Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ireland or Bust: Flashback to Ireland, Part 2

Folio 34r contains the Chi Rho monogram.[44] Chi and rho are the first two letters of the word Christ in Greek.
This is taken from Wikipedia's article on The Book of Kells
In 2005, we flew to Dublin, picked up a car and drove to Droghheda. Booked into a B&B for one night and went off to spend the day in Dublin. I'd missed seeing the Book of Kells, in 1989, because we were in Dublin on a Sunday, and the Trinity College exhibit was closed on a Sunday at that time.
Missing the book was a very hard thing for me. Sometimes, you just have to trust that you will be back! In 2005, I made sure we were going to be in Dublin on any day but a Sunday. There was a magnificent exhibition on bookmaking in the rooms leading up to the actual book itself, the pages of which are turned on a daily basis. I was hoping for the Chi Rho monogram above, but you can't have everything, can't you?
My Irish Sweetheart, Martin. I used him here to show the size of the boulders with the ancient Celtic carvings. The meaning of the swirling symbol is lost to the ages, but you see it everywhere now days, and now you know where it came from.
The next morning it was peeing down with rain as we went off to visit the ancient site of New Grange, one of many fine ancient things to see in the Boyne Valley, north of Dublin. And sometimes you just gotta let the rain not dampen your mood and get on with a good time. (Now, you'll all be reminding me of that if I complain about having to paint in the rain in Wexford this year.)

Martin crucified inside the magnificent ruins of Temple Rí (King's Church)
at the Clonmacnoise Abbey site. The stones in the gravel represent where burials would have been.
After all, it was Ireland, and we were dressed well enough for it. And no sooner had we left New Grange and heading out across the center of the island the rain stopped! Martin always does the driving, and I always do the navigating. We are good at our jobs. I spied an ancient monastic site on the map called Clonmacnoise, and we headed for it.
We had this site all to ourselves the entire time we were there.
One reason I like to travel off season.
Clonmacnoise was an Early Christian site founded by St. Ciarán in the mid-6th century on the eastern bank of the River Shannon. The site includes the ruins of a cathedral, seven churches (10th -13th century), two round towers, three high crosses and the largest collection of Early Christian graveslabs in Western Europe.
I could see why the monks chose this site for their community. I surely wanted to stay and paint the feeling of quiet beauty that was here. Not the architecture, but the view across the Shannon. It was lovely beyond belief, but we were headed for Doolin on the west coast, and hadn't booked a room, so we continued on. Still, the haunting memory of this beautiful place has stayed in my heart since that cool, grey afternoon.

A few hours later in Doolin, we found a B&B, we offered some tea, and freshened up a bit before heading out for an evening meal in a pub. Not long after we sat down, one by one in came the musicians. It wasn't the best session we heard, but it was a quiet night, and it was good.

No comments: