goodbye switzerland!

after almost 17 years living & working in switzerland i am traveling back to germany for the last time today.

it’s been a fantastic time. we learned a lot about us and about the swiss. we became friends with a number of people here, become even very good friends with quite a few folks!

we discovered the mountains and walking.

we lived in a suburb of zurich and we lived in the middle of the mountains.

we became members of the local churches.

i discovered singing in a choir and even had the honor of being part of the stiftschor of the abbey of einsiedeln!

we learned that swiss culture and german culture are two very different beasts. we learned to understand (not speak) swiss german. we became huge fans of the swiss transport system. we each had our own postfinance accounts.

we learned snow shoe hiking.

we were amazed by the strict rules on one hand and the flexibilities in applying those rules (or not).

we were welcomed by lots of folks. we learned what it feels like to be part of a nation that is slightly disliked by the swiss german media. we learned what it means to be foreigners. we learned how open and warm hearted the swiss people can be.

we shall miss switzerland, we shall miss einsiedeln, we shall miss the friends we made. we shall miss the benign mountains of the voralpen, we shall miss the awe inspiring mountains of the alpine regions. we shall miss the abundance of snow in winter, that first snow morning of each winter!

i will miss the stiftschor, the friends i made there, their kindness of taking me into their midst — most of all pater lukas with his kind humor. i shall miss our friends at the reformierte kirche einsiedeln who accepted us as we are and showed us new views on live as a christian. i shall miss the friends from the spedakel group of the chaernehus and the many shows we literally staged together.

@jmdhh and i have quite a lot of tours that we’d still like to do — it will be a bit more difficult now, but we’ll do them nevertheless! 🙂

we are looking forward to living together after almost 17 years of weekend commuting! we are looking forward to a less regimented, less planned life. we are looking forward to having more time with each other, to having a less complicated lifestyle. we are looking forward to living in our own house (eventually, hopefully, sometime in 2014). i’m very much looking forward to that exciting new job in erlangen! i’m looking forward to taking evening strolls with @jmdhh! i’m looking forward to being able to talk face-to-face with her instead of through a VoIP line. i’m looking forward to fall in frankonia, to winter together, to weekend hiking and walking excursions.

after almost 17 years living in switzerland, i’m on the train home tonight.

goodbye switzerland! take care until we meet again!

in the lake district again…

after a long day on the train — starting with the 8:43 ICE International train from cologne to brussels, then the Eurostar to london st pancras, followed by the virgin pendolino from london euston (yep, a short walk from there) to oxenholme lake district, and, the last train for today, the First Penine 185 class service to windermere — we have finally arrived at the riverside hotel in ambleside.

the riverside is a small hotel run by david and brenda milne a bit outside ambleside, right next to the river rothay on the
quiet under loughrigg lane leading from ambleside to rydal. our first impression: a lovely, well-lead hotel in a quiet spot of ambleside. nice. also, we like our room right at the top of the house with a window towards the rothay river. unusual for a UK hotel: the shower really does work and is not just a trickling-when-i’m-grown-up-i’ll-be-a-real-shower which we’ve encountered so often elsewhere in the british isles. all very promising 🙂

dinner was at zeffirellis, a restaurant recommended by our friends p & w (as well as our host david) — a vegetarian italian restaurant with an interesting menu. the food is good, as are the drinks (red wine for mrs d, a theakston for me) and the waiters are really friendly.

so far, so good 🙂 let’s see how this all turns out…

good night.

kells, tara, airport, trinity college, chilling out

[lang_en]
the last day of our irish pilgrimage! after another good breakfast at
the [newgrange hotel][] we pack once more and enter our pilgrims bus
— which this morning has grown in size: morris, our excellent
driver, swapped our smaller bus yesterday evening for a bigger one as
he’s going to pick up a group of 50 at dublin airport right after
dropping us off.

