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The trip to Éire [Anglican travelogue]
The Confessing Reader ^ | 8/16/2006

Posted on 08/17/2006 7:08:17 PM PDT by sionnsar

Today marks three weeks since we returned from our holiday in Ireland. My wife has already written a quite full description of the trip, complete with photographs from our travels, for our extended families.

And I need to fulfill a promise to write something up about the trip that I made to Will nearly three weeks ago. (My apologies for the delay, Will!)

Rather than a travelogue per se - the writing of which for a weblog strikes me as a least a little narcissistic (why should anyone want to read all the details of our family vacation?) - let me offer a number of the more lasting impressions that I have of what is truly a green and pleasant - no, a beautiful - land populated by friendly, open and hospitable people.

These impressions are in general chronological order, but there are gaps in time, as I don’t relate everything we did or every place we stayed.

Ecclesiastical touring predominates here to some extent - but what should one expect when one visits the Isle of Saints?

Three days in Dublin with Chris, Emily, and their children. I’ve never travelled abroad with good friends before, and the odd thing was - it felt completely natural that we should meet up with this family, whom we hadn’t seen for four months during their sojourn in Exeter, in Ireland. My wife and our children felt the same way about our meeting these friends in a foreign country. No doubt this speaks to the nature of friendship.

Viewing the Book of Kells. It is decidedly awe-inspiring and exciting directly to view something you’ve read about for years and viewed only through photographs and drawings before. Even if the book itself is fairly poorly exhibited (too small, too horizontal a case).

The Long Room of the Old Library at Trinity College, Dublin. At the top of an unassuming stairway leading up from the room in which the Book of Kells is exhibited stands a wooden door that leads into a bibliophile’s idea of heaven. At least, it’s this bibliophile’s idea of heaven. Standing just within the doorway, nearly 200 feet of a great dark oaken nave with a barrel-vaulted ceiling of dark oak planks stretched before me. Opening off the central part of this cathedral of a library on both sides were tall alcoves with arched entrances (with simple columns) on two levels, each of these alcoves filled with books. Old books. Latin books. Books that only senior faculty (and others with special dispensation) are allowed to use. I wept at the sight. Truly - tears came to my eyes. The Book of Kells was a foretaste of the beauty of heaven. This Long Room of a library was heaven. Just as I was thinking to myself (or, good Lord! did I say it out loud?), “Lord, make your unworthy servant to be worthy of this in the kingdom of heaven!” (I’m assuming that our resurrection bodies will be fluent in all “the tongues of men and of angels”, so that I could read all those Latin texts with facility), my middle daughter came up to me and said, “Daddy, this is what you think heaven is like!” (I am nothing to my children if not an open book.) I would link to a photograph (you could google “long room trinity college” to find images on the web), but a photograph, even the high-quality ones on postcards, cannot do any sort of justice to the breath-taking beauty and wonder of this room.

The Treasury in the National Museum. Again, it is a wonder to see these relics - and I literally mean, “relics” - that I’ve read about and seen in photographs. The Clonmacnoise Crozier. The Ardagh Chalice. My only regret is that these Christian relics are preserved in a museum and not in churches.

But their being in a museum, particularly in this museum, did afford a moving contrast. Two wings flank the central great hall in the National Museum of Archaeology and History in Dublin. One houses “The Treasury”, an exhibit of both liturgical and secular metalwork from the early to mid-Middle Ages, an exhibit that includes the Ardagh Chalice. The wing on the opposite side of the great hall contains the respectfully-exhibited remains of people ritually sacrificed by the Iron Age people of Ireland, an exhibit entitled, “Kingship and Sacrifice”. Having walked through the church treasury in one hall and then having seen the remains of the ritually slain in the other, I remarked to my wife and to Emily, “Thank God there is a King Whose sacrifice puts an end to this horror.” A beautifully-worked chalice that for a time was used to celebrate the Sacrament of his Body and Blood stands in the one hall, opposite the other with its bog-preserved victims of sacrificial violence, in silent but eloquent testimony (for those who have ears to hear) to the Sacrifice that has ended all sacrifice.

