Thursday, June 30, 2016

Rock Of Cashel

We'd visited the Rock in 2009, but it was on the way in 2016 and turned out to be another place we stayed over-night more or less free. It was here too that we bought our OPW Irish Heritage cards. Another great deal. Important places have stood on the Rock--seats of ancient Irish kings, church stuff, etc.--but the oldest still around is the round tower, from about 1100 AD. The churchly buildings and bishop's residence date from slightly later times.
Someone else's photo, but there it is

Helpful illustration

Inside Cormac McCarthy's Chapel (I read All
the Pretty Horses years ago and hated, hated it;
but I digress); the chapel is Romanesque,
consecrated 1134, and thus I was set off looking
for funny faces (I mean Herefordshire School
corbel and capital art) while the young guide
droned on

Bishops' residence

Occasionally, over the centuries, chunks fall

Ruins of Cistercian abbey in valley

More faces, exterior of cathedral

The round tower

Inside the cathedral; note the little doorways that allowed
circumnavigation of the building in the gallery

Images from the bestiary?

Looking back to the whole complex from the cemetery

A prominent local family erected this monument...apparently
too much for the gods, who destroyed it with lightning


And thus

Original very old cross, now in the museum;
very old

Still processing this one...

Waterford Historical District

Just down the street from the crystal company was the river and port and the old town. We'd seen the 11th-12th century tower on the way in, but were astonished and gratified to see much more...
I should observe here that Thomas Francis Meagher (pronounced
Marr) was the first governor of territorial Montana (our home
state); he was a leader of the Irish rebellion in 1848...

But caught and sentenced to death; the sentence was commuted
to life at a penal colony in Tasmania ("G'day, mate!")

But wait, there's more...he escaped the penal colony and made
his way to the US, studied law, enlisted in the Union Army,
helped organize the Irish Brigade, led it as a Brigadier General
into a number of famous Civil War battles and campaigns...

Was not known for his military skill or leadership (it was a time
when no one in the eastern portion of the Union Army was known
for military skill or leadership; only Grant, in the west); left the
army to become first secretary, then governor, of the new Territory
of Montana--a statue much like this stands in front of the Montana
Capitol--and then, shortly after antagonizing practically every
constituency in the new territory, either fell or was pushed,
apparently drunk, off a river boat into the Missouri River, near Ft.
Benton; his body was never recovered;  sic transit, Gloria...right
here in Waterford...

As I said, we noticed the Viking tower en route to the crystal

Thus, 11th-12th century

Replica Viking ship

Me, in fierce replica Viking mode

Waterford must have had a great lecture series back then...

Waterford: The Factory

We visited Waterford in 2009 to see the glass stuff. The company was in one of its periodic production going on, rumored to be moving to Slovenia or Vietnam, no tours; but the showroom was open. (It is a very old and troubled company and has gone under many times; now owned, seriously, by Fiskars, who also own Wedgewood). This year, showroom, production, and tours are all in a small centralized location in downtown Waterford, and we wanted at last to see the tour, which takes you through the major stages of production: blowing, quality, marking, cutting, gee-whiz, and, you guessed it, the showroom. I'm still looking for the outlet.
And there it is

Our pattern, Lismore; it's in boxes back in our storage unit
in Missoula...we don't carry it with us camping; same for the
Royal Doulton; but we do carry Fiskars scissors

Among the show-off molds in the blowing department; something
for President O'Bama; we'll see the finished product down the line

Deep in the blowing department; you can actually converse
with the workers as they work

More of the blowing department

Quality department; seriously

Now into the marking department


Marking in the marking department; Sharpy-like pens mark the
bowls, etc., so the cutters will know where to cut

Our guide; unbelievably knowledgeable about every aspect of

Doing the cutting for a basketball for the NBA trophy; they always
make several copies for things like this: the original, a copy to put
the names of the champions on, more copies for show in the
showroom, and a couple back-ups just in case (the guide noted
that the BCS championship trophy was shattered within ten
minutes of handing it to the University of Alabama a few years
back (considerable laughter among the Americans in the group)

So you walk through all this wondering, quietly, have they
heard of cad-cam? And then, at the end of the production line,
you see the one cad-cam machine...used not for production but
for "testing" new designs, etc. 

Now in the gee-whiz department, exhibiting particularly the
many unique items they make

Happy St. Patrick's Day, Mr. O'Bama

Saturday, June 25, 2016


We'd visited Glendalough--a very old abbey ruin in the Wicklows--in 2009. We stopped by after Powerscourt and discovered we could over-night in the parking lot. Glendalough has half a dozen trails, some high, some low, and we spent the next morning hiking around the upper lake and visiting the abbey. The abbey itself goes back to nearly the earliest Christian times in Ireland, 6th-7th centuries, and the still-intact round tower is thought to have been constructed somewhere in the 9th-12th centuries. The setting is nearly Edenic.