Sunday, February 19, 2017

Long Overdue Final Post - Ireland 2011

This is, largely, an unnecessary post.  I've clearly made it home from my trip and if you've spoken with me, then you know that it was an amazing trip.  However...I've found my journal and went through my photos from the last excursion of the trip and felt that I still needed to make a final post.  One, because I should have finished this so I might as well do so now.  Two, because the hiking in Connemara was, arguably, the most beautiful day in such a wonderful nation.  So, here we go with a very picture heavy post!

Connemara Hike: July 9, 2011
Cloon & Laghtanabba Bog, Galway

There were no classes today and, having finished Tim Robinson prose from Connemara, we hopped a bus for a day of  hiking and moderated adventure.  We set off on a narrow road towards the mountains that were, as you can see, covered in vibrant vegetation and cloaked in clouds.

The class met up with an archeologist named Michael Gibbons and the day really began.  Where did it began?  Why, in bogs, of course.  There are still people who extract peat from the bogs to use as a source of fuel/heat.  In the picture to the right you can see mounds of peat formed into brick shapes, piled intentionally and left to dry in the sun.  While standing on the bogs we also received a lesson on the incredibly vast amount of things, from trees to humans, that have been uncovered in similar bogs elsewhere.  We were asked whether we noticed how springy and moist the ground was and, when some of the gathered students began to bounce a bit to either illustrate or notice those features, were cautioned against doing so. 
After all, how do you think people ended up in those bogs?  Fair point, and I recall being amused at how quickly others around me stilled and looked down at their feet.  We were then directed to take a closer look at the ground on which we stood and were told that the color of the moss indicated how much moisture the vegetation has absorbed (and, related, how likely it is to suck up your foot).  Unfortunate for me and any reader who is interested or intends to go traipsing about a bog...I didn't write down any helpful information.  The greener?  The brighter?  The more vibrantly yellow?  Was the moss I pictured myself standing on a clue?  Is this picture a particularly spongy and potentially dangerous spot on which to stand?  Or did I take a picture to show safety?  We'll never know.  (I suppose one could google it, but I won't be doing that.)  Having instilled a sense of respect and, possibly, fear in some of my fellow students, we moved on.

We began our trek up the mountains.  There is some stumbling among the rocks, but all goes well and no one in the class slips and falls (well, at least not too far down so as to be worrisome or embarrassing).  As we walk we, of course, encounter some sheep (there is a speck of one in the above picture that is looking down on our group as we trudge, judging and showing off an admirable prowess while jumping about from rock to rock).  

To the left is a picture looking down before we reach the halfway point, to attempt to give some perspective to the hike.  It may make it look like we traveled farther up than we actually did...but since that only serve to make the day seem even cooler than it was I'll go with it.  Look at how high up!  That vehicle is so small!

Even if it wasn't that high of a climb, the view was amazing from all directions and we all took some moments of well deserved rest.

Renvyle Castle

We continued our day by taking a short ride to Renvyle Castle.

Then we spent a while along the coast.

We also saw a few horses.

The cutest of which was this young fella, who was just tuckered out.

He did perk up to say hello briefly.

 We held a short lesson on some rocks in the water.  As usual, the lesson was well thought out and informative.  Unfortunately for the professor, he was a bit overshadowed by the impromptu addition to our class......this wonderfully attentive (and wonderful in general) Newfoundland.  He just couldn't get enough of contemporary Irish literature.


Connemara National Park and Kylemore Abbey

We ended our day long trip with some more hiking, this time in Connemara National Park.  There were even more sheep.

 We ended at Kylemore Abbey.  Short history lesson:  Kylemore Abbey is a Benedictine monastery founded in 1920 on the grounds of Kylemore Castle, in Connemara, County Galway, Ireland. The abbey was founded for Benedictine Nuns who fled Belgium in World War I.  It is very grand and a wonderful way to end the day.


One unfortunate outcome of this day was that the black leather boots bought during my accidental trip to Dun Laoghaire did not make it through the day.  Too much damage, too much debris.  So, when I got home on July 11th (I'm not copping out, on the 10th we just had a final class day and a concluding meal, nothing to write home about), the boots were no longer wearable.  I say this five and a half years later:  Those boots were the most comfortable flat boots that I've ever owned.  I bought them and broke them in while hiking abroad.  Cities, farms, bogs and mountains...those boots were a great, pain free, investment.  I still miss them.

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