Church on Sunday at Abbey Presbyterian Church in Dublin. We had been warned off some of the Anglican churches in Dublin by CMS Ireland missionary acquaintances (we did attend Evensong one evening at Christ Church Cathedral, sung by an American choir who weren’t accustomed to singing in such a lively acoustic space and whose sopranos - women, not boys - sang with far too much vibrato), so we joined the Presbyterians just up the street from our hotel. A small congregation, meeting in a nave built for a much larger congregation of days since past. Strong expository preaching on 1 Thessalonians of the sort that you should be able to expect from a Presbyterian minister. Good music, too - provided by an American music team from a Presbyterian (PCA) college in Tennessee! (The minister explained that the congregation’s numbers were such that they brought over American Presbyterian missioners and mission teams to help them evangelize and minister to the people of Dublin.) Learned a new piece of hymnic praise music: “In Christ Alone”, by Stuart Townend. Evangelical praise music is maturing in some quarters, assuming hymnic structure, with melodies that are easily sung by a congregation and texts with theological integrity and some depth.

The Museum of Natural History of the National Museum of Ireland. A piece of well-preserved Victoriana, if ever there were one. Four floors of specimens, arranged in descending order of “ascending” phyla and orders: invertebrates on the top floor, mammals on the bottom. Most of the specimens, whether the exquisite glass models, or real animals preserved in formalin in bottles and jars, or pinned into insect collection cases, or preserved and stuffed (some of these were fairly dusty and more than one or two were a bit moth-eaten), appear to have been added to the collection at least eighty or ninety years ago. (The stuffed and mounted giraffe was added in 2003.) The passenger pigeon and the Carolina parrot were not even listed as extinct yet (the last specimen of each died in 1917). My wife characterized it as a “museum of a museum”.

But I went there specifically to see a skeleton of the giant Irish deer. And I was not disappointed.

St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in Dublin (Roman Catholic). Beautiful neo-Classical structure just off a quiet back street north of the River Liffy (near O’Connell Street). Had a more congregational and less touristy look to it - I think you know what I mean. My generally accurate guidebook stated that the church is designated a “pro-cathedral” because St Patrick’s and Christ Church are still considered Catholic cathedrals - though their clergy and liturgies have been Anglican for most of the years since the Reformation (there was at least one Catholic dean of Christ Church Cathedral, during the reign of James the Second). Given the depopulated state of the Church of Ireland, I wondered aloud to my wife, why don’t the Anglicans extend Christian charity to their Catholic brothers and sisters by returning one of the historic cathedrals to them ?

The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of Ireland. Having bought a copy of the Irish Prayer Book when at Christ Church Cathedral, I read through several sections of it and used it in part for family prayers throughout the trip. Along with a more generic Anglican calendar of black letter commemorations and red letter feast days, there is a calendrical list of Irish saints including Brigid and Patrick; Macartan, Kevin, Columba and Ciaran; Laurence (Lorcan) O’Toole; and Jeremy Taylor and Charles Inglis. The explanatory note on these commemorations states that “These are included for reference and to remind usof the continuing work of the Holy Spirit in the Church in all ages. The post-Reformation ‘worthies’ included reflect the Church of Ireland’s relationship with other parts of the Anglican Communion.”

I like the way that this Prayer Book is organized. It would seem that this fairly new revision (2004) incorporates the 1662 liturgies as the traditional Anglican rites, a more traditional inclusion than what is denoted “Rite I” in the 1979 American Prayer Book; and includes contemporary language liturgies framed according to the Liturgical Movement principles that has informed the revision of several other Anglican Prayer Books, including the American, the West Indian, the Welsh, the Canadian and the English. I think that, excepting Dr Peter Toon’s suggestion of retaining the 1928 Book of Common Prayer as the standard and the 1979 prayerbook as a Book of Alternative Services, and following this current Irish example, producing an American prayerbook revision that incorporated the daily offices, the communion liturgy, the baptismal liturgy and the pastoral liturgies from the 1928 Prayer Book along with contemporary language “Rite II” liturgies in the 1979 revision would have been theologically salutary.

