world’s first twitter wallfahrt!

9:10 — ms d and i arrive at einsiedeln railway station, all kitted out in our walking gear, ready to go. walking past the train we spot our fellow pilgrims. yep, pilgrims: we are on our way to the starting point of the world’s first twitter pilgrimage, the #twallfahrt1 from pfäffikon to einsiedeln. in the train we meet @decolores1, @konzertharfe, @sempreincorsaa also ready to go on the #twallfahrt. just before the train is about to depart at 9:13 we are joined at the last second by @abtmartin — good thing, too, as he is supposed to lead us on our pilgrimage 🙂


i’m looking forward to the first twitter pilgrimage which is at the same time my first pilgrimage on foot (last year’s pilgrimage was by bus, which somehow gives it a different twist, i think). @abtmartin is apparently still in the “geheimprojekt” stage of the #twallfahrt, as he is not really forthcoming with any information about what’s planned.

we get to pfäffikon on time, cross through the station tunnel and see the #twilgrims gathered — a bit short of the maximum number of 8000 mentioned on @pixelfreund‘s blog (about 7969 short, in fact) bit still a sizable group. as various #twilgrims let us know via twitter, that they are still on their way, it’s a bit past 10:00 that we start on our way from pfäffikon up to etzel pass (where we’ll have a lunch break) and then on to einsiedeln to the benedictine monastery there.

the weather, fortunately, is cool, a bit humid, but not too bad, and the hike up “1000 steps” to etzel pass is easy to walk. the clouds are just fantastic (as a subscribed member of the cloud appreciation society i find blue sky days boring) — just past the autobahn we stop for our first #twallfahrt station: @abtmartin tells us a bit about the area (and the history of the monastery of einsiedeln), but the main focus is on two short canons (both in twitter length) that we even manage to render in a half decent way (no trees falling down, no birds falling from the sky). up and up it goes with the next stations at restaurant luegeten and at the fork in the road where the road from schindeleggi-feusisberg joins. around noon we are (as planned) on the etzel pass where a #twallfahrt group pictures are taken, we have a our lunch break, the sf drs tv team does the interviews with @abtmartin and we relax in the sun.

at 13:00 the #twallfahrt re-commences and via teufelsbrück and galgenenhügel we get closer and closer to our destination: the monastery of einsiedeln (interrupted by a short break to give the sf drs tv team a better take on us walking down to einsiedeln). the last station on our pilgrimage is at the gangulf chapel where we meet up with those #twitterati that couldn’t make it for the whole #twallfahrt, practice our twitter-length canons once more and then fight our way through the chilbi crowds to the klosterplatz — where we are greeted by a flag bearer and a cross bearer who lead the way, with the bells of the monastery ringing for our #twallfahrt, through the main entrance into the monastery church!

as we are a bit behind schedule, we #enjoy an even more twitterish worship service than planned — the highlight certainly being the twitterific organ piece (which @boumi manage to capture)!

an apero in the southern court yard concludes this unique #twallfahrt pilgrimage!

all in all: a very interesting and stimulating experience, meeting very different folks and with a couple of good spiritual impulses.

would i participate again? yes, i guess, i would 🙂

if you are interested, here are some further links:


  1. from the german wallfahrt and twitter == twallfahrt 

the burren, limestone pavement, clonmacnoise, & an almost secret birthday

[lang_en]
after a rather good night and an equally good and relaxed
breakfast[^1] at [hotel doolin][] we pack once more and embark on the
long trip across ireland, going from the atlantic west coast all the
way to [navan][]. the weather is not as good as it was yesterday with
clouds covering most of the sky.

[^1]: no problems with getting coffee, no being told off for sitting
at the wrong table 🙂

[hotel doolin]: http://www.hoteldoolin.ie/
[navan]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navan

we don’t just go to navan directly but instead take the scenic
route. our first stop is at _[burren national park][],_ the smallest
of the 6 national parks in ireland and part of the larger area _[the
burren][]:_ a [karst][] landscape exhibiting the typical karst
[limestone pavement][] and also host for a number of megalithic tombs
and portal [dolmens][] — rather impressive. after some time to our
own we continue through the rather barren looking landscape — mr
tambour cites [edmund ludlow][], an english parlimentarian, who is
supposed to have said during counter-guerilla operations in
1651–1652:

> a country where there is not enough water to drown a man, wood
> enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury him
> _— [[h2g2, hitchhiker’s guide
> to the galaxy](http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A642610)][^2]_

[burren national park]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Parks_in_the_Republic_of_Ireland
[the burren]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Burren
[karst]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Burren
[limestone pavement]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limestone_pavement
[dolmens]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolmens
[edmund ludlow]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmund_Ludlow

[^2]: the _h2g2_ entry interestingly adds:

> The words of the Cromwellian general Edmund Ludlow, describing
> the area known as the Burren, are well known in Ireland. What
> is less well known is that he went on to say of the people
> there:

> > …and yet their cattle are very fat; for the grass growing
> > in turfs of earth, of two or three foot square, that lie
> > between the rocks, which are of limestone, is very sweet and
> > nourishing.

we stop at _burren house_ near _[ballyvaughan][]_ for a tea, some
shopping,[^3] and some decompression. it’s the last chance to see the
atlantic on our pilgrimage as from now on we are going to go east
again.

