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Scotland Day 6: Graduation!

semi-overcast 44 °F

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We got up fairly early and got ready for the graduation ceremony. Then we walked over to McEwan Hall, where graduations are usually held for the University of Edinburgh.
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Once Daniel had his gown and hood gathered for the ceremony we had the chance to take some pictures in the square in front of McEwan Hall.
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Us in front of McEwan Hall as it shines in the morning sunlight.
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In front of one of the side doors to the Hall.

Daniel got his picture taken by the photographers and then was able to enter the hall. A bagpiper and drummer were playing as the graduates walked in, and then they led a procession of university officials into the hall. It was a beautiful start to the ceremony.

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Some pictures that Catherine took inside the Hall. Daniel was not able to take pictures because he was seated with the other graduates. Two of his fellow Ancient Worlds program graduates were here, also from the United States, and so he was able to meet them in person and talk about how much "fun" they all had writing their dissertations.

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Catherine had a very good seat for watching the officials and the graduates as they moved across the stage.
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Graduates walk across the stage, their names are read, and they get bopped on the head with a hat. The hat is called the "Geneva Bonnet" and is rumored to have been made out of John Knox's breeches. This is an odd story, especially given that Knox in fact wore a Geneva bonnet. It seems more likely that if it has any connection with him that it is his hat, and not a hat made from his pants. However, it seems even more likely that it is just a hat.
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Daniel getting bopped on the head with the Geneva bonnet as he walks across the stage to collect his degree.
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A choir sang some beautiful songs and there was a short speech encouraging the graduates to continue to learn (we have yet to hear a graduation speech that exhorts the listeners to quit now while you're ahead and not try to learn anything new), and then the officials processed out, followed by the graduates.
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After we reunited outside the hall we were able to take some pictures. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful ceremony. The bagpipe, drum, and organ music, as well as the choir, made it all feel especially emotional. Two years of work, stress, and writing were beautifully rewarded with this ceremony.

Unfortunately, due to a strike among some of the professors and lecturers the reception afterwards was cancelled. It was a bit odd that it got cancelled, and when we talked to a professor later she was surprised that the strike had interfered in any way. It may have been cancelled out of "an abundance of caution" despite no real risk of any problems.
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Not going to the reception allowed us to take a nice walk and go to a little Italian restaurant for lunch.

After lunch, we went and met with Daniel's dissertation advisor. We went to a cafe for tea and scones, and talked about cats and classics and the ceremony. Then she took us on a wonderful tour of the department's offices and its small library. It is located in the former medical school, which is a beautiful old building. It was a wonderful afternoon.

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After this we went on a very different kind of tour. It was about the various dark and bizarre stories that haunt Edinburgh's history. We were hoping it would be more historical, and it was a little bit "trying to creep people out" for our tastes. However, we did get to see some interesting things and learn some stories from Edinburgh's past.
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We got the chance to tour the vaults under one of the bridges, which was interesting. These vaults were originally used by the businesses above, but were abandoned because of the lack of natural light, which necessitated the use of fish-oil candles, which made the vaults smell horrible. They may (the tour guide insisted they had) become home to a literal criminal underworld, with brothels, opium dens, and illegal taverns frequented by grave-robbers.
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After we left the vaults we were led to the graveyard in Canongate, which is outside the technical old boundaries of the city. Several interesting people were buried here, including Adam Smith and Robert Fergusson. It is also thought to be the location of the grave of Ebenezer Scroggie, who according to legend was listed on his grave as "a meal man" due to his career as a grain merchant. Charles Dickens is said to have seen the grave and misread it as "a mean man" and then written A Christmas Carol as a speculative story to explain how someone could have earned such an epitaph. However, there does not seem to be any evidence of this and the gravestone is lost.
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Toasting to Daniel's graduation with a dram of whisky, then a dinner of cullen skink (fish chowder), potato and leek soup, and then cranachan and sticky toffee pudding for dessert. It was a wonderful graduation day that we will always remember!

