Saturday, November 26, 2011

It ends here...

I am just off the plane from Glasgow.  What that means for me is that my Ireland trip is essentially finished -  nothing left but the getting home.  Six flights in two days to get from Ireland to Seattle.  I am sad.  I am tired.  Did I mention sad?  I am trying to figure out how to live without having the anticipation of this trip in my life.  I have lived the excitement for so long.  I will figure it out, I reckon,  but first there is one bit of unfinished business I must, must tend to before leaving Ireland's shores. 

It was important to get one more "Shannon" picture in!  This was the last I saw of the Shannon Airport.
I had very few expectation or goals for this trip.  I made some vague plans but didn't want to tie myself too closely to a schedule.  I wanted to experience my favorite phenomenon - serendipity.  And I did - in spades.  I let the current of Ireland take me where she would and it was a great trip.  But the one thing I felt utterly compelled to accomplish, beyond anything else, I had failed to see through.  See, I had this letter that I wanted to leave with the Shannon River.  I had it written and She wanted it but the opportunities to commune with Her failed me.  I was at the Shannon Airport now with no car and knowing not a soul.  I had a few hours before dark and my flight left early in the morning.  It was now or never.  If I couldn't figure it out now then I would leave Ireland with one regret - and I couldn't let that happen.  I utterly rejected that notion.  So I struck out on foot, letter in hand at dusk.  The Shannon Airport is beside the Shannon River but that didn't mean much as I was beside the Shannon for the majority of my trip.  It was the getting to Her....that was the mission I had failed.  I walked and walked and it looked as though I was going to have to climb some fencing and hike through 400 yards of marsh.  But that was fine I really was willing to take whatever risks necessary to make this happen for myself.  As I continued, I saw the fencing ended at some warehouses, creepy and dark.  At the end of this string of warehouses, though, I saw the Shannon.  It was a place I could walk right up to the banks, I could give her my letter.  I saw my goal, it was here that I could end my quest.  However, to get to the banks I had to traverse these dark buildings where I kept hearing men's voices floating from the walls.  I was frightened but determined (and "slightly" stupid).  I took a deep breath, said a prayer and forged on.  The men in the warehouses stopped talking as I strode past - it got really quiet.  But I finally arrived at the Shannon.  It wasn't as pretty as some spots I had seen - nor did I stay long.  I wet my hands, said hello and put my letter under a rock in the water.  She got it and told me She would read it and consider all my thoughts and requests <grin>.  I then bid a hasty faretheewell and walked the warehouse gauntlet - smiling the entire way.  I felt like it was now ok to leave Ireland.  And that's what I did - albeit reluctantly.
There is a large-ish rock in the water on the right.  It is there that I left my letter.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read about my Ireland journey through all these months.  It was a grand trip and could not have happened without the help of so many people.  Apparently, it takes a village to send Shannon on a trip.  Thank you to Yutaka, Maya, Sean, Patsy and Vern, Hazel, Mrs. Scott, all my new friends that I met in Little Okinawa, Ireland, Ryan and Leanne.  Thanks to so many for well wishes, support and advice.  My heart bursts with gratitude for my Dad without whom this joyous experience would not have taken place for me.  I loved the gesture but mostly the time we spent together.  Unforgettable.

Finally, I have given a lot of thought as to why certain places such as Ireland and Scotland enchant me more than others.  I think it has to do with vibrations of history that it seems I can almost feel in every cell of my body.  And my cells rejoice somehow in the communion of it all - a reunion of sorts.  I found this quote years ago that seems to sum it up:

"In great deed, something abides.  On great fields, something stays.  Forms change and pass, bodies disappear but spirits linger to consecrate ground for the vision-place of the soul.  And reverent men and women from afar and generations that know us not and that we know not of, shall come here to ponder and to dream and the power of the vision shall pass into their souls."
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain  1824-1914  (I love this quote and respect this man even though he fought on the wrong side of the War of Northern Aggression!  Too bad.  He should have been Southern <grin>)

Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Castle Rock and Beyond!