[ballyvaughan]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballyvaughan

[^3]: i buy a very nice woollen sweater 🙂

aside from a short lunch stop in one of the little towns on the way
east we stay on our pilgrimage bus until we reach the _[monastery of
clonmacnoise][]_ in the afternoon.

[monastery of clonmacnoise]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clonmacnoise

the monastery of clonmacnoise was founded by st ciaráran in 545 AD. it
was strategically located on the main east–west land route through
ireland at that time. by the 9th century it had become _the_ center of
religion, learning, craftsmanship, and trade in ireland and was in
fact a european academic focal point at the time. it’s not hard to
imagine that from places like clonmacnoise western civilization was
indeed brought back to the continent (and, thus, saved) as [thomas
cahill][] writes in his book _[how the irish saved civilization][]._

[thomas cahill]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Cahill
[how the irish saved civilization]: http://www.randomhouse.com/features/cahill/irish.html

after an audio–visual about clonmacnoise in the visitor’s center we
go and explore the ruins of the monastery.

it’s in the early evening when we arrive at our hotel in navan, the
_[newgrange hotel][]_ — which despite looking rather old is
supposedly only three years old! interesting.

[newgrange hotel]: http://www.newgrangehotel.ie/

at dinner we are joined by mr kleemann, the owner of the [travel
agency][kleemann] that arranged the hotels and our bus. it transpires
that mr kleemann is originally from [franconia][] in northern
bavaria. he seems rather excited to see us — unfortunately that
excitement doesn’t carry over to sponsoring the drinks 🙁 oh, well,
it was worth a try 😉

[kleemann]: http://www.kleemann.ie/
[franconia]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franconia

after dinner we invite ms r for a pint of guinness — it’s been, after
all, my birthday 🙂

p.s.: _navan_ is a rather special city name: it’s one of the few
places having a _[palindromic name][]!_

[palindromic name]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_palindromic_places

[/lang_en]
[lang_de]
nach einer guten nacht und einem ebenso guten und entspannten
frühstück[^1] im [hotel doolin][] packen wir wieder unsere sieben
sachen und machen uns auf den langen weg quer durch irland: vom
atlantik im westen ganz rüber nach [navan][]. das wetter ist nicht
mehr so gut wie gestern noch, beim start haben wir eine fast geschlossene wolkendecke.

[^1]: kein problem einen kaffee zu kriegen (oder gar nachschub
desselbigen), kein angeraunzt werden, dass man am falschen tisch
sässe 🙂

[hotel doolin]: http://www.hoteldoolin.ie/
[navan]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navan

allerdings geht es nicht schnurstracks nach navan sondern über die
_scenic route_. unser erster halt ist im _[burren national park][],_
der kleinste der sechst irischen nationalparks und teil der wesentlich
grösseren _[the burren][]_ landschaft: eine [karst][] landschaft mit
den typischen [karren][] (im englischen so nett _[limestone
pavement][]_ genannt) und auch gastgeber für eine reihe von
[megalithischen grosssteingräbern][] und dolmen [dolmen][] — recht
eindrucksvoll die gegend. nach einer kurzen weile geht es im pilgerbus
weiter durch die eher arm erscheinende landschaft — herr
tambour zitiert [edmund ludlow][], einen englischen parlamentarier,
der während der “anti-guerilla-kämpfe” von 1651–1652 gesagt haben soll:

> a country where there is not enough water to drown a man, wood
> enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury him
>
> eine landschaft, wo es nicht genug wasser gibt, um jemanden zu
> ertränken, nicht genug holz, um jemanden dran aufzuknöpfen, noch
> genug erde um ihn zu begraben.
> _— [[h2g2, hitchhiker’s guide
> to the galaxy](http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A642610)][^2]_

[burren national park]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Parks_in_the_Republic_of_Ireland
[the burren]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Burren
[karst]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Burren
[karren]: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karre_%28Rinne%29
[limestone pavement]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limestone_pavement
[dolmen]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolmens
[edmund ludlow]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmund_Ludlow
[megalithischen grosssteingräbern]: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C3%BCnengrab

[^2]: interessanterweise fährt der _h2g2_ eintrag über _the burren_ fort:

> The words of the Cromwellian general Edmund Ludlow, describing
> the area known as the Burren, are well known in Ireland. What
> is less well known is that he went on to say of the people
> there:

> > …and yet their cattle are very fat; for the grass growing
> > in turfs of earth, of two or three foot square, that lie
> > between the rocks, which are of limestone, is very sweet and
> > nourishing.

