Castles, Hills and other old stuff

Hello again family and friends! I figured before I let you all know what I did last week I would assure you that I am doing great! Dublin is a wonderful city, and I really enjoy it. The weather is a lot like Seattle’s, people dress pretty casually, and its overall just a fun city to be living in, especially for someone interested in Medieval history.

Last week was another great week! We had our normal lectures Monday through Wednesday, but on Tuesday we went to a play. The play was Major Barbara by George Bernard Shaw, an Irish playwright. I personally wasn’t the biggest fan of the play myself, but I could appreciate the acting, the set, and even the philosophy behind the writing. (Below is our group at the play)

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On Thursday we went to the National Gallery to look at some paintings, in particular we were looking at depictions of the Irish in the eighteenth century. Most of these paintings were fairly stereotypical, as many of the artists were English, and thus depicted some of the Irish as pale and redheaded while drinking. The art was lovely, and I plan on returning to see more of the Gallery next week.

Friday was our field trip day, and it was amazing! We started off by going to Trim Castle in county Meath, and then afterwards we went to the Hill of Tara, were the ancient kings of Ireland used to be crowned.

Trim Castle was absolutely stunning. Not only did we get to walk around the grounds, but we also got to walk through the entire castle and on the roof of it. While I won’t bore you too much with the history, I will let you know this Castle was built in the later part of the twelfth century by the Anglo-Norman invaders (essentially the English). The castle was built in stages, so the pictures below are not representative of how the castle started.

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Here is the castle. It’s a fairly interesting design, it is in the shape of a cruciform. While this makes sense, because the pope gifted Ireland to England because many considered the Irish at this time not Catholic enough, the cross shaped castle does not make sense in terms of military architecture. Corners are the weakest parts of castles, and this castle has 20 of them, so compared to other castles, it would not have been the best suited for battle. Only one battle was ever fought here though. Sorry, trying hard not to bore you all with the history and specifics.

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Here is the castle walls. And below is the river nearby the Castle.Image

Here is looking down at what was initially one large banquet hall, later divided into two rooms, to provide architectural support, so the castle could be built taller.Image

And here is one of the Castle’s hallways, notice how narrow they are.

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After the extensive Castle tour at Trim, we went to the hill of Tara. While there we got the best ice cream cones! It was soft serve and the ice cream was homemade, needless to say it was amazing. The hill is best known for being where the high kings of Ireland were crowned. But there are also some burial mounds there and later people even were living in the area. Below is a photo of the rock, that was a test to see if you could be king or not. If an Irishman put his foot on the rock and a shriek or noise was emitted, it was evidence that he should be king. If he put his foot on it and no noise emitted, he should not be king. There were other signifies for Kingship, this was just one of them. Also, the rock originally was placed below a hill, so putting your foot on top would be a lot easier.

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The photo below shows the earthen mounds at Tara, which is both all that remains, and all that was there originally.

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Below is a photo of the supposed fairy tree at Tara. Its not the real fairy tree though, the real tree is down the road and not as well known. The point of these trees though is that you tie a piece of cloth on the branches and the fairies leave you alone. That may be wrong, but I think that’s right. Anyways this tree, the wrong one, was kinda gross. There were pacifiers attached to it, a guy’s boxers were on it, and a lot of what was on the branches was just garbage.

I will leave with one last funny thing I’ve been noticing over here, the Irish are really big on understatement. There is one pub nearby us called “Probably the best pub in Dublin” and another shop advertises itself as “Decent”. To cap all this understatement off, we saw this on Friday, and I thought it was pretty funny. Enjoy the week!Image

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