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Ireland Day 15: The Pilgrims' Road

rain 61 °F

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Clonmacnoise is, in a sense, at the center of Ireland. The River Shannon flows by it, and the Pilgrims' Road (really a glacial esker) which bisects the northern and southern halves of Ireland runs directly to it. We stayed right off the Pilgrims' Road, and only had to drive a short distance to get to Clonmacnoise. This statue is outside the gate, and it depicts Aedh, the son of a king of Oriel who died during a pilgrimage in 606.
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Clonmacnoise is similar to the Rock of Cashel, but was predominately an ecclesiastical site. It was alternately under the patronage of the King of Connacht or the King of Meath, as it is locate immediately between those two ancient kingdoms. Luckily we were here early enough to watch the informative video and get a guided tour. The monastery was founded by St. Ciarán in the 540s. It was sacked several times, by Vikings, the English, and other Irish kingdoms. There are several high crosses, including the scriptural cross in these pictures.
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One of the buildings (probably the pharmacy?) at Clonmacnoise. Our tour included a Franciscan priest originally from New York, but now serving in Limerick.
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Some views around Clonmacnoise.
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St. Dominic, St. Patrick, and St. Francis. The Franciscan in our tour was easily able to identify St. Francis by the stigmata and the cord.
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Some more of the buildings around the site. It has two round towers: a very large one and a much smaller one, as well as a cathedral.
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The modern oratory, where Pope John Paul II said mass when he visited Ireland in the seventies. He was aware of Clonmacnoise and St. Ciarán before coming to Ireland, and wanted to say mass at Clonmacnoise, where thousands of local people appeared when he landed in his helicopter.
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The nuns' chapel, which is a short distance from the main site, and has a sheela na gig on one of the arches. It is a fascinating little chapel, founded by Dervogilla, the wife of Tiernan O'Rourke who was abducted by Dermot MacMurrough, thus inciting the Norman invasion of Ireland.
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Us at the nuns' chapel.
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Some more pictures of the site.
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St. Ciarán's chapel. The legend is that soil from the floor, if sprinkled in the corners of a field, ensures the fertility of the field. The walls are bowed in from all the dirt that has been taken from the floor, which now has stone pavers on it. Some people have left coins near a stone inside. We asked the tour guide what the stone is, and he said no one knows. Daniel suggested that the people who leave coins must at least think they know what the stone is.
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Daniel in the scriptorium, and a view of a cross from inside the scriptorium. This is where monks would have copied manuscripts. There are several extant manuscripts from Clonmacnoise, which include historical records.
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The real crosses, as well as other artifacts, are inside the museum. There was a large tour of nuns going through while we were there. It was kind of interesting to see priests and nuns touring an old religious site, but on the other hand it was sad, just like at Cashel, to think that if history had gone differently there would be priests and nuns living and working here rather than simply touring ruins.
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There are several hypotheses about this image. We thought it was probably St. Michael defeating the devil.
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When we drove through Athlone we texted Adrian, as we were planning to see him that night. Daniel said "I bet Adrian will have a food recommendation in Athlone." A moment later, we got a text urging us to go to Seán's Bar. It is the oldest pub in Ireland, and most likely in the world. It was built in 900, making it older than most of the buildings at Clonmacnoise. The original wickerwork of the walls is on display on one wall.
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Athlone Castle and the River Shannon. After this, we headed to Kilkelly where we met Martina and Mary Kathleen. We had a conversation with them, then headed to Adrian's house in Knock.
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We picked up some food in Kilkelly village along the way: Shish kebab and chips to split. We went to Adrian's house and had a nice visit. We were there very late: somehow we lost track of time and it was 3:00 AM when we headed back to Kilkelly. We had an interesting night, particularly when Adrian's mother came to the door with two hypodermic needles in her hands (for the dog's bee stings) and expressed the opinion that Americans being bitten by a dog was far worse than Irish people being bitten (she meant that since we have to fly home soon, she wouldn't want us to have to deal with medical treatment or quarantines, but it sounded funny.) Adrian pointed out that this is the first time we've visited his house that there hasn't been a coup, which was very true. It was a great night.
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When we arrived back in Kilkelly we found these creatures that Martina had left in our bed for us. It was nice to have the companionship of stuffed animals.

Posted by danielcatherine 10:14 Archived in Ireland Tagged cross adrian pilgrim athlone martina knock clonmacnoise kilkelly mary_kathleen st._ciarán river_shannon Comments (0)

Ireland Day 14: Cork, Youghal, Cashel

overcast 64 °F

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The view from the kitchen of the house where we stayed. A beautiful north Co. Cork landscape.
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We drove through Bweeng again on our way to Cork. This is the pub.
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St. Peter and Paul's Church, Cork. This was an absolutely beautiful church. We went to a Traditional Latin Mass here. It was a low mass, and not very long, but it was beautiful and the building was so incredible. We also got an excellent parking space right in front of the church, and went to lunch right nearby. Cork City is a little bit crowded and hard to navigate, but it was pretty and we were glad to see it during our trip.
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The outside of the church.
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After leaving Cork we drove to the town of Youghal. Daniel's parents went there and highly recommended it to us. We went to the museum and drove around the town a little.
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So is the group called Batty and they're playing tonight? Or is it called Batty Tonight?
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More pictures of Youghal. It was once one of the most important harbors in Ireland. It reminded us a lot of New England, mostly because it had an intriguingly similar history involving puritans, witch trials, etc.
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More of Youghal.
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Some sights along the road to the Rock of Cashel.
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We arrived at the Rock of Cashel just before it closed. The staff seemed eager to lock the doors, so we were lucky to get in. We went to the museum first.
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Cashel was both an ecclesiastical and political site. It was the capital used by Brian Boru, and before him, by the Eoghanacht rulers. It was also the site of a cathedral (to is day the diocese is called The Diocese of Cashel and Emly, even though the cathedral is in Thurles.) There is thus a great variety of buildings and artifacts here.
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The saddest thing about these ruins is that they don't have to be ruins. If history had gone differently, this could still be a thriving cathedral, with masses being said and people traveling to see the historic church. It lasted for centuries being used that way, and churches just as old are still in use in other countries. These were part of a patrimony that was sadly stolen from the people.
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More pictures from the Rock.
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And some more. It's a beautiful place.
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Some pictures of us at the Rock of Cashel.
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It was extremely windy there that day. It was very difficult to walk around without being blown off-course, and it made Daniel's allergies really bad. Still, it was a nice day to see the ruins with no rain.
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This monument is visible for miles around. It is only when you walk behind it that you realize...
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...that it used to be a cross! It would have been incredibly huge as a cross. Unfortunately, without a guide we don't know if it was wind or human action that blew it down.
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In the gift shop, Catherine tried on this cloak. She said she wishes that cloaks were a more socially acceptable thing to wear. Unfortunately, the €500 price tag prevented her from doing her part to bring back the cloak. (Also, she wondered if daggers were a necessary accessory with cloaks.)

We went to dinner at a pub called Brian Boru's, where people were watching a darts competition, and the Italian waiter kept promising the owner that he would bring in Italians, then delivering on his promise (he must have brought in at least four Italians while we were eating there.) Only after we finished eating did we find out there was another side, which was a restaurant with live music. It was a nice dinner. We then set off on our drive to our next AirBnB, which was near Athlone and especially close to the ruins at Clonmacnoise, which we were very excited to see.
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Some pictures of the sunset along our way. We arrived at our AirBnB on the Pilgrims' Road, and met our hosts who also had large dogs, had a farm, and the husband was named Joseph. We had a nice conversation with them, then went to our room and went to sleep.

Posted by danielcatherine 12:53 Archived in Ireland Tagged history ruins church museum cathedral dogs farm cross latin wind athlone joseph cork mass cashel clonmacnoise rock_of_cashel bweeng dromohane youghal Comments (0)

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