Rory and I, along with Chris joined most of our fellow travelers at LAX in Los Angeles at 7am for a 9am flight on Friday morning. Uneventful flight to Atlanta and then on to Dublin. Personally, I was uncomfortable and got little or no sleep....John Costelloe, our coach driver was waiting for us in Dublin airport for our arrival at 7am and once on board the coach, we toured around the city until check in time at lunch hour. The rest of the day was free for everyone and my brother Martin showed up to the hotel, surprising us, and drove us off in his Jaguar Sovereign to pick up my Martin guitar which stays in the careful hands of my niece Emma, a budding sixteen year old musician, while it lives here... Saves me transporting an instrument.
By mid afternoon, Rory, Martin and I drove into Grafton Street in his "MI5" Jag, I called it, and dropped nephew Adam off to play pool with his pals. We made our way to Sheehan's pub off Grafton Street for lunch and watched the famous Aintree Grand national steeplechase horse race from England. It's the most famous horse race in the world, where forty 9 - 11 year old horses run around a four and a half mile track, twice, and jump thirty fences over six feet high. Needless to say many fall but yesterday, nobody got hurt and an outsider won at 60/1...it's a very exiting event and everybody watches it.
Then it was back to the hotel and a nap. Rory took off with another of my nephews, Justin, and his wife Paula, while I went to Kennedy's around the corner with some of the group for fish and chips...we older folks called it an early night and I was in bed by 10pm...for those of you who know I'm a teetotaler these days, going to bed at 10pm in the old days would have been unheard of for me...we would have closed some place down, then got back to some one's place for a session and a sing song and ... who knows....maybe I'm getting wiser..
We were up first thing this morning for Irish breakfast and out the door to Newgrange, a 3500 year old Neolithic tomb, built before the great pyramids of Giza and 1000 years older than Stonehenge. I've been there several times and it is amazing. A burial chamber inside a huge mound and worth a Google for more info...could go on too long about it for the blog. We then travelled to the monastic settlement of Mellifont Abbey, a rather large settlement built by Cistercian monks in 1171.
We drove on to see the great High Celtic Crosses in Monasterboice which also included a very fine example of a round tower, extremely high though broken at the top, These high towers were used as lookouts for the monks and a refuge during times of attack. They were quite impregnable, fireproof and the door was built about seven or eight feet above the ground and the ladder pulled up for safety.
During this afternoon's trip, we were driving at times through the river Boyne Valley, a most spiritual area and also the site of the famous Battle of the Boyne in 1689 where Protestant King William 111, defeated Catholic King James 11 in the dual for the crown of England. This famous battle, the largest ever assembly of armies on Irish soil was to be remembered in history as the beginning of the religious divide and is commemorated every year by the Unionists in the North.
Tomorrow we will enter their domain....but tonight we will have a singsong in the hotel after Rory takes me out for a fancy dinner....
Slan mo chairde....until the next words appear....