Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ireland Trip Day 11, Enniskillen, Ulster Northern Ireland and Dublin

We left the lovely Killibegs bright and early for Dublin.  We just crossed a bit of Northern Ireland on the way, no check points or passport viewings as you'd expect when you travel into another country.  Before this we had been in the Republic of Ireland but Northern Ireland is still part of the United Kingdom.  Most of the fighting/bombing there now is between those who want to stay in the UK and those who want to join the Republic,  maybe still along religious lines or maybe because they are used to fighting each other.  Our first stop was in Enniskillen at the Integrated Primary School.  In the late 1980's there was a bomb blast in the fighting in Enniskillen that killed several.  A group of parents decided to start an integrated school,  they raised all the funds at first and only three years ago the state built them a new building.  They turn away students every year.  It is integrated from the Board of Govenors to the 4yr old like this: 40% Catholic, 40% Protestant, 20% Other.  The children begin the year they turn 5 and most are only 4, so my grandson , Brayden, would be in school there.  They attend here until they are 11 then they move to the next level.  There are 31or 32 students in each classroom with one teacher and one aide who teach everything, including PE, Art, Music and Spanish!  Even recesss has directed play.  It was an amazing place where 7 year olds do computer graphics.  Our visit there just wasn't long enough.

Next stop was the Ulster American Folk Park.  This was a nice outdoor museum depicting the mass migrations from Ulster to the States (mostly) including Irish cottages, etc of the period, a full ship display and then full sized displays of the States,  It was pretty neat the was they did the ship--you walked on the wharf in Ireland, got onto the ship and the walked off the ship onto the wharf in the States, very clever.  I was particularly taken by the birthplace of Robert Campbell (the very Robert Campbell of my research on the Town of Kansas) as well as some museum displays involving he and his brother Hugh.

The birthplace of Robert Campbell, Mountain Man, Millionaire and one of the owners of the Town of Kansas.
 This panel is inside the museum, they got it right as far as they went.  Always a problem for museums, not enough space to really cover anything.
 I think this was the Pennsylvania homestead.  The way it's situated looks  like it might be in Pennsylvania, or Missouri.
This is the Irish cottage, the thatch on this and the other buildings must be a foot thick!

Here at the park they also have a building dedicated to the study of those who left.  They are building a database of names so I went over to check on our William Hickham who left Belfast, Ulster, Ireland.  He wasn't on their database as it doesn't have much before 1800, I believe he left in the 1770's.  I did learn that there where a lot of  Ulster Scots-Irish that left Ireland for the States then so that fits.  They were kind enough to give me some internet sites to visit.

After our visit we got back on the bus and headed to Dublin, arriving late, tired and hungry.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Ireland Trip Day 10, Killibegs and Glencolmcille, Co Donigal

Beautiful sunny morning, not a cloud in the sky!  First clear morning we've had the whole trip.  Killibegs is a town of 1200 people, home to the best natural harbor north of Dingle in the west of Ireland.  Most of what is left of the fishing fleet is out to sea but it is a lovely place.  I went out early to hunt down a laundry, I really need clean clothes! 

These were both taken yesterday but I thought you's enjoy seeing how lovely it is.  I always wonder if the people who live in those lovely homes appreciate the view every day?

Our morning began with a talk about Ireland's fishing industry given by Tony O'Callaghan, a local journalist.  Here's a bit of what I learned:  the Atlantic just off the west coast of Ireland is one of the best fishing areas in the world and many countries have been fishing there for centuries.  Spain, England and Germany to name three.  When Ireland joined the European Union they submitted to a quota system on the amount of fish they could take based on historical takes.  So Spain has a quota and Great Britain has one, Ireland has one too but because of the English occupation their historical take wasn't as large so their quota wasn't as large.  For a while each year Irish fishermen would take more than their quota and the Irish government would pay the fine imposed by the EU, then someone decided to begin charging individual fishermen (or boat owners) for taking excess fish so now the government can't pay the fine and the fishermen can't fish as much.  None of those charged have as yet been brought to trial but the fishing fleet is quite small compared to a few years ago.
Life is complex no matter where you live.  After his talk he took us on a bit of a walk, I dumped the laundry off and it will be washed and returned to my hotel tonight-cool.  After the walk we had a very nice lunch at Number 22 (a local restaurant) then we loaded up the bus for Glencolmcille. 

Another Photo stop!  I love the way the fences seem to go right into the Atlantic!  Notice these are fences not walls.

 This photo on the right is of the Peat bogs.  You can see the darker strips which are where recent cuttings of peat have been made.

