May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets’ towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkey’s howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches where storms come and go as lightening clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you---beyond that next turning of the canyon walls. ---Edward Abbey (thanks Trudy Hall)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Ireland--Last but not least!

This time I have two movies that cover Ireland! 
(See them both.)

IRELAND (Connemara)

June 20—DUBLIN!
The Mossop Family: Jonathan, Anne, Pauline
Anne and Jonathan Mossop, colleagues and friends from Emma Willard, greeted us at the bus stop.  We took the city bus to Terenure, where Jonathan’s 90-year-old mother, Pauline, lives in a beautiful old house.  

Treeless Landscape
We caught up and then took a walk up a forested hill to an ancient hunting ground.  We could see all of Dublin, the coastline and the new developments from there. 
In the Turf

 We drove to a very high area where people cut slices out of the bog, dry out the pieces and burn them to keep warm in the winter.  Jonathan said that all the trees were cut down for the queen’s navy to fight in the wars, and now what is considered beautiful landscape are these moss-covered mountains that hold a long history of fallen trees (this is the carbon that they burn) along with a lot of water. 
Long Ago Murder
Also, in the middle of nowhere, there was a memorial to someone who died here because of "the troubles."  After meeting some relatives, we sat down to a nice dinner with the Mossops. 
Surfer paddling
Pier out to Mutton Island
June 21—We drove to Galway together, and the Mossops dropped us off at the hostel.  We walked about the town and out to a long pier to Mutton Island where they clean their sewage water. 
Salt Hill
Down the coast a little way is Salt Hill: a community right along the water with trendy cafes and casinos.   
For Sale!  Our little "fixer-upper"

Picturesque riverside and boats at low tide
Along the quick river that runs through Galway were lots of swans, ducks, gulls, cormorants, and other birds.
SO many swans
A sign said if we fed the swans moldy or white bread, they would get a pink flamingo disease that would render them not waterproof and they would become susceptible to diseases.  Some looked like they had some pink feathers on their head. Oh no!  Of course, we were charmed by their natures.
In the shallow water were beautiful dinner plate-sized jellyfish.  They were clear with bright lines.  I could see their innards. 
Monroe's Irish Music and Dance Show
We ended up at night at Monroe’s Tavern to see traditional Irish music and dance.  It was a nice concert, but there were only a few more audience members than performers.  We tried our best to represent a bigger audience. 
Can YOU walk in these heels?  They can't
Most folks were in the “meat market” on the other side of the wall.  The bouncer at the door spoke to a pleading young lad, “No ye can’t go in; ye got too much drink in ya.”   

That night we seven were awakened by a grand snorer from Bahrain.  I shook his arm and said, “Excuse me.” Les rattled his bunk as per a request of another roommate, but we couldn’t get him to budge.  We covered our ears and went back to sleep.
Personal dance in a private room in a bar-see video

Monroes gave me dancing space when I needed it.  Thanks
June 23—Other than catching up with Internet stuff, the big event for the day was the Global Underscore.  Dancers all over the world set their clocks to the same exact time and danced (metaphysically and some through technology) TOGETHER!  At the same time, we all faced the next city to the north of us, then began to work at our own pace along a dance score (much like a music score but less specific) for a few hours.  After this, we faced the dancers in the city that is next south of us.  There is a quartet who has organized us all and put it together, and I was very pleased to be a one-person-satellite of this activity. 
Les and Marilyn Monroe are witnesses to this dance
I was going to dance the entire Underscore outside, but it was rainy and cold, so we went from art center to theater to church to yoga studio looking for a place.  Then Monroe’s Tavern, at just the right time, gave me a space to work in.  I told them it was a “meditative Yoga” type dance to help the barrier around not knowing what is Contact Improvisation.

The last phase of this Underscore is called “harvest.”  It’s where you solidify your experience by reflecting upon the whole.  I wrote my harvest and posted it and the video/photos with the others at
End of the "Underscore" facing East
·      TIME: It was my first 2½-hour solo and I felt clearly the Underscore and how much it makes sense, even alone. 
·      PEOPLE: I was aware of the bartenders in the next room and wondered if suddenly they came in the room, if I could not shock them by being in some strange place/position.  I didn’t want to be kicked out.  Also, sweetie Les was a witness/sleeper/recorder in the room.
·      ENERGY: More than ever, I became more aware of the ebb and flow of activity.  A chunk of time being very quiet and listening followed and preceded a surge of activity.  Always something comes—improvisation is a miracle of faith.  Part of what we learn is that we sometimes have to wait long enough to find out that the miracle comes every time.
·      DISCOVERY: I pondered through my “furniture” partners that peoples’ habits ARE form; like a stool who can’t tip over one leg without extra force—tipping between the legs requires less force.
·      SPACE: In this place I felt quiet and sneaky; out there were beer drinkers exploding in joyous outbursts.