An interesting finding in the “historical documents” in the Irish Prayer Book, relating to Al Kimel’s emphasis some months ago on the significance of the pronominal use of the word “Catholic” to describe those particular churches in communion with the Bishop of Rome, is the language of the Preamble and Declaration adopted by the General Convention of the Church of Ireland in 1870:

We, the archbishops and bishops of this the Ancient Catholic and Apostolic Church of Ireland, together with the representatives of the clergy and laity of the same, in General Convention assembled in Dublin in the year of our Lord God one thousand eight hundred and seventy, before entering on this work, do solemnly declare as follows….

The Hill of Tara. Fairly unassuming at first glance, but then you begin to discern the lineaments of a great and ancient hill fortification. Once again, the wonder of being at one of those sites that you’ve read about for years. This is, as they say, a site of mythical importance. A good deal of Ireland can actually be seen from the summit of the Hill of Tara.

The Midlands. The central counties of Meath, West Meath, Offaly - did I miss one or two - constitute the Midlands of Ireland, a largely rural part of the island filled with farms and market towns and villages. The geography here is mostly flat, with some rolling hills. Lovely scenery. Lots of cattle and horse pastures, hayfields (we appeared to have arrived in Ireland during haybaling time). Frequently followed (or passed) tractors on the roads and highways. Heartwarming to see children with their fathers in the cabs of the tractors (school was out!). Waved to most of the farmers, who waved back. (Drivers throughout Ireland are mostly friendly and courteous, and respond with waves - or just an extended finger or two - to road courtesies extended to them.) We remarked frequently on how it often felt like we were back home in Chatham County (North Carolina)!

Clonmacnoise. A lively collection of ruined churches, walls and towers, with lots of tourists milling about. This was, of course, the greatest monastic settlement of medieval Ireland and one of the greatest of medieval Western Europe. Missionaries and scholars from Clonmacnoise evangelized and taught throughout Western Europe during the early Middle Ages. The Cross of the Scriptures, now housed inside the visitors’ center/museum (a replica stands outside in the elements), is an impressive piece of stonework that has weathered the Irish weather and succesive despoliations of the monastery for well over a millenium. The ruins of some seven “temples” (churches), one of them a cathedral, and one still-used church (Temple Connor, used for Anglican services on Sunday afternoons), along with two round towers, dominate the area still enclosed by the ruined walls of the settlement. Unlike many other monastic and other ecclesiastical ruins, Clonmacnoise seems (as my wife put it) “a happy place”. More on that in a subsequent post.

The River Shannon, flowing along just down the hill from Clonmacnoise through beautiful verdant fields, is a lovely river.

The Burren. Just like the guidebooks say, a vast limestone plateau. We could see interesting flora alongside the road as I negotiated the narrow, winding track that poses as a national road (with a speed limit of 80km per hour). Thank goodness I’m not a farmer trying to scratch out an existence on the Burren. Cromwell’s surveyor described it in the 1640s as “a savage land, yielding neither water enough to drown a man, nor tree to hang him, nor soil enough to bury.” Cheerful chap, that.

The Cliffs of Moher. Awesome. Just the place for one’s agoraphobia to kick into high gear, as well as the fear that one’s children will be blown over the edge by the gusting wind. Hence our not going out along the top of the cliffs. And the views are better from where we stood anyway.

Clonfert Cathedral. The Cathedral Church of St Brendan, built on the site of a monastery founded by St Brendan in the 6th century and Anglican since the Reformation (it is one of the cathedrals of the Diocese of Limerick and Killaloe). The church is way out, deep in the Midlands countryside. You definitely get the “can’t get there from here” sense on your way out to Clonfert. (There is not a town, nor even a settlement, around the church. Just a house or two nearby. And the long-ruined bishop’s house.)

