Monday, October 22, 2012

Giant's Causeway
We went over to the tip of Northern Ireland this week and visited a most unusual, geological site: The Giant's Causeway.
 Its formation began over 60 million years ago as lava flowed down to the ocean and quickly cooled.
The result was 40,000 balsalt columns, mostly hexagons and usually about 30 centimeters in diameter.  We had never seen anything like it.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sligo with Ken and Nancy
This last week our good friends from home, Ken and Nancy, came over to Ireland. We met them for a few days in Sligo, just south of Donegal.
 Sligo is noted as the home and burial site of the poet W.B. Yeats, Ireland's most famous poet.  Everywhere there were reminders: Yeats Inn, Yeats Park, Yeats Pub.

       The Cradle Song

The angels are stooping
Above your bed;
They weary of trooping
With the wimpering dead.
God's laughing in Heaven
To see you so good;
The Sailing Seven
Are gay with His mood.
I sigh that kiss you,
For I must own
That I shall miss you
When you have grown.
Sligo, like much of Ireland, is varied in its landscape and history. There was much to see:

And the place we've got our eye on:

Monday, October 8, 2012

Donegal Coast
This last weekend we traveled around the coast of Donegal. We are amazed at how much shore line there is to see and explore. We didn't expect to see miles of sandy beaches:
And much of the shore is rugged rock:
Although the west of Ireland continues to be varied throughout, a noticeable difference from the eastern counties is the quality of the land. Much of the east is clearly the better soil, the large plots rich for crops and grazing:
 Whereas, much of the west is bog used primarily for the harvesting of peat:
And although there are vast hillsides of the beautiful green Ireland is known for, on much of the land there are rocks:

Unlike the east where hedge is used to divide the plots, here rocks do the job:
We did some hiking:
And always around is the rainbow:

Monday, October 1, 2012

We went to Derry this weekend; it's in Northern Ireland and only ten miles away. Unlike a couple of decades ago, now there are no border guards. In fact, we had a hard time finding where the division between Ireland and Northern Ireland is.
Derry is a historic city; its origins incased in a historic wall, early 1600's, sometimes 26 feet high and 30 feet wide. Although it was attacked many times, its walls were never breeched.
This is a complex county. We are just beginning to understand the strife this country has had, through its own revolution, its divisional separation from England, and its internal struggles. The remnants of this were apparent in Derry, where much of the violent demonstration of conflict occurred in the latter part of the 20th century.
Although the violence abated several decades ago, in Derry, where much of the conflict happened (Derry is 80% Catholic), reminders of the angst abound. Thirty foot murals continue to remind people of the past strife. 
I can't help but wonder what the children who are visually inundated daily must be thinking.
There are, however, signs of reconciliation:
And on another positive note, recently, a symbolic bridge was constructed  across the River Foyle, one noted for it architectual innovation and called the Peace Bridge.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Inishowen Peninsula
Yesterday we arrived in Buncrana, where we will be for five weeks.  The weather continues to be wonderful. Again, "What's this stuff about rain?" 
We took a long drive around the Inishowen Peninsula today. What a beautiful country. And the people continue to be friendly, polite and forgiving of our ignorance. I suspect that, in part, this may be because, historically, they have never been a privileged society.  They have never been in a position to look down, and so generosity seems lateral. Maybe.
Here are some pics of the peninsula: 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Western Ireland
We did go to the races last week and bet on what we thought were some fine looking thoroughbreds.
 And although it was fun, we each lost our 2 euros.  It was an experience to watch the hoi polloi, a real mixed crowd. Most were far more experienced than we.
From there we had planned to head up the northeast coast, but we changed our minds and headed west: first down to the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula. From there we continued north through Connemara County Claire, and now we've been in County Donegal for the last two days. Tomorrow we head up to Buncrana where we'll be for the next five weeks.
Here are some shots of where we've been: