Wednesday, Nov 20, 2002

Yvette in front of the Hillgrove B&B. I can only imagine those bushes in
full bloom in the spring (our rental car is the one hiding behind the VW beetle).
Nov. 20, 2002

Irish mornings are amazing, full of mist and cold, evoking a sense of magic. We gathered up our stuff, had a wonderful breakfast, and set out for our next destination, the Rock of Cashel, on our way to Dingle.

As we drove down the road down the Tipperary plains, the Rock of Cashel jumped out at us from behind a small hill, all majestic and ancient. Local legends say the Devil took a bite out of the nearby Slieve Bloom mountains and spat it out in disgust right in the middle of the Tipperary plains after seeing St. Patrick getting ready to build a great church, thus creating the promontory upon which Cashel of the Kings sits.

In Ireland, we soon confirmed, history and legend are one and the same, the line between them as hazy as the misty rain.

Our first view of the Rock of Cashel. As you follow the road
around a small hill, the castle appears in front of you like a dream.
Nov. 20, 2002

Today was also our first taste of full Irish weather; it was cold, rainy and windy and we loved it, even with all the implications such weather normally entails. At Cashel, jutting so high over the surrounding terrain, the wind was quite strong, making us watch our step as we walked around lest we get blown off-balance.

Danny & Yvette inside the ruins of the church.
Nov. 20, 2002

It was incredible to be in such a place as Cashel. The jumble of buildings one on top of the other, the layers of history vying for dominance even in their ruined state, lend the site a solemn dignity that was only enhanced by the weather. The slate-grey sky framed everything in stark contrast to itself, making us aware of details we know we would have missed under a sunny Summer sky. After about 10 minutes you get used to the rain–it simply becomes part of the landscape–and you stop noticing when it stops and starts falling again. It is Ireland, after all.

The round tower, outer wall and cemetery at Cashel.
Nov. 20, 2002

The little booklet we picked up at the gift shop did a great job of introducing us to the wonders of Cashel without being too heavy on history that may bog down the experience (it has a great bibliography for that), pointing out the major sights at the site, great details to note, and enough context to make the ruins come alive as you walk among them.

Danny next to St. Patrick’s Cross.
The original is inside the little museum.
Nov. 20, 2002

Cashel is one of those places that captures your heart and imagination from the moment you see it in the distance. You can see the various waves of inhabitants reflected on the stones that bear witness to this day, hear the voices of kings and religious figures that left their mark on the structure and fabric of both site and surrounding town. In short, a place where one could spend hours lost in thought and reflection.

But we did not have those hours, as the road was long and our destination still far away. So after about 2 1/2 hours, we bid adieu to Cashel, vowing to return, and go back in our car on our way to that idyllic corner of Ireland, the Dingle Peninsula.

We arrived in Dingle at around 6:00 pm, and it was dark as midnight by then. A tip: try to avoid getting into the Dingle peninsula after dark (the roads contort in ways unknown to humanity) and when traveling from Cashel to Dingle, avoid the Mallow road (especially if it has been raining). We found our B&B, Ballymore House, and no sooner we had walked in the door, our host, Maurice, had hot coffee and cake ready for us in front of a really nice peat fire. Ahh…

Dingle was to be honeymoon part of our honeymoon trip; four days of bliss, disconnected from the world, with only the sea and the land (and the sheep, all 500,000 of them!) as our companions. Our room had a view of Ventry cove, but it was dark and raining when we arrived, so we couldn’t see anything. All that changed in the morning, when the sun welcomed us to this remote corner of Ireland.

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