> die worte des cromwell-generals edmund ludlow, eine gegend
> beschreibend, die als _the burren_ bekannt ist, sind
> wohlbekannt in irland. was weniger wohlbekannt ist, ist, dass
> er fortfuhr und über die menschen dort sagte:

> > …und doch ist ihr vieh sehr fett; denn das grass, das in
> > erdbatzen, zwei oder drei fuss im quadrat, wächst und
> > zwischen dem kalksteinkarren liegt, ist sehr süss und
> > nährhaft.

wir halten als nächstes beim _burren house_ in der nähe von
_[ballyvaughan][]_ zum behufe einer tee- und einkaufspause[^3] sowie
einer runde dekompression flüssiger art. ausserdem ist es unser letzte
chance, auf dieser pilgerfahrt den atlantik zu sehen — von hier an
geht es wieder ostwärts.

[ballyvaughan]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballyvaughan

[^3]: ich kaufe mir einen wirklich netten merino-wolle-pullover 🙂

abgesehen von einem kurzen mittagsessen-halt in einer der kleinen
städte auf dem weg ostwärts bleiben wir im pilgerbus, bis wir am
nachmittag das _[kloster von clonmacnoise][monastery of clonmacnoise]_
erreichen.

[monastery of clonmacnoise]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clonmacnoise

das kloster von clonmacnoise wurde 545 AD von st ciaráran
gegründet. es lag strategisch recht günstig auf dem damaligen haupt
ost–west landweg durch irland. im 9. jahrhundert war es dann schon
_das_ zentrum irlands für alle religiösen dinge, für lernen, handwerk
und handel und war im grunde ein akademischer brennpunkt europas zu
der zeit. es fällt mir dann auch nicht schwer mir vorzustellen, dass
orte wie clonmacnoise die westliche zivilisation in der tat wieder auf
den dunklen kontinent zurückgebracht haben (und so selbige gerettet
haben), wie es [thomas cahill][] in seinem buch _[how the irish saved
civilization][]_ postuliert.

[thomas cahill]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Cahill
[how the irish saved civilization]: http://www.randomhouse.com/features/cahill/irish.html

nach einer weiteren tonbildschau im visitor center von clonmacnoise
erkunden wir die überbleibsel des klosters — mit einem augenmerk auf die auch hier vorhandenen hochkreuze.

am frühen abend erreichen wir dann unser hotel in navan, das
_[newgrange hotel][]_ — welches, obwohl es den eindruck erweckt,
dass es noch von charles dickens besucht worden sein könnte, in
realiter nur gerade mal drei jahre alt ist! na dann.

[newgrange hotel]: http://www.newgrangehotel.ie/

zum abendessen werden wir durch die anwesendheit von herrn kleemann
beehrt, seines zeichens inhaber der [reiseagentur kleemann][], welche
wiederum die hotels, den bus und all die eintrittskarten organisiert
hat. während des essens kommt recht schnell raus, dass herr kleemann
ursprünglich aus [franken][] (nordbayern) kommt. er ist regelrecht
begeistert uns zu sehen — dummerweise geht die begeisterung nicht so
weit, unsere getränkerechnung zu übernehmen 🙁 schade eigentlich,
aber es war ein versuch wert 😉

[reiseagentur kleemann]: http://www.kleemann.ie/
[franken]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franconia

nach dem abendessen laden wir frau r noch auf ein pint guinness ein
— heute war ja immerhin mein geburtstag 🙂

p.s.: _navan_ ist ein eher spezieller ortsname: es ist einer der
wenigen _[palindrom-ortsnamen][]!_

[palindrom-ortsnamen]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_palindromic_places
[/lang_de]

listowel, shannon river ferry, lahinch, sunday lunch, cliffs of moher, live music at doolin

it’s sunday. our last night at the _ballygarry house hotel_ was quiet
for a change, which is nice. also, as long as our group is having
breakfast, we are spared the rather annoying radio blast.[^1]

[^1]: though, as soon as we are finished and leave, they _do_ turn the
radio up to full blast again.

after breakfast mrs d and i pack our stuff and join the rest of the
pilgrims in our pilgrims bus. the first stop today is in [listowel][]
— apparently the literary capital of ireland. our stop is short: mr
tambour, our pilgrimage guide, as always, is extremely well prepared
and we learn quite a bit about listowel and its literary sons and
daughters — but also take a look at listowel’s racetrack 🙂 during
the bus ride from tralee to listowel a co-pilgrim mentioned that
apparently writers with a residence in ireland would live tax-free:
might that explain the relatively high percentage of writers in
relation to the total population? oh, one other thing that’s worth
mentioning about listowel: the pedestrian crossing at the newsagents
on the main square has an absolutely cool sounding free-to-walk
alarm…

[listowel]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Listowel

it’s a short stop only as we need to catch the 10:00 [ferry][] from
[tarbert][] across the [river shannon][] and after 20min or so we are
on our way again.