Considered a jewel of Irish Romanesque architecture, the church possesses an intricately carved sandstone west doorway with deep round arches surmounted by animal and human heads, geometrical shapes, and foliage. A triangular tympanum above the door bears carvings of strange-looking human heads. One of the interior oddities is a 15th century chancel arch decorated with a mermaid combing her hair in the midst of angels (a symbol of vanity? a reference to St Brendan’s far-ranging voyages of navigation?). One of our guidebooks stated that all these alterations to the church, ranging over some four hundred years (from the 13th to the 17th centuries), were done in such a way as to give the church “a profound sense of unity”.

But then there’s the other side. This cathedral church of an Anglican diocese (well, one of the three cathedral churches of the diocese) is used for services only on fifth Sundays. Rusting space heaters fill up the back of the church on either side of the narthex, surrounding the baptismal font on one side. Pews, some of them pushed askew, bear a thick coat of dust. The large wooden altar-table bears not only a coat of dust but a number of dead flies. The lectern is shrouded with a cloth. (The symbolism of a shrouded lectern strikes me with greater force now than it did then.)

Our eldest daughter and I left feeling deeply out of sorts and not a little depressed. (See an upcoming entry for more on this, especially in the context of my spending a good deal of time on this holiday thinking about the situation in The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion and reading Ephraim Radner and Philip Turner’s The Fate of Communion.)

The Rock of Cashel. See the aforementioned upcoming entry on ruins and the humiliation of the Church. We visited the Rock of Cashel, with its hilltop ruins and splendid views of the plain of Tipperary, after a brief visit to the town (and crystal factory) of Waterford. Drove through the lovely town of Clonmel, on the River Suir, on the way to Cashel.

The Hill of Slane. Slane, an attractive “estate village”, arose in the 18th century around Slane Castle Demesne and is centered on a crossroads, where a quartet of Georgian stone houses mark the corners. (There is also a well-proportioned 18th century parish church in the village, though we were unable to gain access to the interior.) We were through Slane twice: once on the way north to County Monaghan and Ulster; and again, three days later, on our way back east toward the Dublin Airport.

The chief attraction of Slane was the Hill of Slane. Knowing that the Hill of Slane is traditionally held to be the site where St Patrick lit the first paschal fire in Ireland in the mid-5th century, thereby challenging the established pagan order and kingship and leading to the conversion to Christ of the chief druid of the king of Tara (Erc, who would become by tradition the first bishop of Tara), we followed signs to the hill. What remains on the summit of the Hill of Slane are the ruins of a fifteenth century Franciscan friary, its church and its college (common house). The site is open to the public but is not regulated as a tourist venue. Fences and a turnstile keep out the cattle who graze the sides of the hill. Our daughters loved the site, because they could climb the winding stone stairways - made perilous in some places by crumbling stone! - to reach broken towers and ledges that looked out over the hillside and the meadows. (I held their hands a lot, and kept close check on them.) From the summit of the Hill of Slane, one can see the hills of Newgrange and Knowth and the Hill of Tara (hence king Laoghaire’s seeing what he thought was Patrick’s illicit spring bonfire, lit before the king’s own Beltain fire of May 1st). In contemplating the witness of Patrick and those who followed him, and seeing the pit where the new fire is still lit at the paschal Vigil, I felt a real connection with ancient Irish Christianity on this hill.

But no more so than when the girls and I, standing in the fading summer light in the windswept ruins of the Franciscan church, stood facing east and recited Compline.

Behold now, bless the Lord,
all you servants of the Lord,
you that stand by night in the house of the Lord…

Lord, you are in the midst of us, and we are called by your Name. Do not forsake us, O Lord our God…

Lord, you now have set your servant free

to go in peace as you have promised…

Pater noster qui es in caelis
sanctificetur Nomen tuum
adveniat regnum tuum
fiat voluntas tua
sicut in caelo et in terra…

The almighty and merciful Lord,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

bless us and keep us.

