Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary

This was our first sight of the Rock of Cashel. I was still regretting the wonderful square tower we'd passed as we got off the motorway, wishing I could hop off and spend some time taking pictures. Then we rounded a bend and saw this. I've seen photographs of the Rock of Cashel, even have it as a background photo on my laptop. But I'm sure my jaw still dropped when I saw it in person. (In spite of the scaffolding.)

There is great online information on this collection of buildings set on the hill above the town of Cashel, so I won't repeat it here. Except to say that the round tower and chapel (which is under the scaffolding) date to the 12th century, the ruined Gothic cathedral is 13th century, and the castle and beautifully restored Hall of the vicars Choral are 15th century.

We had time to walk through town and have lunch, before meeting our group near the entrance. I loved the stone walls, and the way the wildflowers found a way to grow in the crevices.

Finally we got to go inside the gate, and while we waited for our guide, I walked the grounds taking pictures. I knew once more people arrived, it would be impossible to get photographs without crowds of people in them. I really wanted the scenery pictures, because this is Tipperary county, where my great-great grandparents were born. We're just passing through this county, so I'm taking all the photographs I can, to share with my sisters. I want to be able to look back at these, and think about my ancestors growing up in these hills. Maybe they even visited this very place.

Standing on the same hill, I couldn't get everything into the frame. So I had to switch to my wide zoom.You'll have to ignore the tower that now seems to be leaning. It isn't.

The monument in the corner of the graveyard lost the upper part of its structure (don't remember now how that happened). Melinda and I found all the broken pieces lying behind it, next to the stone wall. The carvings are beautiful.

The last stop was a walk around the inside of the chapel that's under renovation. Our guide said the stone was so waterlogged, water was seeping out of the walls. So it's covered, and protected from the elements. Amazingly, there is still paint on some of the walls and ceilings, remains of old frescoes. It's a beautiful place.


The Old Library at Trinity College

This is the most beautiful library I've ever been in.

This is called the Long Room. It's two stories tall, and each alcove is lined with leather-bound books, and each has its own rolling ladder for reaching books on the upper shelves. The windows were open for light, protected with frosted film, and have folding shutters on either side so they can be closed off from the inside.

The end of each set of shelves holds the bust of notable people, such as Aristotle and John Milton and Isaac Newton. Many of the alcoves are hung with banners celebrating an author, or a genre such as Irish fairy tales.

I loved the spiral staircase.

I wanted to be in this room all by myself, to smell the leather and sit in the peace and quiet. Unfortunately, I shared the room with about a hundred people, so I couldn't take the pictures I really wanted to take. Like a view looking down from the balcony at each end (we weren't allowed upstairs).

I did meet Michael, a long-time docent at the library. He was chatting with my husband, and I walked up and told him I couldn't think of any better job than his:  working in this amazing library.

You can see the library when you buy a ticket for the Book of Kells, but it was the library I especially wanted to see (I am an architect's daughter after all...  and a life-long book junkie). Don't get me wrong, the Book of Kells is beautiful. They put two pages on display at a time, but the museum exhibit displays reproductions of many of the pages, along with the history of the book. No photos are allowed, so I can only point you to the exhibit website if you'd like to take a look, and learn more about both the book and the Old Library.

Walking through Dublin

This morning we met up with our group and went on a walking tour of Dublin with a local guide. It was a great chance to roam around with my camera while listening, and take some people pictures. And architecture pictures. Our guide talked about the history of Dublin, especially the more recent history of the late 20th century.

I was fascinated by the old post office building, visible from a couple of blocks away because of its tall columns and Romanesque architecture. I especially love that it's fully decorated, even underneath the overhanging roof.

Our tour took us up O'Connell Street where we crossed the Liffey, then ducked through back alleys and side streets, all the way to Trinity College. There we walked through the Book of Kells exhibit, and explored the old library. I put these photographs in a separate post because I loved the library so much.

After a bit of shopping we said goodbye to our group, and struck out on our own to explore the Temple Bar. This is the only time it rained on our whole trip... thankfully I brought my raincoat today.

These horse-drawn carriages were everywhere in the old part of Dublin. This guy was waiting patiently outside the Guinness Brewery, wearing a quarter sheet against the chill and rain. We 
did the self-guided tour, then learned how to properly pour a Guinness with a creamy head. 

On our walk back along the river, we found Dublin's oldest pub, The Brazen Head. The fish & chips were so good, especially with a cold pint of Murphy's stout.

Then we walked back across town to our hotel, and Dave & I went off on our own to do some geocaching. And just a block from our hotel we discovered a long street lined with Georgian brick row houses, each with a fancy pedimented door. The doors were painted in all colors, black and pale blue and red and yellow and green. Each door and stone surround was just a bit different from the others. I'll come back before we leave Dublin and photograph more of them.



There were way too many hours in an airplane seat required to get here, but we finally arrived in London, then hopped over to Dublin. You know all those photos of green fields surrounded by rock walls? I got my first glimpse of them from the plane windows!