[tarbert]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarbert,_County_Kerry
[ferry]: http://www.shannonferries.com/
[river shannon]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_Shannon

the ferry across the river shannon is a [double-ended, open top type
of ferry][] with integral ramps which just drop down to the concrete
ferry slips. we do make it to tarbert with about 10min to spare and
take the opportunity to have a look across the [shannon
estuary][]. the crossing itself is fairly eventless (ignoring that
strong shower just before we reach the other side of the river
shannon) and we are soon on our way through county clare to
[lahinch][] with a short stop at [kilkee][] to have a look at _kilkee
cliffs_.

[lahinch][] means lunch-time! we get dropped off at the sea promenade
and mrs d and i do find a nice pub-cum-restaurant, the [shamrock
inn][] where we have a rather nice little lunch. it’s a popular place
with the locals it seems and service is very friendly and prompt. the
food is excellent (as is my pint of guinness :-))

[double-ended, open top type of ferry]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferry#Double-ended
[shannon estuary]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shannon_Estuary
[lahinch]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lahinch
[kilkee]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilkee
[shamrock inn]: http://www.shamrockinn.ie/

at about 14:00 we reconvene at our pilgrims’s bus and are off
again. next stop: _brigid’s well_ — yep, there’s another one![^6]
this one, in contrast to the other wells we’ve seen so far, is located
directly next to the main road and sits to the side of a pub and below
a cemetery. interesting combination that. the highlight of our visit
is another story by our master story teller, ms k, about the celtic
goddess brigid.

[^6]: here’s my theory on celtic saints: first, to be eligible for
celtic sainthood you need to have at least _one_ well or spring
named after you; second, the more wells and springs you can collect
the more important, saint-wise, you are.

of the three places, cemetery, well, and pub, we unfortunately only
get to see the well and are soon on our way again to the _[cliffs of
moher][]_!

[cliffs of moher]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cliffs_of_moher

now, the cliffs of moher: a name that seems to have jumped right of
the pages of _[the hobbit][]_, conjuring up images of wild, remote,
difficult to reach cliffs…

well…

[the hobbit]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hobbit

…not exactly. if there are any links to hobbit land, then it must be
the sticky spider’s web of the black forest of [mirkwood][] which
trapped bilbo’s dwarf companions — the cliffs of moher are one
gigantic tourist trap. the scenery is nice, what with dramatic cliffs
and views west.[^2] that is true — just don’t look at the king-sized
cafeteria, the exhibition center[^5], and a large shopping area
selling all the kitsch ireland can throw at you — _plus_ several
smaller shops (more kitsch and even more kitsch). mrs d and i speed up
to the cliff tops on either side, take a peek at the tower on the
north cliff, decide to not pay the entrance fee for the tower, and
fight our way back down to the cafeteria — the wind is blowing
strongly today — and have a cup of tea, take a look at the kitsch on
sale, and settle down to enjoy the sun.

[mirkwood]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirkwood

[^2]: rumor has it, that on a fine day[^3] you _can_ see the [statue of liberty][]![^4]

[^3]: for certain definitions of _fine_, almost all of them probably
involving larger quantities of guinness…

[^4]: and, yes, i just might be making this up as i go…

[^5]: hosting an exhibition about the atlantic ocean when we were
there.

[statue of liberty]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statue_of_liberty

from the cliffs of moher tourist trap our pilgrimage continues towards
[doolin][]. instead of going there directly by bus, we get to do a
little walk today and approach it from _lough north_, a nice little walk
taking us through the west irish coastal scenery.

[doolin]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doolin

our hotel in doolin, _[hotel doolin][]_, is a newly build hotel in a
modern, contemporary style, quite nice. dinner is is the adjoining
pub–restaurant, a bit relaxed and not as speedy as the busy
_ballygarry house hotel_, but i quite like it. the food is excellent!

[hotel doolin]: http://www.hoteldoolin.ie/

after dinner we split up into little groups and swarm out into the
scattered village of doolin to visit [the pubs][] — tonight is
“irish pub night”! mrs d and i opt for the “original one”, _gus
o’connors_, founded in 1832.

when we arrive at about 21:45, the live music is already playing (a
bit slowly still, but picking up steam [literally] as the night
progresses). we settle in with a pint of guinness and cidre and enjoy
the music and also the chat with our co-pilgrims.

