So I haven't written on this blog in a while, on account of how I have been giving verbal accounts over the phone. And the internet is really slow roundabouts here. But here is what happened over the weekend in the green land of Ireland.
On Thursday we left on our plane, courtesy of Ryanair, for the low low price of about 40 pounds a ticket. Really cheap, right? Right. Except the wind was so bad that the plane was delayed for a bit, and we had to wait in the terminal for what would have seemed to be an inordinate amount of time had I not bought a magazine. It was very entertaining. When we got to Ireland, we checked into our hostel and then took a bus to the theatre that was showing Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical. I really liked the musical, surprisingly. The music was really good; I want the soundtrack. And it covered some really dark themes, and had a love triangle between a scientist who turned into a homicidal maniac, a prostitute, and a blonde soprano. Intrigued? I thought so.
We went to bed after that, except we couldn’t completely shut the window and it was rather chilly that night. The next night we figured it out so we were much warmer. Sleeping with strangers in the room is rather strange. Rebecca told me it would be smart to put all my valuables in my pillowcase, as it is more difficult to rob someone that way. So my camera, passport and wallet all made my pillow more lumpy than usual, but I felt reasonably secure. Plus there were 7 of us to only 3 of them, so that was good.
Anyway, after getting ready in the dark on Friday, we went down to the kitchen to get a delicious meal of toast and hot chocolate. It was remarkably unfilling. Then we went off to our Wild Wicklow Tour, a bus tour of the Irish countryside. Our tour guide was Steven, a rather cute Irish man who had us sing Irish ballads on the ride. He said we were his favorite group because we sang so well. We went to the Irish Sea first. I stuck my hand in, so I could say I had. Now I’ve been in 3 oceans! (Pacific, Atlantic, Irish Sea, for those of you who were keeping score). I didn’t get in, unlike the incredibly buff old guys that were full on swimming laps in the freezing water. I think they’re crazy, but maybe a brisk swim keeps you young. Steven said that was the trick to eternal youth.
After that he took us to a store to take a rest stop and have some coffee. I only did one, and also bought a book entitled 101 Things to Do Before You’re Old and Boring. I plan on doing all of them, and am very excited to be young and exciting. Then we went on to the hill above the Guinness Lake. Guinness Lake, owned by the family of Arthur Guinness, the creator of Guinness beer, the most popular alcohol in Ireland, is shaped like a pint. A Guinness a day keeps the doctor away. Guinness is healthy because it is made from the local water, which is iron-rich. The iron gives the beer both the dark oaky color and the claim to health. The hill at the top of the lake was the windiest place I’ve ever been in my entire life. We were fighting to stay still. Everyone else fought the cold through a shot of whiskey, but we Mormon girls had to resist.
Then we went through the bogs, which have bog bodies in them. I learned this on Saturday, when we went to the National Museum of Archaeology and History. Bog bodies are bodies of enemies of the Irish. They were put in the bogs because there’s no oxygen down there and their souls wouldn’t be able to escape. They weighted down the bodies and it’s thanks to this barbarism that we have some perfectly preserved bodies. Since the bog has no oxygen, fragile materials like hair, skin, fingernails, and clothing are all undestroyed. One guy I saw had an odd hairstyle, but you could see that his hair and beard were brownish red, like the Irish of today! There was one guy who was nothing but a torso with arms, and his hands were remarkably lifelike. I couldn’t bring myself to look at the part where his trunk was separated from his posterior, but the fingernails fascinated me. They were human once. This was one body that had a potential story behind him. He had very little damage to his hands, as though he were a nobleman or even royalty. He was brutally murdered, perhaps to prevent him from taking power or to prevent him from keeping it. The person who buried him in the bog could have been trying to cover up his crime. Crazy.
Anyway, we didn’t do much after the tour; we got dinner and helped Danielle make her Young Women lesson for Sunday. It was hilarious, a dating lesson. Those are always the best. On Saturday we split up. I went with the group that saw The Book of Kells, one of the oldest Christian books in European history. It was written and decorated around 800 AD. The decorations were so ornate and beautiful, and obviously time consuming. Then I saw St. Patrick’s Cathedral, it was covered in scaffolding.
Then we walked lost for about an hour and a half in cold rain and wind (I had given up using my umbrella at this point, it kept turning inside out) until we finally found Kilmainham Gaol (pronounced kill-MAIN-hum JAIL). I’m really enjoying my caramel candy corn, by the way. Every once in a while I get one that tastes like butter, which is weird, but on the whole I like them. Anyway, we finally made it to Killmainham after asking 1) a student who didn’t know anything 2) a really old guy who kind of led us around in a creepy way 3) an attractive postman who seemed to want to talk to us longer but by that time we were grumpy. Our backpacks were heavy. So we made it to Kilmainham and it was awesome. Michael would have really liked it. Abbie too. There were two parts to the jail; the old part and the new part. They were all part of an 18th century prison reform trend, revolving around the idea that prisoners needed to be silently secluded from one another to properly repent and become proper members of society. The prison was mainly overcrowded during the potato famine, and then was a political prison for the other half, so the jail, like most jails, failed largely in its aims. There was one room that’s apparently really famous and has been in lots of films, but I didn’t recognize any of the ones she said so I’d have to research. To move on,
Then we went to the Museum and I saw the bog bodies. After that we only had a little time for some last minute souvenir-shopping, and we caught a bus to our plane to a train home. It’s lovely being back home.