These are photos taken of Glencolmcille one of the base of St Columba (one of Ireland's three patron saints.)  I think this may be my favorite part of Ireland.  It is fairly remote and very quiet-I think it might be a 2 pub town.   The obelisk seen on the hill is part of Columba's Turas, a pilgrimage site. From here we go a short distance to walk in a farmers fiield to view Megolithic tombs.

The capstones of all these tombs have fallen off but they are massive.  Can you imagine the work involved to first set the side stones upright and then put the capstone on?  All done by prehistoric man, without the aid of bulldozers!  Our guide tells us that this valley is full of these tombs.
On our way back to town we notice a sad sign of the times, a little housing division of new homes all standing empty save one.
This has been a busy day and it's not over yet!  After dinner in the hotel bar (a light dinner as I've been eating far too much on this trip!) and hard cider, a new taste for me. We got to watch two young ladies dance.  They both have made it to nationals in their age group and travel all over to dance.  We got to see them do both the heavy dance and traditional soft shoe dancing, it was quite amazing.  Neither had taken ballet but there were ballet moves in there.  They were cute and interested in us as well.  After that we had a lesson on the Tin Whistle.  I'm not very good, although it is quite similar to the recorder.  Mind you I gave my recorder away because it hurt my ears!  In the end we played a whole song accompanied by our teacher on the concertina and Mark on the Irish flute-it was only half bad!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ireland Trip Day 9, Killybegs, Co. Donigal, Ireland

Leaving Galway for Killybegs today.  I would have liked another day here.  The countryside reminds me of the gently rolling plains of home, despite the stone walls enclosing small plots.  As we travel north there are not as many stone walls, more fences.  Our first stop today was Sligo, for lunch and a walk about town, it's Sunday so most things are closed but Ruth and I took a walk along the river and saw these lovely swans.  Also a local man noticed our cameras and asked if we would like our photo with Yeats, so here we are.
Then it was on to St. Columba's church site at Drumcliffe where W.B.Yeats is buried.  Ben Bulben looking spectacular behind the church where Yeats' grandfather once served as minister.  There are two graveyards-a Catholic and a Protestant and I found "Regan's" in both (sure to be kin but too late for near kin) and one mentioned inside the church as serving in World War I.  In the Catholic side there is a tall cross with Bible stories carved on it.  This was used to tell the stories of the Bible to the people.
After rambling thru the church and stones we began the final leg into Killybegs.  We arrive about 3:30 and I took a walk around, it's a small village, once home to the largest fishing fleet in Ireland.  It is more industrial than the other places.  More on that tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ireland trip Day 8, Inis Mohr, Islands of Aran

Off early on a cloudy and gray day, no rain but no sun either, bummer.  Heading to the island of Inis Mohr, population 900.  Because it's an island we had to take the ferry and it was a fairly rough ride over, this following a rough bus ride-had to haul out the sea bands and my I-pod or it would have been ugly.  We walked up the hill from the ferry to a pub for a talk by Maureen O'Flannery (I know the Maureen is right but Mark kept talking about her Irish name and her English name and I got confused, nothing new there!) a local woman who its a retired archeologist, she spoke about the history, archeology and life of the island and it's people.  Very interesting.  Afterwards, we took a van ride to the end of the island to Dun Aonghasa, (sounds like dun angus.) a ring fort part of which dates to the bronze age.  Much of the island looks like the burren as it was a part of the burren in pre-history, here cattle still roam over it. 

 The long way up Dun Aonghasa! What a walk,  the view is spectacular.  The ever present stone walls seem higher here. 
 This is the view from about half way up.
 The stone walls of the outer fort.

 The walls of the fort from inside the first ring

 The Long way down from the top, sure am glad I bought and used a Trekking pole.
More stone walls and a house inside. There are many more ruins here on the island, the locals are reluctant to destroy the homes of their ancestors.  Everything made of stone and standing roofless, all wood gone in fact.  Our guide said the houses must be painted every 5 years, even using the best latex paint.  On our way back to the ferry he took us by the seven churches site with it's ancient cemetery.  The cemetery while holding ancient graves is still in use and where our guide "will land one day" as many of his family are buried there.  Then we saw the lighthouse, from afar. Just made Mark's 4:40 deadline!  Another very rough crossing on the ferry and bus ride back to Galway.  I am so tired I cannot eat and so am off to sleep quite early.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ireland trip Day 7, Galway, Co. Galway, Ireland

 Today a local professor and archaeologist, Paul Gosling, took us on a walking tour of Galway, especially showing us medieval sites.  Part of the anciet city walls are inside a shopping mall!  I was especially taken with the details of the buildings, so i was always at the end of the group as I was busy looking up!