If you will recall, in my last post, I had made it about 3 feet along the Royal Mile.  I didn't really need to move, I would have been quite content walking up and down all the closes for the rest of the day but the imposing Edinburgh Castle was looming heavily over me above, calling, refusing to be ignored.  So, being the easy-going, eager-to-please girl that I am I went!
The scale of the castle is immense.  This picture just doesn't do it justice!

 I found the castle so joyous because it is such a mish-mash of times (oldest building dates from 1130!)  and architectural styles and wears them all proudly on its sleeve.  And, it somehow all works.  It doesn't look like a house that has been added to so much over the years that it resembles a jigsaw puzzle with the wrong pieces force-fit into the holes.  No, no.  It is so beautiful and so imposing that you felt it all the way to your heart - a heavy, imposing beat that fell into sync with the castle's beat.  Nice!

Here are some of the highlights!

I was most excited to see Margaret's Chapel as it is the oldest building in all of the Castle.  It was built by David I in 1130 in honor is his mother, Margaret.  It is small and spartan from the outside but the inside is whitewashed with lovely stained glass windows. I just wanted all the people to leave so Margaret, Hazel and I could hang but that didn't happen so I appreciated and moved on.

Sorry, the angle on this is a little funky but the hill is quite steep...and I'm not a photographer <grin>

Another Highlight: 

We visited Mons Meg which is a cannon situated atop the Rock.  She was made in the town of Mons, Belgium in 1449.  Hazel and I were standing there enjoying a chat with the Scottish docent about the old cannon when I noticed a large crowd was beginning to gather.  He informed us it was the daily one o'clock cannon that is fired off.  It seemed an odd time to set your clocks for and asked why they chose 1pm to fire.  He was very cute and said because the Scots are too cheap to afford more than one shot per day.  The shot is now fired from the military barracks below where Meg sits and a soldier in full military uniform ritualistically comes out to fire a more modern gun.  The crowd had grown quite deep and I figured there was no way to watch the firing but I guess the sweet man saw my disappointment and started pushing people aside saying, "Let the wee girl through!  Let the wee girl through!  She canna see!"  And do you know he got me all the way to the front?  I was glad not to have missed it, it was amazing to see but the best part was being called "a wee girl" -  twice!  It's all in the details, my friend...

View of Edinburgh from Mons Meg.

A third highlight:

We went to visit the Honors of Scotland which is basically their crown jewels.  I only vaguely remember seeing the crown, the scepter, etc. because as soon as I saw the Stone of Scone (pronounced skoon) all else disappeared for me.  AND, we again accosted a lovely, knowledgeable, quite handsome docent and probably talked to him for at least 20 minutes about the stone.  The Stone of Destiny as it is also called was the stone that the Kings of Scotland have been enthroned upon since Biblical times.  Robert the Bruce had put his bum on that stone!!  And I was in its presence!  Sadly, in later warring years the English took it down to England where it stayed for hundreds of years in Westminster Abbey under their coronation chair.  In this way all the Kings of England who have been crowned sat on that stone symbolizing their reign over Scotland.  But on Christmas Day, 1950 four college students from Glasgow University stole the stone from Westminster Abbey and hauled it 500 miles back up to Scotland.  The English retrieved the Stone of Destiny a few weeks later but they had to be careful with the situation or they would have had a country of rioting Scots on their hands.  In 1996, however, England rightfully returned the stone to Scotland where it now resides in Edinburgh.  I highly recommend watching the 2008 movie, "The Stone of Destiny" - it is brilliantly done and available on Netflix instant play!

Hazel and I atop the Castle


I loved the Trinity knot at the bottom!

After exploring the castle (just on the surface, I would love to go back!) we made our way down the Royal Mile to visit Holyrood Palace - where royalty stays when visiting.  Alas, the queen has lost my traveling itinerary and wasn't in...

Along the way we saw...

Look at how the woman's jacket  matches the door!  Serendipity!

Why so many red doors on churches?   The is what the Anglican Church's website told me:  "It's because red doors traditionally mean "sanctuary" -- the ground beyond the doors is holy, and anyone who goes through them is safe from physical (and spiritual) harm. In ancient times, no one could pursue an enemy past red doors into a church, and certainly no one could be harmed or captured inside of a church. Today, the red reminds us of the blood of Christ and that we are always safe in God's care!"

