Monday, January 30, 2012

Day 10- Newgrange


 Newgrange is a Neolithic (which means that it is really, really old) passage tomb . It is one of 14 passage tombs in the Boyne Valley, which is situated about 60 km or about 40 miles north of Dublin. The photo above shows the Boyne Valley and a typical Irish day, overcast and drizzling. While Newgrange is not the biggest of the passage tombs in the Boyne Valley (Knowth is the largest measuring about 34 m across) but it is the most famous.

First what is a passage tomb? Well a passage tomb is exactly what it sounds like, it consists of a passage leading to a tomb chamber. Newgrange has three tomb chambers with a stone passage leading to the main chamber.  The people that built this passage tomb started in 3300 BC and completed around 2900 BC. To put this in context: the first people to arrive in Ireland came around 8000 BC, the great pyramids of Giza were built in 2500 BC, and Rome was created in 750 BC.

The photo pictured below is the entrance to the passage. This group of people lived an average of 30 years and stood at about 5 ft 5 in (so make sure and duck when you go in!!) The large decorated rock in front of the entrance is fittingly called the entrance stone, it is estimated to weigh over 5 tons!!

The small rectangular opening above the door is the "Sun door". This is where the sun enters to illuminate the burial chamber during the winter solstice. To be able to calculate the "local dawn" and to have the chamber in perfect alignment with the sun door and the sun is extremely sophisticated ( so be careful when referring to the Stone Age man as simplistic). The tour guide showed us a demonstration of exactly how this works, and the best way to describe it is by thinking about Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. When Indiana is in the Map room to locate where the Ark is buried. The only difference is that Newgrange only lights up five days out of the year and for roughly 17 minutes each day.     

Another small tomb building

Drawings on the side hedge stones

The stones to the right of the photo are 6 feet tall so this gives you an appreciation of how large this structure is.  

The important thing that I took away from this sight is the dedication that it took to complete this tomb. It took over 400 years to complete, that is almost 14 generations (with a average lifespan of 30 years).

If a structure took this amount of time to construct today do you think it would be completed?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Maynooth Campus

Monument for Pope John Paul II outside the Library also named after John Paul
Columbia Centre on South Campus-- Not sure what goes on in here
Stoyte House on South Campus-- Main Lecture Hall
St. Patrick's College- Seminary and Theology College-- NUI Maynooth South Campus
New House and Long Corridor on South Campus -- Lecture Halls and department offices
St. Pat's College
St. Pat's
St. Pat's through arch of Stoyte House
Front of Stoyte House
Church outside main gates of South Campus
Remains of Maynooth Castle-- Outside of South Campus Gates
My Residence Hall

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Day 5- Maynooth

These next two days will be more waiting around and exploring the campus and town. Without Internet it is more difficult to get other things done, like where I want to go this weekend and such, but I should have that on Thursday (hopefully). I have to have a bank account while I am over here to show the authorities that I have the means to sustain myself and that I am not planning on staying here forever. Which might be a good thing in the end, as I should be able to carry a debit card instead of cash. 
Maynooth currently has about 10,000 students, there are 60 students living in each of the dorms so the majority of students live off campus in what I assume is the apartment complexes across the street. The town of Maynooth is not that big, there are about 4 stoplights. Not sure if it bigger than Pembroke at home. There is a castle and two churches, that and the university pretty much make up the whole town. It is very pretty, as you would imagine an Irish university town.
More neat facts that I forgot to tell you about Dublin. First the Georgian doors- as you can see in the photos I posted of a couple of them they are all painted different colors. The reason for this is that in 1901 when Queen Victoria died the British parilment ordered that all the owners of these Georgian homes were to paint their doors black. Well the Irish people are not ones to take well to orders especially from the British so what did they do but paint them every other color but black. The second cool fact is about Dublin’s Zoo. It is known for it’s Lions, they breed them in captivity and most are rereleased into the wild in Africa, but the most notable lion to come from the Dublin Zoo is the MGM lion. When watching a MGM movie there is always the lion that roars in the opening minutes, that original lion was bred in the Dublin Zoo. Cool huh?

