Reason to Love Ireland #125

What Castle is This?

I found this castle while driving past Ballyconneely, Ireland, and of course what random castle in Ireland would be complete without a flock of blackbirds diving in and out of it? I’m not sure who this one belongs to…maybe Maeve the Pirate Queen? With so many intriguing legends in Ireland, some interesting history must be attached to it.

A Trim Ending

My Ireland blog posts will be a little out of order. This is because when I arrived in Clifden, an electrical surge destroyed the transformer on my laptop’s power cord, and after that I had no way to charge my computer – so no uploading photos, blogging, etc. I had a spare cord at home from an old laptop, so the first thing I did when I got home last night was plug in and start pouring through photos. What a daunting task!

I decided I would start with Trim, Ireland – the last stop on my latest Ireland adventure.

I checked into Highfield House, a bed and breakfast just across the street from Trim Castle, on Saturday. Immediately, I was captivated by the high ceilings, antique furnishings and lush decor. I wanted to ask owner Geraldine Duignan, who wins the award for most hospitable hostess on my trip, if I could just move in. (She must get that a lot!) Geraldine prepared tea and scones upon my arrival, set me up with all the information I needed to explore the town, and made me feel truly welcome to be staying in her home. This is a great place to spend either your first full or last day in Ireland if you have flown into Dublin. I was tempted not to leave Highfield at all while in Trim, but the castle was literally just outside the door…

Along the River Boyne, the ruins of Trim Castle, the largest Anglo-Norman Castle in Ireland, still stand after over 800 years. (You may recognize it from the movie Braveheart!) A lovely walking path runs from the castle, along the river, and past the ruins of the 13th century town of Newton.

I crossed the River Boyne at Ring Road, and initially took the Castle River Walk that way, which first led me to Sheeps Gate. According to the County Meath tourist guide, “Sheeps Gate is the only surviving gateway of the Medieval town of Trim. In olden times tolls were exacted but today you can pass through…as freely and as often as you wish.”

Yellow Steeple

Next, I came upon The Yellow Steeple. Who could miss it? This used to be part of the Abbey of St. Mary, and it could be seen from most any point along the Castle River Walk. I wasn’t sure what I liked better – the steeple or the sky behind it. I was really blessed with good weather.

Inside the walls of Trim Castle

I paid 3 euro to get inside the castle walls. I could have paid a little more to do the tour of the main tower but wasn’t willing to commit an hour of my time for information I would probably forget anyway. (I always buy a book or take brochures to remember the details my terrible memory can’t retain through tours.)

Outside the walls of Trim Castle

After leaving the castle, I back-tracked and crossed over to the other side of Ring Road to follow the Castle River Walk as far as it would go to Newton. You would not believe how many women and children I had to PhotoShop out of some of my photos. I swear, Trim must be having a baby boom. I have not seen so many babies in one place in all of Ireland!

St Peter and Paul Cathedral

Legend has it that the tomb of the “jealous man and woman”, found in St. Peter and Paul Cathedral can cure warts. I was not able to personally verify that. Ha.

The Priory of St. John the Baptist – just beyond the ruins of Newton

The Priory of St. John was past the official walk, but it was just sitting by river, begging to be photographed.

So, now I will be slowly going through my remaining 1,000 plus photos. I have so many stories to share! I can’t wait to blog about all of them. In the back of my mind, I know there are probably hundreds of emails waiting for me back at work and lots to catch up on. Can’t I just stay on vacation forever??

The Third Time is the Charm

I love how Irish people pronounce “Ireland”. They say her name like that of a new lover with whom they have just parted ways, wistfully enchanted, possessed by a fondness that can never be fully realized. I have caught myself saying it that way too – love and loss rolled into three syllables. Ireland.

Who couldn’t help falling in love with her?

She is magic, an enchantress who sings of adventure and romance from her Celtic shores. She lures you in with her bittersweet song and haunts you long after she tosses you back to sea. Ireland.

She is cold reality, forcing you to swim back against the salty currents, wounded, just to get another burning glimpse. Ireland.

She makes her peace with you – once you let go of your own agenda and just love her. She opens up a colorful promise, like a rainbow painted across a steal-blue sky, sweet hope against heavy sorrow. She plucks you from the desolate beach of disappointment and offers a gift. Ireland.

Ireland’s gift to me is a story,”Spirited Away”. She gave me the time and space to discover that I am a writer, and unlike the fickleness of romantic love, writing is a passion that can’t be taken away from me. So I have returned to the Emerald Isle a third time to do just that – write. Who knows, maybe I’ll finish my first book while I’m here?