A lovely old cemetery in Edinburgh.  This is where Greyfriar's Bobby is buried.  He was the Sky Terrier who guarded is master, John Gray's, grave for fourteen years after his death. 

Detail from a headstone

This is a picture of the painting in the window of the Elephant House Cafe where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter.  It didn't occur to me at the time to take a picture of the actual cafe.

The Castle at night from Princes Street

We walked, we chatted, we had many "cuppa's and a wee blether".  I was so grateful to Hazel and her Mother for hosting me.  But as the sun descended, so did my mood.  I grew more and more despondent.  Despondent is really too nice a word for what I was feeling.  I wanted to curl in the fetal position and keen mighty wails of grief.  (But it an effort to be a good guest I didn't do that. )  I was sad because my visit with Hazel had been too short, my time is Scotland was ending - I felt I had just arrived ( and I kinda had!)  But also, on top of that this marked the end of my entire trip that I had anticipated, dreamed of, groomed to my liking and lived for.  It had been 8 days.  I was desperate for more, I wasn't in the least bit done.  I was greedy and wanted to throw a fit.  I didn't but it was a close thing.  In the end all I could do was be a grown-up 40 year old and catch a plane back to Ireland.  But I had one more mission to accomplish, one more date with the Shannon River before my flight back to the US. 

Thanks for reading!!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Enchanted by Edinburgh

I loved Edinburgh - loved it!  It felt like walking into history, utterly and completely.  I am sure there are villages and towns across Europe where you can feel this way- I've seen pictures - but this was my first experience of stepping into history and it felt grand.  It wasn't just a building or a monument.  It was everywhere I looked - in all directions!  It slayed me.
Hazel and I awoke that morning and took a taxi (my first! I am so provincial...) to the train station and caught a 45 min ride from Motherwell to Edinburgh.  We chatted about everything and nothing - so perfect!  But when you reach Edinburgh, you step off the train, walk a few blocks and there you are - right in the middle of a gorgeous historic town.  Everywhere you look is history!!  And not just a building but the cobblestones, the streets are just as they have been for hundreds of years.  The buildings are all shops you can go into as people have been for hundreds of years - and I added myself to that throng in history.  Every threshold I stepped across held that magic for me.  Words fail me, again. 

We stayed primarily on the Royal Mile.  This cobblestone road is a hill with Edinburgh Castle perched at the top and at the bottom is Holyrood Palace.  Holyrood (meaning Holy Cross) is a royal residence but is occasionally open for tours.  It was closed when we were there but we had some tea at the Abbey Cafe right beside it.  There has been a royal residence there since the 1300's.

Edinburgh Castle

One of the best moments for me was walking up the Royal Mile towards the Castle, with a great friend in Scotland, munching on Scottish Shortbread.  It was a divinely savored moment - a perfect moment, so rare.
While walking up the Royal Mile I kept noticing the most enchanting little alleyways every so often.  They were historically entrances between the Tenement buildings and are called Closes.  They all had names that were descriptive of their history.  For example, the Advocates Close below dates from around 1544.  Some were utilitarian, some were decorated.  I didn't care, I wanted to explore every single nook and cranny of each and every one.  Each close led to a courtyard with some that were so beautiful I never wanted to leave.  Each one a "secret garden" offering a mystery to myself I desperately needed to find.  I needed to make each one mine in some way...somehow.  But, alas, I couldn't and didn't.  I need to return. 
(I just got so excited writing about the closes that I went and ordered the only book available on them.  Close Encounters of the Royal Mile. Maybe I will have to write another - after my book about fence stiles, of course.)


This one is utilitarian.  I love how the stones are worn.