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

the final “building blocks” of our pilgrimage are [kells][] and
[the hill of tara][].

after a short ride we get to the little town of [kells][] and
disembark. first stop: the large celtic cross that used to stand in
the middle of a busy crossroads but has now been relocated a little
outside the town center. it’s been damaged — whether that damage
originates with that unlucky encounter with that “cumbersome
schoolbus”[^1] or has been inflicted earlier is hard to tell — but
still interesting nevertheless.

[kells]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kells,_County_Meath
[the hill of tara]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hill_of_Tara

[^1]: according to
[wikipedia](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kells,_County_Meath#Places_of_interest)

> The other Celtic cross was positioned in the middle of a busy
> crossroads until an unfortunate accident involving a
> cumbersome school bus. It now stands in front of a former
> courthouse, now a museum and coffeeshop. A roof protects the
> cross from the elements. Curiously, a replica is completely
> safe from the elements inside the museum.

a picture of the cross in its original location is [available on
this library ireland
webpage](http://www.libraryireland.com/Atlas/Kilkenny-Celtic-Cross-Kells.php).

from the cross we make our way up to the site of what used to be the
monastery of kells and is now a normal church — a church with four
high crosses and a replica of the [book of kells][], though!

[book of kells]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_kells

next and last pilgrimage stop: [the hill of tara][] — another site
close to the [river boyne][]. legend has it that tara was the seat of
the [high king of ireland][], the _árd rí na héireann._ was is known
as fact is that the hill of tara was the site of iron age hilltop
enclosure as well as the site of a neolithic passage grave. the hill
itself offers a nice view across county meath (including slane which
we visited yesterday). its other prominent features are a tea room and
two (2) souvenir shops…

[river boyne]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_Boyne
[high king of ireland]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_King_of_Ireland

the visit to tara concludes our pilgrimage, our next and final stop is
dublin airport with most of our co-pilgrims flying back to frankfurt
and düsseldorf in the afternoon, and with mrs d and i taking the
aircoach bus into dublin as our flight back to zurich will not leave
until tomorrow.

dublin airport is busy, and we just have moments to grab our luggage,
say our “goodbyes” and then we are all of a sudden by ourselves
again. after some initial trouble we manage to find the aircoach bus
stop, buy a return ticket and are soon on our way into dublin city
center. the ride takes about 40min (longer than the first time when we
used that tunnel which the aircoach buses don’t).

our hotel, the _[o’callaghan davenport hotel][]_ is right around the
corner of the _marrion square north_ aircoach bus stop. the room is OK
and we just drop our luggage off and make our way to [trinity
college][] to visit the [book of kells][] exhibition.

[o’callaghan davenport hotel]: http://www.ocallaghanhotels.com/dublinmain/davenport.aspx
[trinity college]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity_College,_Dublin
[book of kells]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_kells

we are, not surprisingly, not alone in our quest, lots of tourists
(american but also german) along with bus loads of school kids. we
manage to squeeze in and slowly make our way through the very
interesting exhibition explaining the background of the book of kells
but also how it probably was created. fascinating and well worth the
money. also, a very nice closure of our pilgrimage 🙂

the [library’s long room][] is nice but nothing to get really excited
about: it’s a typical old library. i had hoped for more trinity
college or even ireland related material to be on display but instead
get treated to an exhibition about napoleon bonaparte. hmph.

[library’s long room]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity_College,_Dublin#The_Library_and_culture

after the cultural part we are in dire need of a tea and something to
eat. following the recommendation of ms p we follow the signs in
grafton street for the _[powerscourt][]_ shopping center where we have
a very nice “high tea” in the old courtyard — any thoughts on
returning for dinner are kind of squashed when around 17:15 the staff
of the café start collecting the menu cards and closing down. on
leaving we find out that 18:00 is closing time — worse than germany
in the bad old days of the _ladenschlußgesetz!_ and this is the
capital or ireland!