The words from the hymn, “Be thou my vision”, sung to the tune Slane, have assumed deeper meaning for me after that little family prayer service in the fading sunset light on the Hill of Slane.

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
Naught be all else to me, save that thou art,
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Monaghan. We had the great pleasure of spending an evening with my wife’s distant cousins who live outside the village of Ballybay. Freda, one of my wife’s cousins, and her husband Robin are dairy farmers. (Over the course of the evening we learned that the small farmers of Ireland face many of the same challenges and problems that the small farmers of the United States face.) Not only Freda and Robin and their teenaged daughter, but also their three adult sons, Freda’s mother and sister and little niece joined us for the splendid supper that Freda had prepared. Our daughters - all of them younger than their teenaged Irish cousin - were treated to a tour of the farm by said cousin, who is by all accounts a great kid.

A brief tour of the (Catholic) Cathedral Church of St Macartan capped the brief sojourn in Monaghan.

Armagh. In Armagh we visited St Patrick’s Cathedral (Anglican), mother church of the Church of Ireland. Took note of the memorials, the windows, the plaque listing all the bishops and archbishops of Armagh from St Patrick to Dr Robin Eames, the current Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland (of course, they list only the Protestant archbishops since the Reformation). Reflected for a few moments on the life and scholarship of Archbishop Ussher on viewing his visage in one of the windows between the choir and the sanctuary. We had a pleasant conversation with a retired couple who were arranging flowers for services the next day (this being Saturday), who advised us not to miss Donegal in our travels. I spoke briefly and in fairly broad terms on the Anglican crisis with the husband of the couple.

Throughout the trip I reflected on the state of Anglicanism, the state of The Episcopal Church, of our own parish, with looming questions of staying or leaving or what. For what is probably the first time in my conscious life, I simply don’t know what to do - at least on a local level. As a result of reading The Fate of Communion I am convinced that Anglicanism has great gifts to offer the Church Catholic - if we can recover our integrity and faithfulness as a conciliar reformed catholicism. But I don’t know what form that is going to take in the next months to years for our family.

As I approached the great west door of St Patrick’s, some of this was running through my mind. How can it not, as one approaches an Anglican cathedral, and a primatial cathedral at that? Opening the door and entering the nave, the cathedral was filled with the sonorous organ tones of Old Hundredth, the Genevan psalter tune to which “All people that on earth do dwell” and Bishop Thomas Ken’s doxology, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow”, are sung. What I am to make of that? Mere chance? Affirmation of a decision to remain within the Anglican tradition? Or condemnation of that tradition - pretty sounds in a nearly-empty cathedral church?

An interesting thing we noted in the Church of Ireland parish churches that we stopped by in the north (I particularly remember the church at Inishmacsaint and St Anne’s in Dungannon): it would appear, by the appointment of the altar table, kneelers at the altar, and the altar books, that the priest usually celebrates from the north end. We unfortunately weren’t able to attend services at any of these parish churches to verify this. It was the first time that I’ve seen evidence of this venerable and historic Anglican custom. But then, maybe I just don’t get out much.

(Celebrating from the north end of the altar table made some liturgical sense in the Edwardian, Elizabethan, and early Jacobean periods, when the communion table was set lengthwise in the chancel and the priest celebrated the Holy Communion along the north (long side) of the Holy Table, with part of the communicating congregation before him and part behind him in the choir stalls. The posture made little sense at all once the Laudian reforms were carried through, setting up altars (or altar tables) in the sanctuary where once true communion tables had stood in the chancel. Though I suppose that celebrating at the north end does have the advantage, for the priest who doesn’t want to face ad orientem for prayer, of not looking as though he is performing before the people.)

(While I’m on the subject of the direction the celebrant faces for liturgical prayer, particularly for the eucharistic prayer, the Great Thanksgiving, my experience of walking through all these Irish medieval ruins and praying - however briefly - in most of them has convinced me even more of the rightness of the ad orientem posture for people and celebrant, and not for any antiquarian reasons. But that’s the subject of another essay entirely.)

