Category Archives: Ireland

Hurricane Ophelia update

We’re ok, H managed to come home safe but not without delay. All train stations in Dublin closed, glad that there’s Uber who took him (& colleagues) to Park & Ride to pick up his car. Power is out, news say 360,000 homes affected and will remain so for 2 days, but we’re not worried as our self-contained campervan is in the drive so we can use solar power to charge our phones and gas cooker to cook our meals. Our neighbour doesn’t have a gas cooker, just electric stove so we offered her free access to the campervan kitchen. Now sitting infront of coal-fed roaring fire. Life is good :)

Sunday Walk: Ballyconnel, Ireland

We wanted to have a glimpse of the river Shannon, the longest river in Ireland, so we chose to do our Sunday Walk in Ballyconnel, not far from where we live and is close to the border of Northern Ireland.

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We found the best place to start, at the bridge just over the lock where boats pass through on their way to Northern Ireland or back.

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Right in time, a group of kayakers was just starting to get down into the river…

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Practicing with their roll-over stunt

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The mountain around here is rich with iron ore, hence the colour of the water…

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22496094_10207703072213362_6017271370822726114_oAfter getting entertained by the kayakers, we resumed  our walk with the intention of following the loop  route spanning 6kms..

22528601_10207703071853353_8687295097216486657_oLovely seeing Autumn colours on the way.

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After the walk, we rewarded ourselves with Sunday lunch at the only-one-restaurant-open in town.
Roast beef (100% Irish as they always promote it) with generous serving of side veggies, floating in gravy (you can always ask for two ladleful of the sauce). Delightfully delicious!

22467564_10207703069213287_781172895285897371_oThe drive back home is just as pleasant.

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Ancient Monastic site of Kells

We have this great passion for all things ancient and being in Ireland fills us just that.
This country is especially favoured with a wealth of antiquities spanning 5000 years. What it lacks in sunshine – as it rains here 365 days a year – it fills you up with remarkable archaeological landscape such as megalithic tombs, stone structures used for Pagan worship, ruins of castles, of monasteries containing fine examples of early Christian architecture, the Celtic Cross being one of them.

They are everywhere, one need not travel far to find them. On our first weekend in Ireland, we stayed in a campsite where a 10-minute climb uphill took us to a network of 3,200 year old megalithic tombs. In our town alone (pop. 1,100), if the glorious remains of a 14thC Jacobean church is not old enough, we only need to drive 7kms away to soak up the ruins of a 6thC Abbey. .

Every weekend is something we always look forward to as it is a time especially dedicated to making new discoveries. So last Saturday, we visited the historic town of Kells, one of the most important monastic sites in Ireland. We were spellbound, gripped with awe as we took in the sight. This is truly worth sharing…

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The monastery of Kells, founded in the 9thC, is one of Ireland’s greatest monastic settlements. Many items that are integral pieces of Irish history were created here, from the high (Celtic) crosses and Round Tower to the completion of the famous Book of Kells. This book is a manuscript of the 4 Gospels, beautifully illustrated by the monks of Kells Abbey in the 9thC.

All that remains now are the roofless tower, three high crosses and a base for the 4th high cross, and few artifacts. It is in these grounds that St Columba’s Church of Ireland Parish church and its cemetery now stand. The Book of Kells, meanwhile, is on display at the Trinity College, Dublin and that is another trip to be made.

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The Round Tower.
Monasteries were surrounded by a circular boundary wall which acted as a frontier between the holy world within and the secular world outside. They often contained a church, graveyard, high crosses, monk`s cells and later on, from the late 10th century, the addition of round towers to store surplus goods, act as a refuge and a belltower.

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These medieval features decorate the bell tower which is all that remains of a medieval church, now replaced by St Columba’s church.

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One of the four high crosses on this site, this was damaged during the invasion of Oliver Cromwell’s army.
The carvings depict scenes from the Bible such as The Marriage feast of Cana, Christ entering Jerusalem and Christ’s baptism by St. John

20171007_121422bAll that remains of this high cross is the base.

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Another high cross, the Cross of St. Patrick & St. Columba. I am guessing that this could be the Holy Trinity depicting God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

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The unfinished cross. Carvings were done onsite and the blank square panels show that the work was left unfinished.

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Adam and Eve, probably after eating the apple as they both look embarassed of themselves here.

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The crucifixion

IMG_3970bSt John’s Cemetery, 12thC
Here is a headstone engraved with an Early Christian Cross.

Original Celtic Crosses were carved on slabs of stone. It is thought to mark the transition from flat gravestones to the upright Celtic crosses.

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St John’s cemetery, 12thC
A medieval effigy depicting the deceased in a state of “eternal repose”. The first medieval effigies emerged as low relief in the 12th century, gradually becoming full high relief in the 14thC, also horizontal, and later on, sculpted upright.

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St John’s cemetery 
19thC headstone engraved with Early Christian cross.
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St John’s cemetery, 12thC.
The use of sandstone slabs to mark graves were prevalent. I bet the wealthy ones hired carvers to create more decorative headstones.