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stevenpiziks ([personal profile] stevenpiziks) wrote2017-08-29 07:11 pm
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Ireland: Thursday and Friday

Still more about our trip to Ireland:

THURSDAY
    We slept in again, and took considerable time to get going in the morning.  Finally we headed off for more sight-seeing--Navan and the Hill of Slane.  Navan was a dumpy, nasty town when I was there eight years ago, but it's improved now.  Darwin liked it, but I still didn't.  Crowded, difficult to navigate, boring shops.  We did some window shopping and got stuck around a truly stupid shopping mall, and had lunch at a burger place before finally heading to Slane.
    The Hill of Slane is an anti-pilgrimage for me, since it's the place where Saint Patrick lit a forbidden bonfire on Beltaine and got away with it, introducing Christianity to Ireland.  This was the beginning of the end of paganism there.
    There's also a ruined monastery, a small ruined castle, a graveyard (still working), and a bell tower up there.  We went to have a look.
    The monastery and castle were great fun to explore.  Darwin and I always enjoy trying to figure out what used to be what.  The monastery's living quarters--there were two sets--had many, many fireplaces in them on three floors, so the place must have been cozy even in winter.  (Since the place has a relationship with fire, this makes sense.)  We were puzzled by one area that seemed to be a great hall, but also clearly couldn't have been.  And Darwin found a dragon carved into the wall in one place, which was really cool.  We climbed around spiral stairs and under vaulted roofs and had a splendid time.
    The graveyard wasn't a graveyard originally.  It was the monastery grounds, and it got turned into a cemetery after the building became a ruin.  People are still buried there today, and gravestones now sit where people used to eat, sleep, and work.  People with higher status are buried in places like the original hall or near the statue of St. Patrick that greets you at the entrance.  People with lower status are buried around the edges.  This is still true today.
    At last we left, and I spat on the Patrick statue when Darwin wasn't looking.
    On the way home, we passed an unexpected ruin and impulsively turned down a side lane to see if we could explore it better.  It was a tall house-like castle surrounded by an expansive cow pasture and a high stone wall.  We explored a bit, and I found another stile for climbing over.  Darwin, who is a nervous trespasser, reluctantly followed.
    When we got closer, we discovered a second wall around a semi-abandoned graveyard.  I climbed over that wall for a better look.  Here, Darwin refused to follow.  Some of the graves were from the late 1700s, many were from the 1800s, and a few were less than 10 years old.  But the whole place had gone to ruin.  No one had mowed it, or kept up the stones.  In the corner, I found a pile of wrecked, ivy-covered stone, and after a moment I realized it must have been a small church or chapel.  (Later, when I looked the place up, I found out I was right.)
    The main building, a total wreck, was huge three stories tall and one story down and falling down.  No roof.  Ireland went through a period of taxing the roof, meaning if your building had a roof on it, you paid a tax on it, even if it was a church.  (This was one way to get rid of a church the government didn't like.)  To avoid the tax, people took the roof off a building and let it go to ruin.  We wondered if this had happened here.  The building showed remains of old fireplaces, staircases, rooms, and windows.  Darwin found a huge, HUGE tree that had come down during a storm and been sawed in half by someone.  The tree was several hundred years old, and the roots brought up an enormous ball of earth.
    Later, we did some research and discovered the place is called Fennor Castle.  It was built just before the reign of Elizabeth I and modified during her reign.  There wasn't anything much else about it.  It has a wrecked chapel and a graveyard.  We couldn't find anything about who used to live there, or who owns it now, or why it was abandoned.  But it was great fun to explore!

FRIDAY
    Friday we had to get up early to pack up and leave for Dublin again.  We swiftly packed our things and bade Sinead a fond good-bye.  We had to return the rental car by noon, and it was an hour's drive to Dublin, so we had to get moving. 
    We gave ourselves an extra hour in case we got turned around again, but things went much more smoothly, and we arrived at the car rental place at the airport with no trouble at all.  I have to say I was relieved to give the car up.  It's stressful and nerve-wracking to drive in Ireland, and I felt like a great burden had lifted when I handed over the keys.
    It was a long, long, loooooooooooooong wait for the shuttle bus into town, for some reason.  The line for the bus grew longer and longer and longer and more and more pissed off.  After more than 45 minutes' wait for a bus that was supposed to run every 10 minutes, one finally arrived, and we made the slow drive into town.
    Our next accommodations were at Trinity College, which rents out its student dorms and apartments in the summer very reasonably.  Because the wait for the bus was so damned long, we arrived at Trinity at 1:30, only a little before the 2 PM check-in, and the college was already checking guests in.  I had booked us a double room/apartment, and the check-in went fine, but the apartment itself was so far across campus, it was almost off the map.  I suggested waiting for a ride--the clerk had said we could get if we waited a moment--but Darwin had been put off by the bus wait and said he wanted to walk.  So we set out.
    It took us more than half an hour.
    This was partly because we got lost several times.  The paper map they gave us was completely unhelpful--we couldn't tell where anything was on it.  My phone gave us directions, but it kept switching from walking directions to driving directions, for some reason.  We finally FINALLY found the place.  It's a modern building on the outside corner of the campus.  It's quite Spartan, as we knew it would be, though I didn't know it was a shared bathroom situation.  (We share with four other rooms.)  But it worked out--there was only one other couple staying there.  The main trouble was the noise.  Our window (second story) opened right onto the street, and it was NOISY.  Heavy traffic roared by 24/7, tour buses trundle past and you heard the guides barking through their loudspeakers, people talked and laughed and shouted as they passed, and you smelled their cigarette smoke.  The rooms on the other side of the hall faced the courtyard and were silent.  This was a bad luck room!
    We had supper at Kennedy's, a pub frequented by Oscar Wilde (well, he worked there when he was young), Yeats, and Joyce, which was pretty neat.  I had steak-and-Guinness pie, and Darwin had a tasty lamb shank.