A Few Days in Ireland
FRI JUNE 6
Today we had to head up towards Cavan for the wedding tomorrow. Bob and I decided to go up through Kildare to see the Japanese Gardens and National Stud, which we missed last time. There was a light rain coming down (finally!! The poor fish were dying in the dried up streams everywhere) so we figured there wouldn´t be tons of people there. We went the same way we went last time - through Mallow and Port Laois and such, and easily arrived in Kildare. Sure enough, there were few people at the car park, so we went right in.
The gardens first, which would never have been built in the states because the lawsuit-happy people would have slipped on the stones or fallen in the lakes and sued. Which is a shame - it was quite pretty. It was laid out like the "life of man", starting with the birth in a cave, the walk of childhood through the "tunnel of ignorance" (a pitch dark tunnel), etc. After adolescence there was a decision path between bachelorhood and marriage and childhood and Bob wanted to sprint for the honeymoon completely avoiding the island of engagement and marriage bliss. Ah well. I of course got confused and instead of going over the marriage bridge started heading over the ´bridge of life´ to the rest of my life. Eventually get got sorted out and were heading towards ´the hill of achievement´. Bob realized we had missed ´disappointment´ and went out to hunt that down. I instead persevered on and found achievement, which he avoided in the search for wisdom. Hmmmm. We eventually joined back up again and went through the rest of the path.
There was a teahouse in the middle (middle age I think) but it was sadly in disrepair, the doors didn´t slide, no flowers or scrolls or anything. I´d think they´d keep it up and use it for special occasions, but I guess not. On to old age and death.
The stud was interesting - they had a museum with a famous horse´s skeleton, studies of the history of the horse, etc. Apparently roads in Ireland were either sized for two chariots to just pass (for much of their history they didn´t ride horses, they used them to pull war chariots) or for two cows, one perpendicular to the other, to stand in the road. Then we went out to the foaling yard, and saw the miniature horse with her foal who was quite a feisty little creature. They were trying to get him in his stable because of the light rain and he DIDN´T want to go. Then on to see the race horses that were there for stud, and then around the fields to see all the mares and their baby horses. They were quite darling.
After that, we headed north to Cavan/Meath. The roads were horribly marked (or unmarked) so we got misguided a few times but eventually ended up on the lake. Lough Sheelin - it sort of sits on the line between Meath, Westmeath and Cavan. Great fishing lake. Barbara and Tom were there already so we had dinner in the bar. A foursome of English cops were there for the fishing so we all chatted a bit. We then watched the Millstreet concert on TV but apparently where we were sitting was just outside the camera´s reach so we weren´t on video. Ah well.
SAT JUNE 7
Today was wedding day. We all woke a little late, had breakfast. There was the cutest little bunny in the field by the inn! It was a cow pasture and a bunny was hopping through eating only the white flowers. He´d grab the flower by the base and then suck it into his mouth, finally getting the flower in with a POP. It was neat.
Then we took off to the wedding church, in Oldcastle. We barely got there at 1 (ceremony time) and got into the pews. And waited. And waited. It was around 2pm before the bride finally showed up, much to the relief of the groom. It was a Catholic ceremony with pretty singing and guitar. Everyone was done in orange sherbet colors (it appears to be the 60s again in Ireland - mint green, orange sherbet, light blue and bright yellow). Eventually the ceremony ended and we all went outside for a "group shot". And off to the Clover Inn for the reception.
The Clover was on the other side of Lough Sheelin, quite nice. Only 10 rooms or so, and initially we got a great room with a huge window overlooking the lake. As more and more people decided to stay, though, they shoved 2 families in that room and we got a smaller one to the side. Everybody just drank from when we got there - the bar had all sorts of neat spots on the TV - cricket, road rallys (amazing speeds for these winding roads), etc. Election results from Friday weren´t even starting to come in yet. I suppose it takes a while to count given their various systems!
We drank until around 6, when we started dinner. It was good - chicken pie, soup, ham and turkey and free wine. The band was a brass band that played all sorts of songs, and we changed and came back down. Bob didn´t want to dance, but we all sat and listened until morning. Apparently some people stayed up until 5 or 6am. They had set dancers (sort of professional) showing some of the neater dances although the Clare folk wished they just played more music for US to set dance. Ah well.