 This is a medieval castle belonging originally to one of the ruling families.  Galway was not a castle city, I mean it didn't have a central castle with a ruler and a city that grew up around it, but one built by 14 merchant families (often called the 14 tribes of Galway) like a cartel so to speak.  All of the designs have meaning, usually something to do with the family or honoring a marriage.

This wall is only that a wall moved from it's original site, probably more than once as it has parts that can be dated at different times.  Anyway, one of the magistrate's sons had killed someone and his life was forfeit but he was extremely popular so a mob gathered to demand his freedom.  His father, supposedly hung him from the window.  That's wrong though as the window is the wrong time period!  That's the story though.

 The Hall of the Red Earl is a archealogical dig of the customs house of medieval Galway.  Completed but left visible and covered.
We ended our tour at the city gates by the river.  Theses gates were actually for tossing rubbish into the swamp just beyond.

After the tour we had a free afternoon, I had lunch at McDonnas-fish and chips again!  Then I went walk about.  I returned to the Protestant Cathedral where Columbus worshiped-at the time there was only the one church.  Apparently his visit prior to "discovering" the new world is recorded in historical documents.

Gorgeous window, eh?

After rest and a pain pill for my aching left leg we went to Glenlo Abbey for dinner and a discussion on the "Big Houses" of Ireland as well as W.B.Yeats and Lady Gregory.  Our speaker for the evening was Sean Ryder Head of the English department at the university in Galway.  Interestingly enough he was born in Montana and his family returned to Ireland when he was 13, what a shock that must have been!  I must admit I didn't have a clue when it came to Lady Gregory nor did I remember much about Yeats from those long ago English Literature classes at Baylor!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ireland trip Day 6, Travelling to Galway Town

 Today we said goodbye to Killarney and headed north.  Passed through Castle Island again and hit a highway, lots of round-a-bouts here.  They make me nervous whenever I'm on one and this is worse, 'cause of the driving on the left side of the road.  In the end I just close my eyes!  We stop at Lahinch, Co. Claire, for lunch and another beach.  This one reminds me of La Jolla Shores in San Diego, maybe because of the surfers?  As we were standing on the walkway a bus pulled up and off loaded several teenage girls, dressed in their school uniforms.  Cute, I thought.  They walked over to one of the vans where surfing lessons were advertised and soon began pulling their clothing off!  After I picked my jaw up off the pavement I realized they had swim suits on under their uniforms and were donning wet suits for a surfing lesson!  Here's another "Prove I was in Ireland" photo! 

 After lunch it was off the the Cliffs of Moher.  Along the way we passed this ruin of a church complete with graveyard, a bit sad.  The second photo is of the beach at Lahinch and the stone walls used to divide fields.
 The Cliffs of Moher just take your breath away!  Today that was literal, it was extremely windy.  It's a long  walk up a lot of stairs but boy is it worth it!  That's a light house over there, so answering my own question Bri-Yes there are lighthouses in Ireland!
 I think these are all fuzzy as the wind was blowing my camera around, even though I mounted it on the Unipod!

 For once we were back at the bus and our driver, Tommy, and Mark, our general get us there on time guy, were late!  We gave them demerits!  A short drive later and we picked up our guide, Shane Connolly, for the Burren.  It looks like the moon or a desert but it is a Karst limestone formation and it may look bare but even this late in the year some of the alpine-like flowers are in bloom.  In the past locals have grazed their livestock on this and have picked plants for their medicinal properties but this is a protected area now and that is no longer allowed.

 Shane found many, let us taste some ICH, and told us their stories.  There are some wild goats and rabbits living here but not enough to keep the plants down .  Shane said that it would revert to pine and oak forest in 2 generations!  We even saw places where it is happening.

 Shane spoke of the changes in Irish west country life around the burren, villages that were once 2,000 with small fishing fleets are now about 200 (down to 2 pubs, those.)  The main causes being the Great potato famine, Tuberculosis and that "the girls are off having their nails done in Galway and Dublin."  Himself being a single farmer and quite vehemently against Sarah Palin! 
 Shane grazes his cattle on the low ground near the sea in the summer as the grass there falls over in winter.  Then in November he moves them up onto the hills for the winter.

There are stone walls everywhere, some have been dated back  1200 (or was it 12,000?) years, some 700 years and some Shane made yesterday.  Most walls are single dry fit walls, where strength is needed they are double (or if you want to show off or make work for someone--think WPA during the great depression.)

The tide is coming in, an extremely high tide causing flooding all along the way.

After a long day we finally arrive in Galway City, saying goodbye to our driver, Thomas-who had to drive back to Castle Island!