This one decorated.
For those of you, like me, who are Diana Gabaldon Outlander fans, it is down Carfax Close in Edinburgh that Claire finds Jamie in his print shop.  This is Claire describing the Royal Mile which mimiced a lot of what I was thinking. 
"I was here.  Really here.  Edinburgh sloped up behind me, to the glowering heights of Edinburgh Castle, and down before me, to the gracious majesty of Holyrood Palace at the foot of the city....The low, dark opening of Carfax Close yawned just ahead, across the expanse of the Royal Mile.  I stopped dead, looking at it, my heart beating hard enough to be heard a yard away, had anyone been listening." [Voyager, p.253, 254]  

Carfax Close is not a close that actually exists but it could have been any of the ones I saw.  There was an interesting one called "World's End Close".  It was called that because it used to be where the city literally ended - enclosed with gates.  The gates are no longer there but in Edinburgh in the 1500's if you left the city there was a re-entrance fee.  Many were too poor to afford entrance back into the city so they never left and that was literally the end of their world.  I love that story.  It is for this reason that I wish my street of 308th Ave. were still called its original name, Cedar Ave.  It was the rough road the loggers would go up to cut cedars for the shingle mill.  Streets with only numbers lack warmth and soul.  One of my many soapboxes that I try to keep hidden deep in my closet.

This was over a door in a close.  I wanted to live here - walk under these words every day of my life.
To be continued...I haven't even gotten to the castle yet!  Apparently, even when words fail me I keep writing...Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Scotland, Hazel and Wee Katie

I was sad to part ways with the
Silver Bullet.  She felt it, too.
It rained for the first time as I was leaving
Ireland.  Regular weather pattern or
tears of sadness?  I have my theory.
It was Tuesday and I was off to Scotland!!  I was excited for lots of reasons but mainly because I was seeing my dear friend, Hazel, for the first time in 8 years.  I am lucky to have friends in my life that regardless of how much time passes it makes no difference whatsoever in our relationship.  When we meet up it feels only that one of us has excused ourselves to visit the loo (or the "toilet") and then we pick right up on our conversation - a lifelong conversation.  I am a blessed woman. 

I met Hazel first in New Hampshire when we were both working at Dartmouth college.  We didn't meet at work, however, we met at Irish dance class.  As soon as I saw her I knew she was to be my friend.  I don't even remember having a "getting to know you" period with her.  It was like one day I didn't know her and the next day she was a gift in my life.  We both liked to chat and would meet every Monday night at the Borders in West Lebanon, NH for "a cuppa and a wee blether".  But, truth be told, there was nothing "wee" about any of our "blethering".  She's a lovely person and wish we lived a little closer - the same country would be nice (and I am certainly willing to move to Scotland to make that happen!)

It was Tuesday morning and my flight into Glasgow was hair-raising (very bumpy and cloudy).  Then when we landed we waited on the plane for about 30 minutes because apparently we weren't on the radar as we were flying in.  Doesn't that seem a bit dangerous to you?  Anyway, I was there, I was excited but a little worried I wouldn't recognize Hazel - it had been a while - but I needn't have worried because I saw her and  her beautiful smile and all worries and stresses fell away.  As exhilerating as driving Ireland was and as empowering as forging my way through an unknown country felt, an innate stress accompanied me.  A good, fun stress that I didn't even know I was carrying until I saw Hazel.  She embraced me, she knew what I meant when I asked for the restroom and she knew right where they were, she knew how to drive without killing people so all I had to do was talk, laugh and rubberneck.   All I needed to do was follow her and it felt grand.  Sometimes it is good to follow and take a break from forging.

Wee Katie and Hazel's Mum.
I had been to Scotland before - about 13 years ago.  On that trip we stayed fairly rural not hitting Glasgow or Edinburgh and on this trip I was going to enjoy both with a Scottish native.  I felt so lucky.  It was a beautiful day, Hazel had a new car (Wee Katie) and we were headed to the Glasgow Art Museum and Glasgow University (Hazel's alma mater)! 

Thoughts on Glasgow:

 *I didn't take enough pictures!  Hazel and I were chatting so much my camera was neglected.  Apparently, I am not a multi-tasker!
This is the Kelingrove Art Museum and it is such a grand, stately building.  So many architectural details (see below).
When Hazel and I walked in the organ just immediately started up.  Someone was playing in the balcony.  I pretended they were playing for me.  At the Chapel at Glasgow Univ. the organ started up when we were in there too.  Narcissism runs deep - I pretended again.  It seemed everywhere I went music started playing - who wouldn't pretend?