Wedding in the Cathedral
In our search for space, we found a wedding going on in the cathedral.  I heard the Lord’s Prayer in Gaelic!  We walked along the beautiful river afterwards toward our new expensive hostel in the University area and stayed up late howling at bloopers we downloaded off the Internet. 

We two too at the Cliffs of Moher
The Burren Landscape--Limestone drains the water

June 25—Tour day #1.  South to the “burren” landscape and the CLIFFS of MOHER!  We hopped on the front seat of a tour bus, and off we went toward the Cliffs of Moher, a famous outcropping on the ocean with a huge drop off. 

Cliffs of Moher
The cliffs were gorgeous with a super clear day and blustery wind.  The cows of “Mooer” watched us humans as we gazed out to the Ayer Islands and along the steep bank looking for birds. 
Carolina at one of the drop offs
Our new friend Carolina told us about her Ph.D. in criminology learning more about recidivism. 
Cute Thatched Roof Home

Close up of thatch on the roof.  Look how it insulates!

Looking for a mate?
Smarty with Stone Mortar Board
Les has the right hat on.
Glen for the little people (fairies)
Along the way we passed cute thatched roof buildings, Lisdoonvarna—the matchmaking capital of Europe— a leprechaun house next to a babbling brook, visited an ancient burial site, older than the Egyptian pyramids, and walked into a tourist farm that ended with a nice Irish sing-along and granny’s apple pie.   

View from the farm hill

Sitting quietly on the flowery land
At that farm we learned about the thorn trees and how important they are to the fairies.  People attach things to the trees and ask these fairies for wishes to be granted, or their worries to go away.  There are legends of terrible things that happen when someone cuts down a thorn tree. 
Thorn tree where the fairies live
Word is that a church burned down, not long after someone cut down the thorn tree in the front yard.  There was no evidence of any start to this fire.  It was the fairies.  One straight highway had to go around a thorn tree despite the cost and the additional commute around it, because they didn’t want to risk the wrath of the little people. 
Feeding a lamb
Cow with a mask
The farm had one lamb that was rejected by mom, so it came running when the tourists showed up to feed it.  My favorite part of the day was lying in the flowery grass on this farm in silence for about a minute in the sun. 
Just the wind, a couple of cows and the silage tractor filled the air.  

 The rocky hilltops with no vegetation have rock walls that climb clear over the mountains.
Stone wall goes over entire mountain.  Work during the famine.
Walls Walls Walls
Homes during the famine years
The farmer said that during the famine years, the English paid people to pick up rocks (1 penny per square yard) and build these walls.  This was to keep them busy doing a worthless activity during a low morale point, and to keep Ireland from building infrastructure (good highways, developing electric lines, etc.) that may threaten England later.  The farmer said that everything we see has history in it.  In this soil grows a huge percent of flora from both arctic and Mediterranean climates.  It’s pretty beautiful.

Connemara Lake
Castle Reconstruction

June 26—Tour Day #2.  Connemara!  They say that no matter the weather, Connemara is magical.  We never got to see the tops of the mountains, but the angle of their rising into the clouds gave us quite an impression.  We could see the rain coming from afar.  The landscape in general was soft, springy bog with some forests scattered here and there. 
Les and waterfall
Can you see where they dug out the turf to dry and to burn?
In some places the limestone drained the water into underground rivers, and others, the water ran on top, made lakes and soaked into the peat. People ripped up some of this topsoil to dry it completely out and burn in their bog fireplaces to heat their homes and cook in the winter.  This is the area where the potato famine hit the hardest.  We saw the small plots of land outlined in rock walls, and the burned out or destroyed old homes with huge hearths from that time.  For the curious, they created a replica of one of those homes. 
Ye ol' Maypole
We stopped by an artisans’ village and I was able to watch a woman weave, see the aftermath of the familiar maypole dance and view other pieces of local art.   