Ulster. On the way to Armagh, crossing from the Republic into Ulster, into the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is so easy since the Good Friday Agreement and suspension of most hostilities between republicans and unionists in the North that you’d miss it completely were you not paying attention to the fact that the speed limit signs change shape and change from kilometers per hour (Republic) to miles per hour (UK).

But once you enter a strongly unionist town (like Cookstown), it becomes clear that you’re in Ulster. Union Jacks on all the flagpoles. All the flagpoles, that is, not occupied by a Unionist flag composed of the Cross of St George with a six-pointed star enclosing the Red Hand of Ulster (a symbol of the medieval kingdom of Ulaidh) in the middle, and often quartered with a Union Jack or some British heraldric device. Or by the Scottish flag with the saltire Cross of St Andrew. Street curbs painted red, white and blue. Red, white and blue plastic pennants across the street.

And then the occasional Irish Tricolor would mark a republican neighborhood, or flutter from a flagpole in the countryside. Or a republican/nationalist neighborhood would have small posters of IRA hunger strikers on telephone or electrical line poles. In only one small town (a village, really) did we see both: a Republican Tricolor and IRA “martyrs” posters at one end of town; and a Union Jack flying from the flagpole of the Anglican parish church at the other end of town.

Tensions did not seem to be running high in any places where we stopped, whether republican or unionist. But there was still a confrontational, even menacing character to the tribal displays of flags and colors and martyrs.

I grew up among Protestants with no small degree of atavistic anti-catholicism. It was not uncommon to hear a respected Catholic known for her generosity or for his kindness to be described as “a good Christian, even if she is a Catholic”, or “He is a Catholic, but he’s a Christian, too.” But the sort of religious polarization between Christian confessions that have marked the history of Ireland since the Reformation (admittedly, with strong political undercurrents) is nearly inconceivable to me. Pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to overcome the estrangement between brothers and sisters in the Lord, that the water of baptism will truly be understood to be thicker than the blood of religiopolitical tribalism. Pray for the peace of Ulster.

Giant’s Causeway. Striking landform along the Antrim coast. We particularly liked what Rick Steves has to say in his Ireland 2005 travelguide:

Geologists claim that the Giant’s Causeway was formed by volcanic eruptions 60 million years ago. As the lava surface cooled, it contracted and cracked into hexagonal shapes. As the layer of hardened but alligatored rock settled, it broke into its many stair-like steps.

In actuality, the Giant’s Causeway was made by the giant Ulster warrior name Finn MacCool, who wanted to reach his love on the Scottish island of Staffa.

The rest of the day was spent driving west across Ulster, through Derry/Londonderry (unfortunately, it’s being late we didn’t get to see St Columba’s Cathedral) and into Donegal. We spent the next couple of nights in Letterkenny as a base for exploring parts of Donegal.

Donegal. A beautiful part of Ireland. All the traffic and street signs (even some of the Stop signs) were in Gaelic, though most advertisements were in English, and most of the people whom we encountered in shops and the like spoke English - not only to us but to one another - as well. (I understand that there are more Irish Gaelic speakers in Donegal than any other part of the country, though.) The beauty of the land - the upland bogs, the rocky hills and low mountains, the loughs, the coastline - is breathtaking.

Saw Cavanacor House near Lifford, the home of my 9th great-grandmother (and ancestor of President James Polk and Bishop Leonidas Polk), Magdalene Tasker Pollock (Polk). No one was at home, and Cavanacor Gallery appeared to be closed at the time we went by (rather late in the evening, admittedly).

Drove up the one-lane road by Lough Gartan to the ruins of the monastery- ruins from a span of several centuries - built near St Columcille’s (St Columba’s) birthplace.

Drove through Glenveagh National Park, toured Glenveagh Castle (late 19th century with many 20th century additions). Beautiful gardens and planted forests surrounding the house. Lough Glenveagh is beautiful.

Drove along the northwestern Donegal coast, slowing down (and stopping) for flocks of sheep here and there. Did I mention that the scenery here is breathtaking?