Posted by danielcatherine 08:03 Archived in Scotland Tagged edinburgh tea graveyard lunch graduation advisor strike dissertation vaults classics mcewan_hall cullen_skink cranachan adam_smith Comments (1)

Maui and Kaua’i Day 12: Icebox Memories

all seasons in one day 84 °F

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The day started with Aubrey and Dalton wanting to go outside. Once outside they found a lizard that was staying “very very still.” They got this lizard several leaves to eat and rocks to use as pillows. When Daniel’s dad went out to remove the dead lizard, it was actually alive!
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Hilary had arranged a hula lesson for the group at our house. The group learned to do a dance to the song “Hawaiian Lullaby.” Everyone enjoyed the class and they are planning on practicing and maybe performing at one of the coming parties.
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We had lunch of spam musubi, chips, and some leftover watermelon from the party.
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After lunch we drove to the Grove Farm plantation. Daniel’s grandma had done the tour last year and decided to do it again this year. The grounds were beautiful as we walked up to the office.
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Some pictures of the office and the landscape of the plantation.
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George N. Wilcox started this plantation, and one of the first stops on the tour was his own house. There was a large plantation house, but G.N. decided to build himself a house where he could be alone. This was his library/reading room.
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Wilcox’s turtle-shaped spittoon.
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Wilcox’s summer bedroom, which is basically a screened patio. It seemed like such a pleasant place to be able to sleep.
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Wilcox’s hat collection, which Catherine felt Daniel would like having.
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The garden outside Wilcox’s house.
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One of the cottages by the house.
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The beautiful interior of the plantation house. It was full of incredible art, books, handmade pieces from the plantation days, and the most beautiful koa wood fixtures around the house.
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Miss Mabel was the last member of the family to live on the property. Her 1974 Buick Skylark is still in working order in the driveway.
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This piece of art was made entirely of butterfly wings.
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This cabinet was won in a contest and was made in Japan. It reminded us a lot of the Asian artifacts that Catherine’s grandmother was given by her own aunt, who ran a store on a liner that travelled to Asia and brought home a lot of items.
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The library inside the plantation house is amazing.
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This large “rock” is actually an old sea sponge. One of the family members would use it to trick people into thinking she was carrying a heavy rock.
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Next we visited the kitchen, which had a wood burning stove which was being used. A woman who had worked in the kitchen when Mabel was still there gave us an explanation of everything. 5E145209-38E9-4A55-A551-39DFFAD030BC.jpeg
Daniel’s grandma and his Aunt Vickie with their fans in the kitchen.
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We had the chance to try the mint ice tea and icebox cookies that have been served at this plantation for years.
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Catherine doesn’t usually like mint, so she wasn’t sure about the tea. She loved it! More importantly, we both loved the icebox cookies. Catherine has loved her Aunt Helen’s icebox cookies as a child. When her aunt died she wanted to find the recipe but was unable to do so. These cookies tasted the same! Thankfully, the plantation gives out the recipe to everyone who comes through! We will be enjoying icebox cookies and mint ice tea when we get home! The lady in the kitchen also gave us some bananas and avocados from the farm.
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This chair converts to a ladder. We were able to get the plans for the chair before leaving. Apparently people all over the world have built them from these plans.
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Some books, a picture of a school class, a World War I helmet, an old shave ice machine, and what Daniel called the Wheel of Misfortune.
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The blacksmith’s shop and the woodshed, which is also home to some of the feral cats around the property.
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The banana fields.
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The laundry at the plantation was done by a woman from Japan who lived in this house.
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Some beautiful views around the plantation.
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All of us at the end of the tour.
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We came back to the house and had a relaxing evening. We went to the pool and saw Aubrey and Dalton’s swimming “tricks” (mostly just swimming) and then came in to have burritos and/or leftovers for dinner. It was a wonderful day!

Posted by danielcatherine 02:24 Archived in USA Tagged tea plantation bananas kauai sugar grandma avocados lihue aubrey dalton vickie icebox_cookies Comments (1)

