Wednesday, April 29, 2009


did you miss ireland? please welcome it back.

on our way out of killarney, we stopped in this tiny town called aghadoe. i actually don't remember why we decided to stop here. i believe it was mentioned in our guidebook, and since it was on our way out of town, we decided to pay aghadoe a visit. we stopped near the top of this hill that provided us with a gorgeous view of the surrounding countryside. and, as meagan commented on my last post, ireland really is this green.

we also saw the remains of the very old aghadoe church. and in true irish fashion, parts of the remains were just there, mixed in with relatively modern buildings and homes.

and were also to be found peaking at us from behind the trees...

of all the ancient buildings we saw in ireland, this one was seemed the most aged and depressing. it sat there undisturbed and crumbling, as if forgotten for ages.

the door was really the only part of the church that stood out as being more than just a pile of stone. it made me wonder how vibrant its colors were hundreds and hundreds of years ago when it was built.

remember st. canice's in kilkenny and its old graveyard? aghadoe church had a rather large and extensive graveyard, as well. and even though it was, again, depressing and decrepit like it's church, i found this graveyard to be even more solemn.

i'm still not sure why this place struck me the way it did. it's odd feeling so sad as you wander a place that seems so forgotten, and yet feel overwhelmed by intense feelings of reverence and holiness. i spent a while wandering this graveyard taking pictures and letting its atmosphere envelop me.

some graves were build above ground, which i found interesting, and made me wonder how long they had been there.

most of the gravestones were too deteriorated to even faintly read. it made me feel sad for those who lay forgotten to time.

or perhaps they are remembered by some. as you can see in the background, new graves were mixed in with the ancient ones, some as new as this decade. it gave me hope that while i cannot know who the graves belonged to due to the damage of time, somebody knew who these irish men and women were. and they were not forgotten.

Monday, April 27, 2009

a break from ireland

a few things...

matt & i have seen two great movies in the past few weeks, and i wanted to spread the awesomeness...

first, we rented once, which was quite simply breathtaking. i'm not a huge fan of "indie"music or movies that tend to fall into this trendy, "cool" stuff-white-people-like category. i always feel like those who love "indie" stuff love it for the "indieness" of it, and not it's actual artistic merit. therefore, some "indie" music and moves aren't, in reality, all that great, but they still seem to get attention from all the "cool" kids who love indie just for the sake of loving something that's not "trendy" or "popular" even though that is exactly what is has become.

stepping off soapbox

and despite all of that, i absolutely fell in love with
. not only was it this amazing little story between a nameless guy and girl in dublin, but the passion of both the characters and the music was palpable. i've had a few songs from the move stuck in my head now for weeks, and they won't seem to leave me...but i really don't want them to go. i just love them that much. 

so, if you can get over the irish's occasional acerbic tongue, rent it. watch it. now. it will change your life...maybe. 

on a second movie note, we rented slumdog millionaire this past weekend. my feelings still aren't completely settled on this one. i did really like it as a story and how it was quite brilliantly filmed, but, like most foreign films, i found it both jarring and confusing at times. there were many instances where matt & i would have to discuss and try to figure out what exactly was going on during the movie only to have the meaning revealed later to us. this isn't necessarily a criticism of the movie, as this has been my experience with foreign films, but i think i just need to watch it again now that i know what to expect. 

while i was reading another blogger's review of slumdog millionaire a few months ago, she (a) didn't know it was rated 'r' in america when her and her husband watched it and (b) was utterly confused about it's rating after she found out. i believe i can second her confusion for the most part. when i thought of the common features of a rated 'r' movie, i couldn't help but notice that none of those were present in the film. so, what gives? well, for what it's worth, we decided that the only scenes in the movie that could possibly deserve the hard rating were the torture, i say that, and most might think of something graphic, impossible to watch, and utterly bone-chilling...but that was simply (and perhaps unbelievably) not the case. while there weren't necessary easy to watch, i didn't find them to be very graphic at all and perhaps only a bit disturbing. and that's coming from somebody who studied genocide hard core for 6 weeks in an anthropology class in college.

that being said, i have no qualms recommending this movie to anyone curious about it but being held back by it's 'r' rating. same goes for once

on a completely different note, remember gary? apparently, he isn't the only one who (a) wants to buy our car and (b) doesn't find any shame in leaving a note to that effect on our car...

we found a second and similar note on our car saturday afternoon...

