Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Emerald Isle: Guinness and Glendalough

Our first stop of the morning was The Hugh Lane Gallery. I had read about the gallery and wanted to visit because of some of the fameous impressionist artist's paintings on display. We had tried the day before, but they were closed. Some of my favorites were Degas - Young Woman with a white headdress, Monet - Watercourt under snow, Walter Osborne - Tea in the Garden (this one was fascinating because it was never finished, but it was still stunning and left some of the scene to your imagination.), and JB Corot - The Punt. I loved slowly making my way through the gallery's and looking at breathtaking paintings painted by renound artists over 100 years ago.
Next we headed to tea. Mike was going a bit crosseyed after spending so much time in an art gallery with me, but considering how long we spent at the Guinness factory, I really have no sympathy :) Tea was fabulous. We ate at this little cafe around the corner and I had a pot of tea with my soup. We didn't stay very long though because we wanted to make it to the Guinness factory before we headed to Glendalough for the rest of the day.
I loved all of the languages of "Welcome" on the door.
The famous 9000 year lease.
Arthur Guinness was the founder of the Guinness brewery business. In 1759, Guinness got a 9,000 year lease on the four-acre brewery at St. James's Gate for an annual rent of £45, which was a lot back then, but is now the equivalent of about $65.21 per year! Crazy!!
In the 20th century the Guinness family continued to lead the business until the last member of the Guinness family resigned as chairman in 1986. From the 1940s to 1980s a major overhaul of brewing machinery took place, making the brewery one of the most technologically advanced in the world.
Today, 10 million glasses of GUINNESS are enjoyed daily around the world. (Wikipedia)
After about an hour of learning the ins and outs of making this stout beer I was bored out of my mind!!!! so I left Mike to enjoy the rest of the factory and went up to the top floor for my complimentary Guinness (ya, I opted for a soda) and enjoyed the views from the completely glass room and wrote in my travel journal until Mike showed up for his beer :)
On our way back to the car we saw this elderly gentleman with a horse and cart parked next to the sidewalk.
Apparently he used to work for the Guinness factory when he was a younger man, but now he is too old and makes his money by posing for pictures with his horse for tourists. He won't let you take a picture unless you pay him first. He was a really nice man. He spoke limited English, but with hand motions and broken English we were able to communicate. He was very interested in knowing how we were enjoying Ireland and what we thought about America's new President Obama. He told us that he was the last surviving member of his family and now survived by tourists paying for pictures. We had spent almost all of the last of our euros for admission to the ridiculously expensive Guinness Factory tour, but I gave him the last few euros I had and snapped a picture. His story made my heart ache and I remembered him in my prayers for a long time after meeting him.
After visiting a cash machine we were on our way to Glendalugh which my cousin told me was not to be missed! Our little rental car had to climb way up into the mountains to get there, but the views were worth it!
I love how the rock walls become overgrown with greenery and look more like rows of bushes than rock walls.
We pulled off to the side of the road to enjoy the views and take some pictures.
Stanly :)
Glendalough means glen or valley of two lakes
The round tower in the distance. Glendalough is a truly beautiful place!
The round tower through a graveyard.
The most visible monument at Glendalough is the fine round tower, rising about 30 meters high. In medieval Ireland, round towers served as landmarks, bell towers, storehouses and places of refuge in times of attack. The tower is about 30 meters high with the door is about 3.5 meters from the ground, which was common practice as a means of protection for the people and treasures inside.
The story of Glendalough begins with St Kevin who, as a young man, went to live at Glendalough “in the hollow of a tree.” He returned later with a small group of followers. After a life of sleeping on stones, wearing animal skins, barely eating and (according to legend) making friends with birds and animals, Kevin died in about 618. Glendalough flourished for the next 600 years. In its heyday, the settlement included not only churches and monastic cells but also workshops, guesthouses, an infirmary, farm buildings and houses. Most of the buildings that survive today date from the 10th through 12th centuries. (Sacred Destinations)
A close up of the door. It was up really high as a means of protection during raids. To get in there was a rope ladder lowered down from someone inside and then pulled back up.
It is such an old place some of the gravestones are worn smooth, The inscriptions having disappeared with the passage of time leaving behind only a wordless marker of a life once lived.
I loved the inscription on this headstone belonging to Luke Toole who passed away in 1775. Part of the inscription is "he was a friend to the unprotected, a father to the orphan and his door was always open to the poor." I don't think there is a better legacy to leave than that. It makes me wonder how old that other headstone is since this one is over 300 years old and the writing is still very clear. I know Glendalough was founded around 600AD.
Spray painted sheep.
After exploring the ruins we decided to go on a hike to the upper lake. It was a longer walk than I had anticipated.
It was a really warm day and I was glad when we finally got to the lake. I took my shoes off and waded in. It felt heavenly to cool off!! In the picture Mike is doing his favorite thing to do around any body of water. Skip rocks!
We decided to take the shorter way back (on the way to the upper lake we didn't know there was a long and a short way) and hiked to the lower part of the falls. It was getting late though and we wanted to have dinner before the hour long drive back to Dublin, so we didn't go up to the best view at the top.

After we left we went for a stroll in the little village nearby. I bought my Mom a beautiful hand spun and hand woven scarf (I had bought myself a similar one at a shop by the Cliffs of Moher and I love it!!) Then we went in search of food. We asked around about a nice restaurant to eat since this was our last night and we had mostly eaten at pubs and bistros. Everyone recommended the Wicklow Heather. We opted to eat outside on the stone patio. It was a gorgeous day. The patio was beautiful and the food was even better. It was soooo good. We sipped our drinks and shared our food and soaked in the last few rays of sunshine and talked about what a wonderful time we had had. We relaxed and enjoyed the atmosphere and finally, reluctantly got up to leave so we would not be driving back in the dark. Mike was unlocking the car when I suddenly realized we had not paid!!! I was sooo embarrassed! We hurried back to the restaurant and told the waiter we had completely forgotten to pay and he was so impressed that we came back he gave us each a glass of Irish Cream to enjoy at our table while he got our check. If you ever make it to Glendalough I would definitely recommend The Wicklow Heather!

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