Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Home Sweet Home

We are home now and despite a delayed flight, literally running from gate number 72 to gate number 133 so we did not miss our connecting flight, and having our luggage arrive at LAX about 1 1/2 hours after we did . . . we had a great time!

One thing I will miss, especially as the green hills we have in Southern California during the spring have totally browned out with the summer heat, is the lush foliage and beautiful flowers of Ireland. I will leave you with some of my favorites. The first picture is of the flowers outside the window of our room at the Merrion Hotel in Dublin.

An Irish Blessing

May the road rise to meet you,

May the wind be always at your back,

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

The rains fall soft upon your fields and,

Until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Humor and a Bit of History in Dublin

Grafton Street is the shopping center of downtown Dublin. It runs from St. Stephen's Green to Trinity College and the street is closed to vehicles. It is a fun place to be, very busy, with lots of tourists and Dubliners shopping or just hanging out.

As we walked down Grafton Street we often saw young people singing or playing the guitar with a plate or basket in front of them for donations. There were also two mimes that were hilarious! One was dressed as a statue with pigeons (real ones) sitting on him and the other portrayed a man rushing to work.

Allyn really wanted to try a fast food restaurant (not one we have in the states, but an Irish one) so today we stopped at Super Mac and he got the cheeseburger combo. While he was eating he looked up and noticed the poster on the right which was advertising the "Obama Burger". President Obama has Irish ancestory and came for a visit a few months ago to see where his ancestors lived and have a "pint" with the Irish people. Needless to say, Allyn was not even tempted to try the "Obama Burger"!

There are many tour buses traveling the streets of Dublin, but the ones driven by Viking Splash Tours are the most interesting. When you take a Viking Splash Tour it is on an amphibious landing craft from World War 2 (not the bus like most tours) which was also used in the movie Saving Private Ryan. Most of the tour is on land, but they also use the vehicles in the water and spend about 15 minutes in the Grand Canal Docks.

All museums are free of charge in Ireland so we decided to go visit a couple in our spare time. First, we went to the Museum of Natural History and saw the exhibits. It was much like the museums of old with many displays and cases full of interesting things. Second, we went to the Museum of Archeology and History. In this museum they had several "bog bodies" that date back hundreds of years. A "bog body" is just a corpse that has been preserved in the bog for hundreds or even thousands of years.

This is my favorite picture taken at St. Stephens Green which I mentioned earlier in the post. There are several "greens", "squares", "parks", etc. in and around downtown Dublin. It was nice to have a open space with green lawns, bushes, trees, flowers, fountains, and benches in the middle of the city. Because Dublin is near the coast there were also many sea gulls. This guy was just hanging out and totally cooperated with my efforts to take his picture!

We got quite a bit of rain while we were staying in Dublin. We always carried our umbrella and hooded windbreakers with us where ever we went. It was raining on and off when we walked around the grounds of the Dublin Castle. Allyn decided to take a break from the rain in the guard house of the upper castle yard. Right after this it started to pour and we took refuge inside the Chapel Royal. There were huge organ pipes in the chapel that reminded me of those in the tabernacle in Salt Lake City.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Glendalough and Kilkenny

We had not been south of Dublin and decided the best way to see the sights and scenery in that part of Ireland would be to take a bus tour. We boarded the bus at our hotel at 9 am and arrived back in Dublin at 6 pm. We traveled to and stopped at Glendalough and Kilkenny with many kilometers of rolling hills covered with sheep, tiny villages, farm land planted with barley, maize, and other crops, etc. in between.

Glendalough (Irish for "Glen of Two Lakes"):

Glendalough is a glacial valley located in County Wicklow which is renown for its Early Medieval monastic settlement founded in the 6th century by St. Kevin, a hermit priest. It was a flourishing settlement for about 600 years and then left in ruin by the English in 1398. The buildings we saw dated from the 11th and 12th century. We took a walk around the upper and lower lakes, and saw St. Kevin's church, the graveyard, the round tower, and the cathedral.

The upper lake with a stream of water flowing into it.

A tree near the lower lake that had been split by lightening, bent by the wind, but still had new growth coming from the top. A tribute to perseverance despite difficulty! (I was standing straight when I took this picture . . . the tree was bending.)

St. Kevin's church. (It was raining at the time and you can see the drops on my lens.)

A grave with the Celtic cross carved on top. Many of the gravestones were so weathered it was impossible to read the names or dates on them.

The round tower had four windows on the top which pointed north, south, east, and west. A light would be hung in them each night to help guide those traveling to Glendalough.

The cathedral was built over a period of time. The part the picture is take of is from the 10th century, the other half in which I am standing dates back to the 11th century.


Kilkenny is situated on both banks of River Nore in the south-east part of Ireland. It is a popular tourist destination and has such attractions as Kilkenney Castle, the Black Abbey, Rothe House, and is knows for its variety of arts and crafts.

Kilkenny castle was built in 1195 on the banks of the River Nore to help control the commerce that traveled up and down the river. In its 13th century condition it played an important role in the defense of the town with its four corner towers and the massive ditch or mote that surrounded a portion of it. These pictures show the castle from the front, from the back courtyard, from the side, and the coat of arms above the side entrance.

The Black Abbey was established in 1225 as one of the first houses of the Dominican Order in Ireland. The stained glass window pictured below is known as the Rosary Window and depicted scenes from the life of Christ. There were several sarcophagi in the courtyard and Allyn thought he might fit into one!

Roth House it is a residence of a merchant from the 17th century which is made up of three houses, three enclosed courtyards, and a large garden with orchard.

A little bit of humor or we take some things for granted in the USA . . . When we passed the sign for this Bed and Breakfast Inn Allyn said that the words "en suite" meant that there was a bathroom in the room and not down the hall!

Dogs, Stones, and Pubs

We have seen some interesting signs in Ireland and this sign we saw in Kilkenny regarding the care of your dogs when you walk them was the funniest. With the ongoing battle he has with barking dogs in our neighborhood at home Allyn especially appreciated it!

We have a scale at the Hotel Merrion in which we are now staying. It is different because it measures your weight in stones and kilograms. I am happy to report that I now weigh 10.2 stones or 65 kilograms or 143 pounds. That means I have lost 10 pounds on this trip!

Throughout the world Ireland is know for its green foliage, shamrocks, leprechauns . . . and its pubs. You would not think that the pubs would be of any interest to us as we do not drink alcohol, however, most pubs serve as a restaurant as well as a bar. We passed Foley's Pub several times during our walks around Dublin and stopped in tonight for a bite to eat. There was a gentleman singing Irish ballads in the corner, and a world-class game of darts being played on the big screen television screen. As you can see from this picture Allyn thoroughly enjoyed his corned beef and cabbage! The lights twinkling in the background are the bottles of liquor behind the bar . . . quite a contrast to his Brigham Young University T-shirt!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Worldwide Church

When we travel we like to attend a local church meeting if we are able. Last night Allyn went down to the concierge to make arrangements for a taxi to pick us up in the morning. When he came back to the room he said we needed to be down in the lobby at 10:15 am (Sacrament Meeting was at 11:00 am) and that the cost was 50 Euros. I quickly did the math in my head and realized that the cost would be $70.00! We did a little research and found a bus (#140) that had a stop a block from the meeting house for 10 Euros or $14. We arrived a little early and were able to walk through an old, historic cemetery nearby. There were about 100 members in attendance and a very good spirit in the meeting. One interesting thing we noticed . . . the carpet, the walls, and the upholstery on the benches were all green!