July 14, 2013. Wow, a lot has happened in the past 2-3 weeks. Sorry, I have been too busy living to communicate with you.
When we last met, Becky and I had just arrived in Carlow and were shopping for a place to live. We saw the ugly, the bad, then the good. It took a bit of shopping to realize what €500 would buy: the ugly (they thought that all of the junkies were out of the place). Then to learn what an adequate place would cost. And the best is what we found, with the help of a good estate agent. I wanted a fireplace and a bit of a ‘garden:’ a back yard. So we are in a little development from the 70s or so, one block in from a small college- Institute of Technology Carlow, near their big football pitch (soccer field). Well, maybe it is hurling too. Anyway, 2 floors, semidetached (we share one sidewall with the neighbors. I put some lettuce and arugula seeds in the other day, and they are breaking the surface now.
Little garden, Green Road, Carlow
We found this house on Fri, and looked at another place in a castle (big house, built around a square tower built in the late 1500 or so). It was an apartment of various size possibilities, with an incredible main room, with a 15 foot kitchen table. But it was 15 miles or so from work. Now I am a couple of miles from work, and about a 10 minute walk into the main shopping street of Carlow. 23,000 people in 2011, a town, not a city, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlow
The rest of that first weekend, we went to a big beach on the south coast of Ireland, Tramore, big wind, a dozen or more kite surfers. Nutty.
Kite surfing, Tramore, Co Waterford
Then on the Sunday, up to Glendalough- a place that had been a monastery in the 800s. Ireland had no towns at that time, so monasteries served as the place where people would get together. The guess was as many as 10,000 people might be there in the summer on pilgrimage, to marry or baptize or be healed or serve a community service sentence for some wrongdoing. Then in the winter, about 1,000 people. It was nice to have a day there to go for a couple of hour walk, instead of be in a rush to get to the next interesting tourist spot. http://www.glendalough.ie/
Glendalough, Co Wickow
On the Monday, we put the money on the table for the house, 6 month rental through December (even though I return on 12/16). And headed north to County Donegal. In 1991, Jesse Rachel Becky and I were on a week holiday in the northwest of Ireland, including Donegal, when we learned of my brother John’s death. We completed the week holiday, but a certain piece of the fun had been removed. I have wanted to get back to Donegal for 22 years. And we did! About a 5 hour drive to get there, but worth it.
First day was in Glenveagh National Park. http://www.glenveaghnationalpark.ie/ PHOTO Becky and I planned the whole day to be there. I walked along the lakes for about 3 hours, Becky rented a bike and pedaled. Fantastic. Nice B+B, stayed at same place for 2-3 nights.
Glenveagh, Co Donegal
Next day, was at Columbcile Heritage Centre. This is St Columba, the guy who founded the monastery at Iona in Scotland. Fascinating museum, that showed how many people had to work with cattle, sheep, leather, inks, pens, and food to allow 1 person with a quill pen to copy out the Gospel onto vellum.
Lake Gartan, Colmcille Abbey, Co Donegal
I guess it was the next morning that we made arrangements to rent kayaks and paddle out near Dunfanaghey, on the north coast. Gorgeous afternoon, wetsuits, along some small cliffs and caves and arches. Even better than on the CT River at home.
Becky finishes the paddle, Portnaglagh, Co Donegal
Then down to Ardara, on west coast of Co Donegal. Some walking, and looking at sites. One place the wind was really strong as we walked along a cliff to an old observation tower. Lots of towers along the coasts. Some were Martello Towers build during the Napoleonic Wars so the Brits could get a sighting of a possible French invasion. Some from WWII to watch for the Germans. One place, Malin Head was labeled so that US pilots would know where they were when they first saw land on the east side of the Atlantic. Ardara is still the heart of the tweed industry- we got a nice blanket- just right for naps. And walked out to Slieve League, highest sea cliffs in Europe, 2000 feet. Cloudy day, we saw the bottom half and were very impressed. Best fish and chips ever at a take out place, The Shines, in Killybegs. With 2 pints of Guinness at a picnic table of a little pub by the fishing boat harbor- let’s go back soon!
Slieve League, near Killybegs, Co Donegal
Now it has been 2 weeks of meeting people at work. Several interesting meetings, a big Open Day at Moorepark research center (where I was based in 1998 and 2006). They figure 8,000- 10,000 farmers attended this free event. Learned some stuff, and saw some friends from my previous sabbatical leaves here. Have a phone, and internet account, internet at home. I think the virtual cash is on its way from my bank account in St Johnsbury to my bank account here in Carlow. It made a U-turn the other week. I thought that the 2 characters were ones, they were actually capital ‘i.’ Thank goodness that the credit card with no foreign transaction fee and the debit card from my bank in St J both are working with no glitches.
Weather has been in the 80s, with low humidity. Dry for the last 10 days. Absolutely gorgeous. Folks here are astounded- have not had weather like this since 2006. Heading towards the warmest July on record. Following last year, one of the wettest, and a terribly late spring that had hay and wrapped round bales being imported from Britain and France. An embarrassment for researchers here who think that Ireland producing much less grass than they could with proper soil fertility and grass seed variety selections. Well, that is one of the things that makes being here so interesting- seeing a couple of different viewpoints on things.
Yesterday Becky and I went to Dublin. The second Saturday we have spent there. Drive an hour to get to a small electric commuter train with a good parking lot. Then head right into downtown. Yesterday it was several hours at the National Museum http://www.100objects.ie/portfolio-items/15-broighter-boat/, with a brief stop at the National Gallery to get more posters to put on the walls here at home. http://www.nationalgallery.ie/en/Collection/About%20the%20Collection/The%20Yeats%20Collection.aspx and http://www.nationalgallery.ie/en/Exhibitions/Past_Exhibitions/2003/Paul_Henry.aspx
On Thursday, Becky and I went down to Rosslare Strand. A beautiful beach on the east coast of Ireland, real close to the southern tip. Miles of beach, read, swam, napped. Fantastic day. We packed swim suits, but did not really think that we would be able to use them. Big traffic jams at the beaches this week, but I asked Eleanor at work for a beach that would not be quite so busy. She was right, lots of people, but a little further from Dublin, and on a weekday so it was not jammed. About like the water temp at Hermit Island, near Bath Maine in late July, on a good day.
This is plenty for now. Talk to you again before 3 weeks goes by!