[powerscourt]: http://goireland.about.com/od/shopping/gr/powerscourt_th.htm

our walk back to the hotel is interrupted and severely cut short by
the onset of very heavy rain. luckily we do have our umbrellas with us,
but by the time we reach our hotel we are still a bit wet.

being tired all of a sudden (anti-climax?) we decide to stay at the
hotel for the evening and conclude our ireland adventure with a couple
of pints of cidre and guinness in the hotel bar.
[/lang_en]
[lang_de]
der letzte tag unserer irischen pilgerfahrt! nach einem weiteren guten
frühstück im [newgrange hotel][] heisst es wieder: packen und in den
pilgerbus, der sich über nacht wundersam vergrössert hat: morris,
unser fahrer, hat den bus gestern abend noch gegen einen doppelt so
grossen ausgetauscht, da er, nachdem er uns am flughafen dublin
abgesetzt hat, eine reisegruppe mit 50 teilnehmer aufnehmen muss.

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

die “schlusssteine” unserer pilgerfahrt sind [kells][] und
der [hügel von tara][].

nach kurzer fahrt mit dem pilgerbus erreichen wir die kleine stadt
[kells][]. erster halt: das grosse keltische kreuz, das früher mitten
auf einer hauptverkehrskreuzung stand, aber seitdem einen neuen
standort richtung ortsausgang gefunden hat. das teil sieht
einigermaßen kaputt aus — ob die schäden durch das unglückliche
zusammentreffen mit “dem umständlichen schulbus”[^1] oder schon früher
verursacht wurden, ist schwer zu sagen — interessant ist das kreuz
auf alle fälle.

[kells]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kells,_County_Meath
[hügel von tara]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hill_of_Tara

[^1]: [wikipedia](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kells,_County_Meath#Places_of_interest)
zufolge gab es mal diesen “unglückliche unfall mit einem
umständlichen schulbus”:

> The other Celtic cross was positioned in the middle of a busy
> crossroads until an unfortunate accident involving a
> cumbersome school bus. It now stands in front of a former
> courthouse, now a museum and coffeeshop. A roof protects the
> cross from the elements. Curiously, a replica is completely
> safe from the elements inside the museum.

auf [dieser website von library
ireland](http://www.libraryireland.com/Atlas/Kilkenny-Celtic-Cross-Kells.php)
ist ein bild des kreuzes in seiner ursprünglichen umgebung.

vom kreuz aus laufen wir wieder zurück in die stadt zu dem ort, der
früher mal das kloster von kells beherbergte und jetzt nur noch eine
normale kirche ist — allerdings einer kirche mit vier hochkreuzen
und einer faksimile-ausgabe des [book of kells][]!

[book of kells]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_kells

unser nächster und auch letzter pilgerfahrtshalt: der [hügel von tara][] — auch am [river boyne][]
gelegen. die legende sagt, dass tara der sitz des [irischen hochkönigs][] war, des _árd rí na
héireann._ fakt ist, dass der hügel von tara in der eisenzeit eine kuppenumfriedung hatte und auch
ein neolithische ganggrab aufweist. der hügel selber bietet eine schöne aussicht auf county meath
(unter anderem auch auf slane, was wir ja gestern besucht hatten). ausserdem zeichnet sich tara
durch einen tea room und nicht weniger als zwei (2) souvenirläden aus!

[river boyne]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_Boyne
[irischen hochkönigs]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_King_of_Ireland

der besuch von tara stellt den abschluss unserer pilgerfahrt dar, der
nächste und letzte halt ist dublin flughafen: die meisten unserer
mitpilger fliegen heute nachmittag noch nach frankfurt und düsseldorf
zurück. mrs d und ich werden den aircoach bus nach dublin rein nehmen,
den leider geht unser flug nach zürich erst morgen vormittag.

dublin flughafen ist ziemlich hektisch und wir haben wirklich nur
wenige augenblicke, um unsere koffer zu erwischen, “tschüß” zu sagen
und dann sind mrs d und ich aufeinmal nur noch zu zweit. nach einigem
hin und her schaffen wir es, die bushaltestelle des aircoach buses zu
finden, erstehen ein retour-ticket und sind auch schon auf den weg
nach dublin. die fahrt dauer 40min — länger als beim erstenmal, als
morris mit uns durch den tunnel gefahren war, was die aircoach busse
anscheinend nicht nicht tun.

unser hotel, das _[o’callaghan davenport hotel][]_ ist von der
_merrion square north_ aircoach bushaltestelle gleich um die ecke. das
zimmer ist OK. wir lassen unser gepäck dort und machen uns gleich
wieder auf den weg zum [trinity college][], um die [book of
kells][] ausstellung zu besuchen.