Funny story: 
There is a little phenomenon that I experience no matter where I travel or live:  Someone will always stop me and ask if I went to school with them,  work with them, or I look so familiar how do we know each other?  I have lived in all four corners of the US and it happens everywhere, all the time.  It happened just yesterday, in fact, at the Home Depot.  It happens so often that I wonder how I don't see clones of myself walking around.  (Btw, I do have a doppelganger.  She played a prostitute on Miami Vice - I saw her when I was a teenager.)  Anyway, Hazel and I entered the Kelingrove Museum and went to the information desk to ask questions and the lady manning the booth looked at me and asked if I was an actress - because I looked soooo familiar.  I like how she went straight to the actress versus Americans always go straight to high school.  It was really sweet and what I wanted to say was: yes, I was. Could I get a VIP tour and a free lunch?

This is Glasgow University founded in 1451 AD.  These are the types of buildings I expected to see at Trinity College.  Can't you just feel the weight of knowledge?  I love it!  I also love the regional red stone.  It is fun to contrast that with the Edinburgh grey stone - next post!

Details, details.  It's all in the details!

A Scottish Magnolia.  I wanted
 a closer shot but it was down a
After visiting the University, we got some tea.  Hazel has about a two hour limit before she needs another cup of tea.  (I want to make a drug addict reference here - something about a crack addict needing a hit.  But I won't! <grin>)  We went to this really cute tea shop that had enormous, yummy scones. I got to see parts of her life I had only heard her talk about and I loved every minute.
After that we walked some beautiful botanical gardens and refreshed ourselves at an old church cum pub.  It was the craziest, most blasphemous place I had ever been - but beautifully done.  We used this time to catch up and chat a lot!  It was great - perfect even.

As the evening went on we decided to drive to her hometown of Motherwell and have dinner.  At dinner I went for it and ordered the haggis.  It was so good.  As you can see from the picture it was a hardboiled egg surrounded by haggis and then deep fried.  Very tasty!

This is Mrs. Scot.  I didn't take this
picture - Hazel did.  Again, my mouth
was so busy I couldn't remember
to pick up the camera.  But
here they are in Ayr where the
Scottish Kennedys are from.

The Scots are lovely hosts.  Here I am talking Hazel Scot and her Mum specifically and not the country as a whole - although I am sure it would apply as well.  I had met Mrs. Scot once before in NH when she had come to visit and was delighted to see her smiling face again and receive her warm embrace.  She is such a delightful, vivacious woman. (I like the fact that they are super "hugg-y" folk.  North Carolina is like that and it felt good.  Of course, NC was mainly settled by Scots, so there you go.)   One of the first things she said to me was, "Ohh, what a lovely American accent!"  I had an accent???

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Why? Are there crocodiles in there?

Monday morning I awoke and with a very heavy heart realizing it was my last day in Ireland.  The days went fast but the moments dripped like honey - sweet honey.  I had so many moments of being entirely present that I felt  the trip was well absorbed by my soul but, being greedy,  I wanted more.  On this day my Dad was leaving to return to the USA and I was driving him to the airport.  It was a lovely drive, beautiful with such great company.  Spending time with dad - just he and I - has been rare in recent years as I have lived in Seattle.  I treasured every moment. 

Dad and I (Shannon) left the Shannon Hotel, turned left on Shannon Rd. and followed the Shannon River to the town of Shannon so I could drop dad off at the Shannon Airport and in the boot was the book by Frank Delaney, Shannon.  Sorry, that was sickeningly gratuitous - apologies!  I just wanted to see how many times I could get my name in one sentence; 7 it is!

After dropping Dad off with a teary good bye, my goal of the day was to gift my letter to the River; to soak my feet and possibly take a swim.  No more messing around with meek Hello's and shy waves.  This river and I were going to get to know one another.  At least that was MY plan.

I am brilliant at making assumptions and this was mine regarding the Shannon specifically and Ireland in general:  Like in America, there would be so many pull-offs and parks that I would have a plethora of choices.  I didn't realize that the Irish aren't as into frolicing in the water as Americans.  It took me all day to figure this out.  A conversation such as this one below took place about 5 times that day.

