Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pictures: Ireland

Here is a more full spread of the famine figures from Dublin. They were amazingly evocative. I don't think I fully understand how much the potato famine affected Ireland - apparently, 1/4 of the population died or emigrated. I saw and heard references tot he famine - a hundred years later - everywhere. It feels almost as if the potato famine was as defining a moment for Ireland as the Second World War appears to have been for England.

Queens University in Belfast was beautiful. I got up very early one morning and took some picture just after dawn; since my computer is having trouble resizing them, this is the only one I'll post for now. These gargoyles especially caught my attention.

In the Queen's University Botanical Gardens, I found an interesting example of globalization. The other side of this billboard was another lion, with more of an English/Irish flavor. When I walked around the bend and found myself face-to face with this artwork in the garden, I was so arrested by it I decided to "share the beauty of this graceful moonlight."

This begins a series of photos of what I consider one of the most beautiful places on earth. I believe this is Sheep Island, which is the island next to Rathlin. Rathlin, as I saw it and heard it described, completely captured my imagination; I want, incredibly much, to go there and stay for 6 months or so.

Here is the famous Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge. I'd heard a lot about this place, and I was really glad I came; as I said, it's one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. That said, the bridge was NOT scary in the slightest. It's made of high-tensile steel cable, plastic and metal slats, multiple wire guidelines, and

More of the coast at Carrick-a-rede.

One of the shoes of the giant Finn MacCool's wife scared off. According to legend, he was so frightened through a ploy Finn's wife used that he ran back across the causeway to Scotland in such a hurry as to be unable to stop and collect his shoe, shown here. He was also so worried about Finn that he tore the causeway up behind him, leaving the current gap between Scotland and Ireland.

More of the Causeway. I'll eventually crop this image. It was made up of amazing hexagonal stones, in layers like steps or some kind of surrealist landscape sculpture. You can see here how the ground ripples rather than flows.

And two great friends from the trip! I met them both on our trip over and around the causeway, and we had a lot of fun together, and talked for hours.

A scene from Belfast.
Here is an example of the long-standing Irish conflict. Even the name of Derry is in question - those with Catholic ties refer to the city as Derry; those with Protestant or English ties, Londonderry. Actually, the British built a wall around the city for the Irish in exchange for the Irish using the Londonderry name. That said, the English all seem to call the place Derry because of a recent vote on the matter. But the NOrthern Irish I met IN Northern Ireland were very insistent as well. So, when in Derry/Londonderry, use the term "Maiden City" (which is only slightly better, as it too has British connotations) or ask someone's religion at the VERY beginning of the conversation.

Our friend here had worked in a Mars factory; our female friend had never had a Mars bar. So, he gave us the breakdown on European and Australian chocolate. We enjoyed his demonstration, and asked him to pose for a picture.

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