"i would like to buy your car. please call me at xxx-xxx-xxxx"

we're really not sure what to think this a joke? or is our 22 year old toyota
 in high demand? 

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

cill airne

continuing on our irish journey, we left kilkenny in the afternoon and drove straight for killarney in county kerry.

looking back, i wished we would have made a detour and stopped in cork, but unfortunately, we didn't know how lame killarney would be until we arrived...

it wasn't was just nothing but a tourist town. i don't even have any pictures to show for it. our guidebook said that this little city became a ghost town during the "off" season (winter), which speaks of its uber-touristyness. we wandered around the town that night, found some food, tried to find some music, and just weren't that impressed. it was bustling with life, but it was sadly not "irish" life. it was that of tourists and vacationers looking for the mcdonalds and the gap...

the one funny story from killarney is our search for an alarm clock. we usually rely on our cell phones for the time, and we figured our b&bs would have working alarm clocks. not only did we not think about our cell phones becoming useless in ireland, but also, no working alarm clocks were to be found in our rooms. so, we decided to scour the town in search of some sort of clock with an alarm on it. we were happy to find a 2 euro store (much like a 1 dollar store...) and found a simple, small alarm clock that would do the trick. but we also needed batteries...which were not available at the 2 euro, we did some more wandering, and finally found a small pack at a convenience-like store for 6 or 7 euro...more than twice what we paid for the dang clock to begin with...but, that clock definitely was put to good use for the rest of our week in ireland, and it will come along to denmark with us, as well.

enough stories...onto killarney national park.

we visited this park the next morning and enjoyed the part of ireland that reminded matt of the northwest...lots of huge trees, rain and mist, and even mountains.

leading into the park was muckross house, this huge english-like estate that looked like it came out of a jane austen novel. i want to go to there...

the main "attraction" to see at the park was torc waterfall. the closer we got to the waterfall, the more mossy and jungle-like the forest became.

and the river flowing from the waterfall was a beautifully rich amber color.

the waterfall itself wasn't too impressive, but we were able to hike right up to it, which was a lot of fun. and wet. the water was rushing so fast.

right next to where i was standing was a ledge with water trickling downwards. sitting on this shelve of mud and rock was this lone, freshly fallen leaf speckled with water drops. i ended up taking many photos of it in an attempt to capture all of the wonderful details, but my first shot ended up being the winner and one of my favorite photos.

killarney national park was a great part of ireland to experience. i think i enjoyed it more than matt, who thought it was a bit boring and not all that exciting, but that's just because he's wrong. :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

castles and the black abbey

one of the wonderful things about ireland is its abundance of castles and/or castle-like cathedrals everywhere. we saw many castles and castle ruins on our long drives through the irish countryside. and kilkenny was no exception.

this was kilkenny castle. it actually wasn't all that spectacular. it just seemed kind of huge and sterile in all honesty. what kilkenny had to offer, however, were awesome churches.

st. mary's cathedral was beautiful from the outside. we actually didn't go in (not sure why), but i remember this cathedral as the first "site" we saw in kilkenny.

we parked down the street from st. mary's next to this little garden with a memorial statue to...somebody irish...

st. canice's cathedral was also wonderful.

while matt & i wandered around the cathedral (you had to pay to get, i got distracted by the ancient graveyard on the grounds. call me morbid for being attracted to death, but wandering both this and another old graveyard in another town was incredibly spiritual for me, and i found so much ancient beauty and sadness in these deteriorating gravestones.

when i met back up with matt, he was admiring and taking pictures of this door at the back of the cathedral.

