Castles, Churches, Loughs, and Rain

Up early this morning for another tour, this one of Trim Castle, Glendalough, and Lough Tay. It started raining last night, and continued through much of the day. Sometimes the rain faded back for a bit, and once or twice it picked up a fair bit, but the day was very like a lot of days on my last trip.

I am very impressed with our tour guide, Damien O’Reilly. He was very good at imparting the information of the tour in an entertaining manner, but that was the least of the good things about him. He was excellent at putting things in context, and forming connections between historical and modern events, and generally giving us a bit of understanding about where Ireland is and how it got there. I found it fascinating.

The early part of the tour went north of Dublin, to Trim Castle. There were only five people on the bus, so it felt like a private tour, and that was great. We picked up more in the afternoon, for the Glendalough part of the tour, but Damien was great at making everyone in the larger crowd feel included, as well.

Trim Castle was one of two castles used in the filming of Braveheart. It was the stand-in for York, and the grounds were used for London in the execution scene.
Trim Castle was one of two castles used in the filming of Braveheart. It was the stand-in for York, and the grounds were used for London in the execution scene.
There were donkeys in a nearby field. Apparently, there's a donkey sanctuary nearby.
There were donkeys in a nearby field. Apparently, there’s a donkey sanctuary nearby.
Damien was kind enough to take a picture of me at Trim.
Damien was kind enough to take a picture of me at Trim.
The gatehouse led into the town, and contained the dungeon. It even had an oubliette.
The gatehouse led into the town, and contained the dungeon. It even had an oubliette.
The keep is unusual - it's a square central building, with four (now three) smaller square towers, one attached to each central face. The northern tower, thought to have contained the food stores, has collapsed.
The keep is unusual – it’s a square central building, with four (now three) smaller square towers, one attached to each central face. The northern tower, thought to have contained the food stores, has collapsed.
The outside of the barbican was spruced up to be the gates of York in Braveheart.
The outside of the barbican was spruced up to be the gates of York in Braveheart.
Inside the barbican, you can see where wooden floors have long since rotted away.
Inside the barbican, you can see where wooden floors have long since rotted away.
The river gate opens onto the banks of the Boyne River. The lower sections, where the gate out was, are mostly buried.
The river gate opens onto the banks of the Boyne River. The lower sections, where the gate out was, are mostly buried.
Most of the floors are gone inside the castle. A few have been replaced, and some walkways built.
Most of the floors are gone inside the castle. A few have been replaced, and some walkways built.
The original great hall on the entry level has models of the castle in each of its three phases of construction. The models are white, because the castle was originally finished with plaster and whitewash.
The original great hall on the entry level has models of the castle in each of its three phases of construction. The models are white, because the castle was originally finished with plaster and whitewash.
As is true of almost every castle I've been in, the stairs are narrow, uneven spirals.
As is true of almost every castle I’ve been in, the stairs are narrow, uneven spirals.
This was the solar. At least, during the middle stage of construction, before the third floor was added.
This was the solar. At least, during the middle stage of construction, before the third floor was added.
The little cubbyhole in the chapel wall had a little depression in it that filled with rainwater from the water collection system of the castle. The water would be blessed, and any leftover would be let out a drain in the bottom to return to the earth.
The little cubbyhole in the chapel wall had a little depression in it that filled with rainwater from the water collection system of the castle. The water would be blessed, and any leftover would be let out a drain in the bottom to return to the earth.
Up on the roof, there's a great view of everything. This is the town gate from the roof.
Up on the roof, there’s a great view of everything. This is the town gate from the roof.
From the roof, you can see a bridge across the Boyne and the Yellow Steeple, one of the tallest surviving medieval structures. To the left of that is a house where Jonathan Swift used to live.
From the roof, you can see a bridge across the Boyne and the Yellow Steeple, one of the tallest surviving medieval structures. To the left of that is a house where Jonathan Swift used to live.
The Sheep Gate is the last surviving gate into the walled city of Trim.
The Sheep Gate is the last surviving gate into the walled city of Trim.
One of the river god statues so prevalent in the southeast of Ireland. This is the Boyne.
One of the river god statues so prevalent in the southeast of Ireland. This is the Boyne.
A bog-oak statue called Hunger for Knowledge. It features the salmon of knowledge, and is carved with various mathematical and scientific formulae. Obviously a modern work, but very cool.
A bog-oak statue called Hunger for Knowledge. It features the salmon of knowledge, and is carved with various mathematical and scientific formulae. Obviously a modern work, but very cool.

After Trim Castle, we went back through Dublin, picked up the folks who had just signed up for the Glendalough leg of the tour, and then headed out south of the city into the Wicklow Mountains.