[the pubs]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doolin#Pubs

quite a day 🙂

brendan’s chapel, an daingean, gallarus oratory, an inch of beach

our final full day at tralee and the _ballygarry house hotel_. tonight
_we_ are spared the noisy party guests, unfortunately other
co-pilgrims are not so lucky, they suffer from a rather rowdy crowd
leaving this night’s wedding party at about 4:00 in the morning. the
lady at reception kind of just shrugs her shoulders and replies that
it’s not their fault — which ticks me off into voicing my
disagreement with that statement…to little avail as her reply is
that “they were celebrating a _wedding_”. my response that,
surprisingly as it may sound, we were trying to _sleep_ just draws the
standard answer that i could talk to the manager once he’s
in. yes. right. thank you. i almost forget to ask whether there’s a
possibility of _not_ being blasted by national radio during breakfast.

the weather is billed as “damp all day” — which translates into
all-penetrating, fine strong drizzle rain all morning. i realise
almost too late that that kind of rain is as effective at soaking my
stuff as a strong shower…

first stop today: brendan’s chapel west of tralee for a moment of
quiet and reflection. brendan’s chapel is a rather modern building
with nice clean architectural lines inside — i quite like that
little church and enjoy the prayer, reading a psalm, and the moment of
quiet.

next stop: an daingean aka dingle for about 2 hours of sight seeing
and some shopping: i need _super glue_ to fix my glasses which have
developed this nasty habit of just falling apart at the center piece
at the flick of a finger 🙁 i do finally find a tube of that stuff at
the _eurospar_ in an daingean and together with mrs d first locate the
post office (two stamps for postcards to the continent) and then the
nice little [_an cafe liteartha_][liteartha] hidden away in the back
of a bookshop which itself is hidden away in a little side street of
an daingean.

[liteartha]: http://www.frommers.com/destinations/dinglepeninsula/D44605.html

at 12:00 we reconvene in our pilgrim’s bus and the whole band of
pilgrims is on its way to slea head again to take some “rainy day”
pictures, the real target though is the [gallarus oratory][], a square
chapel dating from around 500AD build in the “classical” celtic style:
layers of stone slabs, each slightly tilted with the inner edge ending
up a bit higher than the outward facing edge, thus, preventing the
rain from getting in. our pilgrimage’s guide, mr tambour, buys the
tickets for the group and we make our way through the
café-cum-souvenir-shop-cum-ticket-counter out to the other side, then
follow a gravel path slightly up the hill through a gap in the
enclosing wall and end up a the oratory. the chapel has a doorway
facing west (i need to duck to get through) and a small-ish window
opening towards the east. wanting to get a “feel” for the place, i
wait patiently until most of the group has been inside, taken a
picture (flash, flash, flash), peeked out through the window opening,
peeked into the oratory from the outside through the window opening,
collided with me[^1] — and manage to catch a minute or so to
myself.[^2]

[^1]: standing in the southwest corner of the chapel, just to the
right of the door, i’m not immediately visible…

[^2]: the longer the pilgrimage takes, the more i realize that i’m not
really the group traveling kind of person — though i really do
enjoy learning about celtic spirituality as well as the stories
about ireland’s past.

[gallarus oratory]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallarus_Oratory

while the rest of the group is still lingering around the oratory i
retreat to get away from the hustle & bustle for a bit — and to take
a leak. when i approach the outbuilding hosting “the facilities” my
ears pick up what sounds like a race track commentator. entering the
gents section it turns out to be a live radio feed carrying some
running commentary of a horse race being piped into the gents
toilet (the radio feed not the horse race, that is)…

we make our way back via an daingean and inch strand — where ms r-w
surprises us all by making a run for the beach and taking a bath in
the atlantic. to each her own.

dinner is a bit earlier today: we are going to the [_siamsam tíre
theater_][siamsam tíre] tonight for a performance of _tearmann_:

> _[…] a moving journey to the poorhouse and the Great Irish
> Famine. Many of those who perished during the famine carried in
> their folk memor an unknown library of music, song and dance. For
> some, the last refuge was the Poorhouse. As the drama unfolds, a
> pair of dance shoes becomes the embodiment of not only all that was
> lost, but everything that was saved, everything that is still
> cherished in Irish folk traditions. The dance shoes come to
> symbolize this wealth of culture – these are magical shoes, they
> have a life of their own…_ [[siamsam tíre]](http://www.siamsatire.com/folk_forthcoming.html#8)

[siamsam tíre]: http://www.siamsatire.com/history.html

and it is a _very_ impressive performance, telling exactly that story
with very few words but lots of music, (step) dance, and
expression. enjoyed it very much.

gap of dunloe & the lakes of killarney

breakfast today (we are still at the [_ballygarry house
hotel_](http://www.ballygarryhouse.com/)) works out a bit better than
yesterday: more coffee and tea available, no being told off for
sitting at the wrong table. 🙂

today’s program: by bus to the starting point of the pass up to the
gap of dunloe, walk from there over the [gap of
dunloe](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gap_of_dunloe) and down to
_brandon’s cottage_ for a cup of tea, followed by a boat trip across
the lakes of killarney to the town of killarney.

