Feed on
Posts
Comments

Welcome Back, Jose

After a very long day, Jose has arrived safe and sound in Jacksonville! Jose, Mr. Foster, and Mrs. Weaver headed to the Dublin airport at 6:00 a.m. (1:00 a.m. in Jax) for our 9:00 a.m. flight. Can any of the younger grades figure out what time our Dublin flight left in Jacksonville time? Our flight arrived in Newark, New Jersey around 11:45 a.m. Eastern Time. Does anyone know what time that would be in Dublin?
What a beautiful sight it was to see New York City right outside our airplane window! We saw the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building! Our connecting flight to Jacksonville didn’t leave until 4:00 p.m. and arrived at 6:00 p.m.
While we had a wonderful time exploring the beautiful island of Ireland, we are glad to be home. We can’t wait to share with you many more of the reasons why Ireland is such a special place!

Day 8: Clonmacnoise

Today we traveled to Clonmacnoise (pronounced Clawn Mick Noise).  Clonmacnoise is an early Christian settlement with stone chapels and iconic monk round towers. There are two round towers on the property. One is called O’Rourke’s Tower.  It was hit by lightning and then rebuilt in the 12th century.

 It rests on the east bank of the Shannon River and is one of Ireland’s most awe-inspiring sites. St. Ciaran (pronounced Kieran) founded the monastic community in 548 AD.

     

Clonmacnoise was attacked repeatedly by native chiefs, danes, and Anglo-Normans (Vikings).  It was finally destroyed by English troops in 1552. The monks were always able to rebuild, but the English took everything from the roofs of the buildings to the doors and windows. Clonmacnoise’s location is particularly interesting. It can be found right in the center of Ireland along the Shannon River.

Jose was feeling especially moved and took a moment to rest in the church. The small cathedral was built in the 10th century with additions in the 15th century.

 

The arch that can be found outside the church is called the Whisper Arch. One person can whisper to another into the stone. The sound travels along a narrow stone path to a person standing on the other side of the arch.

 Click on the link to hear a message from Mr. Foster… Whisper Arch

One of Ireland’s most endearing symbols is the Celtic high cross. You see them all over ireland and they are often in the beautiful countryside.  The carvings  are just like books in the way that they tell stories from the Bible using pictures.  They were probably painted at one time, but have faded due to weather conditions.  You’ll notice in some of the pictures below that a few crosses are located inside, out of the weather.  These crosses are the original crosses that stood for so many years outside.  In order to preserve the integrity of the crosses, historians have moved them inside.  The replicas (an exact model of the original) are now on display in the original locations outside.

Replies to Comments

Top of the morning!  We are so glad to see that so many people are following the blog!  We love the questions, and have answers for you!

Mrs. Pickering:

The hawks hunt anything small that moves.  On our hunt, they didn’t catch anything living, only food that we had in our hands, which was chicken.  Our guide said that they will catch squirrels and other small animals, and love to practice hunting on mushrooms (but they don’t eat the mushrooms).   We had two hawks; their names were Swift (after Jonathon Swift, the famous Irish author) and Stoker (after Bram Stoker, another famous Irish author).  The hawks are very light, and their size is misleading, they both weighed under two pounds.  They are quite fast, and the Peregrine Falcon can dive at speeds over 100 MPH.  Mrs. Weaver’s and Mr. Foster’s favorite thing on the trip was the falconry.  IT WAS AMAZING!

Mrs. Cassette:

You guys were very creative with your questions!  We love it!

Baby falcons are called eyasses.  They are very tiny, and not very cute to be honest.  However, they make up for it with their looks as an adult.  Baby Falcon

Young peregrine falcons take their first flight at about 44 days of age. At this time they are about as big as their mothers, but can’t really fly very well and can’t catch their own food, so the parents keep feeding them for about 6 more weeks. After about 6 to 8 weeks, the young can hunt for themselves and then leave the nesting area and their parents.  Mr. Foster was very excited to hold the hawks, and wasn’t scared.  Mrs. Weaver was hesitant at first, but quickly overcame her fears.  We did not get to see them catch anything, but were able to have them fly from tree to tree, and then back to us.  If the hawk catches prey while out with the owner on a hunt, say a rabbit for example, the owner will have to give the hawk something in exchange.  Otherwise the hawk won’t want to give up it’s catch.

