Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ireland Day Seven: So. About Those Photos...

Yeah, see, it takes about an hour to download my photos, edit them slightly, and post the damn things.  I might just put them all on picasa and let you all click thru at your leisure.  That is, once I get my hands on a reliable internet connection.  (Right now, we're back in Dublin, and my signal just dropped from "Good" all the way to "Poor" for no reason at all.)

We spent most of today in the Land Rover, coming back to Dublin.  Other than a "toilet break" (Sam said there'd be ice cream, but there was no ice cream. :::pout::: ) and a lunch break, we only made two stops:  a castle and a bog.

(No, the bog was not the toilet stop.)

The bog was an actual bog.  A great big squishy bog.  Most of the group was fairly skeptical about the bog's appeal as a tourist attraction, but Sam was (by now) on quite the roll, and he gave us a very cool lecture (complete with visual and olfactory aids) on the history of the bog and its relevance to the people of Ireland.  (Particularly the impoverished ones.  The ones who had no wood to burn, so had to roast up some peat from the bog for warmth.)  Also talked about how the bog worked particularly well as a preservative, which makes it quite cool from an archeological perspective.  But probably the neatest thing was when he bounced up and down on it, and what looked like solid land revealed itself to actually be springy.

The castle was ... wait, wait, I saved the admission ticket so I could tell you the name of it ... here we go, Aughnanure Castle.  It's another one of those 15th Century Tower jobs, but this one has been fully reconstructed so we could walk through it.  They charged admission, for which we actually got a guide who told us about the history of the place as well as all of the cool defensive bits built into the architecture (e.g., the "murder hole" through which they could shoot someone who happened to make it in the door; or the "trip stairs" created purposely unevenly so an attacker can't run right on up) ... the admission price also meant that this castle was in a nice clean park -- not a pasture -- so there was no danger of further "fresh land mine" incidents.  I mean, you step in cow poop once, that's the Ireland experience -- you step in it again, and they laugh at you all the way back to Dublin.

Speaking of "all the way back to Dublin," the 12 of us had a plan (eventually) to rotate seating every day in the morning and after lunch, so that each of us would get a chance to sit up front with the driver.  I was the only one who hadn't had a turn, so I got the front seat for the duration of the motorway back from Galway.  Actually had a very interesting talk with Sam -- I was a little concerned that I wouldn't have any ready conversation topics (one of the women on the bus managed to have a question for pretty much any circumstance, but I tend to be a lot more choosy in picking my questions) ... but I had one topic in reserve:  Irish Theatre.  I asked Sam if he got to the theatre much (no) and if the Irish theatre scene was largely concentrated in Dublin (also no), but raising the issue bought me an interesting 40 minutes or so on the founding of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin and the importance of theatre (and literature) to the Irish revolution.  On the whole, Sam was one of those guys who is Irish with a capital "I."  (By contrast, Rob -- he of the understating the difficulty of hikes -- is actually a Scot by way of England, so while he's made this place his home, he isn't quite so tied in to the culture.)  Sam takes personally the English occupation of Ireland and any attempts throughout the years to suppress Irish culture (including the language, the music, and the legends), so, actually, the theatre topic was something he knew quite a bit about, even though he doesn't get out to the theatre much.

ANYWAY, we said our goodbyes to the rest of the group (many hugs and exchanged email addresses) and Kathy and I are now ensconced back in the same hotel where we spent the first night.  Our room rate has now doubled, thanks to the (unfortunate) appearance of Michael Buble at the nearby arena.  The arena is within walking distance, so everyone going to the concert has parked him- or her- (probably, mostly her-) self in our hotel.  We're planning to wait till 8:00 to go down for dinner -- hopefully the restaurant/pub will be deserted by then.

Tomorrow:  to England!

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