we are off at 9:00 on the dot and get to our starting point by
9:50. the pass road is restricted to horse-drawn coaches, walkers and
business and commercial access. horse-drawn coaches are about €30 per
coach each and apparently in high-demand at times as there are quite a
few of them along with the required horses around. as we start on our
walk we witness two coaches (gigs, really) taking off with the drivers
flogging the horses quite severely several times. guess they lost any
potential customers in our group.

the walk up to the gap of dunloe is what turner and company would call
_pittoresque_ — wild landscape rising up to each side, a succession
of little lakes, a winding road up to the pass. again, mrs d and i
bring up the rear of the pilgrim’s train and are joined today by mrs
c. the higher we get the stronger the wind blows up towards the pass
— fantastic! we are occasionally overtaken by a horse-drawn gig,
sometimes by cars[^1] and once or twice by folks on bikes, some more,
some less skilled in the art of cycling. the weather puts on a
dramatic show, but stays dry until we have passed the highest point,
the gap of dunloe. the pass down into the valley on the eastern side
reminds me of the eastern snowdown pass topology: the same
north–south valley formation almost.

after a lunch break just beyond the pass summit we are on our way down
to _brandon’s cottage_, a self-serve “restaurant” operated on behalf
of the national park. the scenery is still breathtakingly beautiful.

[^1]: interesting who all has a business or commercial interest here…

after a coke (me) and a cup of tea (mrs d) along with two slices of
apple pie with cream we enjoy the view until our boats across the
lakes of killarney depart.

the boats turn out to be, err, boats, wooden ones with a little
outboard motor. each boat seating up to 12 people. after a bit of
engine trouble we depart from _brandon’s cottage_ and are on our way
across the three lakes and two rivers.

_tranquil_ is the word that describes the first part of our ride —
_tranquil_ is not the word that i’d choose for the second part. where
the first part was just gliding along on the calm surface of the upper
lake and the connecting river leaving it, once we reach the
three-river-meeting point we first need to pass across a bit of
white-water (necessitating a re-balancing of the boat by having us all
shift forward). from the three-river-meeting point onwards we enjoy a
bit of smooth “sailing” which turns out to lull us into a false sense
of security: once we leave the third lake and enter the last one, the
largest of the three, we literally hit rough sea. the wind is blowing
and has been blowing long enough today to really cause quite a bit of
wave action. after a re-reshuffle (all move towards the back of the
boat) we tackle it stern-on. splash, splash, splash summarises the
next 15min as we crash through one wave crest after the other. fun 😀

unfortunately, about half-way down the lake we need to cross the lake
to get to ross castle — meaning we are now moving in parallel to the
waves, also meaning our little boat is rotating back and forth along
its longitudinal axis, fun…

we do make it to shore, and get together, with a cup of tea, to have one more
story told by our resident master story teller: this time it’s about a
blind bagpipe player, and the castle in the lake of killarney. again,
i’m fascinated by her story telling talent and enjoy the story
tremendously.

then it’s back to the hotel again — one photo-op stop to have one
final view across the lakes of killarney — to take a shower, change
into fresh clothes, and dinner at 18:30 today as we are going to visit
the [siamsa tíre theater][] here in tralee! looking forward to that one!

[siamsa tíre theater]: http://www.siamsatire.com/folk.html

a new breakfast beverage, brigid’s well, rock of cashel

no “madame–baby” wake-up call this morning (i guess mr charming
realized that madame was already taking a shower when he called) but a bit of re-packing before breakfast as today we are relocating to
tralee in county kerry. having learnt from yesterday’s breakfast i
appear on the scene 15min early and order coffee (for me) and tea (for mrs d) along with my cooked breakfast — ms rough charme tries to force me to use the german breakfast menu but i stubbornly insists on
using the original. i while away the time until coffee and tea arrive
by reading the _irish independent_. at around 8:00 coffee, tea, _and_
toast arrive, 5min later mrs d and we are all set to start
breakfast…

…well, almost. when mrs d pours her cup of tea we are both a bit
surprised at how strong it turns out to be. that surprise is nothing,
though, compared to the surprise of mrs d when taking the first sip:
she pulls a face, looks quite a bit startled, then takes a peek at the
contents of her tea pot — and laughs: apparently the breakfast crew
is under quite a bit of stress and mistakenly filled her tea pot with
coffee and threw in a tea bag. our breakfast waitress is as surprised
as we and quickly remedies the situation.

at 9:00 we are all packed and ready to go. first stop today is
_brigid’s well_ in [kildare][]. the weather has improved (it’s no
longer raining) and we take this first spell of dry weather not only
to learn about brigid but also to learn about each other:
introductions! brigid’s well is in the middle of fields just outside
kildare and consists of an enclosed well at one end being “fed”[^1] by
the original well at the other end of the garden. the front part is
connected to the back part by a sequence of five stones (mini
_menhirs_) each standing for a certain characteristic of st
brigid. one sentence strikes a chord with me: “live in the here and
now and all will be well”

[kildare]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kildare

kildare cathedral is next on the program and impresses me with its
rather clean design and construction. not pompous at all.

a visit with sister mary of the [_centre for celtic
spirituality_][kildare-center-for-spirituality] concludes the morning:
sister mary explains about the briget order, its history and, again,
about celtic spirituality. rather interesting. and also located in an
interesting loation: right in the middle of a residential area in
kildare — which is, if you think about it, rather in-line with the
credo of celtic spirituality: god around us, within us, above us,
below us, in front of us, and behind us.