Day 4-- Dublin and Maynooth

First lesson of the day was how to read a bus timetable… I still have no idea. So what did I do? I got to the bus stop and read the screen saying how long the wait was… it was 28 minutes but the second route to Maynooth arrived earlier in about 10 minutes so I decided to get on it instead. Now I do realize that I will have to learn to read the timetables but I think that I am going to have to be taught or shown rather than trying to figure it out myself.
It took approximately 30 minutes to get to Maynooth. The international department did email me a map of Maynooth but did it include the bus stop? Of course not but luckily unlike Kentucky there are signs everywhere pointing the way.  So after walking around campus with my large 55 lb bag and backpack and passing the entrance to my dorm, I did find where I was supposed to be the Village Apartments. The residence manager is a guy by the name of Shamus who is very helpful and made himself sound more like a baby sitter or house mom than anything. But nonetheless a very nice guy, after he showed me where my dorm was I was able to get settled in. I am in Hargadon #8 room D. Which means that I am in the Hargadon Building, Flat #8, room D. I share the flat with four other people that will be here next week, what that entails is that I share a kitchen, common room, and two bathrooms with them. Not to bad but just about every door needs WD-40. One thing I will have to get used to is that you have to push a button before the door will open out, I have not run flat into one yet but I can see it happening very easily.
Dunness Store (pronounced Duns) is the main department store, more like a tiny Wal-Mart than anything else here. It has clothes, home accessories, and food; it was in here that I found bed linens and such. There is also an Aldi that I am pretty excited about since they are usually the cheapest at home. I am not quite sure what an Off-License is but it seems to be like a minute mart without the gas. Petrol here is  €1.58 which is about $2.05!! This is at the current rate of 1.34.

Day 3-- Dublin

Oscar Wilde 
Mostly pictures and fun trivia today, I will start the way the bus tour did at Trinity College, this is the home of the Book of Kells one of the oldest written works it is made out of vellum and it took 280 calf skins to make it. In Trinity they have a new library for which they have a copyright agreement, which means that they receive a free copy of every book that is published in Ireland and the UK. They have to add ½ mile of new shelving every year to hold all of these books.

Next is St Patrick’s Cathedral, the most popular item that is sold at their gift shop are Rosary beads, the funny thing about this is that St. Pat’s is Church of Ireland and does not use Rosary beads in their services so the ones that are bought at their gift shop have not been blessed. The reason St. Pat’s is named after St. Patrick is because he was supposed to have converted and baptized 1000’s of people outside the church when he was there.

Christ Church is within shouting distance of St. Pats but at one time the city limits of Dublin was in between them and St. Pats was built so that the church was not under the control of the City Council. The Dean of Christ Church was John Swift the Author of Gulliver’s Travels he is buried with in the grounds. Interesting fact on Swift was that toward the end of his life he believed that he was going insane due to massive headaches and dizziness; so upon his death he left 11,000 pounds to the city of Dublin to build a mental illness hospital outside the confines of the city so the insane could scream without disturbing the neighbors. It was later discovered by Sir William Wilde (Oscar’s father) that he had an inner ear infection/disease. Sir William was only able to complete a post-mortem after the crypts of Christ Church were flooded and had to be excavated and refurbished.
  Lord or Mayor of Dublin
In Dublin there are 600 churches (wow) but there are 900 pubs also (lol). So in this fashion I continued on to the Guinness Storehouse. Arthur Guinness, the founder, leased the land that the Storehouse sits on for 9000 years!! This is the longest lease to be signed in Ireland. When it began it started on 5 acres it now comprises more that 65 acres. At one time they employed more that three hundred cobblers (cask or barrel makers), and had their own train system with in the compounds of the brewery. Guinness Beer is made with only 4 ingredients: Barley, Hops, Yeast, and Water. The barley is only bought from the highest quality growers in Ireland, while the hops are purchased worldwide. The current yeast is said to be a descendent of the original yeast that Arthur Guinness began with. The Water that is used is collected from the streams in the mountains above Dublin.  Above the main gate is the head of the Roman goddess Ceres; she is wearing a crown of barley (appropriate it think).

