Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Brownhill Dolmen and Kilkenny

The Brownhill Dolmen, near Carlow; we like neolithic stuff

Kilkenny Castle; yawn...

High Street in Kilkenny; but no Tex-Mex, no bar-b-q, no Lonestar, no Pearl, not even Dr. Pepper

But the interior was pretty nice Irish

Sunday, after sleeping in a bit, we decamped and drove on through more lovely countryside, rolling green hills, beautiful fields, stone houses and fences, ancient buildings and features here and there...just the Ireland you'd imagine. At length we arrived at Carlow to see the Brownhill Dolmen (see illustration), with its 150 ton capstone, reputedly the largest in Europe. From there, we drove on to Kilkenny, to see the early 13th century castle and Kilkenny's High Street. Alas, both, IMHO, were forgettable. If you ever want to see a Norman castle done over to Victorian needs and tastes, then Kilkenny is for you. As for High Street, see illustrations.

We camped Sunday night near Kilkenny, a non-luxury but very nice place, 17 euros, a friendly owner who filled us in on a variety of matters. The drunks arrived about 2 AM again, but were not quite so repulsive as the previous evening.

Kilkenny, Ireland May 2, 2009

First, for the practical. More problems with shipping the Roadtrek. We did not measure it ourselves, but relied on the manufacturer's measurements. We received an email from the shipping broker telling us that it was actually much bigger—to the tune of $450. Part of the problem is that we didn't fold back the side mirrors. Would the shipper do it for us? Sorry, just pay or arrange for someone to meet them at the dock to re-measure together. Can't wait to get it in Germany and measure it for ourselves. They know they have you by the short hairs! We haven't had email for 2 days now—can't wait to see what the next problem is. Sweet Norm got a cashier's check for us and priority mailed it. Hope we can find some way to pay Norm and Marie back for all they've done for us.

Now, to the good news. Ireland is really quite wonderful. First 3 nights were at Avalon House, Dublin hostel. It was an intsy, bitsy room but spotlessly clean with linens and breakfast. All for only $70 a night. Ireland is frightfully expensive—we did one load of wash yesterday---$13. A Big Mac meal runs just at $13.50. It is supposed to be one of the most expensive areas in all Europe and I can readily believe it. We walked all over Dublin—I'm sure Mark will highlight everything.

I particularly loved going in the National Library reading room where Joyce, Yeats, and many others spent hours reading and working. It is all closed stacks but they have many reference books lining the walls—many that we had at Sentinel and in the same Dewey numbers, I might add. I spoke to one of the librarians about their using Dewey—he said that in the last ten years all new books were only being cataloged by by acquisition date and size. Since it is closed stacks they had done it to save shelf space. He hates it but space is money in big libraries.

I also loved Trinity Library. First the wonderful displays about the Book of Kells with films of early bookbinding methods and illuminated manuscript techniques; then the Book itself; then up to The Long Room—truly one of the most magnificent sites in the library world. Google image it as we couldn't take pictures. Dublin is a librarian's dream.

One further note of personal genealogical interest. Our family has very few records about my father's paternal side of the family—the McCoy's. All I knew growing up was that they were Scotch Irish and from Georgia. My grandfather was definitely born in America but I don't know about his father. From an earlier trip to Scotland I knew that McCoy was originally Mackay and from the northwest part of Scotland. They were one of the first clans the English relocated to Ireland as they were notoriously violent—killing for money and for sport. I had assumed that the name got changed when they came to America as so many were. Anyway while at the National Library I leafed through a book of Irish surnames and found McCoy. It said most were located in Limerick and Cork. Then yesterday when we were in Glendalough to see the famous monastary ruins from the 6th century, we drove past the McCoy Convenience Store. We stopped in and I spoke to one of the McCoy's wives. She didn't know much family history but said her husband's grandfather had died in his 90s and had lived all his life in that town. However, she didn't know of any other McCoy families in that area of southeast Ireland. Maybe we will run into some more as we travel through Cork tomorrow.

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