[trinity college]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity_College,_Dublin
[book of kells]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_kells
[o’callaghan davenport hotel]: http://www.ocallaghanhotels.com/dublinmain/davenport.aspx

wie erwartet sind wir _nicht_ die einzigen mit diesem
ansinnen. touristenladungen (amerikaner aber auch etliche deutsche)
und busladungen von schulkindern haben das gleiche ziel. wir schaffen
es, tickets zu erwerben bevor eine grössere gruppe dasselbe schafft
und nehmen uns zeit, die sehr interessante ausstellung über das _book
of kells_, seine hintergründe und auch herstellungsweise zu
besichtigen. faszinierend und wirklich das geld wert. und — eine
schöne abrundung unserer pilgerfahrt 🙂

der _[long room][]_ der alten bibliothek (im preis inbegriffen) ist ganz
nett aber nicht wirklich vom sockel hauend. ich hatte gehofft, dort
noch material über das trinity college selber oder auch über irland
anzutreffen, stattdessen kriegen wir eine ausstellung über napoleon
bonaparte auf’s auge gedrückt. hmpf.

[long room]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity_College,_Dublin#The_Library_and_culture

nach diesem “kulturellen teil” brauchen wir dringendst tee und was zu
beissen. der empfehlung von ms p folgend, lassen wir uns von den
hinweisschildern in der grafton street auf das _[powerscourt][]_ shopping
center leiten, wo wir im ehemaligen innenhof einen ausgesprochen guten
“high tea” zu uns nehmen — etwaige gedanken in richtung abendessen
später in dieser doch recht ansprechenden lokalität werden uns dann
aber recht schnell ausgetrieben: die bedienung fängt um 17:15 an alle
speisekarten einzusammeln und so langsam die bürgersteige
hochzuklappen. beim verlassen des shopping centers stellen wir
überrascht fest, dass um 18:00 sakko ist — schlimmer als in
deutschland zu zeiten des ladenschlussgesetzes! und dies ist die
hauptstadt von irland!

[powerscourt]: http://goireland.about.com/od/shopping/gr/powerscourt_th.htm

unser weg zurück zum hotel beschleunigt sich dann aufeinmal: es fängt
an heftig zu regnen. zum glück haben wir unsere regenschirme dabei,
aber bis wir das hotel erreichen sind wir dann doch etwas durchnässt.

und sind dann auch plötzlich ziemlich müde (anti-klimax?) und
beschliessen, unser irland-abenteuer mit einigen pints of cidre und
guinness in der hotelbar zu beenden.
[/lang_de]

a walk through pittoresque boyne valley, time travel, monasterboice, & the hill of slane

[lang_en]
mrs d and i slept surprisingly well this night, given the fact that
one of the main thorough-fares passes the hotel just a couple of
meters away.[^1] breakfast is efficient and good and the waitresses
are actually quite friendly and even know about gluten-free food for
mrs j.[^2]

[^1]: perhaps we got lucky that our room is behind a wall shielding us
from the traffic noise.

[^2]: having translated for mrs j a number of times when she tried to
explain to the various waiters and waitresses what gluten-free
means, i’m slowly becoming an expert on that topic — well,
almost 🙂

the weather has become rather irish: it’s raining when we set off for
a walk in the boyne valley, and it’s treating us to several showers on
the otherwise rather _pittoresque_ walk. in contrast to the previous
walks we are to go by ourselves in silence and since we return to the
bus mrs d and i for once can walk as it pleases us instead of forming
the tail-end. rather quickly the whole group disperses over the length
of the path, and i rather enjoy the quietude and the breathtaking
scenery.[^3]

[^3]: which reminds me in places of the [river beauly][] which [we
visited in 2003](http://50mm-traveller.net/2003/2003-05-21%20scotland/dscn1427-c.jpg.php)

