Tuesday, August 25, 2009

And in the latest WTF headline from the Irish government, the Health Minister wants to ban sunbeds here. Now, I don't exactly support the use of sunbeds. In fact, it's pretty clear that there are some serious dangers in perpetual sunbed use. However, really Mary Harney? You don't have better things to do than pick on sunbeds? How about cigarettes and diet. I guess she doesn't really want to encourage the Irish public to improve their diets. I mean, it would be awfully hypocritical of her:

Yes, that's our MINISTER FOR HEALTH. She looks like she just scarfed down ten Whoppers.
Today we ventured out to Wicklow to hike at Glendalough. Luckily our friends Damo and Marianne have a car, and were kind and gracious enough to invite us along. It was about an hour's drive there, and then we hiked for about four hours. I am realizing kind of how crap my camera is, because none of my photos do the landscape justice.

On the way there, the sheep took to the road, and I took a photo from the car:

A waterfall at the start of the hike:

Damo and Marianne walking along:


Are there Hobbits in there?

There were these wooden planks along the trail that came in handy, and were quite impressive:

All around were spectacular views:

Mark coming down the hill:

And all around, also the greenest, mossiest woods ever:

And finally, a view from the lake:

Now we're home watching the famous Rose of Tralee pageant, which is like Ireland's answer to the Miss America pageant, except that anyone of Irish descent can enter. It's also much, much more down to earth than Miss America, so I hate to make the comparison, actually. Still, I have mixed feelings about any kind of female pageant like this. I'm gonna watch it anyways though!

Monday, August 24, 2009

So Mark and I have decided to embark on an extended tour of Dublin. We're calling it "The Townie Tour" but the word "townie" doesn't mean the same thing here as it does back home. So basically we're planning on visiting hole-in-the-wall, old man, curious pubs with a bit of history.

Our first outing was to two pubs near Connolly station, Cleary's and Molloy's.

We went into Cleary's, and it was full of middle aged and elderly men. When we first walked in, there was only one other woman in there, and there weren't any seats at the bar. So we grabbed a table and ordered a couple of pints. The Television was at old man volume. The inside has the original Victorian decor and is full of Republican memorabilia (note to American readers, Republicanism here doesn't mean the same thing as over there!). At one point the barman asked for a consensus on what channel to put the TV on from all the men at the bar. I really couldn't take a photo inside the pub, as much as I would have liked to, but I took one from outside, but it came out pretty bad:

Then we went into Molloy's which felt older than Cleary's, but in a sort of lodgey way. The bar itself is made of hand-carved wood, and the ceilings are covered in wood instead of embossed tin like a lot of old pubs. When we walked in, there was an argument underway between two country guys and three city guys. One of the country guys was slurring (through the hole where his front teeth should be) something loudly to the Dubs. It took a few moments to figure out that he was actually insulting them because I could hardly understand what he was saying. But they sure did! They were swearing at him and telling him to get out of the bar. Then the other guy from the country started in on them. And then he shouted, "Do you know why you're called a Jackeen? Do you know why you're called a Jackeen???" I had to ask Mark what a Jackeen was. But though he knew what it meant, he could answer the question, and neither could the Dublin guys, it seemed, because they didn't answer. But he kept asking...over and over. At one point one of the Dublin guys stood up and took his jacket off and the barman had to come around and try to get everyone to calm down. It was pretty entertaining, actually.

As it turns out, Molloy's was a regular haunt of Mark's paternal grandfather. Here's a photo I took of some graffiti in the ladies' room:

And one from the outside:
The great thing about the Botanic Gardens is that everything there is constantly changing, so it's really best to go often. I love the fact that it's so near our house, because otherwise I might be too lazy to go. We went on Saturday and although there were a ton of people there, it was still a fantastic day to walk around. Novel sunshine!!

There's a sunflower maze for the kids. That didn't stop us from trying it out...

They have a walled-off section that includes all plants that yield something edible. It's great to walk around and identify the fruit/vegetable/herb. This was also a favorite with the kids. But it was difficult not to reach out and grab some goodies and eat them!


The biggest sunflower I've ever seen, though you can't tell from the photo:

Lily pads:

Relaxing. The couple in the background were making out hardcore!


I wrote before about the aggressive squirrels at the Gardens. And this little dude was no exception! He didn't get anything from us though!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The other day we decided to check out the Dublin Writers Museum (note: if you go to that link, there's a voucher for buy one, get one free through Sept 2009). Overall it was um...not so great. We did the audio tour, which made it a little less boring. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that so many of the displays had massive amounts of text on them! It's a writers museum after all! But I was pretty put out at how few women were featured extensively in the museum. I realize that the bulk of canonized Irish writers are indeed male, but jeez even the women who were mentioned were completely GLOSSED OVER. I guess they figure no one's interested. I took a couple of snapshots in there, anyways.

The entrance:

Jonathan Swift, the great writer of "A Modest Proposal"

Stained Glass Window:

The upstairs room:

Bust of Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill:

Then, having nothing else in particular going on for the day, we walked down to the Docklands to check out what's new down there. We came across this boat that I'm too lazy to look up:

I don't remember what this is, but I liked the way it looked (and sounded):

Here's a view of the walkway along the River Liffey. You can see the new bridge in the background, which is unfinished, but cool looking.

This big, weird circus-looking thing is apparently covering up some kind of Bord Gais (the gas company) apparatus:

In this view of the Grand Canal Docks sign, you can see Sugarloaf in the background:

Another view of the river:

The Sun came out:

We came across this boat that was a perfect shade of red. I don't think it's been used for a while though!

