4 October 2015, Sunday
Gosh, it was good to sleep, and sleep late. That’s another thing I like about the Portmarnock—it’s quiet. We went down to breakfast around ten o’clock. Alli and Sabas joined us for tea after they finished eating. I really enjoyed spending time with my niece and her husband on this trip.
Later I got a text from Conor and Laura, and I went down to the lobby to say good-bye. They are longtime friends of mine and had flown in from Rome for the party … and as is the case in these sorts of situations, I’d barely had time to visit with them. This was my chance.
As we sat there, just chatting, other friends came by.* Pris and Emmet sat down with us, and then Alli and Sabas were checking out and waiting for their ride. As we all talked I realized my friends had already connected on Facebook, on WhatsApp, had exchanged business cards and phone numbers … I’d seen it happening last night too. Most importantly, they’d had a good time, and they’d met new friends. The thing that makes me happiest is everyone, literally everyone, has reported not just having a “nice” time but a “GREAT” time. I can almost get tearful about how wonderfully it all went. I’ve given plenty of parties in my time, but never with so many strangers in one room.
I believe we pulled it off. 🙂
Good-byes and hugs and smiles (no tears) … and that left John and Gerry and I. John had spent a lot of time being a good sport with us while we ran errands and took care of business, but he hadn’t really done any sightseeing yet. I planned to change that. We dropped Gerry at his house—he need to take care of some yardwork and other chores—and John and I set off.
Our first stop was Mellifont Abbey—a ruined twelfth-century site in County Louth. It was the first Cistercian monastery in Ireland, founded in 1142. It’s all a ruin now.
As is the case at historic sites all over Ireland, this one has changed since I was last here. You can see it if you look at the photos from 2012: what was once gravel has now been paved. This certainly makes an easier stroll around the cloister.
The monastery lasted until the Dissolution of the Monasteries, at which time the property was sold and became a fortified manor house (in 1539). The house—property of Sir Garret Moore—was also a focal point of Irish history. The Moores continued to live at Mellifont until 1927. (Interestingly, the abbey still exists, just in newer quarters.)
We took our time, strolled around, looking carefully at everything. There were wild blackberries everywhere.
After this, we drove to Monasterboice. (I’d been there twice before, most recently in June.) All that’s left, really, of this early Christian settlement (it was founded in the late fifth century) is the graveyard and a round tower.
There are the remains of two fourteenth-century churches, too, but the site is most famous for its tenth-century high crosses.
Since I have been here before, I have taken other photographs, which you can see in those posts. (Both are linked above.) So if you’ve been to Monasterboice, you may or may not find the ones I’ve put here representative of your experience—but the photos in this post are just me looking at different things … differently.
I often take photos of interesting gravestones.
On this trip I was quite taken with what lay outside the walls.
But, as mentioned above, it is the ten-century high crosses that people come to see. There are three: the famous Muiredach’s Cross, the Tall Cross, and the North Cross.
The Cross of Muiredach (South Cross)
The Tall Cross (West Cross)
The North Cross
I took photos of this in June, so I spent less time with it on this trip. It’s very plain, and the shaft is not original.
As the sun started slipping lower, John and I meandered back to Artane to pick up Gerry, and then headed back to the Portmarnock. We fancied a table in the Seaview Lounge for dinner, but were told it was completely booked (though it was mostly empty when we were standing there). We had to go to the bar for dinner—same menu, the staff said, but it was the ambience we were after. The bar was crowded and noisy. After dinner we made an early night of it, to prepare for the five-plus drive to the northwest on the morrow.
* Tiffany and Camille had set off early for Galway with Robert and Phillip; ’Becca and Mike kept their lodging in Dublin City. So we did not see them.