[river beauly]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_Beauly

next stop is [newgrange][], or rather the [brú na bóinne visitor
centre][] and the [knowth][] neolithic passage grave. mrs dr, who has
so far been doing a fantastic job translating for our non-english
speaking co-pilgrims, unfortunately is under the weather today and mr
tambour inquires whether i could be of assistance. i agree on
condition that i can make things up if i loose the plot — to which
he laughingly agrees. so, to cut a long story short: i learn quite a
bit about knowth and its history through the milleniums — our group is
a bit surprised to learn that knowth and the other mounds nearby are
in fact modelled after what science assumes to be advanced flying
objects and probably served as intergalactic beacons similar to the
lighthouses of the 19th and 20th century…

…ok, ok, just kidding 😀 i try my best to translate everything[^4]
and seem to get the job done in a half-decent way.[^5] knowth is the
largest passage grave site in the area and even contains over one
third of all [megalithic art][] in all western europe! it’s also quite
special in that [several different cultures made use of it through the
milleniums.][knowth-history] fascinating stuff. as is the fact that
knowth predates the pyramids by about 500 years! i quite enjoy the
visit to knowth and the [brú na bóinne visitor centre][] and am quite
impressed by it.

[newgrange]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newgrange
[brú na bóinne visitor centre]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Br%C3%BA_na_B%C3%B3inne_Visitor_Centre
[knowth]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowth
[knowth-history]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowth#History
[megalithic art]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megalithic_art

[^4]: but stumble over _horse shoe_ which i translate a bit too
literally as _pferdeschuh_, which mr tambour, enthusiastic
equestrian that he is, promptly corrects to _hufeisen_ — oh,
well, i never claimed to be an expert in horses… 🙂

[^5]: no tips, though. hmmm, guess i’ve to work on those skills a bit
then… 😀

after lunch at the visitor center we are on our way once more — the
weather is becoming increasingly more friendly — and, with a short
stop at the site of the [battle of the boyne][], visit [monasterboice][]
and [the hill of slane][].

[battle of the boyne]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Boyne
[monasterboice]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monasterboice
[the hill of slane]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slane#The_Hill_of_Slane

monasterboice is most famous for its [high crosses][] and has a couple
of rather well-preserved specimen. it’s also a “living” grave-yard:
“living” in the sense that it’s still in use today.

[high crosses]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_cross

the last stop today is [the hill of slane][] where [st patrick][]
supposedly lit the first easter fire. today it’s a ruined church with
a churchyard and no fire — but lots of rain all of a sudden gushing
down on us and we rather hastily beat a retreat to our waiting bus.

[st patrick]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Patrick

all in all a rather interesting day, knowth impressed me the most,
i’ve to say.[^6]

[^6]: a little voice in my head mumbles that i probably was so
impressed by it because for once i had to concentrate on what
was being said. hmph.
[/lang_en]
[lang_de]
wir schlafen diese nacht erstaunlich gut angesichts der tatsache, dass
eine der hauptausfallsstrassen von navan nur ein paar meter von uns
entfernt am hotel vorbeirauscht.[^1] das frühstück ist sehr effizient
und recht gut, die bedienung ist überraschend freundlich und hat sogar
ahnung von gluten-freier nahrung für frau j.[^2]

[^1]: die so hässliche wand direkt vor unserem fenster hat dann doch
ihre guten seiten: der verkehrslärm geht so wohl doch zum
grössten teil an uns vorbei.

[^2]: während unserer pilgerfahrt hatte ich inzwischen schon mehrfach
das vergnügen, mrs j beim erklären von “gluten-frei” mit
übersetzungsdiensten helfen zu können; langsam werde ich experte
auf dem gebiet — naja, fast 🙂

das wetter ist “irisch” geworden: bei der abfahrt zu unserem ersten
tagesziel, dem boyne-tal, regnet es und auch während der bildschönen
wanderung kriegen wir die eine oder andere dusche ab. anders als bei
unseren vorherigen wanderungen ist unsere heutige wanderung eine
einzelwanderung im schweigen. da es eine rundwanderung ist brauchen
mrs d und ich heute fürs mal nicht den schluss zu machen und können
unser eigenes tempo gehen. innerhalb kurzer zeit hat sich die gruppe
mehr oder weniger über den ganzen wanderweg verteilt — und ich freue
mich an der stille und der atemberaubend schönen landschaft.[^3]

[^3]: die mich des öfteren an den [river beauly][] in schottland
erinnern, [wo wir 2003 waren.](http://50mm-traveller.net/2003/2003-05-21%20scotland/dscn1427-c.jpg.php)

[river beauly]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_Beauly

unser nächster halt ist [newgrange][] — das heisst, eigentlich das
[brú na bóinne visitor centre][] und das neolithische ganggrap
[knowth][]. frau dr, die bis anhin hervoragende dienste als
pilgerfahrt-übersetzerin für unsere nicht-englischsprachigen mitpilger
geleistet hat, ist heute leider nicht so gut zuwege und herr tambour
fragt an, ob ich einspringen könnte. unter der bedingung, dass ich
frei fabulieren kann, wenn ich etwas verpasse oder nicht mitkriege,
erkläre ich mich einverstanden — herr tambour stimmt der bedingung
lachend zu.

um es kurz zu machen: ich lerne einiges interessante über knowth,
und seine geschichte durch die jahrtausende — unsere gruppe ist
etwas überrascht, dass knowth und die anderen grabhügel in der nähe
keine ganggräber sind sondern, nach ansicht der wissenschaft, nach
unbekannten fliegenden objekten modelliert und wahrscheinlich als
intergalaktische leuchtfeuer gedient haben (ähnlich wie die
leuchttürme des 19. und 20. jahrhunderts…)

…ok, ok, nicht wirklich 😀 ich gebe mein bestes, um auch alles
mitzukriegen und einigermassen passabel zu übersetzen, was am ende
wohl auch einigermassen gelingt.[^5] knowth ist das grösste ganggrap
in der gegend und hat mehr als ein drittel aller westeuropäischen
[megalithischen kunst][megalithic art]! hinzukommt, dass die
[verschiedenen kulturen knowth für ihre zwecke angepasst und gebraucht
haben][knowth-history]. faszinierend! ebenso faszinierend ist die
tatsache, dass knowth 500 jahre _vor_ den pyramiden von gizeh
errichtet wurde! recht beeindruckend, knowth und das [brú na bóinne
visitor centre][]. auf alle fälle ein besuch wert!

[newgrange]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newgrange
[brú na bóinne visitor centre]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Br%C3%BA_na_B%C3%B3inne_Visitor_Centre
[knowth]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowth
[knowth-history]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowth#History
[megalithic art]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megalithic_art

[^4]: allerdings stolpere ich über _horse shoe_ — meine übersetzung
verrät meine equestrinische ignoranz: _pferdeschuh_ 🙂 zum
glück korrigiert herr tambour, enthusiastischer pferdenarr, der
er ist, das gleich zu _hufeisen_ 🙂

[^5]: trinkgeld gibt es allerdings dann doch keines 😀

nach einem guten mittagessen im visitor centre geht es mit dem
pilgerbus weiter — das wetter wird netter und netter — und wir
besuchen (nach einem kurzen stop am ort der [schlacht vom
boyne][battle of boyne]) [monasterboice][] und [den hügel von
slane][hill of slane].

[battle of the boyne]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Boyne
[monasterboice]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monasterboice
[hill of slane]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slane#The_Hill_of_Slane

monasterboice zeichnet sich vor allem durch seine [keltischen
hochkreuze][high crosses] und hat einige recht gut erhaltene exemplare
davon. es ist aber auch ein “lebender” friedhof — “lebend” im sinne
von “heute noch in gebrauch”

[high crosses]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_cross

unser letzter halt heute is der [hügel von slane][hill of slane],
auf dem [st patrick][] der sage nach das erste osterfeuer
entzündete. heute ist es eine kirchenruine mit einem friedhof ohne
feuer — dafür aber einem überraschenden schwall von regen, der sich
recht plötzlich über uns ergiesst und wir daraufhin die flucht zurück
zum wartenden bus einschlagen..