Next was O’Connell Street, which is the main road within the northern section of Dublin. Along this road there are several monuments to memorize the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rebellion, which was the kick-start of the Irish Independence Revolution. This rebellion only lasted a week and afterword al 14 leaders were executed by firing squad within Dublin’s Jail.  The Easter Rebellion was planned and fought from the Central Post office, which is located on O’Connell St.  

That pretty much encompassed my final day in Dublin. New words I learned today I am sure that their will be many more to come so I will keep a list.

Word                        What I thought it was                         What it actually is

Food Hall            Food Court                                    Grocery store
Bar                        Bar                                                Area or Street along a River
Kil                        Kill                                                Church ex: Kildaire Church of Daire 
Pants                     Pants                                             Underwear

I also believe that if eReaders really take hold over here, that there will be many many people out of work. Just on Grafton Street there are 4 bookshops, just about on every shopping street there are more than one bookshop. (This was just a point of thought) The Kindle Fire has yet to be released in Europe.

Day 2-- Dublin

Sorry about not posting much but I have not had reliable internet, but I will try and catch you up. 
Well today was a learning filled day. I purchased a Dublin Bus tour that you can "hop on and off" for two days. This tour dictated most of what I did and they order it was do in. 
I went to 2 of Ireland's National Museums; they have 4, and the National Gallery. The Natural History was first on the list, not just because I like animal history more than I do people but more so because it was the first one off the bus tour. Unfortunately, it was more just dead animals than anything, I guess that is why it is more commonly called the "Dead Zoo" I did learn that preserved fish weird me out. 

Giant Irish Deer-- died around the second Ice Age
--"Dead Zoo"
Next on the list was the National Gallery featuring not the most well known painters that I hope to get to see in the Louvre but the best of Irish born or educated painters. My favorite things about today were in the Gallery; they were Turner's Watercolors. These painting are only exhibited once a year, so I was very lucky to get to see them. As part of the donation agreement for these watercolors was that they could only be exhibited during the month of January, when the sun's natural light is the lowest, this was to prevent fading of the color. 
After I left the Gallery I proceeded to the National Museum of History and Archeology. The exhibitions are much older than anything that can be seen in the US due to the fact that people were in Ireland before the US. Most interesting facts about these exhibits were the preservative properties of bogs. A bog is like a marsh or swamp, and once something is put there it is encased in mud or peat and no air gets to it. This is incredibly important, once something is found in the bogs it must be kept in the peat so it does not degrade before it can be properly restored. So if it is covered in peat how is it ever found you say? To answer this you need to know what peat is and what it is used for. Peat is made up of decayed vegetation and is used for fuel in many parts of the world; it is also used as a fertilizer both in Ireland and abroad. So when the peat is harvested from the bogs it goes through a sifter after it is cut and this is how artifacts are found. Not only is metal, wood, and human remains found in peat bogs but also the most amazing find was a Psalter or a book of psalms written in Latin dated close to one thousand years ago. 
This pretty much concluded my day up to now at 7 pm not sure what else I am going to do but others are going to the pubs and I think I'll join them.
Now I know I said this blog was going to be more pictures than anything but the pictures taken today were bad because they would not let me use flash and most things were in glass cases, and photos take FOREVER to upload off of the hostels wifi, once I get to my dorm I hope to have them and more uploaded (that should be Monday or so)

 -- Georgian House

 -- St. Mary's

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Day 1--Dublin

Ok I am going to try to get in the habit of posting a couple pictures everyday so you all can see where I am and what I'm doing. Today I arrived in Dublin around 9:30 am and made my way to the hostel in the Temple Bar District. After that I wandered around the Trinity College area, all that is around are pubs and shops, the shops are expensive and mostly clothes so they were really not that interesting. The architecture of the buildings is very different from one another (as you will see in the pics). The coolest thing I found today was that their are grocery stores in department stores!! I mean think about having a Kroger in say Penny's or Macy's...strange.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hi I am Catherine Riley a University of Kentucky Senior about to start a six month foray in Europe. This blog will be more photos than written, so sit back and enjoy!