Dropped by Holy Trinity parish church in Dunfanaghy. Looks to be an alive sort of parish, insofar as one can judge that from the well-used look of the pews, the hymnals and prayerbooks, and the well-stocked and up-to-date rack of Church Missionary Society magazines and other such periodicals.

Drove down to Donegal town as we made our way eastward toward Dublin again. Drove past the Cathedral Church of St Eunan in Raphoe (one of the cathedrals of the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe which encompasses Donegal). It is still odd to find cathedral churches in small towns or villages, or - like St Brendan’s at Clonfert - pretty much just out in the countryside. But that probably reflects the history of Irish Christianity as not centered on cities (as in the lands that had made up the Roman Empire). And there is something decidedly “homey” and simple about a cathedral in a village of two or three hundred souls.

I bought tweed jackets - for a fraction of what they would cost here in the States - at the famous Magee’s in Donegal. My wife bought a bodhran and a (far more expensive than a) pennywhistle in a well-known music shop one the main square as well. The chief feature of the main square in Donegal is an obelisk memorial to the Four Masters, 17th century Franciscan scribes who traced the history of the Irish “from forty days before the Great Flood up until the end of the 16th century”. Admired the ruins of the 15th century castle in the center of town with its Jacobean additions (it was raining, and my wife didn’t want to tour any more castles!).

Our hope is to return to Donegal for an extended holiday sometime in the future. My hope is to be able to afford to buy a house in Donegal.

Newgrange. Amazing Neolithic burial mound (we didn’t tour the mound at Knowth, whose interior is not yet open to the public). I was surprised to learn that descriptions and investigations of the mound at Newgrange began in literally the closing days of 1699 with the observations of the Edward Lhwyd. Fortunately farmhands sent to dig up the mound in those waning days of the 17th century hit the intricately carved kerbstone that lay across the entranceway. They assumed the hill was a fairy mound (a dwelling-place of the Sidhe - think Maleficent, not Flora, Fauna, etc.) and refused to dig any more. That chance striking of that particular kerbstone first meant that the mound was preserved for future study.

Drove through Drogheda on the way back to the airport. Home again, home again, jiggity jig.

My apologies. This does indeed seem to have taken on the shape of a travelogue.

TOPICS: Catholic; Mainline Protestant
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1 posted on 08/17/2006 7:08:20 PM PDT by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; cf_river_rat; fgoodwin; secret garden; MountainMenace; SICSEMPERTYRANNUS; kaibabbob; ...
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2 posted on 08/17/2006 7:08:59 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† | Iran Azadi | SONY: 5yst3m 0wn3d, N0t Y0urs | NYT:Jihadi Journal)
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To: sionnsar

Sounds like a wonderful trip.

3 posted on 08/17/2006 7:40:54 PM PDT by SuzyQue (Remember to think.)
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To: SuzyQue

Tempted to say "Green with envy", but my day will come.

4 posted on 08/17/2006 7:50:01 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† | Iran Azadi | SONY: 5yst3m 0wn3d, N0t Y0urs | NYT:Jihadi Journal)
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To: sionnsar

Aye, you'll be saying "Top 'o the morning" and "begorrah" to all of us.

5 posted on 08/17/2006 7:52:26 PM PDT by SuzyQue (Remember to think.)
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To: sionnsar

A few comments really struck me:

"My only regret is that these Christian relics are preserved in a museum and not in churches."

Then stop being an Anglican. It was the Reformation which took those relics out of the churches in the first place. It is a miracle any of them survived!

"Given the depopulated state of the Church of Ireland, I wondered aloud to my wife, why don’t the Anglicans extend Christian charity to their Catholic brothers and sisters by returning one of the historic cathedrals to them ?"

Yeah, that'll be the day.

6 posted on 08/17/2006 10:06:21 PM PDT by vladimir998 (Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. St. Jerome)
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To: vladimir998

My friend, I believe charity would be in order, given that sionnsar is a layman living now, as opposed to a member of Parliament or the English royalty in the 16th century, at whose feet those wrongs may rightly be placed.