Our cab driver was also a bit of a tour guide, and pointed out sights along the way. Our hotel is on O'Connell Street, right in the heart of old Dublin. It's walking distance to most everything, just what I like.

We meet up with our tour group tonight, so we spent the afternoon walking the streets and exploring. Lunch was at this amazing restaurant in an old church, with gorgeous stained glass and crypts and stone carvings. We toasted the start of our vacation with a Guinness... the first of many, I'm sure!

Dublin is full of great architecture, monuments, ornate lamp posts, and amazing clocks.

For those who don't want to explore Dublin on foot, they can choose these little trains,
or hop on/off double-decker buses, or even horse-drawn carriages.

There is so much to see. These beautiful corner flower markets.

And meat markets, cheese shops, and produce vendors. There are restaurants and 
pubs, and the streets are filled with the sound of live traditional music every evening.
If you live in the city, there's everything you could possibly want.

Today I fired up the step counter on my cell phone. 
We'll be walking every single day. 
I wonder how many miles we'll walk?


The emerald isle

Ireland is one place I've always dreamed about visiting, for the scenery and the history and the music, and because my ancestors came to America from Ireland. And today that dream comes true.

So it will be a few weeks before I catch up with Electric | Journal, edit the photographs I know I'll be taking, and put them together with words that will help me remember what I know will be a very special trip.


The art of fishing...

Last fall we stayed at the South Fork Lodge on the Snake River. It's a beautiful place, where you can walk down to the riverbank and drop in a line, or float the river and fish from the boat. The South Fork is a braided river for much of its length, so you can hop out and fish from gravel bars, too.

The lodge reminded me of the classic lodges of the western national parks, with natural wood and soaring windows overlooking the river. The walls were hung with fishing art, prints by famous Yellowstone artists like Thomas Moran and Albert Bierstadt, watercolors of different types of trout, and drawings of classic fishing flies.

Over a glass of cabernet in the bar one night, I got to thinking about all the beautiful imagery that comes with fly fishing. Not just the natural scenery all around when I'm on the river, but also the rod in my hand, the fly that lights on the water to attract the fish, and the gorgeous trout that rise to the fly.

Also beautiful... the shared passion for a time-honored sport. And laughter, and time spent with family.


Thinking in black and white

I've been working a lot in my photo archive lately, having fun converting some of my images to black and white. It's been great fun, and a good learning exercise.

Lake fishing in the mountains of Western Colorado with my two best guys, my husband and his uncle. Private cascading ponds connected by a small stream, loaded with Brook trout. That night, we shared our catch with the family at a trout barbecue. It was great fun, and some lifelong memories were made.


Simple days...

The hummingbirds arrived this week, and all day long, the males drank at the hummingbird feeders, and chased each other around.

I caught up on chores around the house, and worked in the wine cellar where it was cool. Mid-afternoon I took my book upstairs to the guest room, where I could see out into the old orchard. The kids and grandkids are visiting next door, and I heard the laughter of children all afternoon long.

Today the dark rose peony bloomed, a gorgeous rich color, with big saucer-sized flowers. It's finally come into its own. Five years in the ground, the first two with no blooms at all. The first year it bloomed, the flowers were simple and single. This year it has seven blooms, big and double and oh, so fragrant.

After dinner, we spotted a very small doe working her way around the climbing rosebush, greedily eating just the blooms. She seemed to be on her own, which is unusual. I hope she has friends nearby.

The early evening light was golden, streaming across the back pasture, lighting up the last of the rhododendrons to bloom each year... a beautiful deep red turning blood red in the sun.

At 7:30 I walked out on the front porch to watch the last rays of light filtering through the trees. There was no sign of our young doe, but the quail were out on the patio, and scattered in all directions. The hummingbird at the feeder didn't even flinch, just kept right on eating.

I love the simple days.


Thinking in black and white

Thirty-five years ago (and change), the most beautiful mountain in the Cascade range blew sky high, changing its shape forever.

Just a few years earlier, we went on a backpack trip to Indian Heaven with a good friend, and at the end of our vacation we spent a few days at the Spirit Lake campground. We gassed up the old 1955 Chevy at the Spirit Lake resort, from cool old gas pumps as old as the lodge. We set up camp, then walked down to the lake to rinse off. The water was so cold, and crystal clear. The lake bottom was made from pure white pumice sand that crunched between my toes. We cooked dinner, then talked for hours under the stars. I still have the photograph Dave took of star trails that night... he simply locked open the shutter of his Pentax 35mm camera, and left it there to watch the sky while we slept.

That Spirit Lake is gone now. The crystal clear water, the white pumice sand, Harry Truman and his Spirit Lake Lodge, gone forever. But they live on in photographs, and in memories.


Amber waves (TT)

A simple day calls for a simple image. I love how the texture makes this photograph look like a painting.

Vast fields of wheat in the Finley Hills

For Texture Tuesday, this image has a layer of Kim Klassen's Appreciate texture @ 80% multiply