Kylemore Castle from the side

History part of Kylemore Castle
Old telephone circuitboard
 The jewel of this tour was the Kylemore Castle who was built by Mitchell Henry from England. Nuns started an international boarding school for girls there in 1921.  You think Emma Willard looks like a castle, get an eyeful of this school! 

Kylemore Castle: Girls boarding school for 90 years

June 27-28—After wool sock hunting (gift for a dear friend taking care of Tarka our dog) we returned to the Mossop’s home in Dublin. 
Blood Pudding and Sausage
Anne made us a traditional Irish breakfast, including black pudding (and egg and sausage and bacon). I had been dreading (but very curious about) black pudding and I stiffened up and ATE it!  It wasn’t that bad!  With all that protein, I wasn’t hungry for most of the day!   Out we went into town. 
Les and James Joyce

We wandered up to the theater district so that Les could see the places he had studied in school.  The Abby Theater surprised him in that it had burned down and was totally refurbished and was not how it looked in his history books. 
Pipe Organ in King John's
After a nice cup of cappuccino near a farmers market, we went to Dublin Castle and went inside the church where the ornate but small organ decorated the back wall.   
Tribute to Wolfetone

Sculpture tribute to the sufferers of the famine
We caught on to one of those free walking tours and followed the guide (from Northern Ireland—and who wasn’t that happy about the Queen visiting the North and speaking some sentences of Gaelic.  He said that her ancestors had banned the speaking of his language.) on a route through the city.   We learned even more about the famine and about locals: Theobald Wolfetone who first initiated action to make Ireland independent: “the Father of Irish Republicanism;” Jonathan Swift—satirist—who suggested the upper class eat the babies of the impoverished Irish, comparing how they were treated to how one would treat livestock; and a law student at Trinity who tested a rule (one of MANY outdated rules) by riding his horse in full armor to his exams, thereby deserving dinner and wine during the assessment, only to be expelled for not having someone tend to his horse during the exam. 
Size of an ancient viking bed for 10
We stood in an ancient area where a Viking community had settled and on which Dublin had built; there was a 10-person bed mapped out on the ground, along with a hearth, the corral for the animals, the loo and the supplies shed out back.  It was pretty tight quarters!  Our guide showed us the spire that stands in the place of an old column dedicated to British Naval Officer Lord Nelson.  Jonathan Mossop was there when the IRA blew up the statue in 1966.  Evidently they blew up only the top half so the British army did the rest to make way for something new.  However they put in too much dynamite, and blew out all windows in a mile radius and created a huge crater in the middle of the road!  

Jonathan and Anne Mossop
Pauline Mossop
After the tour, ending in St. Stephen’s Green, we soaked in some of the sun until the sprinkles came down, made our way on the #15 bus to Terenure, and shared dinner together with the Mossop family, before packing for the last trip—home.


June 29—a year and a day after we left on this massive trip—Our plane was delayed 2 hours so the line was very long to help each person re-arrange his/her flight.  We had to figure out how to communicate with the person picking us up.

Unfortunate sitting place
Sue in coffee spot
Eventually we got home, later than expected and a little irritated at each other, to find that Les’s apartment is being renovated.  Apparently, the right person at the school didn’t know his returning date, and had torn out the entire bathroom: walls, sink, toilet and all.  The kitchen had no sink, floor or counter and some new cabinets were being put up.  A chop saw stood in the living room. 
Stone art work
You could imagine Les’s disappointment when he had made arrangements for some cleaners to come in to rid the place of dust and take off the plastic coverings in order to come into a pristine home, ready to start his much-missed routine again.  His heart and body sank.  Soon we were at the Glomset’s home using the phone to see if we could stay at a motel until another option rose. 
Faces... Or Flor
Since Tarka was coming to us the next day Motel 6 was the best option, as they are dog friendly.

Now—Les is looking forward to having a healthier apartment (they are trying to get rid of all the mold), we are now staying in the Glomset’s home where their dog Argus and Tarka are getting along well, and waiting to go to my place to move stuff in on July 6th.  I’m still living out of my backpack, and I love having so little; so the sabbatical trip isn’t quite done….  Maybe it will never be over?

One more post trying to reflect on the whole...
Les with fancy Coffee

Flower and Lake

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