[st patrick]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Patrick

alles in allem ein wirklich interessanter tag, am meisten hat mich
allerdings knowth beeindruckt.[^6]

[^6]: eine kleine stimme in meinem kopf murmelt, dass ich
wahrscheinlich nur deshalb so beeindruckt war, weil ich mich
fürs mal auf das gesagt konzentrieren musste… hmpf.
[/lang_de]

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

brandon’s well, an daingean peninsula

around 2:00 in the morning: a group of hotel guests from that
anniversary party very kindly let us in into their conversations they
are having in the parking lot outside the hotel entrance — for about
half an hour we get to share each and every attempt at
jokularity… much appreciated.

at breakfast mrs d and i commit the _faux pas_ of seating ourselves at
one of the free tables as the large group table seems to be fully
occupied. we quickly get told off by an apparently unmotivated,
round-ish waitress who informs us that _that_ table is needed for
“other guests”[^1] — not quite the “irish hospitality”. coffee and
tea are just that, but also seemingly rationed: we only manage to get
2 cups of each each.

[^1]: guests who never show up during the remainder of the breakfast
time, strangely enough…

today’s part of the pilgrimage takes us to brandon’s well[^2] which is
a bit outside tralee. the actual well itself, the water hole in the
earth, is a bit on the quiet side[^3] but otherwise a nice little area
enclosed by a dense hedge. we read a psalm, listen to some thoughts of
mr tambour on [john 5:1–15 (the story of the healing at lake
bethesda)][john 5:1-15], and conclude with a prayer and song.

[^2]: i guess to qualify as a saint in ireland you must have, at
least, one well named after you.

[^3]: what passes as a well here abouts does stretch the definition of
a well quite a bit, IMHO.

[john 5:1-15]: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john%205:1-15;&version=31;

the next part takes us through [an daingean][] (aka dingle) —
replenishing our proviant at the local _supervalu_ [sic] (i use the
opportunity to frequent the pharmacy next to the the aforementioned
_supervalu_ to acquire some midge repellent and antihistamin: those
little buggers have really taken a fancy of me, i must have about 30
midge bites on my arms, neck and head) — along the dingle
peninsula. about 2.5 hours walk from [slea head][] we are released
from our pilgrimage transporter and get a chance to walk to slea
head. the weather is at its best: in contrast to the forecast of the
irish met office we have pure, unadulterated sunshine! over the ring
of kerry we can see _cumulus congestus_ clouds piling up, some looking
like they are severly tempted to turn into _cumulus nimbus_ clouds —
we only have rather innocent looking straits of _cumulus humilis_
clouds coming our way. perfect.

[slea head]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dingle_Peninsula

while on tuesday, on kevin’s way, mrs d and i sped ahead, quickly
leaving the bulk of the group behind, we decide today to stay at the
end and “bring up the rear”, so to speak. mr tambour seems strangely
relieved by that — i can’t figure out whether he’s relieved to have
experienced walkers at the rear of the group or whether he is relieved
that we are not chasing ahead again. in any case we stay back and have
a couple of quite interesting chats on the way.

the scenery is fantastic: in front of us the wide open sea, framed on
both sides by mountain ranges and outlying little isles and rocks,
dark clouds on the other side of the bay piling up in-lands, the sun
casting interesting cloud shadows across the almost smooth surface of
the sea. the path to slea head winds past dry-stone walls (lots of
sheep), first up then down again. about 2 hours into the walk we break
for a snack-lunch and enjoy the quiet and the views!

at slea head we have about an hour to ourselves which most of us spend
at the café having a crumble and a pot of tea.

the way back to tralee is interrupted by a story telling session at the
beach: one of our co-pilgrims is a practised story teller and really
spins an enticing piece of yarn about a bloke called mccormack, an
enchanted branch, and how he lost his wife, daughter, and son — and
regained them later. i really enjoy that bit.

[an daingean]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dingle

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.