Friday, November 26, 2010

☼●☀ Celtic roots ☀●☼

Before I get to caught up in exams I am going to have a moment to reflect on the last week or so. Because it was a wonderful week.

I went to Newgrange as I said I was going to. And my! It was magical. I think the spirits of our ancestors thousands of years before were lingering in the walls the river, the rolling hills. It was amazing. To give a bit of background, Newgrange is located just North of Dublin, in County Meath. It is not entirely known what the site was used for but it is guessed to be a sacred spot for those who lived on earth over 5000 years ago. The symbols of the swirls that are carved into the massive stones that hold the structure are similar to those that are found across the world belonging to other ancient tribes, the meaning not entirely known. But some of the symbols like the spiral have no end… it is beautiful in a way that it leads your imagination to think – well what did it mean for them. The reason that Newgrange is thought to be a burial chamber is because when it was discovered a couple hundred years ago there was the remnants of teeth, jewellery and bones. However the lady that took us through the chamber states that it could have also been used when women were giving birth as one of the three rooms on the side of the narrow walkway had two granite stones carved into basins.

The magic of Newgrange is held by the structure. Being over 5000years old, the chamber has remained standing strong, and has not once leaked – and Ireland with all its rain, this is just incredible. Inside the temperature remains a constant 10 degrees all year round. How and why this is, is questioned. But the ability for a structure to maintain and the knowledge and the planning that went behind its creation just left me in awe. At the entrance of the chamber there is a small light box above the door. On the 21st of December, the shortest day of the year (Winter equinox) the sun will rise and shine through the hole illuminating the whole of the chamber as the light bounces off the back wall. This last only about 17minutes until it falls back into darkness for another year. It is just incredible. The feeling inside gave me goose bumps. There are a few more similar buildings around Ireland like this; they are older then the Pyramids of Egypt and Stone Henge. It was so special to become apart of something that made me feel so little and at the same time, so much apart of something bigger then me.

After our walk around the hills of Newgrange we caught the bus back to the heritage site to enjoy some yummy soup and sandwiches. Mmm soup is so good on a cold day!

This week I have just started to knuckle down a little bit into the study. It’s a sad feeling having to study and know that straight after I will be leaving Ireland. Although I am trying not to dwell on it, as I really need to focus. Only 2 weeks till exams start and I have a joyful 6 exams! I feel like I am back doing the HSC again! But following the advice of some wise owls back home I have just formulated a timetable to make everything look achievable.

This afternoon I am finally touching base with my Celtic ties. I will visit some of my distant relatives for a lovely weekend in the countryside of Borris in Ossory. I don’t know what to expect, but I am sure it will be lovely. And there are snow predictions so I am even more excited! Its so icy but the snow has not yet fallen. I have both my fingers and toes crossed!

Peace out people. I may not write again for a while.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Days go by

What a beautiful finish to the week... another sunshiny day! I question myself if this is Ireland at times, but then in the night I get reminded as the wind howls and the rain lashes against my window...all to find out the sun greeting me in the morning. This week has been particularly special.

It is the little things that make you happy. Today I had the pleasure of a wonderful 2hr chat with my man, enjoyed a short run and came back to find a special parcel from Mum and Dad. Mum, impeccable taste, you know a girl always loves her lacy underwear (I am assuming it was you and not dad. hehe) And dad, I loved your letter. The wind in your face about Francis made me smile. Its exactly how I have felt here at times.
'The joy of tramping the roads... the wind blowing in your face... having the road all to yourself was part of the fun of being free... you hadn't a care in the world and the whole of nature was a garden just for you to romp in.' mmmm I feel like going and playing in some puddles and dancing in the sunshine!
Also Gabey how could I not miss you to much, your my cheeky monkey, they don't have many of them here!

Wednesday night was full of good craic! We went to a friends (Manu) house, and enjoyed some fun company, having a weee few drinks and some karaoke practice before we headed into town for a night of singing. It was a fun night, I even got to sing 'I come from the land down under'! A lot of national pride was felt. :-)

Manu, Marie, Bobby (I think trying to look serious)

Bobby and Justin singing their hearts out

Tomorrow I am finally going to Newgrange, a place I have wanted to go to for a while in Ireland, as its history just amazes me. It is an old burial ground that dates back older then the pyramids and stone henge. I will write an entry about it when I get back, as I am sure I will be in awe of it.

Enjoy the weekend beautiful people all over the world. I am sending some Irish sunshine to you all! (hehe. Bet you thought you would never hear me say this)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Oh! The Places You'll Go!!!

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!
by the incomparable Dr. Seuss

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look’em over with care. About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.” With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you’re too smart to go down a not-so-good street.

And you may not find any you’ll want to go down. In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town. It’s opener there in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.

You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And if you go in, should you turn left or right…or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite? Or go around back and sneak in from behind? Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find, for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.

