A Travellerspoint blog

King John’s Castle

Our last tour

The first time we arrived in Limerick we walked by King John’s Castle and had dinner across the river. We decided that this time we would get a guide to take us through Medieval Limerick and finish up the day with a walk through the castle.

Our tour guide, Nolan, was wonderful; 75 years old and the father of 7 children, he had every necessary trick up his sleeve to keep us all in line. We learned that Limerick received its charter as a city 20 years before London. We also learned about the long travail of Irish suppression; and of the internal divide between the Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants. Of real interest were the roles of politics and power in the strengthening and widening of the divide.

As we toured the medieval streets, one site of interest was St. Mary's Cathedral, 850 years old this year.

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Nolan ended his tour at King John’s castle, but not without some thoughts on museums and tourist traps! Which we ignored...Yes, Sir Robert the knight, what happens with too many war hammers to the head, and knights without necks...

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Once in the castle Aidan came upon a “minstrel” from whom we learned all sorts of things! (One of the best bits of info was his learning to play the harp from YouTube?) He was a fount of info about the guilds, the life of minstrels, who could read and write in medieval Ireland, about clothes making,…he was wonderful!

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After leaving the minstrel, we had a short time to rush through the castle itself.

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In our rush we met up with some fellow Americans, a father and his daughter on a visit to Ireland before the daughter begins college at Cal Poly Tech. The father was kind enough to take our photo.

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Posted by Jeanny Preston 14:15 Comments (0)

Irish flora

The stuff of fairytales

Ireland is lush with fast flowing streams and mossy trees, young and old. We were constantly getting weird looks as we went on about the trees. The forests are straight out of The Lord of the Rings, all falling somewhere between Galadriel’s forest and Mirkwood.

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Many of the places we visited had forests which had been managed for hundreds of years. This makes for some mighty trees. On the Muckross lands we saw an area that had a number of massive trees toppled due to age, or some storm in the recent past. It was heartbreaking and sad to see such majestic giants brought low.

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To date I have not been to see the California Redwoods. Thus, my only experience of truly massive trees is memories of photos my grandfather had taken while a young logger in a northwest lumber camp, Caslyn, in the early 1930’s. Those photos were of logging off first growth in the cascade mountains. Tree diameters were more than the height of a man, and so tall! Four and five wagons were needed to haul off the lengths of firs, pines, and cedars.

In the northwest hardwood is rare, whereas in Ireland the massive hardwood, leafy, trees seemed to have been everywhere. The canopies were awe inspiring. We saw the mighty giants in so many places: in amidst hedge groves, in managed lands, in parks, and in deep hilly ravines.

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Unlike ancient monuments or buildings, they are living. So, rather than an awe to make one feel small and like a blip on the timescale; these large, majestic, and ponderous trees evoke respect, and a sensation that they are capable of empathy and kindness. They were tender seedlings long before memory; they have endured. Beneath their canopy of cool benevolent shadow, one is safe; sheltered in still wisdom and compassion.

We had to go on about the trees, we were journeying amidst sleeping Ents!

Posted by Jeanny Preston 13:39 Comments (0)

Say goodbye to mayhem

Galen cuts his fro

I couldn’t help but put in a piece about Galen’s hair. His bigger than life fro has been his "marker" for the last few years, with many remembering him because of it.

I have to say, he's open to experimentation--he had braids done for the trip, hoping that the braids would be easier to take care of during our travels. Not so. He and I spent a lot of “quality time” re-braiding his braids.

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We removed the braids in Swansea, Wales. If I can figure it out, I will later edit in the video version of this photo. Some of the videos we took are priceless...

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After that, he experimented with the “man bun”.

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He did well with the man bun (he would say he "rocked" it), but it wasn't easy to get into a bun....it called for strong hands and a lot of wincing and tears, or maybe the damp eyes are better described as a "manly watering at the corners"...Anyway, after doing the man bun for a while he let it go natural again.

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Then, out of the blue, he announced that he wanted to cut it short. He wanted a break from the work needed to manage it.
We found that there was a barber shop, Modern Man, right next to our hotel, the Pier Hotel in Limerick, so we promptly went in to ask if they could cut his hair.

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One of the women barbers there told us that Shane, the owner of the Sarsfield St. Modern Man Barbers, was brilliant with curly hair, but wasn’t available at the moment. If we could be waiting outside the door before opening the next day, she said Galen could be the first person in his barber chair. She took pity on Shane and took a photo of Galen’s afro so Shane would know what he would be up against bright and early the next morning.

Shane was indeed brilliant!

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Shane was really friendly and really knew how to deal with thick curly hair. He also trimmed Galen's beard and gave him some pointers. He took photos during the cut, I don't know if he posted them anywhere. If I find them posted I will add in where to find the photos. You can see Shane's work on instagram @shane_red_burke. Modern Man Barbers is also on facebook at www.facebook.com/Modern Man Barbers.

Posted by Jeanny Preston 05:36 Comments (0)

Our a travel map

A bit shambolic, but we press on

We have been wobbling about a fair bit!

You can zoom in to see the map at a very detailed level. I am working out how to have our photos linked to the map as well. When I first began that was beyond me, but I have been poking about may be able to do it soon.

This whole blog thing has been really interesting and a great way to share experiences. I want to get the basics down pat so I can blog effectively. In effect this blog in my beta version. So stay tuned!

Posted by Jeanny Preston 01:40 Comments (0)

Aeroplanes galore!

Traveling perfect circles with a hyperventilating 10 year old

While in Toulous we found an aviation museum! It’s called Aeroscopia. A couple of times I thought I was going to have to find Aidan a paper bag to breathe into; when we walked over to the Concorde I swear I saw his eyeballs begin to roll back up into his head…

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It was a hike to get there; with me at the mercy of iPhone GPS…which I really haven’t figures out how to use yet…I will admit to having carefully followed my little moving blue dot, oblivious to all in a deep state of concentration, only to look up to see that we had traveled in a circle to the exact (to within 1/10 of a meter…) spot from whence we began. I think it’s the fault of the little blue dot. Sometimes I follow it and we do just fine…capricious little blue bastard…

Anyway, I digress…

If we get back to Toulous some day, we will book ahead to take the Airbus factory tour in addition to visiting the museum again. It would have been fascinating, but foreigners have to book 48 hours in advance, providing passport information among other things, between Tuesdays and Fridays to get a ticket. We couldn’t make it happen this time.

And now back to Aeroscopia…Again, I am in the position to only do you a disservice with words. I will let our photos expound on our visit:

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Posted by Jeanny Preston 10:42 Comments (2)

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