Me:  Hello, could you tell me how I might get to the Shannon River?
Kind Irish Folk:  Well, sure, it's right over that way...
Me: Yes, but where can I get access to it?
Kind Irish Folk: Why would you be wantin' to go there?  It's need to be careful.
Me: Why, are there crocodiles in it?  (I wasn't being sarcastic.  It was a serious question.  I kept getting the dangerous theme over and over and couldn't figure out what about this wide, meandering river could strike such fear. As I knew there were no snakes, thanks to St. Patrick <grin>, I couldn't think of anything else that should keep people out.)
Kind Irish Folk:  Well, no but it's dangerous all the same.

Lovely Hazel!
 I couldn't get any more of an answer than this and no one knew any place to actually get to the river.  Near the end of the day I was perplexed and frustrated and no closer to my goal.  At this point my friend, Hazel, called from Scotland.  I was flying up to see her the next day and we were finalizing our plans.  I told her I was trying to get to the Shannon River.  And do  you know the first thing out of her mouth was, "Och, be careful, Shannon!"  Thankfully, I knew her quite well and felt comfortable voicing my angst.  "Hazel, WHY are people telling me to be careful?  Why?  It is a river, for heaven's sakes!   I just want to be at the river! Why is it so unbelievably hard to get to?"  Happily, she had lived in America and could see things from my side.  She finally clued me in.  She said, "we just don't swim in rivers and lakes here as much like you do in America.  Usually the weather is so bad anyway so it just isn't done." 
Once she said this it all made sense, the clouds cleared, the world was set to rights and I laughed.  I laughed because it was a funny story about a cultural difference that took me forever to figure out; I laughed because try as hard as you might sometimes things just don't work out to one's expectations; I laughed because I was going to see Hazel tomorrow; I laughed because I hadn't eaten since breakfast and was close to fainting - hysteria was obviously setting in.  I could let my goal of the day go - I gave it my best shot.  It wasn't our day to be together - the river and I.  I had one more shot for a few hours at the end of the week before I flew to America.  I wasn't giving up yet.

 It was getting late so I decided to make a quick visit to Bunraddy Castle.  It was a real, gosh-darned castle from the 14th century with period furnishings.  So awesome!  My historian's soul rejoiced.
Couldn't completely capture the height of the castle.  It was such a great spot to visit.

This is where the drawbridge would have been!  I had to rush as they were about to close!  I practically ran the whole way from the bottom to the top of the castle. I made myself sick on the twisty, narrow turrent steps.
This is one room inside the castle.  There are six stories and all are set up the same.  There is a great room and then
at the four corners in the turrets are the bedrooms, chapels, kitchens, etc. with stairs.  These tapestries were
gorgeous and huge!  I tried to capture the enormous scale but it just doesn't come across.

Sorry, it's a little dark, but I loved the face on the coat of arms.

This is a portion of the rock wall around the castle.  I walked back and forth many times rubbing my hand along
the moss.  I wish the picture did the softness of the moss justice.  I was in tactile heaven.

There was a  historic village outside of the castle and this was
one of the cottages - The Shannon Farmhouse.
They even had a peat fire going to welcome me home.

This is where I ate my dinner before heading back to my hotel for the evening.
Delicious!  Recommended by my friend, Jenn.  Thanks, Jenn!

We Americans can't seem to help but take pictures of telephone booths.  Isn't this one charming?  I don't imagine that our telephone booths capture their interest quite as much.

This is the view from the top of the castle.  There in the background is the "dangerous" Shannon - taunting me.
That night I was alone for the first time in my life without a soul knowing where I was.  I couldn't call anyone as my phone was out of power and I had left a string of electronic cords across Ireland which included my phone converter. My seclusion was complete.  It was a very vulnerable feeling but it also felt right - my sense of solitude deepened.  I had found this quote on a bookmark by Carl Sandberg before I left on my trip:
"It is very necessary now and then for a man to go away by himself and experience loneliness;  to sit on a rock in the forest and to ask himself, 'Who am I, and where have I been, and where am I going?'"
That was my goal and that was what I felt - utterly, completely and peacefully.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


I have been mucking about in my brain thoughts of my visit to Dublin.  In truth, it was the least enjoyable portion of my trip.  Not Dublin's fault at all - it delivered what I asked of it but I think what my body and soul craved was the countryside.  I was happiest and most content there and I didn't realize how much until I hit Dublin.  It was jarring in a way.  Another time, another visit Dublin and I will probably bond.

