Sunday, January 03, 2010

The land of Limericks and Leprechauns part2

Glendalough in county Wicklow is one of those tiny villages to which we all at some time or another wish we could escape. Susan's sister Mary and her husband Noel live in just such a place. This must be one of the most wonderful couples I've ever met. (Mary on the left with the grey coat, Susan in the middle and Noel on the right). Noel and I hit it off right from the outset. It's so nice to be able to have long intelligent conversations with someone else for a change as opposed to the flack I normally have to dodge.

Glendalough has quite an amazing history that dates back to the times of kings and crusades. We visited an old monastery with it's attendant grave-yard.

Some of these graves date back to the 10th century and beyond. The oldest headstones are very weathered and are extremely difficult to decipher as you can imagine after more than a thousand years in the open. The buildings themselves were built with stone and even the roofs were of stone.
During the Viking invasions the monks who lived here would use a ladder to get to the lower opening in the tower, they would then pull the ladder up and stay in the tower until the danger had passed. Scary times indeed.
Fortunately our accommodation on this brief visit was far more comfortable and not at all scary. In fact due to the incredible hospitality of Mary and Noel our stay was extremely pleasant.
Noel is an architect and Mary is a lecturer at the University of Dublin about an hours drive away. They bought a little two roomed cottage bordering the nature reserve about 25yrs ago and with lots of hard work and careful planning this is the result.
A beautiful home with an amazing garden set in one of the most beautiful locations I've ever seen. Mary loves gardening and as you can see she's done a fabulous job. Of course Noel has also done amazing things with the house but I think his great passion is to go for long walks in the countryside, which he does every morning and, given the chance when guests arrive, he would happily spend the whole day out and about. I can identify with him completely.One of the things I really appreciated was when Mary and Susan came to meet us on our way back home after a walk around the lake which takes about an hour and a half. Mary goes to meet Noel quite often but as she works in Dublin this can only happen on week-ends and holidays.
The walks that Noel and I went on were a little further reaching, taking 3 to 4 hours, and more strenuous to say the least. Fortunately I am very used to walking otherwise I'm not sure I would have been able to keep up.
We went up into the mountains climbing right up into the snow-line amongst rocks and boulders. Crossing streams and gullies amongst the old lead and zinc mine ruins one wonders how these people survived winters in these mountains digging out ore with hand tools and living in incredibly isolated accommodation miles from their families and homes.

Of course lower down in the valley the temperatures were a little more hospitable but still freezing. Most of the animals move down into the valley but the deer preferred the open space higher up. They were not all that afraid of us and some of them allowed us to get really close with the camera.
We met a Robin on our way down which unfortunately I did not photograph. This poor little thing seemed frozen but when we tried to catch it to take home for feeding and warmth it fluttered away. A little later we found it following us and when we gave it a little bread it grabbed it and made off with a big piece in it's beak.

With temperatures falling below freezing my heart went out to all the animals trying to survive these really harsh conditions. Life can be really tough out in nature but it goes on all the same.

The walks that we went on were a real eye-opener to me. I come from sunny South Africa and to see so much snow and to feel so cold was a surprise to say the least. For those of you who are used to these conditions all I can say is: you have no idea how much of an impact this has had on me.
Ireland is a wonderful place and I'm very very very grateful to the Lord for sending me to this amazing place. To Susan who made all this a reality and To Noel and Mary who opened their hearts and home to us I would like to say: God bless you and thank you so much.
There is so much I could write about that if I did here I think it would turn into a book. That's the trouble with blogging, it' so easy to just write and write and write. I enjoyed my stay in Ireland immensely and Noel I really enjoyed our walks and discussions, you and your wife are amazing people and I'm proud to have met you. Thank you again.

May God bless the Irish people in 2010. From a freezing South African's heart to your amazingly warm hearts. God bless you all.

Water everywhere.

Next years christmas cards.

This place is so pretty, no wonder so many people come out here from the city to get away from it all.

Where did you spen new years eve and did you enjoy it?


  1. What a beautiful blog! The photos and people are so wonderful! Thanks for taking the time and taking lots of photos...I felt the beauty of Ireland. God Bless you always. E-

  2. Elizabeth.The people are indeed wonderful and taking photos is the best way I can portray this amazing country. Thanks for your encouraging words.