Portugal Day 13: The Mouth of Hell

all seasons in one day 74 °F

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Some pictures of our house in Ponta Delgada. It is three stories, and has very nice common areas. Our room is in the attic and has a very low ceiling, but is nice and comfortable nonetheless.
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A quick breakfast of local pineapple and a toasted bolo lêvedo (basically an English muffin) with jam.
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Our first stop was a mountain with an excellent view, especially of Lagoa do Fogo (lake of fire...but it seems to be full of water.). The fog and mist made it difficult to see some of the view, but it was still wonderful.
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What the Azoreans call a conteira, also called kahili ginger.
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After this we visited a distillery that makes a variety of liqueurs that we were able to try. We were not allowed to take pictures inside, so there aren’t any here.
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Next we visited the Gorreana Tea Plantation, which is one of two commercial tea plantations in Europe, both of which are in São Miguel.
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Around the “factory” and the fields of Gorreana. No one was sorting or processing tea today, but we got to see the machines and the fields where the tea is grown.
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Us in the field.
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Us with Katie in the field.
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Us having some tea, with a mysterious figure behind us.
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Having fun at a picnic in the rain (there were shelters available which we used. Plus, we had the whole place to ourselves.)
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Next, we stopped at an old aqueduct that is no longer used. We weren’t sure when it was built, but it was fun to climb to the top of it!
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Another viewpoint: Boca do Inferno (the Mouth of Hell). It doesn’t look particularly hellish at the moment.
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Sete Cidades is named for the legend of the Seven Cities (which is related to legends such as Atlantis, Hy-Brasil, etc.), but really has no cities, just a small village and some beautiful lakes. It was around this time that Catherine and her cousins started discussing the idea of pooling our money and buying a house here.
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We went swimming in this piscina, which really means swimming pool but here seems to imply a place near the ocean that is set up for swimming. The water was somewhat cold, but it was still an incredible experience. It really felt like the ultimate wave pool. EEE35487-BD0D-484E-B721-C617E24F5712.jpeg
We had a great time.
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A São Miguel street scene.
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Dinner was at O Galego, said by some to have the best steaks on the island (though our tour guide, whose brother-in-law owns a restaurant, thought otherwise.) Neither of us eat a lot of beef, but we both got our steaks well-done and they were in fact enjoyable. For some reason, in the Azores steaks are served with a fried egg on top.
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For dessert, the waiter asked if we would like chocolate mousse or pineapple. Daniel took this to mean that we had the choice between chocolate mousse and pineapple mousse, and ordered the chocolate. Catherine correctly ordered pineapple, which proved to be simply half a pineapple on a plate. After dinner, we met a lot of our group and the other group (Don, Marcia, and Dominic) at Doris Bar by the marina. We had a wonderful day and can’t wait for Faial tomorrow.

Posted by danielcatherine 17:39 Archived in Portugal Tagged food marina tea guide swimming tour egg steak plantations azores pineapple piscina ananás ponta_delgada são_miguel boca_do_inferno doris_bar Comments (1)

