after filling our plates we found a table. Servers were coming around the dining room with the coffee, tea, and toast. It was certainly a filling breakfast, and after having our fill we headed back up to our room to get our small bags and coats. I then realized we had to return the keys to the front desk, but would be picked up at the back door. I decided to run both keys back for our room, and then headed to the back door to get on the bus.

Ireland  Ennis Cathedral

Ireland - Ennis Cathedral

Before we left Ennis, we made our daily Mass stop at the Ennis cathedral. We were given about 15 minutes before Mass to look around, so instead of heading in the side door like most of the group, we headed around to the front to get pictures. On the other side of the church away from the street is a real nice fountain depicting a hand rising up out of the water. The signage indicated this was "Saints Peter and Paul" I noticed several flagpoles around the front and signs of the church that weren't in use. We entered the church, and I noticed a lot of the usual church statuary, and a fairly modern altar with a fish inscribed in the front.

Ireland - Ennis Cathedral

Father came out for Mass, and in his pre-ceremony remarks noted that he graciously agreed to use our Mass as the days radio mass for the shut-ins. As such, the homily and intercessions were changed as appropriate. When the Mass was concluded we had some more time to wander about the church, I noted they must get a large crowd as they have on either side of the altar balconies with stadium seating. As we were looking around the church it looked like a family was getting a start on decorating the church for a wedding. The church was also in the middle of a vocations drive, and the sacristan gave us some free bookmarks from that drive as a keepsake of our visit. After walking about the church some more noticing the statues and stations and other artwork, we left by the front door. There I noticed that in the short time we were in there for Mass, somebody had raised a variety of international flags on their flagpoles: Poland, Ireland (on higher center staff) and Spain in the front, and Vatican City, Italy, and Norway on the side.

Ireland - Ennis Cathedral

Ireland  Ennis Cathedral

We got back on the bus and started to head towards Limmerick. We headed there by backtracking once again down the motorway past Bunratty. On the way to Limerick, Father had to tell us about an amusing anecdote. During the Eucharistic prayer, it is customary to include the name of the pope and the bishop, sometimes using "and the bishop of this local church" if not known. Well, during this particular Mass the bishops name was announced as "Willie", now in the States "Willie" is a very informal version of Bill or William and would not be used in a formal context, thus there were a few chuckles when he said it, and he admitted afterwards that he asked the sacristan no less than three times if they were sure they really wanted him to say Willie.

Ireland - Ennis Cathedral

Ireland - Ennis Cathedral

When we got to Limerick, Jerry took the time to introduce the form of poetry known as the Limerick, gave a few examples, and announced a bus wide contest to develop the best limerick of your own, with prizes at stake. Limerick is a bustling town with a busy city center. We didn't really stop in Limerick as much as pass through. Jerry turned the conversation to sports, and indicted that Ireland is quite involved in their local sports teams. It would seem that rugby had just finished the season with County Limerick taking that title, so the flags were flying and celebration was in order for that, and that football soccer would be starting soon on the international stage. He did take the time to make clear the difference between when they say football and when we say football, a game they call American Football. The third sport that is real big over in Ireland is Hurling, and we have arrived on a very special week. It seems that on Sunday of the week of our visit would be the All Ireland Final where County Killkenny and County Waterford would go at it for the title, with County Killkenny apparently highly favored. Of course this meant that an explanation of Hurling was due, and when I heard it I thought I was hearing a description of Quidditch . The game is played on a field roughly comparable to an American football field. 15 guys on a team at the highest level, who are all engaged in one thing, getting the ball to their opponents end of the field and scoring it. There happen to be two methods of scoring, and the goal looks like what you would get if you crossed a soccer goal with the uprights of an American football goalpost. In fact, it kind of reminds me of the setup I see at some municipal parks where a field can be used for both football and soccer. Or maybe we do have some hurling action here in the states, or maybe those combination goals are actually hurling goals. Anyway, in Hurling, getting the ball through the uprights is 1 point, and into the goal net is 3. Now, what makes the game particularly interesting is the ball is a cork filled leather ball, roughly the same size as one of our baseballs, and the way they get it around the field is passing it to each other using wooden sticks called hurleys that are about a yard long. Play it in the air, play it off the ground like a golf club, just don't let it get out of bounds. Here is where I thought of the beaters in Quidditch.

Ireland 339

Ireland  Limmerick

Ireland - Burger King

In the spirit of that two way dialogue technique I mentioned, we tried to let Jerry in on our summer sport, baseball, and I think he found baseball as odd and unusual as we found hurling. The next stop on our travels would be to Adare. Adare is charming villiage where one can still find thatched roof buildings that aren't displays in a folk park. Thatched roofs can still be found in some parts of Ireland, and we were surprised when Jerry said they can have a 20 year life. We first drove down the main street in Adare then pulled into a parking lot. We entered Adare through a heritage center. This would provide a needed rest stop, and the heritage center has the usual tourist services like gift shops, eating places, information booths, and the like. We made a quick rest stop, then I picked up a free town map from one of the gift shops. Then since this was free time, we headed out the front door of the visitor center to the main street.

Ireland - On the road - Adare thatched roof house

Ireland  Holy Trinity Church - Adare

Ireland - Adare - Tridentine Abbey

We made a left turn and headed to Holy Trinity Abbey Church, founded in 1232 according to the sign. This building used to be a Trinitarian Monastery , in fact the only Trinitarian Monastery in Ireland, now being used as the parish church of Adare. We took a quick look inside and out, and then headed across the street to get some pictures. One end of the church looks more like a castle, but when viewed from the other end it looks more like a church. Of particular note is the fountain outside the entryway that has a spire in the center topped with a celtic cross. The town had thoughtfully provided a pedestrian island right by the church to make crossing the main street easier. I am suspecting they get a lout of tourists from countries like ours that drive on the right side of the road, as painted on the ground are big warnings to "LOOK RIGHT" or "LOOK LEFT" as the case may be. We took a walk around town, to admire the thatched roof buildings and to see some of the paint jobs. In Ireland, and other places in Europe they use exterior paint colors that you just don't find too often around here. They are not afraid to use violently loud shades of colors, for example right across from the visitors center, there is a bright orange building. It reminded me of when my room was painted in a similar shade of orange, I suppose I had odd tastes as a child.

Ireland - Adare

Ireland Adare

Ireland - Adare - Traffic goes on the 'wrong' side of the street - note crosswalk warnings

On the way back towards the visitors center, I did stop at the bank. With lunches running €12 or more and buying all keepsakes I had a suspicion the €190 I entered Ireland with was not going to last me. I walked up to an ATM located just outside the bank and found it to be pretty simple to use, just as easy as back in the states. Insert card, enter your pin code (and my thoughtful banker at home reminded me to make sure you use exactly 4 digits for your pin code with no leading zeros, oh and their keypads might not have the letters on them, so make sure you know the number), select withdrawal, select account. Now its time to enter the amount and its one of these ATMs that recommends certain levels to you which were noteworthy in that it wasn't in multiples of 20 or 25 or anything like that, for example I selected the €170 button. I almost wonder if the machine recognized the card I inserted as from the United States and tailored my options, I say this because when I got back home and looked the transaction up on my bank's online banking service, it came across as $250. The machine issued me three €50 notes and a €20 note, I was a bit concerned with the big bills, as I know it can be hard at times at home to use $50 and $100 bills. I recall being happy when I received my initial Euro supply back home that it came to me in a nice assortment of bills: 5 €20's, 5 €10's, and 8 €5's adding up to €190. The Euro complies with the conventions that every denomination bill is a different color, and that they grow in size as they grow in value.

Ireland - Adare

Ireland Adare


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