So after leaving Paddy Hearny's cottage from the last post, I continued my journey to Dublin - ah, the driving - fantastic.  I hit the little seaside town of Bray which is about 20 miles south of Dublin - the very end of the DART southern line (the train to Dublin).  And it is here that my ignorance of public transportation reared its ugly head.  I assumed Bray had its own train that was like a bullet train up to Dublin - no stopping.  So how shocked was I when it took about an hour to go 20 miles.  I mean Dublin Area RAPID Transit.  The Rapid part is debateable especially when the train broke and we sat somewhere in the middle for 20 minutes.  Luckily I had a great girl to chat with the duration.  Her name was Maeve and a college student at Trinity.  I made it to Pearce station and step out and see this pub:  It was a Kennedy day! (It wasn't open.)

But after that I was just really, really lost.  My goal was to visit the Book of Kells at Trinity College.  So excited to such an ancient tome.  My map said Trinity was one block away but I saw nothing but business buildings and noise and cars and noise and people and noise.  Jarring.  I walked and got "lost-er and lost-er".  I finally just stopped in the middle of the sidewalk defeated - everyone I had asked was American or Australian and didn't know where I should go either.  A kind Irishman noticed my dejected/defeated vibe.  He stopped right in front of me and told me I looked lost.  I must have looked pretty pitiful.  He walked with me BLOCKS to the front of Trinity and shared with me the best spot for a bite to eat, banoffee pie and tea.  What a dear, dear man.  I hope he is one day sainted.  The patron saint of lost Southerners.

I was disappointed in Trinity also.  I thought it would be amazing, old and weighted with so much history and learning (I am sure there are parts that are but I didn't see them). The entrance that went to the Book of Kells was like a community college - lots of concrete.  The Book was fantastic to see but I had been living in a cloud of sensory yummy-ness since arriving in Ireland (the sights, sounds, smells, food, touching the stones and engravings) that the dark room with the book under deep glass felt cold.  I didn't linger but was glad I got to see it.  But, THEN, I visited the Long Room portion of the Old Library.  Oh my!  I remember thinking, "This is what I came for!"  It was in this room that Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift and so many others studied, thought, developed.  It smelled of old leather and books, visually it was divine.  It had a high, wooden arched ceiling - the longest in the world, I believe.  Shelves and shelves of rare books (no touching, of course.)  The presence of history was so strong - I got goosebumps.  I stayed there and just sat for a very long while.  Such Joy and Satisfaction.

My question is this: Why do so many churches
have red doors? 

Batteries recharged I went to find the cafe my Irish Saint recommended and I am happy to say I found it without incident.  I had bread and soup but also the banoffee pie that at least five people said I MUST have before leaving Ireland.  It was a lovely piece of heaven on a plate although quite sweet.  It is some mixture of bananas and toffee but not crunchy toffee.  I then strolled Grafton Street which is a huge pedestrian street full of shops - and lots of people.  I didn't go into one store- I just kept thinking I wanted to get into my car and just drive.  So I left.  I found my station and my train and endured 20 more stops on the way to Bray.  My Silver Bullet was as happy to see me as I was her.  ("Reunited and it feels so good...")  I drove and listened to Gaelic radio all the back to Portumna.  I didn't arrive until about 9pm tired and travel-worn and it is here that the incident that I described a few posts back about being sat at the front of the blacktie banquet happened.  I was very happy to have food and be back near my dad.  The countryside was where I belonged while in Ireland. 

I only took three pictures in Dublin.  I think that is pretty telling of how I was feeling.  This picture of Cat Deeley was an advertisement poster in a store window.  For those of you, like me, who are fans of So You Think You Can Dance - it might mean something (although what, I couldn't say).  To the rest (and admitted majority) of you it can be whatever you would like to make of it.  I just like writing with pictures and didn't have a lot of material to work with from Dublin <grin>