Saturday we were up at 5:45 and had our suitcases outside our rooms by 7. Ate breakfast at The Brooks (most of the breakfasts were similar fair--a buffet of breads, cereal, ham, juice, fruit, yogurt, scones...and then you could order eggs or pancakes from the kitchen). After eating, we boarded the bus and headed to the Irish National Stud at Tully. On this tour we wore "whisperers," devices around neck with earphones. The guide wore a mic. We first viewed a statue of the founder, Sir William Hall Walker. Walker was a polo player and the tree statue before him represents his interests. It has four aces (he liked to play Bridge), and signs of the zodiac. Walker was such a firm believer in the zodiac that when a foal was born, if the stars were unfavorable, he would sell
The bottom was a bonsai tree, representing Walker's interest in Japanese gardening. We walked around the grounds with our tour guide.
Plaques told the stories of famous race horses studded there. The beautiful statuary below shows the musculature of racing horses. The artist did not alter the pieces of wood he found and so had to patiently wait until the right piece showed up and then he would glue it in place. Imagine how long he had to search for the twigs that would form the ears.
|I saw this stag off by itself.|
Whereas the stallions, who garnered huge stud fees, had posh quarters with polished brass name plates, a patio of paving stone, and gorgeous doors. A horse named Big Bad Bob had a stud fee of $9000, second only to Invincible Spirit's stud fee, which was $100,000! Big Bad Bob actually won more races, but produced less successful foals. Invincible Spirit's line had many winners.
Even at the Stud women hit a glass ceiling and men end up in the glamorous surroundings! Next we saw the Covering Shed, which was a rather gentile name for what happened inside. This is where the studs earned their fees (or as our guide said, where they had their "dates")!
The leather items were shoes for the mare for gripping, and to make sure she didn't hurt the stallion by kicking. A blanket went on to protect her from the stallion's amorous bites. There is a tool called a twitch which is a stick with a loop of rope on the end. The rope would go around the mare's lip and then the trainers would twist it until it was tight and uncomfortable, to keep her where they wanted her. Steps were provided for the stud in case the mare was too tall. Horses typically mate 9 days after the female gives birth, so the foal isn't weaned yet. The foal is brought into a small booth in the Covering Shed. The presence of the foal calms the mare, but it takes several handlers to keep the foal calm. The whole thing seemed rather cruel to me and like something you might see on Game of Thrones.
Next we went to the Japanese gardens on the grounds. You walked the path and each section represented parts of life. At one point, you go through the Cave of Confusion and then the path branched. If you chose the narrow path it represented bachelorhood, only room for one to walk alone. If you chose the other path it led to a walk over stones in a stream. Don accidentally stepped into the drink and from there on deemed the gardens, "Stupid!" :)
Next we climbed aboard the bus and headed to the Rock of Cashel.
Perhaps this is the time to tell you that I was, perhaps, a tiny bit obsessed with the Rock of Cashel. So, hold on...
|One of my favorites!|
Annnnd...I'm a little obsessed with openings--windows, doors--and light coming through them.
|Totally dig this one!|
Annnd...I love cows.
Off to one side is a chapel, which they are restoring. The sandstone tiles on top have deteriorated and the roof was like a sieve, so they built a roof over that roof and are doing work to reinforce it --
|Note the vivid blue of the paint here.|
|There are something like 30 faces hidden in here. Some resembling the architects.|
And there was a larger cathedral adjacent to this chapel, with many side chapels. The main area was shaped like a cross. The grounds contain five buildings in all--the chapel, the cathedral, the bishop's quarters, the choir residence, and the round tower.
|The walls were so thick they had passageways through them.|
|Hole in the roof that the rope from the bell tower came through.|
And there were some lovely Celtic crosses. This first one had some legends associated with it. If you stuck your hands through the holes on the sides and put your arms around the cross and your fingers touched, you wouldn't get a toothache. (And my dentist says you have to brush. Ha! What an idgit!) If you hopped around it on one foot 9 times counterclockwise you would get married. (And possibly fall and sprain something.)
Another fable said the devil took a bite out of the surrounding mountain side because he was so frustrated with St. Patrick converting all of people to Christianity. This created the Devil's Bit. He then flew over and spit it out and it became the Rock of Cashel.
Here are some shots from the choir's residence...
And these are only the pictures I had left after I thinned them out!
After this we climbed down the hill and ate lunch at the Rock House (really good beef stew and chocolate cake!) We bought batteries from a sweet older lady in a gift shop. They didn't last long as I think they had been in the shop about as long as she had been.
We got back on the bus and drove to Killarney where we stayed at The Malton. Beautiful! When we got there a wedding party was arriving, complete with bagpipers.
|Unruly people in my picture!|
|Our room! Fantastic turn down service with box of chocolate!|
|Room with a view!|
|View from courtyard|
Douglas and Barbara asked us to join them for dinner so we went into town together and walked around, checking out the shops. I needed to get a new memory card for my camera as the other one was full...somehow... We ran into Woody and Cheryl from Charleston and Rich and Mary Beth from Boston and we all ate dinner at Sweeny's. I had a dish that was like fettuccine with chicken and bacon, excellent! And Death by Chocolate with Orange Sauce, fab! And I had Bulmer's PEAR cider, which was great!
Flags support Kerry team in Soccer European Cup
Everybody else turned in, but Don and I went to Murphy's, across the street, and talked to a couple from Killarney at the bar. There was great service and Don enjoyed a Killarney lager (more like a pale ale). Musicians wandered in and sat at a front table playing traditional music on guitar and accordion. It was a nice end to an outstanding day!...