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Ireland Day 9: Patrick's Footsteps

sunny 80 °F

Croagh Patrick is probably the most climbed mountain in Ireland: according to legend, it is where St. Patrick fasted for forty days and forty nights. There is an annual pilgrimage on "Reek Sunday" (a "reek" is a mountain), which is in July. People climb it at other times as well, particularly in the summer. Since we were heading to Galway, and Croagh Patrick was so close to us, we decided to try to climb it. Daniel's parents had tried to climb it when they were here, but had not finished the climb. Thus, we were prepared to only go so far.D386910EDDF5E69DA47E171996245A54.jpegD397747DFD80EF89208FD4BCBBA5FE7E.jpeg90_D3AFD373C7E7141FD01EF774363B9737.jpeg90_D3BCA456E6D0CC2E8D0178D9D8A3DC0F.jpeg90_D3C9AF8CEBF0A0E761CFAEB531CCF97A.jpeg
Some pictures of the low part of the trail. There is a beautiful stream that runs down the side of the mountain, and the path at this point is mostly rock and dirt.
When we had climbed some of the way, Catherine started to feel like she needed to turn back. We had a discussion about what we should do, and she said she wanted Daniel to climb the rest of the way if he wanted to. She said she would go back to the visitors' center and wait, read a book, etc. Daniel continued on his own.
Daniel: I will write this part in my own voice since Catherine wasn't with me for most of the climb. The pictures show some of the beautiful scenery from the climb towards the ridge. It was actually a very warm day: the warmest of the year, and fairly sunny. In some ways it was a perfect day to climb, but it was uncomfortably hot. Catherine is actually in some of these pictures, making her way down as I climbed. I can't find her in them but I know she would have to be.
One of the cairns along the way. There are prayers that are traditionally said at these "stations."
More views from the mountain.
People seem to have climbed down to write messages using rocks around the pond here. Many messages are unclear, as if people have removed stones from them. I didn't see anyone climbing down to add messages, either.
There are a couple of small buildings with toilets and sinks. They aren't particularly clean but it is good they are there.
Some more views of the climb.
Some graffiti on the rocks. Advice, encouragement, and Eastern European rivalries.
I took this picture with my camera exactly at eye level facing forwards. It shows how steep the climb is at this point. This is the cone, the final part of the climb.
A glorious moment: my first glimpse of the chapel on top of the mountain. I was there!
St. Patrick's bed and a cairn. Both have many small objects (rosaries, crosses, ribbons, etc) that people have left.
There is such an incredible view from the top of the mountain: I am very glad I decided to go to the top. It is beautiful in every direction, and there is a great sense of accomplishment.
The beautiful chapel at the top, where I lit a candle for a variety of intentions.
I have to prove I was there, and didn't just download these pictures online.
This appears to be some prayers in Cyrillic writing. Perhaps the Russians that graffitied the rock? It is nice to see the wide diversity of people who come here.
More pictures of the church, including another selfie.
And another.
I took this picture accidentally, but it was a good picture to show what the trail is like.
From the path going down.
I took this picture also at eye level straight up and down. It shows how steep the path is.
As I went down it seemed both easier and harder. It was quicker, but more painful and more frustrating. It truly is a "whole different muscle group."
Back to the statue.
Catherine had waited at the visitors' center while I climbed. She purchased a book about the 1916 Easter Rising and learned some Irish history. At one point, a man came down from the mountain bruised and bloody. Is frightened Catherine, so when she saw me she was very happy. We took this picture of us with the mountain in the background. I bought an "I Climbed Croagh Patrick" T-shirt, and thought about buying the one that said "'I Climbed' Croagh Patrick" for Catherine. I was happy to have achieved it, but exhausted from having done such a long climb.
Both:A delicious dinner at an Italian restaurant in Westport.
We drove through Connemara on our way to Galway. It was getting dark so we didn't take many pictures. However, when Daniel was studying in Ireland eleven years ago he took a picture in Connemara that was published in a magazine called Dappled Things. The picture is called A Connmara Landscape and is one of the first Google Image results for "Connemara landscape."
Killary Fjord, the only fjord in the Republic of Ireland. It is a beautiful spot and we took several pictures even though it was starting to get dark. From there we went to Galway.

Note to Readers: we are now back in California, where we have our own internet connection. It was often hard to blog from Ireland as we would get in late, and also sometimes have spotty internet coverage when staying in rural locations. We plan to finish the blog, as we have pictures from each day and would love to share them with all of you. We also use this blog as a kind of photo album, and often use it to show people what we saw on our trips. Stay tuned for updates: we should be posting one or two posts per day.

