Tuesday, December 4, 2012

"Why the Sea is Boiling Hot, and Whether Pigs have Wings."

I keep getting sidetracked with other posts, but such is the way with me. I'm afraid I'm not much different in person, as I can not long be talking about one subject before I am quickly diverted with another.

But as the Walrus once said, the time has come "to talk of many things: Of shoes, and ships, and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings.

The day after our beautiful trip to the Aran Islands, we traveled an hour northwest from Galway toward the beautiful Connemara National Park, where just around the bend was the fun sight of Kylemore Abbey.

While many girls in our group really loved the castle itself (and with little wonder - as there is an incredibly mushy and Gothic-ly romantic tale that surrounds it), I found myself feeling more as if I was entering a Disney park than a historical site.  Maybe I was just sore from biking the day before (indeed, my shoes did move slower, as I had a major bruise on my left knee and an even uglier one on my right thigh from a nasty crash I had on my way back to the ferry), but I found myself not as enthralled with the sight as most others seemed to be. It was pretty, no doubt, but the building felt fake to me, and I found myself enjoying the beautiful nature that surrounded it far more.

(photo does the place no justice - but really, even being there wasn't enough. My eyes can't even remember the grandeur. The closest thing to its magnificence I could find was a painting inside the castle itself, but even taking a photo of that was in vain. Really, the only way to experience it would be to go there yourself.)
It was little wonder that the captivated Mitchell Henry chose a spot such as this to build his wife her castle, but I must say that I think I would have enjoyed it more, had the residence not been there - and just the nature instead.

I was deeply tempted to join the men out fishing in their boats. While not the grand ships we had been used to thus far in our trip, it would have been very relaxing indeed to venture out on such a small vessel: Just man and the sea...

As I was moving rather slowly, I spent most of our time there by myself, simply roaming through the landscape, enjoying the fun formation of the trees,

or the small beauties of the intricate nature that was at my feet.

If you can imagine it - it was ten times greener than even these photos portray.

One of my favorite things about this place were the small paths and hidden gates that seemed to be just off the beaten path. Unfortunately they were closed areas, so I couldn't go investigate - and my sense told me that they were probably just private areas that used to belong to the girls school that once resided here - but my imagination ran wild with stories of secret gardens, and hidden wonderlands...

Oh, if only I could have gone exploring...that would have been the icing on the cake! But perhaps I would have just been disappointed to find out that it was nothing more than a private car park, or an out of order loo.
Sometimes imagination is better left undisturbed.

The inside of the 'Disnified' castle was pretty cool. I really enjoyed the books and the old piano they had in the main room. But there was a rope block way towards the bookcase, and the piano was off limits, of course. I would have enjoyed them each much more if I could have either read a book, or played a piece of music.

There was also a church just a short walk away from the castle - no doubt the 'Abbey' part of the name - that was rather nice. It was very simple inside, which only added to its appeal, but my favorite was the multicolored columns on each wall.

Of course, the nature outside the church was just as spectacular as that which surrounded the castle.

The water that surrounded the building began to quite literally sparkle at one point during the sunlit day, and though I was almost able to capture it in this photo - the effect was beyond description. It honestly looked as if some clumsy angel had spilled a vat of glitter on the sea.

It was really fun walking back down from the church to the castle. Though it was probably only a 5 minute walk, it took me nearly 15 to pass all that nature, and I probably looked like a horrendously silly tourist as I had both my cameras around my neck. But I found it hard to care. The only down side of me taking so long is that I didn't have time to walk to the garden on the other end of the park.

But there was enough to enjoy right where I was. I even ran into this hilarious little German boy who was jabbering away with such speed that I could only catch one or two of his words - and was no where near piecing together what he might be about when his parents urged him back toward the group. So naturally, just like any creeper - I grabbed a quick shot of him as he played with some relatives cane.

If his parents, by some strange coincidence  happen to read this blog and are horrified that I have put this picture up - Es tut mir leid, und ich werde auf Wunsch entfernen.

Until they make their sentiments known however, it's staying up - because this kid is just too cool.

Now while this post has already gone on longer than I had intended, I am set to finish off my days in Ireland before the hour is done, so I will quickly sum up the last two events of that week.

After Kylemore we simply spent some time exploring...well...to be quite honest I can't remember exactly where it was - but it was part of the Connemara National Park, I'm pretty sure.

What matters most is that it was beautiful. I'll just let the pictures tell you of its beauty themselves...

Our last day in Ireland we spent driving north to Sligo, where the famous author/poet William Butler Yeats is buried. There was a cool kind of modernish sculpture and monument in honor of Yeats before you even entered the church or graveyard.

 His tomb was simple and quite new in comparison to some of the others that stood there, and Kay Shaeffer, Madison Pilling and I had a very good time walking from headstone to headstone trying to make out some of the very old inscriptions. Others were not so old, but I liked just the same, and as always I found myself having much too much fun in a graveyard. I suppose my father has rubbed off on me - but I really do enjoy cemeteries more than one should.

 After Sligo, we traveled farther north still, until we reached Northern Ireland, where we spent only an hour or so - most of us using it as a bathroom and/or re-hydration break - before clambering onto the ferry that would take us across the Irish Sea and toward Scotland!

But that'll have to wait until the next post...

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