Wednesday, August 26, 2009

♥ Bobby McFerrin

In fact that's who this blog is named after - I love his improvisatory ability.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Gridlock in County Cork

If you happen to be driving from Blarney Castle to Bantry on Aug. 15 about 4:00 in the afternoon, you might want to take a different route. Here we were, driving along a deserted, narrow country road when we came upon the worst traffic jam we've ever been in. Apparently Aug. 15 is a church holiday (Assumption?) and there is a shrine in this remote graveyard and about 200-300 people showed up for the special mass. The road is very narrow (imagine a very narrow road in Canada, then go for about half that with no shoulders) and of course cars were parked on both sides leaving barely enough room for one car to get through.

It didn't take long for a whole mess of cars to gridlock. We got there just as the mass was ending and it took almost 30 minutes for the people parked at the front to leave and let the rest of us out. At first Ross started to steam a bit until I started seeing the humour in the situation.

Early on this large truck made it through to our surprise. The passenger had to get out and fold in the mirrors of the cars on the side of the road so he could fit.The garda (police) couldn't really do much in this situation.It happens every year on this day. Just don't say I didn't warn you.

Bantry House

They call it a 'house' but we might call it a castle. It was an amazing place with vast, beautiful gardens and furnishings that were a feast for the eyes. We walked up the hundred steps and had this view of the 'house' and Bantry Bay.

Egerton lived in the house as a boy, inherited the estate in 1978 and is a descendant of the original Earl of Bantry. He didn't inherit the title as it had been passed on to a sister or daughter and titles couldn't pass to females. He's a sweet man and I felt kind of guilty when he carried my bag up the stairs to our room.
There was a music festival happening in Bantry with a concert in the library of the house that evening. We heard "Masters of Tradition" on pipes, fiddle, guitar, tin whistle, singing with stories accompanying each piece of music.

In the morning, after a fabulous breakfast served by Egerton, we toured the house which was full of items from the 18th and 19th centuries. This is the dining room. No flash photography was allowed so I was experimenting with settings on my camera so they might not be that clear.Something's an antique in Canada if it's about 100 years old but they have a different perspective on 'antique'. This tapestry in one of the rooms had been made for Marie Antoinette. The view from our room of one of the gardens.

Monday, August 10, 2009

National Pastimes in Ireland

When we got up yesterday morning we were greeted by groups of sports fans singing outside our apartment making their way on the tram to the stadium in the north of town (Croke). Most of the people in town were decked out in the jerseys of their favourite team as the national finals for the two most popular sports in Ireland were taking place. Gaelic Football is similar to rugby and hurling is a game like grass hockey only with a lot more action and the players are allowed to toss the ball in the air and hit it like a baseball. It was quite amazing to see so many people wearing the team jerseys and I think the atmosphere in the stadium was much like we might expect a soccer match to be with lots of drinking and singing.

Of course another pastime is Irish dancing which we got a little taste of (in addition to a pint) at the Guinness brewery yesterday. Tonight we're heading to the Gaiety theatre for a performance of Riverdance.

It's kind of odd here but all the signs are in two languages - English and what we would call Gaelic, although it would be called Irish here. All students study it in school. We also went to see the ancient Book of Kells, an incredibly beautiful and intricate manuscript over 1000 years old.

The weather has been kind of gray with the occasional drop of rain and ray of sunshine. Not enough rain to worry about and warm enough to enjoy. We're hoping it stays dry for our golf game tomorrow at Clontarf Golf Course.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Taking the Tour

We seem to finally be adjusting to the time difference - it took a few days and both Ross and I were on different schedules - I'd sleep and he'd wake up, he'd sleep and I'd be awake.

Yesterday we managed 2 tours - one at the old Kilmainham Gaol (jail) and of course the Guinness Brewery. The 'modern' jail was built over 200 years ago and was the site of many hangings and executions. The public hangings were very popular as entertainment and the most recent executions were of political rebels in the 1920s. This photo shows the newer section of the prison built in the 1800s where just a few guards could keep an eye on all the prisoners.Everywhere you look in this town there is evidence of the role Guinness plays. This was on the ceiling of one of the many pubs we've visited.The pubs actually provide some interesting architecture among all the red and gray brick buildings.Today we're heading off for a tour of Malahide Castle and the north coast.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Guinness and Leprechauns

If we have enough of the former we may see the latter. On our way to the Emerald Island this morning. I'll try to keep you updated with photos of the green-ness.

Exploring Haida Gwaii

Haida Gwaii (formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands) proved to be quite a contrast to my recent trip to Croatia. The number of touris...