Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Merry Christmas!

 Forgive this belated post. I had it scheduled to post on Christmas day, but unfortunately, it did not for some unknown reason, and I didn't notice that it didn't post until today. But just because "Christmas" is celebrated on one day, the effects of the True Meaning of Christmas echoes through the rest of the year.

Christ the Savior is born!

To celebrate, I wanted to share this AMAZING story by one of my favorite authors, Shannon Dittemore, who wrote the fabulous Angel Eyes trilogy, will make you rethink the way you view that not-so-silent night of the very first Christmas when our Lord was born.

I  present Pearl's First Christmas. Just tap the link to read this eye-opening story.

My roommate while I was in Ireland, Kenzi, has been writing this amazing string of short stories about one night after Christmas Eve service which is incredibly thought-provoking and encourages to really look at the people around you and wonder who they REALLY are.

A Christmas story you won't find on a Hallmark Card: Part 1
A Christmas story you won't find on a Hallmark Card: Part 2
A Christmas story you won't find on a Hallmark Card: Part 3 

And on the Irish side of things. In the weeks before we left Ireland, they put up the lights in Dublin. Here is a picture of the Christmas lights on Grafton Street, which is one of the main pedestrian only shopping streets in Dublin.

In conclusion, one of my favorite quotes from C. S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia "The Last Battle."

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Johnstown Castle Co. Wexford

This is a place we went to all the way back from our Wexford drop off. One of the things we learned about Wexford town during our drop off is that although very historical, there was little in the way of "touristy" things to do in Wexford. So we ended up having plenty of time on our hands and nothing to do. Once we figured out that there was a pretty castle just outside of the town, we called a taxi and went to explore it.

Unfortunately, by this time it was late afternoon, and the castle grounds would be closing soon, so we asked the taxi driver to pick us up in an hour and headed out to see what we could.

There was an Irish agricultural museum in these buildings, but it was closing so we didn't have a chance to go in.
We got quite excited when we saw this peacock. Little did we know that there would be plenty more to follow.
We finally headed out into the gardens to explore.
There was a beautiful lake with walled keep towers.
and on the other side a glimpse of the castle itself.
Where water is; there ducks are also.
We walked along the edge of the lake to the Castle.
We were unable to learn anything about the history of the castle, but from its size and ornateness, I imagine it was built by the Engish and/or more recently.

This castle definitely wasn't designed for defensive purposes.

I found a little path that led back to this mysterious section of land. It was a large rectangle several feet lower than the rest with ramps on either side. We've no clue what it is.
Pretty trees.
Small waterfalls
Another tree... with a far more interesting story
We'd been feeling mischevious all day. That combined with the fact that we had to take pictures documenting our drop off experience made for a humorous combination. We'd been thinking up funny stories to tell everyone when we got back which weren't precisely true...

For example, Becca had twisted her ankle some weeks earlier and was, therefore, limping around on crutches. So we took this staged shot. Our "story" is Meghann climbed the tree and wouldn't get down so Becca climbed up after her to get her down, they both fell out resulting in Becca re-spraining her ankle. This never happened, of course, but it was a fairly accurate example of something that could have happened.
But we didn't stop with that. We found statues and copied their poses. 
Becca copying this lady holding a fish.

Meghann posing as this lady holding fruit in her skirt ... somehow...

And Meghann, Rylie, and I as three children... doing something.
The view of the Castle from the other side of the lake was especially spectacular.
As promised there were many more peacocks. We saw whole flocks of them. Unfortunately, they were really difficult to get a nice picture of. Most of mine turned out blurry!

The grounds were closing at 4 and our taxi driver didn't arrive at our appointed pick-up point at the time he was supposed to, because Ireland. So we walked all the way out to the gates because we didn't want to be trapped inside when the such in the next 15 minutes or so. We were getting rather worried, but then he arrived and we had a great converation with him on the way back to Wexford.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Winter Solstice

Today is the Winter Solstice.

From now on, this day will mark something very special. It is no longer "just" the shortest day of the year, ending with hopes for brighter days in the future.

No. From now on, the Winter Solstice will remind me of the stunning and beautiful Newgrange on a hill above the Boyne River.

Forever emblazoned in my mind is that golden beam of artificial light shining on the floor of Newgrange. I can only imagine how more beautiful it would be to see it in person!

That golden light has spilled across the sand and illuminated the inner chamber of Newgrange for over 5,200 years!

To celebrate this fabulous piece of architecture here are a few videos. And if you haven't read my blog post on Newgrange, it is worth checking out!

Here is one of my favorite songs -- All about Newgrange...

And Brad's video he made for our trip to Glendalough and Newgrange

Monday, December 19, 2016

Powerscourt Waterfall

 The Powerscourt waterfall was beautiful. It is the tallest waterfall in Ireland.

 Bailey decided to jump in the pool at the base of the waterfall -- because why not? Everyone knows Springer Spaniels LOVE the water. Nine times out of ten, Bailey is wet.

 We rested and climbed around on the rocks at the base of the waterfall, giving be plenty of time to get pictures. But basically, they all look the same...

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Powerscourt Hike

 Powerscourt. Not only does it hold some of the most wonderful gardens, but its thousands of acres of land also holds the tallest waterfall in Ireland and some gorgeous hikes.

The Sugarloaf Mountain towered in the distance during our drive there.
 I really enjoyed this hike because we went through all kinds of forests and it felt a lot like wandering through the woods at home.

Of course, the first thing we saw after we climbed out of the coach was horses, and I immediately wished I was riding to the waterfall rather than walking.

Trees towered over us on either side of the main trail. The sun shone brilliantly overhead.

 We finally made it to the waterfall, which will receive its own post.
 The hike back was the real adventure. There wasn't really a trail in the direction that we decided to go back in, but Jon and Koert, more or less knew where they were going. I admit that this was my favorite part of the hike.

There were lots of creeks...
... and AMAZING trees!
 We came across this little troublesome spot (not that it troubled me any) Bailey (The dog on the other side) crossed the creek without hesitation, but Koert and Jon had to check it out to make sure it was "crossable." Bailey and I agree that it is fine.

 After that delay, we continued to admire the trees, and our group split in half. I chose to stay with the group heading into the woods. At this point, there wasn't any semblance of a path. We were just going by our sense of direction.

Unfortunately, the terrain was not following the same line of direction. We followed a ridge which led us further away from both our direction and the rest of the group. Eventually, we decided that we needed to cross the creek at the bottom of the ridge.

 We did so without too many casualties -- stumbling down a steep slope is more suited for mountain goats than humans. We then pranced across the trickle of the creek and clawed our way up the slope on the other side, meeting up with the rest of the group.
 We continued onto more amazing views.

 Pine forests.
 We had to skip across slippery rocks to cross this river -- just like in the fairytales.

Isn't these woods just as magnificent as the Powerscourt gardens, if not more so? Make sure you check back in the next few days to get a closer look at the Powerscourt Waterfall itself.