Ireland Day 11: Adventures on Inishmaan

rain 70 °F

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Our ferry to Inishmaan, or Inis Meáin in Irish. The ferry is Banríon na Farraige, which means "Queen of the Sea." Daniel thought we were safe from any kind of ferry accident, as reporters all over the world wouldn't be able to pronounce the boat's name.
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The journey from Rossaveel to Inishmaan was beautiful, but a little bit rough. We were both extremely tired, and we had some coffee to try to wake up.
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When we got to the pier on the island, there was no evidence of a village and no transportation to the sites we wanted to tour. There were only about five people who got off of the ferry with us, as the rest of the people on board were heading to Inisheer. Daniel had been to Inisheer and Inishmore before, and wanted to tour Inishmaan as he had not seen it. It is said to be the least populous and the least touristy of the islands, and thus far it was meeting both expectations. Soon, a man in a red van sped onto the pier and rolled down his window. "I'm the taxi to the village. Five euro each."
At that moment, a woman in a smaller car also sped to the pier, jumped from her car, and began speaking in Irish to the man. She then told us that she would take us to the village. We got in her car, as did an older man and an older woman. Indicating the other woman, our driver said "This lady will tell you all about the history of the islands. She's Dutch. I can drop you at her tea house if you want."
We were dropped off at the tea house and had a nice conversation with the Dutch woman. She lives on Inishmaan, having studied Irish in college and fallen in love with the island on her first visit. We purchased some tea and pastries, and a map to show us other things to see on the island. It was one of those surreal experiences where you are not quite sure if it is real, hence our confused expressions.
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A donkey outside a house on the island as we walked away from the tea house.
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Small fields, houses, and religious shrines: common sights around the village as we walked.
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Some of the island's scenery.
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Us on the island. It was absolutely beautiful, and we were glad that we came to this island as it was incredibly quiet and peaceful.
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The ruins of the Church of the Seven Sons of the King. The information plaque explains what it is. It was an interesting ruin that we would have missed or assumed was just part of the stone wall work if it hadn't been signposted.
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A green water pump, similar to the one in Mountcharles but without any plaque about its history.
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The Church of the Immaculate Conception, which is the current Catholic Church on the island. It has Harry Clarke Studio stained glass windows, and an altar made by Patrick Pearse's father (which was originally installed in the old church then moved to this one when it was built). The church is beautiful.
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Some of the Harry Clarke windows. They really look different from other stained glass windows.
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The Pearse altar, some more of the windows, and the crucifix above the altar. This church is quite arresting: every part of it seems to draw your attention and make you think. It's amazing that such a beautiful church with such great artistry exists on such a remote and unpopulated island.
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Some pictures near Teach Synge, a small house where John Millington Synge and other authors and notable people went to learn Irish. We had an excellent tour with the owner of the house, a woman whose family owned the house and hosted Synge and the others. It was where the Gaelic Revival began, in some sense, and from that house spread new interest in the language and culture of Ireland before the English conquest.
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Us about to climb to the fortress.
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Dún Chonchúir, the fortress in the background, is a huge ring fort and very similar to Dún Aonghasa on Inishmore. It has extraordinarily thick walls, and is almost perfectly circular. The huge mound of stone in the background of these pictures is the fortress.
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Our first attempt to reach the fortress. We followed signs towards it and then cut through fields and pastures to the wall. We reached the wall, but there was no entrance. Daniel climbed the side of the wall, and saw how thick the walls were. It is an incredible fortress: reaching it is difficult, and once you reach it the walls are extremely difficult to get over. In an actual battle, we imagine that it would be nearly impossible to conquer if defended: it would be impossible to reach if there were archers or javelin throwers on the walls.
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Of course, the fortress does still have some fierce defenders: this mother cow and her calf! We found the correct path: there were small yellow arrows that are easy to miss pointing the way. The path cut through one pasture where a mother cow was with her calf. Daniel thought there must be another path: they wouldn't advise people to get that close to a mother-and-baby animal. Catherine thought that it would be fine: after all, cows are domesticated animals. We started through the pasture, and Daniel reached the next style before Catherine. He saw from there that the calf was chasing Catherine, and told her to hurry. She ran, and the calf continued to chase her. Unfortunately, now we were closer to the fortress. The vicious creature was between us and the village!
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Information and a close-up of the fortress.
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Inside the fortress! It is a huge area within, and feels very protected from the outside. The design almost makes it so that the outside world seems far away: it is quiet and sheltered. It was getting late and our taxi back to the pier was going to meet us at the pub in the village at exactly four, so we had to head down sooner than we would have liked.
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Views from outside the fort.
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Teach Synge, photographed as we walked back to the village. The owner didn't want pictures taken inside, and she explained that people are often disrespectful in their picture-taking on the islands, acting as if everything is so intriguing and quaint and different and photographing people who are just going about their lives. She said it was okay to photograph the plaque and the outside of the house, so we did.
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Journeying back to the village.
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The pub. We arrived here a little earlier than expected, and were able to order a lunch and a couple drinks before the taxi arrived. Everyone in the pub seemed to be facing the same way, having quiet conversations in Irish while eating or drinking. We sat near two men who engaged us in conversation, though it was quiet and somewhat halting. We learned some interesting facts about the island and its history. Eventually the taxi arrived: it was a different person we hadn't seen before, but he said that the cost was still five euro per person. We got to the pier and waited in a small enclosure as it was starting to rain. We struck up a conversation with a woman who was keeping a blog and walking the Wild Atlantic Way, and waited while several other ferries came before Banríon na Farraige arrived. Finally, our ferry came and we got on our way back to Rossaveel.
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The Claddagh, where we started our Galway Pub Crawl for the evening.
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Dinner, including margaritas, at Seven in Galway's Latin Quarter.
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This street performer stood on a board balanced on a cyllander, juggled axes and machetes, and put a tennis racket all the way over his body.
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Walking around Galway after dinner, we come upon this large square which is well appointed and nice looking. It is Eyre Square, but Daniel doesn't recognize it because last time he was here it was completely under construction, and a chain-link fence surrounded the entire square area. Only the streets were open. Now it has several small kiosks within the square, and banners of the "tribes" (Anglo-Norman families) of Galway. It was wonderful to be here together.
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Some drinks at John Keogh's-The Lock Keeper pub. The bartender was an expert on Irish beers and whiskies, and the drinking habits of the Irish people. It was an interesting place and a nice conversation about social trends. And also, some good drinks.
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We ended our night at The Crane Bar. Daniel went here as well on his 21st birthday, so it seemed like we should go there. They have traditional music every night. When we went in, there was no music, but there was a persistent thumping coming from above. We went upstairs, and there was a woman doing Irish dance while the band played a song. We found a place to sit with an Irish couple and two Danish men who were touring the country. We listened to the music and had a nice conversation: the Danes were quite interested in drinking, and were planning to go to a beer festival in America later this year. The band played a mixture of Irish, American, and British songs, and we had a wonderful time.