Posted by danielcatherine 23:00 Archived in Ireland Tagged islands history statue views book stones climb chapel fjord shirt connemara westport saint_patrick 1916 croagh_patrick reek killary a_connemara_landscape Comments (2)

Ireland Day 8: The Edge of the World

all seasons in one day

We started off our day on Achill Island by driving clockwise, starting off towards the southwest. We came to a place called Kildavnet. The element "kil" in Irish place names generally derives from "cill" which means church. "Davnet" is a form of the name Dymphna, an Irish saint who is patron of those struggling with mental disorders. St. Dymphna was an Irish princess whose father went insane and began to lust after her: she fled, and he eventually caught up with her in Belgium and had her killed. According to legend, she stopped in Achill on her way, and thus this church and well are associated with St. Dymphna. We looked at the church and the tragic graves of victims of the Famine, then walked down to the well which is next to the ocean.
Next to the church, graveyard, and well is Kildavnet Castle: it was one of Granuaile (Grace O'Malley)'s strongholds. Granuaile was a chieftain of the O'Malley clan during the sixteenth century. She is often referred to as the "pirate queen of Connacht" for her actions against other clans and the English who were consolidating their power in Ireland at the time. This was one of her smaller castles: nearby Rockfleet (outside Newport) and her castle on Clare Island were more important. It is an interesting ruin, and is open for anyone to go inside.
Beautiful views as we drive around Achill Island. It really feels like the edge of the world, especially when you are driving along the side of the cliffs.
A lonely island off of Achill.
Lunch at a tiny pub along the way.
A beautiful stream at Keem beach at the tip of Achill Island.
Keem Beach: our host mentioned that from there "the next stop is America." It is a beautiful place. Adrian and Mary Kathleen both highly encouraged us to go to Keem, but both warned us about the roads. The roads weren't that bad, probably because most everyone is a tourist frightened of the roads and thus being careful.
Catherine enjoying a delicious ice cream at Keem beach.
Some views of the Deserted Village in Achill. This was formerly used as "booley" housing, for semi-nomadic cow herding people. We spoke to a "modern day shepherd" near the village who was training his sheepdog. We had a nice conversation with him about how life has changed in Achill and how he retired from a job in England in his thirties to buy a farm in Achill. It was a very interesting conversation.
Palm trees!
A bog where turf was dug up and drying. We drove in looking for "the crannog" that was signposted, but Catherine has been fearful of bogs since our adventures in Glencolumcille and so we drove out quickly.
A place we stopped to look at the view in between Achill and Newport.
Croagh Patrick, the holy mountain, from across Clew Bay.
Rockfleet Castle, another of Granuaile's strongholds. It is larger than Kildavnet and seems better defended. Unfortunately it is closed for restoration right now: usually it is open for people to go inside.
After Rockfleet, we went to Burrishoole Friary, which was a fascinating ruin. There are several intriguing grave markers here, some of rather notable people.
More pictures of Burrishoole.
Dinner in Newport at a very nice and cozy pub. In fact, this was the first time we tried Guinness in Ireland!
The moon from our room in Achill as we had a cup of tea and some cookies for dessert.

Posted by danielcatherine 17:35 Archived in Ireland Tagged newport achill croagh_patrick granuaile kildavnet dymphna modern_day_shepherd keem rockfleet burrishoole Comments (2)

Ireland Day 7: Knock, Turlough, and Westport

overcast 66 °F

Our day started with breakfast: Catherine's treacle bread was delicious!
After breakfast, we went to Knock for Mass with Mary Kathleen, and did a little shopping for souvenirs. It was a very pleasant morning. On our way back to Kilkelly we stopped to see Mary Kathleen's husband John's grave. Catherine never met John, but Daniel knew him eleven years ago when he went to college in Ireland.
The graveyard is named for St. Celsius, who Kilkelly is also named for. There is a monument to Irish people buried far away right next to John's grave.
We stopped to visit Michelle (Mary Kathleen's daughter-in-law, Ciarán's wife) and their children. Ciarán's house has a nice view of the fields nearby.
Then we went to a late lunch at Attracta's house, where we saw Attracta's husband Michael and their daughter Ciara. Ciara is planning to be a math teacher, so we had a nice talk with her about teaching. We also watched some Gaelic football, which Catherine had not seen before.
Old family pictures on Mary Kathleen's table.
When we put "Achill Island" in our GPS, it took us to this tiny road. The GPS directions voice said "you are on the fastest route" right as we turned here.
We stopped to see a ruined church and round tower in Turlough. Daniel had been here before with his grandparents and John and Mary Kathleen. It is a beautiful tower, and very impressively preserved. Incidentally, the city of Turlock in California is named after Turlough, Co. Mayo: the founder of Turlock was from Turlough.
Stopped for a late dinner in Westport and tried a beer called Mescan. Mescan was the name of St. Patrick's personal brewer, and the brewery makes their beer at the foot of Croagh Patrick, Ireland's holy mountain where St. Patrick fasted for forty days and forty nights. The beer was good. We got to Achill Island very late, and almost got lost finding the place with directions telling us to go "past the green boat" and "down the boreen."

Posted by danielcatherine 11:34 Archived in Ireland Tagged tower dinner lunch mary michael michelle kathleen ciaran's knock westport ciara attracta turlough achill mescan croagh_patrick round_tower Comments (1)

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