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May, my husband and I visited Ireland. It was a fun week of road trips, castle
ruins, music-filled pubs, a bit of “bog bouncing” (fun!), and lots of vegetable
soup with brown bread (I ate this every single day at lunch).
Two pubs, Durty Nelly's and Sean's Bar, that claim to be the "oldest in Ireland."
through the countryside (well, riding—my husband drove the car, thank
goodness!) I was struck over and over again by the sight of castle ruins. Beautiful
now, the fact remains that they are reminders of Ireland’s turbulent history. Viewed
through the lens of time, however, these structures are truly something to see.
Ross Castle in County Kerry.
Bunratty Castle in County Clare.
A view from the Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary. The Rock of Cashel was the ancient seat of the High Kings of Munster. In the 5th century AD, St. Patrick is said to have orchestrated the conversion of King Aenghus to Christianity on this site (the ruin below is Hoare Abbey).
also learned quite a bit more about Irish history during our trip, and
especially enjoyed visiting Croagh Patrick in County Mayo, where St. Patrick
fasted and prayed during the 40 days of lent in the 5th century AD. Concerned for the souls of
the Irish people, he climbed the mountain and prayed for their salvation, and
for God’s mercy and guidance. Every year, thousands of pilgrims repeat this
journey in his memory.
honor of St. Patrick’s Day this Monday, I thought I’d share a few of the poems
I’ve written during my reflections on this trip. They are not all “Leprechauns
and sunshine,” though—it is impossible to visit Ireland without acknowledging
the grief once experienced by its people. One of the sights that impacted me
the most was the Famine Ship, located near Croagh Patrick. After driving
through the rugged countryside where many hungry people once died (pointlessly and cruelly), we came to the memorial and I just stood there, unable to say a word. The memorial reminds everyone who sees it of the massive loss of life during the famine, both on Irish soil and on these small, poorly-made "famine ships" sailing west (notice the skeletons stretching over the deck).
beauty, pain, and horror
visits to church sites were also especially moving and unbelievably beautiful.
windows between past and present;
stand the test of time.
finally, a little bit of limerick fun:
No Helpless Maid
was a young maid in the tower,
sat up there hour after hour.
When no Prince came to save her
used what God gave her,
climbed back down, shouting “Girl Power!”
St. Patrick’s Day, and Happy Writing!