Monday, August 4, 2014

Mount Juliet

We're staying in the "Mount Juliet" hotel.  I can't help but think it's the set-up for a "Carnac the Magnificent" joke.  You can write your own; I'm sure it has something to do with Romeo's wedding night.

This morning was Medieval Day.  We started off visiting Jerpoint Abbey, which was a Cistercian Abbey.  We learned about the Cistercian order -- it was (is, actually -- they're still in business, although not at this site) a sort of break-off from the Benedictine order, who felt the Benedictine abbeys of the time were not sufficiently rigid.  It was one of those orders with a very regimented lifestyle -- they lived wholly apart from the local community, were self-sufficient (in terms of growing their own food and such), intentionally engaged in blood-letting to the point of near passing out, and did a lot of praying.  

The abbey lost its roof -- more accurately, had its roof forcibly removed -- when Henry VIII decided that the Catholic monasteries had a lot of land he'd rather have, which had the rather immediate effect of dissolving the order (as the abbey was now uninhabitable) and it had the somewhat longer-term effect of, y'know, destroying the building.  Rather large chunks of it still remain (and others have been reconstructed).  Looks like this:

I should also note that we had a really great tour guide there (Katriona, I think) who was just a great storyteller who brought the place alive.  

Then, back on the bus and out to Kilkenny.  I've been to Kilkenny before, but, this time, our tour guide was a historian (Rose) who focussed her commentary on the Medieval history.  We started in St. Canice's Catherdral, which I've visited before.  I had not photographed the place, though, as it was a working church (still is).  This time, though, we were encouraged to take photos, so I took a pic of the stained glass windows (knowing that, as with all stained glass window photos, it would never come out).

The windows (which really are impressive) are reconstructions of the 13th century originals -- the originals were destroyed (see the whole Henry VIII going after the Catholics thing), but were recreated from rather detailed drawings.  

We also visited the Black Abbey in Kilkenny (no photos because this was a very functioning church, and we were actually pretty lucky just to get in there, as it was between two Masses).  These folks are of the Dominican Order which, in contrast to the Cistercians, were more involved with the local populace, helping the poor and such.  The Abbey was actually pretty cool as it had a large traditional stained glass window (wikipedia tells me its the largest in Ireland) but it also had a new modern one in another part of the church.  I don't believe I've seen old and new windows like that in the same church before; thought it was pretty nifty to see that kind of respect for the past while still acknowledging and appreciating the art of today.  I tipped my hat to the Dominicans.

We had a bit of a tour through the rest of Kilkenny, about which not a whole lot was interesting, although I did snap this tattoo shop.  If you get your tattoo done here, you deserve what you get.

Can't say you haven't been warned.

Came back to my room at Mount Juliet, where I discovered the butterfly.

For the afternoon, the tour company arranged a variety of activities for us to choose from.  The crowd on this tour (many of whom are considerably older than me) is a particularly sedentary bunch, so most signed up for a massage, or the afternoon tea, or a little tour of the grounds.

I, on the other hand, went clay pigeon shooting.

This was a no-brainer for me, given that I'd wanted to go laser clay pigeon shooting when I went to the Bird of Prey Center last week.  This was real shotguns, though.  Only one other guy from the tour was interested -- he'd done this only once before, but had some hunting experience, whereas my own experience has been limited to non-moving targets.  (At least, though, I've had some shooting experience, so I wasn't starting completely from zero.)  We did a set of targets which were shot upward from beyond some trees -- they weren't that hard to hit, as they had some good hang time before they dropped.  He then did a set coming from one side and shooting across to the other.  I sucked at those (the other guy didn't do that well on them either, but at least he managed to hit a few).  Then some more from behind the trees, which seemed easier after we'd tried those fast suckers from the side.  And, finally, he did them in pairs -- two in sequence.  (I nailed the first two -- mostly from luck -- and felt insanely satisfied with myself.)  The guy who was running the shooting commented that when you first shoot, you want to get about 50%.  When all was said and done, I'd tried 24 targets and hit 12 of them, so I was pretty happy with the whole experience.  :)

(I had thought I would kind of suck at this because I have no damn depth perception, and figured depth perception might be required.  Not so.  In fact, you close one eye when you shoot, so nobody has any depth perception when shooting.)

We ended up talking guns and gun laws with the shooty guy, and the one thing that felt very culture shock to me was when I asked what law enforcement carried in Ireland, and he said nothing.  Not even a baton.  (Handcuffs, he said, and maybe mace.)  It seemed so, well, foreign to me to have an unarmed police force.  There are a whole bunch of other factors that contribute to that (like no licensed handguns larger than a .22) but I confess that it still just threw me.  Dude, I expect a cop to be carrying a Glock.  Different worlds.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like their system better.