Tuesday, 9 May 2017
This morning, fog shrouded the horse farm where we stayed last night. Love the dog on patrol.
As we rolled out, we came across another mechanized peat harvest area. I think the depth of the drainage ditch indicates how deep the harvest of peat will extend. Across the road, it looked like at least six feet (vertically) had been removed. Now there’s a national movement to clean up the air by limiting coal and peat burning in residential and noncommercial buildings.
We made our first stop at St Brigid’s Cathedral in Kildare. Brigid lived from ~453 to 523. She founded a monastery here in ~480. This building dates to 1223, and has substantial 19th-C reconstruction. There’s an odd rectangular area outlined by a low wall in the churchyard that is called the Fire Temple (rebuilt last in 1988, I read), marking where it’s believed that nuns kept an eternal flame going to honor St Brigid. It’s somewhat like Rome’s Vestal Virgins, no?
Loved this sign on a strange nubbin of architecture—Remains of Vault…History Unknown.
I could not figure out this grotesque downpipe detail on the church. Aviator goggles? Bull or cow around the neck?
Next stop: Tesco for “triangle” sandwiches and snacks. I was astounded that patrons must “stay right” on the travelator. This is a drive-left country…although pedestrians may pass right or left…adding to my confusion.
Just south of Kildare is a pilgrimage destination, St. Brigid’s well. It’s relatively elaborate. We had to wait on a busload of pilgrims (from Texas, from what they said) to walk past our parking space before we could exit along the narrow lane.
These sheep are browsing on The Curragh. Curragh means race-course. In ancient times it was a common. Much of the time it was used as sheep pasture, but also as a general rendezvous for mustering military forces. The earliest reference dates to the
10th C, and old documents indicate an óenaig (periodic fairs, wake games) was held here. So, it was a multipurpose space not owned by a particular person. What’s left of The Curragh has a formal racecourse where the Irish national races are held, a military base, and still has grazing sheep. The Luftwaffe bombed it on 2 Jan 1941.
Part of The Curragh also has stables, etc., of the Irish National Stud, where Thoroughbreds are bred; the facility includes several gardens (why?).
Next, we headed into the Wicklow Mountains! We went through Wicklow gap (near here), 478 meters. This looks very like moorland in Scotland and England.
The east side of the pass descends to Glendalough, or Gleann Dá Loch meaning valley of two lakes. This is the larger, upper lake. I’m facing the main drainage into the lake. Note Mr. Mallard. Mrs. Mallard is busy feeding in the reeds and not showing herself.
There’s a huge monastic complex here, well known and heavily visited—an easy day-trip from Dublin. We saw many school-kids, high-school age, and heard them speaking Irish Gaelic. This was the 11th-C Reefert Church, way off to the west from the core of the monastic complex. I quite enjoyed this ruin as we visited it alone, no hubbub of visitors in this area of old trees and bird-calls.
I found many of these wildflowers with trifoliate compound leaves. I know it’s the common wood sorrel (Oxalis acetosella), but for today it’s the shamrock (generally accepted to be a clover).
We also made a loop up to Sally Gap, the next pass north of Wicklow. We found these half-grown lambs and their momma enjoying the heights and dining on the roadside grass. Most of the “wild” vegetation is gorse and heather, so this is the best grazing. The heights also have many peat-harvest scars.
This is the view back toward Glendalough. We found the haze denser with the elevation and think the late afternoon hour also contributed to it. Stunning.