Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Day 5: Glendalough and New Ross

After days of beautiful, sunny, warm weather, today the Traditional Irish Weather™ appeared. It was lashing down when I headed out to breakfast and continued on the drive out of Dublin to Glendalough.

Undaunted, the group dawned rain gear and I bummed a giant 'breally from Liam to cover my camera. We were not going to let this get us down.

Glendalough is an extraordinary "monastic city" in the Wicklow Mountains south of Dublin. It is packed full of ruins, an impressive round tour, inscribed stones, and St. Kevin's Oratory. Most of the inscribed stones are now located in the museum.

On a rainy day, one can only stall in the museum for so long... you eventually gotta head out into the world. Here's where things went wrong on my part. Pulling the camera from my bag, I twisted one of the switches. I didn't notice the new "adjustment" for most of the day—dramatically underexposing virtually every photograph that I took. Bummer.

Ah, you say, but there must be a way to fix the error! This is the twenty-first century. You'd be right to a point. Turns out that a little tweeking in PhotoShop allowed me to turn nearly black pictures into something viewable and maybe more than just viewable. Truth be told, I like the results!

This unique oratory (church) has a round tower built in, reflecting the larger round tower nearby. Cool!

As I say, Glendalough is extensive, so we wandered to the upper lake to look at more ruins.

We also watched a really fabulous dog playing "fetch" in the lake. He was having a great time but grew tired by the time I snapped this photo. He informed his owner in no uncertain terms that this was the last run. Fortunately, I got the photo just prior to the mutiny.

It is a beautiful spot.

Next up, we headed south to New Ross—the place where the Normans first invaded Ireland. Our goal was not to look at Norman sites, but rather to check out the Dunbrody Famine Ship. The original sunk many years ago so interested citizens built this replica to give visitors an idea of what it would've been like for those escaping the Potato Famine between 1845 and 1851.

Conditions were cramped.

Actors explain what it was like. This character loses her husband and then dies at sea, her children left as orphans. The story was not atypical. Many emigrants were sick with "famine fever" when they boarded the ship. The disease, carried by fleas, quickly spread to others. There's a good reason they were called "coffin ships."

A second actor explains what it was like for the more well-to-do.

Much of this was explained by our guide.

Fortunately, steerage passengers were allowed above deck for 30 minutes a day. Enough time to snap a few photos. These travelers were very pleased be be up top.
With Dunbrody "bagged," we headed to our final stop of the day: the National 1798 Center in Enniscorthy.

In brief, inspired by the American and French Revolutions, a group called the Society of the United Irishmen launched a rebellion in 1798. It was supposed to bring liberty and justice for all, it instead brought sectarian slaughter. The museum more or less leaves out the sectarian part, but certainly notes that upwards of 30,000 died in only a few weeks.

The story is told using a range of multimedia to fairly good effect.

These holographic heads debate about the rights of man. Actually, they misrepresent Burke a little bit—he was against rapid change and unthinking violations of tradition, not democracy per se—but ya still gotta like the presentation.

Interactive monitors in drums allow visitors to engage with the material.

John and Liam consult on matters revolutionary.

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