We were able to get the picture of Jose at the Cliffs from the friendly bear there.  His name was Buttons MacGillicutty.  I’m not sure how old he was, but he was rather wise and knowledgeable about Ireland.

People do use the shale in there house.  It is rather a pretty site to see the houses with the stone incorporated to the front of it.  Their houses for the most part look a lot like ours, but there are the exceptions with some houses having a thatched roof.  When you are in the country, you will see houses of many different sizes, when you get into a town or city, you will start to see more townhouses.  Most townhouses we saw looked identical, and in the cities a lot of the houses were the same as well.

We did see a couple of people playing golf at the Lahinch Course, but it is quite expensive, so there weren’t too many people on the course.

The food has similarities and differences.  We haven’t found any fast food places in any of the smaller cities, only in major ones.  You will mainly see local pubs, which are quaint, family-style restaurants.  One big difference is that the food has been very fresh, and the potatoes have been outstanding.  We are not wild about the sausage over here, it doesn’t taste anything like the sausage we’re accustomed to consuming.   The bacon is also different-what we consider to be ham, is what they call bacon.  It’s very good, but not the same – taste and texture is completely different.  In the country there was much more variety with sizes and overall looks.

As for the Blarney Stone, it’s really quite interesting.  According to legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of the gab (great eloquence or skill at flattery). The stone was set into a tower of the castle in 1446.  An early story involves the goddess Clíodhna.   Cormac Laidir MacCarthy, the builder of Blarney Castle, being involved in a lawsuit, appealed to Clíodhna for her assistance. She told MacCarthy to kiss the first stone he found in the morning on his way to court, and he did so, with the result that he pleaded his case with great eloquence and won. Thus the Blarney Stone is said to impart “the ability to deceive without offending.” MacCarthy then incorporated it into the parapet of the castle.  Some say it was Jacob’s Pillow, brought to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah. Here it became the Lia Fail or ‘Fatal Stone’, used as an oracular throne of Irish kings – a kind of Harry Potter-like ‘sorting hat’ for kings. It was also said to be the deathbed pillow of St Columba on the island of Iona. Legend says it was then removed to mainland Scotland, where it served as the prophetic power of royal succession, the Stone of Destiny.  When Cormac MacCarthy, King of Munster, sent five thousand men to support Robert the Bruce in his defeat of the English at Bannockburn in 1314, a portion of the historic Stone was given by the Scots in gratitude – and returned to Ireland.  Others say it may be a stone brought back to Ireland from the Crusades – the ‘Stone of Ezel’ behind which David hid on Jonathan’s advice when he fled from his enemy, Saul. A few claim it was the stone that gushed water when struck by Moses.  Whatever the truth of its origin, the folks that work there believe a witch saved from drowning revealed its power to the MacCarthys, the people who built the castle.  So, there are lots of ideas about the Blarney Stone!  I would imagine that people started kissing it after the story of MacCarthy and the trial.

Mrs. McKnight:

We’re not really sure about the height, but we are estimating that at its tallest point, the Castle is about 60-70 feet high.  That is a very good guess, Elizabeth, but the castle was not made from coquina. We think the Castle is made from limestone, because many of the things around the area are built from limestone and look very similar.

Jose was not allowed to hold the hawks, because he looks too much like a rabbit, one of the items on the dinner menu for the hawk!  Fortunately, the hawk did not bite Mr. Foster.  However, our guide told us that due to its light beak, it wouldn’t hurt even if it did.  Mr. Foster was not willing to take that chance though.

There are different types of falcons that range in size from 6 1/2 to 24 inches.  The Peregrine Falcon can dive at speeds over 100 MPH.  We were flying hawks, which weren’t that fast, but were still very impressive.  We did not weigh ourselves, fortunately for us, the scale was much too small.   We did weigh Jose, and he was just about 2 lbs.    Each hawk has its own ideal weight, therefore, we can’t say one weight.

We would not recommend jumping off the Cliffs of Moher.  There have been accidents at the Cliffs that did not end well for the unfortunate participants.  And yes, there are jagged rocks at the bottom of the cliffs, not exactly a feather bed to land on.  We aren’t sure how old Buttons MacGillicutty was, but he seemed somewhat old and wise.  It’s not polite to ask someone’s age, so we couldn’t “bear” to ask.

