Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mountains and Monasteries in Wicklow

Been talking politics and economics in Dublin. I sit next to people in breakfast shops and in pubs and strike up conversations. I don't have to bring it around to the above subjects because they do. It's depressing. It's also been cold and windy for a few days, so when sun was forecast for Saturday I took a bus into the Wicklow Mountains. Trouble is, it started raining as soon as I got there.Took all these photos at the extensive Glendalough Monastery ruins in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains. I went around by myself, but I overheard a tour guide tell his group that Jesus was Irish. “How do I know that?” he asked. “He had eleven drinking buddies and lived with his mother until he was thirty-three.” Sacrilegious? Maybe, but funny.

The sensor on my Nikon D-60 is sensitive enough to pick up plenty of light on overcast, rainy days, and for that I’m grateful. I knew I was framing some beautiful scenes while resting my umbrella on my head as I adjusted my lens, but I wasn’t sure how they’d come out. I’m very pleased. The sun emerged as the sun was setting and offered some mist to hang over the mountains on one side of the long valley.Vikings had raided this monastery every 20-30 years for centuries before Brian Boru defeated them. I wondered how many slaughtered monks lay under these stones.The wind-twisted cedar struck me. It's not hard to see where the prevailing wind comes from as all the trees - and even the gravestones - seem to lean north. This tree symbolized the Viking violence monks endured for so long. The Vikings would wait long enough between raids to let the monks rebuild and accumulate more things to steal.St. Kevin liked to get out of the city too and he went to Glendalough sometime after 500 AD to find refuge from the outside world. These stones on a mountainside overlooking Glendalough's upper lake (or "loch" as they say here) are all that remain of his "cell." It's assumed that he had a stone beehive structure on the site similar to the ones found in Dingle and dating from about the same time.Always been drawn to ancient trees, especially those with the general signs of age like moss and curiously-shaped limbs. There were several on the so-called "Green Road" to the upper lake at Glendalough. Some seemed like characters out of the Wizard of Oz.It's an enchanting place, as so much of Ireland is to me. This is my third trip and I don't think it's the last. If Ireland's economy continues to tank, perhaps it'll get even cheaper to travel here. That assumes the US economy doesn't collapse along with it though.After a few centuries and half-a-dozen raids, monks built this round tower to hide in when the Vikings came by. Guess it worked because it's still there.As these pictures attest, Ireland has survived travails for a long time and it will get past the one looming now as well. Can't be any worse than a Viking raid, can it?

8 comments:

Diane Gurien, Kearsarge NH said...

Thank you, Tom, for another fascinating history piece.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you are taking some time for appreciation of the beauty that surrounds us in this confusing and discouraging world. The photographs you have taken remind us that the worries which occupy our minds are transitional in nature.

usa2uk said...

Thanks for sharing this Tom..great article & photos....Jan

Anonymous said...

Ireland's economy is tanking? Sad, thought it was becoming a free trade zone in Europe, with airlines using its labour to service planes, Internet facilities using its prime location and so on.

Sad. But I can see from NYT Ireland owes a LOT. $867 Billion.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/05/02/weekinreview/02marsh.html?ref=global

-tomax7

Anonymous said...

My viking ancestors were cruel but they were not stupid by waiting to raid again. Eventually many of them just stayed and became civilized or not depending on your outlook. So of course I now have Irish ancestors.

Great pictures Tom.

Anonymous said...

We all know that you only went over to Ireland because your a closet Homo and you wanted to hear somebody say; "Feckin Arse".

Sorry Tom, I had to chime in and remind you of what your coming back to because we haven't heard the usual drivel this week from all your "seminar posters" and other assorted members of the S.D.S. But I'm sure they are "Stratigitizing" as we read this and they will be back in force.

Nice pics. Keep em coming.

Anonymous said...

Hey mack, how goes it?

Anonymous said...

good how are you mack?