Ireland

 Hello Everyone!

 

Iím writing to tell you about my trip to Ireland to visit Mitchellís Uncle Robbie, Aunt Kelly and cousin Sarah. I had loads of fun and got to see lots of Ireland. And I got to meet my cousin Flat Paddy OíToole as well.

Here I am standing outside Rob and Kellyís house in Dublin. Dublin is the capital city of Ireland. There are about 1.5 million people living in Dublin.


Itís Christmas time and they have their Christmas lights on. There is some snow here but it doesnít snow nearly as much as it does in Canada!


 

Here I am with Uncle Robbie and Cousin Sarah. Sheís just 10 months old.

 

We went for a walk in Dublin. This is me in front of a statue of an Angel on OíConnell Street. OíConnell street is the main street in Dublin.

 

I didnít see that much of Dublin as there was so much more of Ireland to see but I did meet my cousin Flat Paddy for lunch. He was hard to understand as he has a strong Irish accent. We had a great time before he had to go back to work in Trinity College.

 

Here are the two of us in front of a statue of Molly Malone who was a seafood seller in a book by the famous Irish author James Joyce. Most people bought and sold things at that time in markets they went to every morning with their produce. Kind of like the street vendors who sell hot dogs and drinks today! Behind us is Trinity College where Flat Paddy works. It was founded in 1592. Just think people have been going to school here for over 400 years.

JERPOINT ABBEY

Uncle Robbie and Aunt Kelly took me on a tour of some famous places in Ireland. First we went to see the ruins of Jerpoint Abbey. Ruins are the remains of REALLY OLD buildings and that are no longer in good shape!

 

Jerpoint abbey was built around 1160 (Thatís over 800 years ago!) by the King of Ossory, Donal MacGillapatrick, for the Benedictine monks. An abbey is a place were monks live and work. Abbeys were very important in medieval Ireland as they were some of the first towns.

Here I am with Aunt Kelly at the abbey we are standing beside some statues of monks.

 

NEWGRANGE (Bru na Boinne)

Next we went to see something even older than Jerpoint Abbey! We went to a place called NEWGRANGE. Itís the big round thing in the field. It was built about 3200 BC; thatís before the Pyramids in Egypt! Itís the size of a football field and weighs 200,000 tonnes. It is surrounded by 97 kerbstones, some of which have carved patterns on them (see me below).

 

It is estimated that the construction of Newgrange would have taken 300 people working full time at least 30 years! There is a long tunnel that leads to three small rooms in the middle. We know the Vikings visited Newgrange as one of them carved his name on one of the walls. Although itís usually very dark in there (they didnít have flashlights) the three rooms of Newgrange are lit up by the sun at sunrise around the winter solstice. The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year (December 21).

A shaft of sunlight shines through the roof box over the entrance (Here I am standing in the doorway - see the box above my head) and shines down the passage to light up the inner chamber. This lasts for 17 minutes at dawn from the 19th to the 23rd of December every year!

GIANTíS CAUSWAY

The Giant's Causeway is on the North East coast of Northern Ireland in County Antrim. These are volcanic rock formations.


Legend has it that Benendoner, a Scottish giant, came over to Ireland by building the causeway. Finn McCoul the Irish giant was worried. He decided to dress up as a baby in order to frighten Benendonner Ė so that he would think if a baby was this big, how big would the daddy be!

 When Benendonner saw the extra-giant baby he fled back to Scotland destroying the causeway which can now only be seen at both its ends in County Antrim in Northern Ireland and on the isle of Staffa in Scotland.

From there we went to county Clare on the West coast of Ireland. ĎThe Burrení is a great big limestone region of approximately 300 sq km. Although it rains here all the time there is so little soil that very few things grow. The rock is eroded in a distinctive pattern known as karren (see my picture above). This region is crisscrossed by cracks known as grykes and underneath the surface there are huge caves and rivers that suddenly flood when it rains.

In my photo I am standing in front of a dolmen called Poulnabrone. Poulnabrone means 'the hole of the sorrows'. A dolmen is a stone burial chamber with this particular rock formation built overtop; kind of like a huge table. A Late Stone Age farming community built this monument to themselves sometime in the 2500 B.C.

THE CRAGGAUNOWEN PROJECT

 

Next we went to the Craggaunowen Project which is a reconstruction of a crannog. A crannog is a lake dwelling, common in Ireland in the 5th to 12th centuries A.D. Some are as old as the bronze age (600BC) and others were still used up to the 17th century.

Crannogs were small man made islands on which people built houses and kept animals at night. They are for protection as it would be hard to attack from boats.

The name Crannog is taken from the Irish word crann which means tree. As the name suggests timber was the most important building material. They were usually built about 100 meters from the shore of a shallow lake. The island was constructed by laying layers of brushwood and other material, such as stones on the lake until eventually the island was formed. In the central area, houses of a wood were built. Access to the Crannog was normally by boat but when times became more settled, causeways or bridges were used.

DUNLUCE CASTLE

 

This castle is really cool. Itís right on the edge of a cliff by the sea. A man named Richard de Burgh, Earl of Ulster, first built this castle at Dunluce. It often came under siege. In 1584 Sorley Boy MacDonnell captured it from the English when one of his men, employed in the castle, hauled his comrades up the cliff in a basket.

Sorley Boy came into some money in 1588 when the Spanish Armada treasure ship Girona was wrecked by storm off the Giant's Causeway. He used it to modernise the castle but he must have skimped on the kitchen, since in 1639 it fell into the sea and carried away the cooks and all their pots!

 

Here I am at the ruins of Ferns Cathedral which was built in the 13th century. It was probably built by John St John, the first Bishop of Ferns who died in 1243 A.D.

It stood within the boundary of the monastery founded by St Aidan in the sixth century. The remains of St Aidan (or Edan) who was also called St Mogue are buried beneath the Church. An inscription on the wall states that he died on January 31st 632 A.D. The first Christian settlement in Ferns was about that time, around 600 A.D. In 930 A.D. the monks were robbed by Viking raiders and the monastery was burned. In 1158 Dermot Mc Murrough founded a proper abbey in Ferns.

 

FERNS, COUNTY WEXFORD

And there you have it, my trip to Ireland. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. It was really cool seeing all these really old places, especially Newgrange. It is huge and people built it by hand Ė no big trucks or cranes. 200,000 tonnes of rock by hand, Wow!!!

Canít wait for my next trip, gee I wonder where Iíll go to next.

 

Yours truly

Flat Stanley