Posted by danielcatherine 11:57 Archived in Ireland Tagged taxi cow tea pub ferry fortress dutch pub_crawl calf inishmaan aran_islands irish_language synge Comments (0)

Ireland Day 6: Baking Lessons and Other Adventures

semi-overcast 65 °F

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We started the day with a delicious breakfast at Mary Kathleen's house. It was Catherine's first time trying Mary Kathleen's delicious and (literally) world famous treacle bread. Daniel had tried to bring some to her last time he was here, but it fell on the floor of his apartment in Galway and never made it to Catherine. Thus, she waited ten years to try it. It was delicious, and in fact Catherine asked Mary Kathleen to teach her how to make it.
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Jake, Attracta's dog.
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Views from Mary Kathleen's house: it's a beautiful place and we loved staying there.
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We went on a morning walk with Mary Kathleen and her daughter Marie. We had Marie's dog and Attracta's dog with us. Apparently there are still several cows there on the farm, which Ciaran (Mary Kathleen's son) takes care of. They are beef cattle, but Mary Kathleen likes to think of them more as pets.
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Our walk brought us to Marie's house, where we had tea and bread and jam, and ham and cheese if we wanted it. It was a nice little stop along the walk.
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We walked up towards the bog land where the family gets the turf they use for fires, and snacked on wild bilberries along the way. They tasted like blueberries, but they were more tart and smaller.
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Catherine talking with Mary Kathleen during the walk.
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Snowy and Molly, Mary Kathleen's pet donkeys. Marie gave Catherine a bowl of carrots to feed them.
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Attracta, Mary Kathleen, Catherine, Róisín (Mary Kathleen's granddaughter), and Rose (Mary Kathleen's daughter, Róisín's mother.
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Daniel, Mary Kathleen, Catherine, Róisín, and Rose.
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Mary Kathleen, Daniel, Róisín.
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In looking through old family photos, we found this one of John Caulfield Senior. This is Mary Kathleen's great grandfather, and Daniel's great great great grandfather. Catherine felt that his "smile" was similar to Daniel's.
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Mary Kathleen and Daniel imitating their ancestor.
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Mary Kathleen showed us the church in the village of Aghamore, where Daniel's great great grandparents regularly went to Mass, and where his great grandfather Dominic would have grown up going.
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The graves of John and Margaret Caulfield, who were Daniel's great great grandparents and Mary Kathleen's grandparents.
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Some more views of the Aghamore graveyard.
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Daniel driving and talking with Mary Kathleen.
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Knock Shrine, the old parish church. This is where the Virgin Mary appeared in 1879, and it is a huge shrine that attracts pilgrims from all over the world. Today there was a rededication for the newer basilica, which was first opened forty years ago. The Archbishop of Boston, Seán Cardinal O'Malley, was celebrating a Mass along with three other bishops. There was also a large delegation from Boston present, and most local people, hearing our American accents, presumed we were from Boston.
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The new (or forty year old) basilica at Knock. Some pictures show the Mass going on for the rededication. There is also a new mosaic above the altar, which is beautiful. This seems to have been added within the last year, and Mary Kathleen was quite proud of it.
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The grave of Monsignor James Horan, who was pastor at Knock and raised money for the airport. The airport is a great benefit to the community in County Mayo, and several of Daniel's cousins work there, and Mary Kathleen has a high opinion of the Monsignor.
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Mary Kathleen's daughter Martina, Martina's daughter Sorcha, Mary Kathleen, Catherine, and Daniel. Martina could only stay for a minute, but we were glad that we were able to meet her. Sorcha wasn't born when Daniel was here last, so it was nice meeting her as well.
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Stopped at Marie's house again to see the garden. She has a beautifully decorated garden with little figurines and other cute items. Most of Mary Kathleen's children live on the same property: Attracta lives just south of her along the road, and Marie, Liam, and Ciarán live along a small driveway. Rose and Martina live in nearby towns, and Sean is currently working in England and living with his uncle. It is very nice for Mary Kathleen to have her children and grandchildren so close to her.
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The back of Mary Kathleen's old house.
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Baking lesson! Catherine learned how to make Mary Kathleen's delicious treacle bread. We can't wait to make it at home. It is incredibly delicious, and, according to Mary Kathleen, has a lot of health benefits.
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Liam's daughters, Shannon and Caitlyn, were the judges for Catherine's treacle bread making. Shannon gave her 84 1/2, and Caitlyn gave her 61!
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Catherine's first treacle "cake." Waiting for breakfast tomorrow!
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A cozy turf fire, a cup of tea, and a nice conversation to finish off a fun and busy day.

Posted by danielcatherine 12:03 Archived in Ireland Tagged tea family smile marie graves cozy shannon martina turf baking knock mary_kathleen attracta aghamore caulfield scowl sorcha caitlyn bogs bilberries Comments (1)

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