Oct. 26th, 2015 11:19 am
the_siobhan: (Dufferin station)

This is a pic of our driver, a lovely man from Cork named Brian O'Gorman. If you ever want a driver in Ireland, look him up. He was awesome.

Doing a vacation with a driver is a little weird for me - on the down side, we probably stumbled on fewer things by accident. On the plus side I probably got less wet than I would have if I had been wobbling around the country on my own. Actually the weather was overall a lot nicer than I packed for. It really does rain every day, but never like it really meant it. And it was sunny for a few hours at a time on several occasions.

Friday we went to a tiny town (the name of which I honestly cannot remember) and climbed around in a graveyard looking for names. I use the world "climbed" quite intentionally there. There were city workers cleaning it up while we were there, and it had obviously been a while because some of the brambles were up to my waist in places. Many of the headstones were broken, knocked over or worn smooth. BC visited the library and apparently they had put together a list of all the graves in the area but the name she was looking for didn't show up. So that was a dead end.

From there Brian drove us to Dublin, where having a driver did not stop us from getting very lost. Once we finally made it to the hotel I called my cousin, who took us out for drinks and an evening of shit-talking. It turned out that it was a long weekend, so everything was packed and I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only person in Dublin with a hangover the next day.

Saturday was more tourism. We visited Dublin Castle and one of the sites of The National Museum. Dublin is gearing up for the centenary celebrations of the The Easter Rising, so there is lot going on for somebody who is interested in the history of the country.

Sunday we got up at gawdawful o'clock dragged ourselves to the airport and I had Dreadful Flight II: Electric Fuckaroo because not only did we have to contend with the seats from hell, but we were stuck in them for an extra hour because the guy who's job it is to put the gas in the plane fucked up and didn't give us enough. The flight itself was really bad for turbulence so they couldn't even give us coffee. And then they tried to feed me this.


Seriously, what the fuck is that?

After a week of living in smoked-salmon-at-every-meal-if-I-damn-well-feel-like-it land, sticking this in front of me was just adding insult to injury.


I am home now and still lagged so I got up at the asscrack of dawn. This week is going to be all about the painting and then maybe I can get some of the pictures sorted out.
the_siobhan: (punk rock)
We did a brief bop around Galway this morning then back in the car to head to Cavan. We stopped on the way to visit Athlone Castle just because we were driving by and it looked neat. They have a museum that goes through the historical events of the site and it was fascinating. The Shannon River divides much of Ireland, and so anybody who controls the crossings has a major strategic advantage, which leads to a very, erm, eventful history. Lots of things going boom. Stuff like that.

Cavan is where BC is doing her genealogical research, so it was the main purpose behind this trip. Most towns in Ireland have genealogy centres now that researching family history has become such a big interest. Our driver told us of a graveyard in Cork (his home town) where they brought in experts to read the carvings on the old headstones and put everything they found online. Most of the headstones don't last long in this climate, so anything prior to the 1800s is pretty much impossible to decipher.

While she hit the library, I went to the bar. The hotel where we are staying, like so many of the big buildings here, was once an old English manor house. The ones that didn't get turned into museums became hotels. This one incorporated the original buildings and then expanded on them - leading to the pic I took below of the reception area. This is on the inside of the hotel lobby.

The old stables are still standing too, and have been turned into a spa and connected to the rest of the building by a long glass hallway. The bar I'm sitting in is in the basement and was apparently part of a network of underground tunnels running through the site.

This does not mean that they are not respectful of their historical buildings. It means that they have so many old buildings that they can decide which ones are important, and let the remaining ones be taken over by hotels.

BC has taken to categorizing the age of some of the places we visit by figuring out how many times Canada's existence as a country would fit into them. "This tower was built in 1100? That's more than six Canadas!"
the_siobhan: (Brighter Blessed Than Thee)
Yesterday was The Ring of Kerry, which is scenery, scenery and more scenery.

Today we visited to Bun Ráite Castle which is situated in a traditional thatch village, and from there drove to the Cliffs of Moher which are holy shit impressive. We are spending the night in Galway (which seems to be a real party town) and tomorrow we go to Cabhán, where BC is doing her family research. It may involve a lot of graveyards, so it occurs to me that the reason she brought me might be because bringing a goth means they are the least likely of anybody she knows to get bored.

More observations:
  • The crows here are like the pigeons at home, there are flocks of them everywhere. (I once pointed at two seperate flocks of crows joining a third on the top of a building and said, "Look! A mass murder!" BC didn't think it was funny.)

  • It rains just about as much as they tell you it does.

  • One of things that I remember most clearly about being here in '71 is the little winding highways with the high hedgerows on the sides. They may have built highways since then, but that doesn't mean those terrifying little roads have fallen into disuse.

  • A second thing I remember is that there seemed to be half-fallen stone towers everywhere, and that they are so common that the locals don't even take note of them. My cousins had one in their backyard. Since I have gotten here I can confirm that yes, my memory was accurate. So far I have seen the crumbled foundations of some kind of stone structure next to brand new housing developments, on the edge of parks and in the middle of sheep fields and people pretty much ignore them.

  • Irish people are nice. Even in the cities. It's a little unnerving.

    I took a pic on my phone just so I could show you the kind of thing I've been doing all week.

  • the_siobhan: It means, "to rot" (Default)
    I found a pic of the pub online, so I can show it to you

    See I wasn't kidding about the golf balls.
    the_siobhan: (flying monkeys)
    Today we went to the Rock of Cashel, ate lunch in Cork, and took a walk around the grounds of Muckross house. Tonight we are staying in a pretty little gingerbread hotel in a town called Killeen, just outside of Killarney. I'm sitting in the bar, where the walls are entirely decorated with beer labels and golf balls.

  • Parts of Ireland look a lot like parts of Ontario. In particular the area around here is full of low mountains and granite bedrock that is very similar to what you see in northern Ontario. Maybe the reason so many Irish immigrants settled there.

  • A lot of place names start with "kill". I finally looked up the meaning, and it turns out it's derived from "cill", meaning "church". I feel better now that we've cleared that up.

  • All the signs are in both English and Irish and I am more convinced than ever that Irish is a language based on incomprehensible logic. The Irish spelling of the city name Cork, for example, is Corcaigh. Just imagine what they do with the multi-syllabic names.

  • Ireland is the smoked salmon capital of the world.

  • Speaking of the food, I take back everything I have ever said about Irish cooking. I have eaten like a king since I got here. And I've even had really good coffee. More than once. England, take note. (US and Canada, don't even try, you're already hopeless.)

    Tomorrow we are driving "the ring of Kerry" which is basically taking in the scenery along the coast of the Iveragh Peninsula. I will take many more pictures which I can't post here because all my cables are fux00red.
  • the_siobhan: (fortune)
    I am convinced that highly paid engineers get hired to design and test the most awkward and uncomfortable seats possible at the behest of airlines. How else to explain that I have actual bruises on my ass from the flight over here.


    I am in Ireland! In Kilkenny today. And it is gorgeous in a very damp way. At some point I will figure out why my camera won't talk to my laptop, and when I do there will be photos.


    the_siobhan: It means, "to rot" (Default)

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