Glendalough had a thriving monastic community from about the 6th century up to the 13th century. These are the gates leading into the monastic city.
Glendalough had a thriving monastic community from about the 6th century up to the 13th century. These are the gates leading into the monastic city.
Just inside the gates is a stone inscribed with a cross. This is the Sanctuary Stone. In medieval times, if you were in trouble, and you could get to the monastery and touch the stone, you were granted sanctuary for up to 90 days.
Just inside the gates is a stone inscribed with a cross. This is the Sanctuary Stone. In medieval times, if you were in trouble, and you could get to the monastery and touch the stone, you were granted sanctuary for up to 90 days.
There are a number of Celtic crosses in the cemetery. This Victorian one is particularly nice.
There are a number of Celtic crosses in the cemetery. This Victorian one is particularly nice.
The main feature of the surviving monastic structures is the 10th century round tower.
The main feature of the surviving monastic structures is the 10th century round tower.
This cemetery, like many in Ireland, contains a lot of yew trees. These were planted here because they are toxic to wildlife, and it kept the shallow graves from being dug up by scavengers. There are few other yew trees in the country - they were depleted by the Anglo-Normans who wanted them for longbows.
This cemetery, like many in Ireland, contains a lot of yew trees. These were planted here because they are toxic to wildlife, and it kept the shallow graves from being dug up by scavengers. There are few other yew trees in the country – they were depleted by the Anglo-Normans who wanted them for longbows.
This church was built around the 10th or 11th century. The windowsill on this wall served as the altar.
This church was built around the 10th or 11th century. The windowsill on this wall served as the altar.
This stone was probably used as a mortar by the pre-Christians who lived in this area before the arrival of St. Kevin. Such a stone would be used primarily for grinding herbs for medicine by the holy men/women of the clan. It was taken to be the cornerstone of the new church here.
This stone was probably used as a mortar by the pre-Christians who lived in this area before the arrival of St. Kevin. Such a stone would be used primarily for grinding herbs for medicine by the holy men/women of the clan. It was taken to be the cornerstone of the new church here.
This is the view of the Glendalough site from across the little river, as I start up the trail towards the two loughs.
This is the view of the Glendalough site from across the little river, as I start up the trail towards the two loughs.
The valley runs a long way down. The name Glendalough means Valley of Two Lakes.
The valley runs a long way down. The name Glendalough means Valley of Two Lakes.
I'm walking the other direction up the valley towards the loughs. There are a few houses on the far side of the valley, despite the fact that this area can get isolated pretty quickly by either snow or flooding.
I’m walking the other direction up the valley towards the loughs. There are a few houses on the far side of the valley, despite the fact that this area can get isolated pretty quickly by either snow or flooding.
The trail up the valley is very picturesque, with the occasional whitethorn tree.
The trail up the valley is very picturesque, with the occasional whitethorn tree.
The bus was waiting for us between the first and second loughs. By the time I got there, it was raining hard enough that I didn't walk up to the upper lough.
The bus was waiting for us between the first and second loughs. By the time I got there, it was raining hard enough that I didn’t walk up to the upper lough.

Damien took us one other place, though he was worried that the clouds and rain would keep us from seeing what he wanted to show us. He needn’t have worried.

Lough Tay is owned by the Guinness family. As a wedding present for one of the women marrying into the family, they bought an estate at the edge of this lough, and imported sand to make the dark lough water look like a pint of Guinness with a head.
Lough Tay is owned by the Guinness family. As a wedding present for one of the women marrying into the family, they bought an estate at the edge of this lough, and imported sand to make the dark lough water look like a pint of Guinness with a head.
This is the Guinness estate. You can kind of see the house in the trees. Apparently, a movie company is getting ready to film something in the area - there were signs of construction down by the edge of the lough.
This is the Guinness estate. You can kind of see the house in the trees. Apparently, a movie company is getting ready to film something in the area – there were signs of construction down by the edge of the lough.
The cloudy day had some benefits. The clouds trailing down the side of the mountain were pretty cool.
The cloudy day had some benefits. The clouds trailing down the side of the mountain were pretty cool.

Then it was back to Dublin. I wandered around Grafton Street and O’Connell Street for a while, having some dinner and trying to decide if I still had the energy to go hear some music or something, and decided that I didn’t, so I came back to the guest house.

Tomorrow, my tour has been canceled. What I do instead is going to depend on the weather. If it’s dry, there are a couple of walking tours I can take. If it’s raining, I can hit some museums or maybe a movie. Either way, I’ll find something to do.

But first, I’m gonna sleep in a bit. Probably until 8:00. That’ll be nice.

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