[^1]: “fed” in quotes as we later notice that the water level of the
original well at the end of the property is well below the pipe
leading to the enclosed well at the front of the garden — a bit
puzzling that.

[kildare-center-for-spirituality]: http://www.solasbhride.ie/solas-bhride.htm

after a rather spiritually engaging morning we leave kildare and are
on our way to the [_rock of
cashel_](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_of_cashel) in
tipperary. the trip from kildare to tipperary is not as long as it
used to be (“it’s a long road to tipperary…”) due a new highway
having just been opened. the weather has improved dramatically: the
sun’s out and about, the rain of yesterday a faint memory.

at rock of cashel we have a late little lunch in _granny’s kitchen_
then visit the castle.

it’s almost 19:00 when we reach our hotel for the next four nights,
the [_ballygarry hotel_ in tralee](http://www.ballygarryhouse.com/)
— decidedly an improvement over the last one: very nice rooms, and
dinner service actually delivers what’s written on the outside.

plus, it’s got working WLAN service 🙂

oh, look, rain!…kevin’s way…glendalough

_ring, ring_ — mrs d picks up the phone, it’s the 7:15 wake-up call
and, as expected, nobody answers back. time to get up. _ring, ring_
— mrs d picks up the phone yet again, this time round it’s the bloke
from reception asking whether “madame is ok?”, madame affirms and
receives a rather charming “ok, baby”. this somewhat incongruous start
into our first day as pilgrims in ireland kind of forms the fabric of
the day: it stays incongruous, constantly changing between dry and
rather wet.

breakfast at the [_stand house hotel_][stand-house-hotel]
is, compared to dinner, a bit of a let down: the orange and cranberry
juice suffers from a rather high concentration of water and introduces
the gnawing suspicion that the breakfast staff have not yet grasped
the concept that orange juice concentrate should not be used to dilute
water but rather the other way round. the cooked breakfast is on the
ok side of cooked breakfasts (we’ve had worse, but we’ve also had
better), the waitress a charm that would work quite well inside a wood
workshop, taking rough edges off…

while the sun is still shining we leave by bus for the first part of
our pilgrimage: the _eurospar_ at kilcullen (food always played an
important role on pilgrimages through the ages).

next, through narrow, winding roads we aim for hollywood — and miss on the first
attempt. after some tapping of local knowledge[^1] we make it with
take 2 and, a few miles outside of hollywood, start our walking
part: we are following part of [kevin’s way][] in the direction of [glendalough][].

the weather has turned sour on us, and alternatively treats us
to dry and wet spells while we are still on the hard road part of the
walk. once we reach the footpath along the river, however, it’s found
its stride and just pours it out all the way to pass road for wicklow
pass. d’oh.

[kevin’s way]: http://www.heritagecouncil.ie/recreation/heritage-council-initiatives/the-pilgrim-paths/st-kevins-way/?L=0
[glendalough]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glendalough

the landscape is rather nice though and it’s kind of fun walking
through the drenched scenery regardless of the rain. after about 2.5
hours we reach the pass road to wicklow pass and are rescued by our
bus. next stop: glendalough.

at glendalough are the rather interesting remains of the old
monasteric city. it was originally founded by [kevin][] who intended
to lead a solitary life as a hermit — that plan didn’t work out too
well and kevin had to scupper it quite quickly as other folks like
that idea of leading a solitary life in that spot of ireland,
and…joined him.[^2] a thriving community evolved around the
monasteric buildings and quickly turned from a mere dwelling into a
town.

what is interesting about glendalough is the way they lived a life
that did not differentiate between worldly matters and spiritual
matters but instead practised a holistic spirituality, the celtic
spirituality: god is among us, around us, above us and below us and
with us in everything we do and live — in contrast to the
continental european theology which is mostly a kind of dualistic
theology (god above in heaven, we down below on earth). there are
parallels to dietrich bonhoeffer’s view that god is not a god of the
boundaries or gaps[^3] but instead a god in our midst (and only
makes sense as such) — a view that i’ve made my own ever since i
encountered it and, thus, am pleasantly surprised to encounter it
here again and also to learn that there is a long tradition supporting
that view.

after we had made our way through the (heavily visited) ruins of the
monasteric city we spent about an hour with dominican sister genevieve
who explained to us the history behind and nature of celtic
spirituality — a very fascinating hour!

dinner was a bit less organized than yesterday (the notion of drinks
along with food was a novelty to the two waitresses this evening, but
they quickly realized that it might indeed be a good idea), the quality of the food was good.