and finally, the black abbey.

our guidebook mentioned this dominican abbey as being one of the oldest churches in kilkenny that was a must see. when we found it and stepped inside, a mass had just only begun. words are, unfortunately, insufficient to describe what both matt & i felt inside as the two aging dominican monks chanted the mass, their words echoing against the abbey's ancient and dark stone walls. it was almost as if they had been there for centuries, chanting. there was a feeling of complete reverence and ancient sacredness that one must not disturb.

we sat and listened and decided that we could not take pictures while the mass was being performed. we left and returned later to try to capture the inside of the black abbey.

given the darkness of stone that penetrated the abbey, it was difficult to capture.

the stain glass windows were absolutely breath taking. unfortunately, their beauty in relation to the very atmospheric interior could not be captured in a picture.

needless to say, visiting the black abbey was the highlight of our trip.

Monday, April 13, 2009

on kilkenny and traveling

continuing on our ireland journey, we left graigeunamanagh the morning after we arrived and drove to the small irish city of kilkenny.

we really enjoyed our time in this city and loved its feeling of normalcy.

one of the reasons i love to travel to other parts of the world is to actually see the people who call this place home. to us, it's an incredible place with so much beauty and antiquity. but to them, it's home, and seeing these people wandering the winding streets of kilkenny as their daily routine made me feel connected in a way that i think you can only feel in a quaint town without hoards of tourists running around.

while traveling by its nature includes doing touristy things, i think you're missing out on a whole different depth of traveling if you don't try to connect with the country by fully engrossing yourself in it's culture, people, etc. and letting it become a part of you. i think that's what meant by the phrase "being bit by the travel bug." it refers to a very real part of you that is changed because of where you have been and what you have experienced by being in a different area of the world, surrounded by its people, and both forcibly and voluntarily entrenched in its culture. i think that's why i miss both ireland and italy so much...not only was i changed, but a part of me was left there and will always remain.

back to kilkenny, i also, again, found myself falling in love with the bold, saturated colors of the buildings and homes that seem to be the norm to the irish.

whenever i have a home to call my own, i will surely take color inspiration from what i saw in ireland.

coming tomorrow: the sites of kilkenny, including the highlight of our trip.

Monday, April 06, 2009

irish stories

as we've been planning our trip to denmark for the past few weeks, i've found myself missing ireland, looking through all of my photos, and wanting so much to go back. and then i realized that i had never really blogged about our honeymoon trip to ireland! and if nothing for the sake of fading memories, i want to share some of my favorite pictures and stories from each of the little places and towns we visited.

that being said...i give you...graiguenamanagh! that's gregg-new-mah-nah.

we flew into the dublin airport, picked up our rental car, and immediately left for county kilkenny for our first night, and i almost immediately starting taking pictures along the way while matt drove. i always had my camera out in the car, fearing i'd miss some beautiful shot and while a lot of these pictures didn't turn out super great, a few did:

so many cows and fields of green. i don't think there was a better way to travel through ireland. now, back to driving: we were severely jet lagged and yet extremely buzzing with excitement, and after driving down small, winding irish roads, we found our b&b:

this was by far the best little b&b we stayed in, mostly because of it's gorgeous location and homey feeling. the first photo was the view from the b&b. it was perfect in its irish countrysideness. we were completely speechless and in awe of all the beauty surrounding us in this little town.

we went and wandered the town center, which was incredibly small, but was a wonderful first taste of a truly irish town.

there was a river running through the middle of the town and all of these brightly colored boats tied to the small dock.

it was a wonderful, little irish town with, funny enough, a chinese restaurant where we ate dinner. and we got our first taste of how the irish love bold colors everywhere. doors, boats, windowsills...everything's is bold and saturated with color, and i loved it on all of the old, stone buildings.

when we got back to our b&b, we crashed and awoke early the next morning to get a head start on a very busy, travel-heavy day, but not before taking a picture of the brown water:

and that was graiguenamanagh in county kilkenny.