The city in the distance...

Then we walked home through this not-so-great neighborhood called East Wall. There wasn't much to photograph except this cool stencil on a broken up window:

And finally, in Fairview we noticed this statue that had been painted all along the front of the face, and graffiti painted on the base. The writing is all in Irish, so I'm not sure who it is:

We relaxed at home for a bit and then headed out for our Townie Bar tour of Dublin. But I'll write about that next time!
So I finally embarked on doing a little Genealogical research! My first step was to compile all of the information that I knew existed online. Everyone in every generation seems to have had a gazillion kids, so there are a lot of people involved, yet, comparatively, much fewer names because the people kept naming their kids after their siblings and aunts and uncles! So it's hard to keep track.

My first stop was the National Library of Ireland Genealogy Service. They gave me a few ideas of where to look for information. But I have to admit that it's all pretty confusing. We first tried to look at the marriage and baptismal records for the Parish where my ancestors lived, but holy moly the script was incredibly difficult to decipher, and you have to keep focusing the lens on the microfiche. After about an hour, we gave up.

I'm most curious about my Great Great Grandfather, Patrick Thomas Noonan. His wife and one of his sons (my great grandfather) immigrated to America in the 1880s, but we have no idea what happened to him. There is a family tale that he beat a stable boy to death for mistreating a horse. However there was also a family tale that he was a "rich land-owner," and thanks to the Griffiths Valuations, I now know that he rented his property and definitely did not own it. But there seems to be a persistent idea that he was committed of a crime and shipped to Australia. However in those days you could be shipped to Australia for very little. I have searched exhaustively many Irish Newspapers and haven't come up with anything. If he did something terribly wrong, it would probably be in the Newspapers, but I'm going to check some other court and transportation records. I have vowed to determine what became of Patrick Noonan! Sadly it's a bit of a common name so I have my work cut out for me.

I'll post any new discoveries!

Monday, August 17, 2009

I live in a beautiful country!

This past weekend Mark and I went to County Mayo to stay at the cottage of his cousin and her husband. All I knew about it was that it was in the country 4 hours away by train. What I didn't know was that their cottage rests at the foot of Croagh Patrick, which is this famous Irish landmark -- a "mountain" (though probably not technically a mountain) that thousands of people climb each year to pay homage to St. Patrick: "The tradition of pilgrimage to this holy mountain stretches back over 5,000 years from the Stone Age to the present day without interruption. Croagh Patrick is renowned for its Patrician Pilgrimage in honour of Saint Patrick, Ireland's patron saint. It was on the summit of the mountain that Saint Patrick fasted for forty days in 441 AD and the custom has been faithfully handed down from generation to generation." It's just over 2500 feet, and the path is pretty rough terrain at times! But the views were gorgeous, and afterward I felt like a million dollars. Here are the photos (sorry, they're going to be big!)

First off, their house. Here's the waterfall about ten feet from their house that you walk over up their walkway:

Said walkway, from the house:

This is their bunny, Barry, named after Obama:

View down the hill from the cottage:

There is a statue of Saint Patrick at the beginning of the trail to mark the spot:

The view when we were just starting the climb:

The view from the bottom up, just as we were to start on the path. Notice how rocky it is. That's nothing compared to how it becomes later.

Another shot from the beginning:

So you get to this part where it sort of plateaus before it gets really steep and rocky. If you look out towards the water, you see this:

But if you turn around and look inland, you see this:

The graffiti is actually piled rocks that people have gathered to spell things (mostly their names) The photos don't accurately convey how far down that is.

There are ruins and random piles of rocks and suck along the way. Here is some ruined structure with graffiti on it:

Here's the view up just as we embarked on the most difficult part of the climb. See the tiny dots on the path? Those are people. People scrambling up rocks.

This picture of Mark shows exactly what you're walking on. These rocks are slipping and sliding underfoot. But the alternative is smaller, sandier rocks, which slip even more.

I took a short video for a panoramic view:
From 15 Aug 2009

I have no idea what this is or was, but it looked spooky in the mist.

Finally, when you are at the top, it gets much colder, much windier, and much mistier. There's a little chapel up there with a painted statue of Saint Patrick inside. This is the back of it:

Here's the doorway to the right:

It took us about two hours to get up because we stopped a few times to catch our breath and eat. Here we are all sweaty at the top:

Another view towards the top. None of these do it justice, though:

On the way back down, I took a couple of shots of the stream that goes down the mountain:

And in keeping with a tradition I started many years ago, here's one of my legs so I can remember what it was like to sit in a place where I was happy:

So, there's a tradition for hikers to have a pint at the tiny pub at the bottom of the mountain. After four hours of climbing, we were more than ready to partake. Here's Mark, about to enjoy his hard earned Guinness:

Then we wandered down past the famine memorial and came upon the ruins of a chapel and a cemetery, which was next to some grazing horses. I took some final photos:

The neighboring town, Westport, is also really cute! Here's the one photo I took of the river that runs through town:

Thanks to Mark's cousin and her husband, we really had a fantastic and relaxing weekend. Unfortunately, today both of us are hobbling around like two crippled people with sticks up our behinds, but we are excited to do more hill climbing very soon over in Bray! Mark took a million photos (on film), so you probably haven't seen the last of this trip...But for the rest of my photos, you can check out the album Here.