[^1]: luckily, those two old men _did_ know their way around, unlike
me sometime in the early 1990s in the north of jeresey when i
unintentionally mis-directed a bus full of tourists looking for
jersey airport (of which they were as far away as they could
possibly get on that island).

[kevin]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_of_Glendalough
[stand-house-hotel]: http://www.standhousehotel.com/

[^2]: some folks really don’t get even simple ideas…

[^3]: that is, god as our explanation for all those things we do not
understand — and as a consequence, a god that we keep pushing
further and further away from us the more we manage to explain
ourselves.

on an irish pilgrimage…

the next 10 days we are taking part in a _spiritual journey through
ireland_. really kind of a [pilgrimage][], a [christian pilgrimage][] to be precise, by bus (not a lot of walking involved, unfortunately) to the places of the old, celtic irish church. the whole trip has been organized by the [akademie st. paul][] — and
it’s the first group trip of this kind that i’ve ever participated in
and i’m not too sure whether it’s going to be to my liking. let’s
see.

[pilgrimage]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilgrimage
[christian pilgrimage]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_pilgrimage
[akademie st. paul]: http://www.akademie-st-paul.org/

starting point is _dublin airport_ which we reach by way of —- yes,
unfortunately — plane 🙁 to catch the 9:20 swiss flight from zurich
to dublin, we take the 6:59 train from einsiedeln, necessitating
getting up at 5:00, sigh. we make it in time and get to zurich
airport, manage to get our failed web-check-in sorted[^1], even manage
to get two seats next to one another[^2] — and have a punctual and
fairly calm flight (big relief on my part).

[^1]: the swiss international air lines web-check-in took us through
all the stages of the check-in process and then refused to display
the boarding cards. hmph.

[^2]: which the aforementioned web-check-in also refused to do.

we are the first part of the group to arrive in dublin. once we’ve had
a coffee (me) and smoothie (mrs d) we position ourselves directly
opposite the arrivals area and hold up our sign and wait…

and wait…[^3]

[^3]: i do notice that some folks have rather interesting signs: “his
royal highness”, for example. perhaps i should try my private twitter
moniker, dr who, next time i’m being picked up[^4]?

[^4]: yes, however unlikely that may be.

and wait. finally at around 12:30 the first few folks of the remainder
of our group trickle in and by 13:30 we are almost complete. it’s an,
err, interesting mixture. our bus driver for the next 10 days collects
us and after a small problem with luggage (luckily quickly resolved)
we are on our way into dublin city center.

our pilgrimage’s guide, mr tambour from akademie st paul, evidently
has done his homework and gives us a rather well-informed running
commentary of the stuff we see already from the bus, and, once we are
ground-bourne again, a tour of the temple bar district and, the
highlight of the afternoon: _christ church_.

i’m not sure whether i’m cut out for this group travel stuff — i
find that i need time for myself and, also, that i actually enjoy the
immersive part of travelling alone (that is, either really alone or
together with mrs d) and being forced to interact with the “natives”
(so to speak) and take part (at least to some extent) in the culture
that surrounds us. travelling in a group of germans takes that part
away, it’s like travelling in a shell, in a bubble, a bit isolated
from the country you want to experience.

we get to our hotel, the [_stand house hotel_][stand-house-hotel] by a 18:20 and have a bit of time to settle in (we are going to stay two nights here), then it’s a rather nice dinner followed by some blogging 🙂

[stand-house-hotel]: http://www.standhousehotel.com/

let’s see how this all works out 🙂

compline at the abbey church

felt like visiting [compline][] at the [abbey church][] tonight. unusually for me i managed to arrive five minutes early. usually (well, judging by the previous three times we had visited the abbey church — hardly statistically significant) the church is a rather quiet place — and the monks encourage that, not surprisingly, and have signs in several languages adhorting the public to keep it a quiet place for prayer and contemplation…

[compline]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compline

…when i entered tonight i at first thought there was some machinery at work. looking around i realized that a group of female pilgrims was loudly praying the _[ave maria][]_ to the [lady of the hermits aka the black madonna][lady] — over and over again. i was wondering whether they’d stop for the compline or whether they’d keep chanting: they did stop on the last stroke of the abbey bell!

the compline itself was very good and helped me focus on god, pass the day and what had happened back into his hands.

to be repeated 🙂

[lady]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Madonna#Switzerland
[abbey church]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Einsiedeln_Abbey
[ave maria]: http://bar.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ave_Maria