As for the Blarney Stone, it’s really quite interesting.  According to legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of the gab (great eloquence or skill at flattery). The stone was set into a tower of the castle in 1446.  An early story involves the goddess Clíodhna.   Cormac Laidir MacCarthy, the builder of Blarney Castle, being involved in a lawsuit, appealed to Clíodhna for her assistance. She told MacCarthy to kiss the first stone he found in the morning on his way to court, and he did so, with the result that he pleaded his case with great eloquence and won. Thus the Blarney Stone is said to impart “the ability to deceive without offending.” MacCarthy then incorporated it into the parapet of the castle.  Some say it was Jacob’s Pillow, brought to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah. Here it became the Lia Fail or ‘Fatal Stone’, used as an oracular throne of Irish kings – a kind of Harry Potter-like ‘sorting hat’ for kings. It was also said to be the deathbed pillow of St Columba on the island of Iona. Legend says it was then removed to mainland Scotland, where it served as the prophetic power of royal succession, the Stone of Destiny.  When Cormac MacCarthy, King of Munster, sent five thousand men to support Robert the Bruce in his defeat of the English at Bannockburn in 1314, a portion of the historic Stone was given by the Scots in gratitude – and returned to Ireland.  Others say it may be a stone brought back to Ireland from the Crusades – the ‘Stone of Ezel’ behind which David hid on Jonathan’s advice when he fled from his enemy, Saul. A few claim it was the stone that gushed water when struck by Moses.  Whatever the truth of its origin, the folks that work there believe a witch saved from drowning revealed its power to the MacCarthys, the people who built the castle.  So, there are lots of ideas about the Blarney Stone!  I would imagine that people started kissing it after the story of MacCarthy and the trial.  You have to be upside down because the actual point on the wall where you kiss it is only accessible by leaning over  backwards.  There really isn’t a tale for that one.  The thickness of the steps depended on where you stood on it.  It was a spiral staircase, so the steps were triangular in shape.  Starting at the wall (the largest point), the steps were just slightly smaller than Mr. Foster’s shoe, at the point closest to the edge (the smaller point), was only about 3 inches.  You do not have to kiss the Blarney Stone, but if you were in Ireland, at the Blarney Castle, and had climbed all the way to the top, you definitely would want to do it.  It sounds pretty gross, but the spotters (people that hold you while you bend backwards) are nice enough to sanitize the stone after each person kisses it.

Our bus driver, John, was nice enough to count to ten in Irish for us.  See if you can do it, too!

Click on the link to hear: Counting to Ten in Irish

one
two
three
four
five
six
seven
eight
nine
ten
haon

trí
ceathair
cúig

seacht
hocht
naoi
deich

Day 7 Ashford Castle

As we pulled up to our next destination, our jaws dropped to the floor.  Ireland must have known that King Foster was coming, because they prepared a castle for such an occasion.  Ashford Castle is a medieval castle turned five star luxury hotel near Cong on the Mayo/Galway Border in Ireland.  The castle was built in 1228 by the Anglo-Norman de Burgo family.   It remained in their possession for the next 3 centuries until a fierce battle would force the Castle to be turned over to English rule under Lord Bingham.  The castle changed owners 6 more times, until it made it to it’s final owners.  It is hard to put into words how breath-taking this place is.  There really is not a bad view from this magnificent structure.  Ashford Castle  even has a little bit of Hollywood in its veins.  In 1951, the movie “Quiet Man” was filmed in the neighboring city of Cong, and John Wayne stayed in this very Castle.  Since then, many famous movie stars have stayed in the hotel.   If you remember correctly, our visit to the Cliffs of Moher led us to a very wise bear, who told us to come to Ashford to find Jose.  He had told Jose to come here for a little rest and relaxation.  Well you will never guess where we found that rascally bear.  GETTING A MASSAGE IN THE SPA!  It turns out that he was so worn out from his travels that he decided to take it easy for a bit and come here.

 After we found Jose, we decided to take him to do a little falconry.  We thought he might like to try his hand at bird flying.  Falconry is the taking of wild hawks and/or falcons and training them to catch game.  Given the right conditions, a hawk or falcon can catch rabbits, hares, squirrels, geese, ducks, and even wild turkeys.  Falcons can live into their mid teens, with larger hawks living longer.