The depredations of the past are regrettable on many parts and have left scars that clearly still sting. That pain should remind us that we all have transgressed, have resentments and need forgiveness.

7 posted on 08/18/2006 6:52:27 AM PDT by BelegStrongbow (
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To: sionnsar; Irish_Thatcherite; Happygal

Irish Bump!

8 posted on 08/18/2006 6:54:26 AM PDT by Incorrigible (If I lead, follow me; If I pause, push me; If I retreat, kill me.)
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To: BelegStrongbow

I am certainly not standing in the way of any Anglican layman to start a campaign in his sect to return what was stolen from Catholics. Is there any such movement? Nope.

9 posted on 08/18/2006 8:34:18 AM PDT by vladimir998 (Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. St. Jerome)
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To: vladimir998

Ah. That would be the hostile approach I see. I will not respond in kind, particularly as I have no way to urge the Church of Ireland to do something (I am not a member, nor am I in communion with them). You could write them and ask.

10 posted on 08/18/2006 8:58:08 AM PDT by BelegStrongbow (
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To: BelegStrongbow

An act of justice, or calling for justice, is not a hostile act.

11 posted on 08/18/2006 9:08:28 AM PDT by vladimir998 (Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. St. Jerome)
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To: vladimir998

Still being an arrogant bigot, I see.

You give us Catholics a bad name (yes, I am one, even though you accused me of not being one.)

12 posted on 08/18/2006 1:34:46 PM PDT by Irish_Thatcherite (A vote for Bertie Ahern is a vote for Gerry Adams!|What if I lecture Americans about America?)
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To: Incorrigible; sionnsar; Colosis; Black Line; Cucullain; SomeguyfromIreland; Youngblood; Fergal; ...
Irish Bump!

Looks a lengthy read, I'll ping anyway!

13 posted on 08/18/2006 1:38:44 PM PDT by Irish_Thatcherite (A vote for Bertie Ahern is a vote for Gerry Adams!|What if I lecture Americans about America?)
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To: sionnsar
With one in every four Americans claiming some Irish or Scot Irish ancestry, the place should be covered with American tourists. It truly is a beautiful land.

Maybe someday.....:^)
14 posted on 08/18/2006 2:54:02 PM PDT by investigateworld (Abortion stops a beating heart)
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To: investigateworld

Look forward when you do! :)

15 posted on 08/18/2006 3:46:29 PM PDT by Irish_Thatcherite (A vote for Bertie Ahern is a vote for Gerry Adams!|What if I lecture Americans about America?)
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To: Irish_Thatcherite

Thankfully I have 3x's!!!!

The beer is excellent, the humor translates, the women are beautiful, the criac is plentiful....

tis memories I'll carry to me grave ... and hopefully I'll be back.

16 posted on 08/18/2006 4:00:01 PM PDT by investigateworld (Abortion stops a beating heart)
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To: investigateworld

Let's hope the smoking ban has been lifted by the time you do!

17 posted on 08/18/2006 4:05:48 PM PDT by Irish_Thatcherite (A vote for Bertie Ahern is a vote for Gerry Adams!|What if I lecture Americans about America?)
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To: Irish_Thatcherite

Is the ban in effect in the North too?

18 posted on 08/18/2006 4:16:10 PM PDT by investigateworld (Abortion stops a beating heart)
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To: investigateworld

No.. not yet.... only a matter of time, I'd say - seeing as they are trying to ban it elsewhere in the UK.

19 posted on 08/18/2006 4:23:22 PM PDT by Irish_Thatcherite (A vote for Bertie Ahern is a vote for Gerry Adams!|What if I lecture Americans about America?)
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To: Irish_Thatcherite

Pure insanity!!!
What is Ireland without a smoke filled pub?

20 posted on 08/18/2006 4:31:07 PM PDT by investigateworld (Abortion stops a beating heart)
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