No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all. Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be, with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t. Because, sometimes, they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not, Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go though the weather be foul. On you will go though your enemies prowl. On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl. Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak. On and on you will hike. And I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ta da!

So time again has slipped away from me and I have forgotten to write. I have now been living in Ireland for nearly 11 weeks. This seems a crazy thought, as it now feel like home. I walk outside and feel this familiarity and contentment being here. Not that I didn’t before, but now, it just fills me with warmness. I think I will have to come back.

Winter is now on my doorstep. It’s either a wet morning or a frosty one. The temperature has been dropping below zero on the odd day, sometimes I feel like a fat snowman man because I have so many layers on. You go out and then when you get inside you strip off again. It becomes a fine tuned performance.

Classes have been interesting. I found that studying social work in Ireland has opened me up to understanding a lot about their troubles, now and in the past. One thing I can say is, Ireland has a big, hard history.

Yesterday I went to explore the Killmainham, the old gaol in Dublin with Franzi. I am so glad that I live in the 21st century. My romantic ideals of the past have gone. In the 1800s children as young as 5 were put in prison with all the other men and women for crimes such as ringing door bells, and picking flowers from public parks. The conditions of the gaol were very basic, and would have been extremely cold. Who knows, my distant relatives probably were even in there as many of the prisoners were shipped to Australia as convicts. Some of the photos below are images of the cells, and the gaol from the inside. I really enjoyed walking through, to touch the walls that people from the past once did. It was interesting and taught me a lot about the uprising for Irish independence.

Afterward Franzi and I went to the food markets, mmmmm. So much yummy food! I think we wondered around the small market for over an hour tasting olives and hommos, cakes and other sweet food. The morning of us two, soon grew to 6 then 8. The weather changed and rain came, so as always it was teatime. We went to the very popular, cosy café ‘Queen of tarts’ – Look at all the scrumptious looking cakes in the picture. I had such a fun, relaxed Saturday. Franzi and I went to find the bus but ended up in the shop AVOCA. You will all be glad to know that I was very self-restrained. That is only because I am not here in Ireland longer. This shop has beautiful blankets, coats, toys, books, hot water bottles, teapots… everything. Corrine, I think you would have loved it. And lastly, to make my night even more full of happiness was Grafton Street! Christmas is in the air. The lights were lit up, the air crispy. I felt like I had stepped into a picture book from childhood.

The weather has been just gorgeous again today. Blue skies, crispy, fresh, and the smell of smoke coming from the chimneys. I went to church today for the first time, however, it was interesting, it was in Gaelic and lasted for only 15 min. The shortest service I think I have been to. However it was nice in a different way. Since I hadn’t been to the seaside of the Irish Sea, I wondered done the roads until I reached it. It was muddy, smelly, but lovely! The sun glinted off the water and made it sparkle.

Dad you would be proud, I even went for a run today even though it was 2 degree’s.

In the past couple of weeks that I have been absent from writing I have explored some more of Ireland. I made a trip to Galway and the Aran Islands. This was such a magic weekend. The music was great in Galway, we didn’t plan on staying out late but ended up coming home at about 2.30am and had to be up a couple of hours later to catch the early morning ferry across to the Islands. Galway has character. The market place, the small boutique shops, and their huge selection of vegetarian eating places what else can I say.

The Aran Islands were incredible. The ferry ride over woke me up as I stood out the back in the wind with the salty spray. Some Scottish lads played bagpipes on the deck below, and I watched about fifty dolphins dive next to the boat. It was a bit of a dream. On the island we hired bikes and road over the nearly every inch of it. It had a unique charm, green, rocky and massive cliffs. It was a special place to be. You could stand on the cliffs edge or lie with your back on the earth and feel at one with the universe. ~Ommmmm~

Another beautiful spot I have been to was Glendalough in the Wicklow Mountains. Lizz, Florence and I had a weekend of walking around the two lakes and spotting deer’s. It was nice to get out and do some full days of walking out of the city. Green, green and more green. Oh and did you know that a lot of the film Braveheart was filmed here and not in Scotland.

Last weekend I went over to the west of Ireland again to the gorgeous Connemara with the UCD’s mountaineering society. The hostel we stayed at, ‘the old monastery’ was unique. It was an old school for boy’s that was run by priests back in the day that apparently was haunted. Inside the lighting were mainly candles it was old and cosy. The bathrooms however were nothing like I have ever seen. They were lit up with blue fairy lights, and the showers were just blue! There was a fireplace in the bathroom, along with a couch. Definitely different and quirky, but I really liked it. The first walk we did was fun because we got true Irish weather. Rain, howling wind, hail, rain, more rain, more wind, and hail. We jumped in bogs walked through swamps and saw a beautiful rainbow. The next day we did a walk that had spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean. The group was great craic. Least to say little sleep happened.

So in-between all this I have been trying to knuckle down and study with many essays to do and exams looming up on me.

Sending love, a million hugs, kisses and more love to you all back home.