Before the birds can be flown, they must be weighed.  If a bird is overweight, he or she will be too heavy to fly and will be disinterested in doing so.  If a bird in underweight, it would not have the strength or energy to fly from tree to tree.  Therefore, there is an ideal weight for each bird in the pack.  Shown below are the birds’ weights for today.

 We decided to weigh Jose and see how he measured up to the pack of hawks.  He weighed 2 pounds, which was about the same as a hawk.

     

There is a difference between a falcon and a hawk.  The falcon has smaller talons and a heavy beak.  We flew hawks, and you may notice from the pictures that our guide, Keelin, was unafraid to have the hawks peck from her hand.  Hawks have a lighter beak and longer and sharper talons.

It is very hard for a trainer to show affection to a falcon or hawk.  When we talked to the falconer, she said that she has tried to “pet” the falcons before and they instantly show resistance.  Not only do the falcons not like being petted, but petting them ruins their waterproof coating on their feathers.

We get some of our everyday sayings from falconry.  The term “fed up”, to us, means that someone has had enough of something.  In falconry, it means the bird has had enough food and is not fit to fly.  The saying “hoodwinked” comes from the little hood put over a falcon’s eyes before a flight.  The term “eyes like a hawk” means that you have excellent eyesight, just like a hawk!

     

 

This morning, we stopped by Lahinch (Lehinch) Golf Club. It has two 18-hole golf courses that run along the long, sandy beaches and is backed by dunes. It doesn’t look quite like our typical golf courses in America. There are no trees, and no vegetation was disturbed to create this course! There are goats that roam around the course, and they are the ultimate weather forecasters. The locals claim that if the goats huddle under the awning of the clubhouse, it means a storm is approaching!

A…MAZ…ING.  The Cliffs of Moher is the most spectacular site we have seen on this trip.  They are located in County Claire, Ireland on the banks of the Atlantic Ocean.  The cliffs rise 120 meters (390 ft) above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag’s Head and reach their maximum height of 214 meters (702 ft) just north of O’Brien’s Tower, eight kilometers away.

O’Brien’s Tower is a round stone tower at the approximate midpoint of the cliffs. It was built by Sir Cornelius O’Brien (maybe our very own Kieran is related to him?), a descendant of Ireland’s High King Brian Boru, in order to impress the ladies. From atop that watchtower, you have the most tremendous views of the cliffs.  On a clear day, you can see the Aran Islands and Galway Bay, the Maum Turk Mountains and the Twelve Pins to the north in Connemara, and Loop Head to the south.  All in all, it was by far the most awe-inspiring site that we have sited while siteseeing!

The cliffs consist mainly of beds of Namurian shale and sandstone, with the oldest rocks being found at the bottom of the cliffs.  Check out our pictures of the different types of rock.  We have seen one kind of the rock all over Ireland, shale, it seems to be used as flooring.  Maybe it is due to the fact that it is found all over the place around the cliffs.  It is probably inexpensive to acquire.  The mountains and hills surrounding the cliffs are mainly composed of this stone.

There are many animals living on the cliffs. Most of these are birds.  However, due to the time of year, many of the birds are gone.  We were really hoping to see Puffins, but we weren’t able to.  We did see cows however, and many of them said hello.   We even got to see some people playing traditional Irish instruments on the way to the top.  Speaking of all the way to the top…there was an abundance of stairs to get there, but it was a good workout and well worth the effort.    While in the visitors’ center, we happened upon another bear.  This bear is a native of the Cliffs of Moher, and has lived there his entire life.   He mentioned how he had met a bear named Jose, and how tired he looked.  He told Jose that he should take it easy, and go to Ashford Castle for a little rest and relaxation.  Hopefully, we will catch up to him soon.  We felt like we were so close!

Day 5 Kinsale/Adare

Yesterday, Jose gave us some numbers as a clue, and we were quite confused to be honest .  However, some of our travel companions noticed those numbers as coordinates.  Coordinates are numbers that let you know exactly where a place is on the planet.  So we plugged those numbers into our driver’s GPS, and it turned out to be Kinsale, Ireland.  Kinsale is a quaint fishing village and is in County Cork, Ireland.  The weather was typical Irish weather-rainy and cold.   We tried to sightsee, but we were fruitless in our efforts due to the weather.  However, we did get another clue as to Jose’s whereabouts.  We met a rather friendly bear at a hotel in Kinsale that had met Jose.  He developed a strong bond with our Jose, and Jose gave him his next destination.  Jose had mentioned taking a dare…and the new bear wasn’t sure what he meant by that.  We’re not quite sure either, but there is a place called Adare close to Kinsale, so I think we’ll check that out.

 We  drove into Adare, which was about a 2 hour drive, and were amazed by the beautiful sites.  Mrs. Menger is starting to get a little agitated that we haven’t found Jose yet.  So we really need to put our heads together to find him.  We really feel that we’re getting close, but we still aren’t close enough obviously.  When we reached Ardare, we noticed there was a wedding happening at our hotel.  It just so happens that Jose had made friends with the couple getting married, and in turn asked for him to be their ring “bear”er.   How beary nice!  They gave us this picture as a memento, and said that Jose was off to the Cliffs of Moher.  If you don’t know what they are, fret not, we will show you.  We’ve heard a little bit about them, and they sound impressive to say the least.

Day 4-Ardmore/Blarney

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, lads and lasses, we’re sorry to report that we still haven’t found Jose.  We’re not really sure how he’s getting money, or how he’s getting to these places, but someone said he was a lucky bear, and we’ve heard something about fairies bringing good luck.  Maybe that has something to do with it?

According to his last note, Jose said he was going to the earliest Christian settlement in Ireland.  We did a little research and found out that was in Ardmore.  We must have just missed him!  We went to St. Declan’s well and cathedral which was the first site of Christianity in Ireland.  We saw some other visitors there, and they said they had just seen a bear drinking the holy water out of the well.  We need to teach that bear some manners!  He told them that he was going to head to Blarney to try and kiss the stone for luck.  So yet again, we had to set off to try and find our furry friend.

 

We hit the road for Blarney, and you wouldn’t believe the sites!  To get to the Blarney Stone, you have to climb several winding staircases, that total 84 stone steps (might I add that the steps were quite narrow) in a castle-sounds cool right?  That’s because it was.  We wish you all could have been there with us.  Not only did we get to explore this wonderful castle, we also got to kiss the Blarney Stone!  In order to kiss the Blarney Stone, you need to lie on your back, hold on to the rails, and lean your head over the ramparts.    At the end of the castle exploration, we went to the gift shop where they had taken pictures of all of the people kissing the Blarney Stone, and low and behold, who did we see?  Jose the Bear!  He left us a clue at the gift shop with the clerk.  The clue was 51 degrees North, 8 degrees West.  Huh?  I hope you guys can help us out.   Every time we think we’re close, Jose seems to slip our grip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a link to all of your questions.  We answered everyone’s questions in one comment, so check it out!

http://ireland.sjeds.org/2011/09/28/day-3-waterford/#comments

Day 3-Waterford

We found Jose!  Well, sort of.  We found where he was.  We looked at the blog comments yesterday and everyone thought we should check out the Waterford House of Crystal.  SOOOOOOOO, we decided to look into it.  We had a bit of a drive from Dublin to Waterford- about two hours.  This place is beautiful!  Of course, we are seeing a lot of green, but the architecture is unbelievable-you will definitely not see buildings like this in the United States.  When we got to the Waterford Crystal House, no Jose.  He was there though, and our tour guide gave us some pictures that they took of Jose while he was there.  We took a tour and got to see how they make their famous crystal.  It is amazing how much of the work is done by hand, and how intricate the detail is.  Did you know that the people that do the glass work have to practice for EIGHT years before they can start being professionals!  That’s crazy-it’s like being a doctor!  After watching how closely they pay attention to every detail, and how careful they have to be, it’s understandable.

 

So, no Jose, but we do have another clue.  Along with the pictures of Jose, the tour guide also gave us a note from him. If you look closely, Jose is wearing an award that is going to be presented to Mariano Rivera, the pitcher for the Yankees who just earned the most career saves.   He’s getting trickier and trickier.   This note only said…sorry I missed you, off to the oldest Christian settlement in Ireland.   Holy cow…we need your help.  We’re really busy, and we’ll try to research, but we need your help.    Also, we’ve been trying to upload pictures for you guys, but we’ve been having issues with that.  However, we have taken over 300 already, so we’ll have tons for you guys to check out soon.

Check out this glass blowing video

 

Older Posts »