Hello everyone! So before I get into part 2 of St Brigid’s Day and our tour with Seamus, I just want to give you guys a few words of advice. Namely, DOUBLE CHECK TO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE EVERYTHING WHEN LEAVING. I spent the weekend in Edinburgh, Scotland with my friend Bridget and if you haven’t guessed already, I kind of accidentally left a few things behind in Scotland. It was just not a good morning for me. First off, we had an early morning flight so we had to get up around 5am which should have been a warning bell right there. I’m not always the clearest thinker at the best of times and early morning doesn’t improve that any. What did I forget you ask? Well, aside from losing the ring that I’d just gotten in Poland a week and a half before I also apparently lost my adapter and ipod cord. Either that or someone jacked it when I was going through security which I doubt….So yeah. I was a happy camper that morning. Well, okay, I didn’t find out about the adapter and ipod cord until I was back at school but I realized I’d lost the ring at the airport right after my watch fell (I’d taken it off for security) and broke and later a coke exploded on me while waiting for the plane. Bridget, bless her heart, put up with my cranky self. But I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from visiting Edinburgh, it’s really a beautiful city and I highly recommend seeing it if you get the chance. I’d love to be able to travel elsewhere in Scotland if I get the chance and see Loch Ness, Glen Coe, Glasgow.
But enough about that. On to the real topic of this post. Seamus’ Tour! Now, I think I mentioned Seamus briefly in my last post. He is a local historian and a friend and neighbor of Roberta. I think she said he’s a sheep farmer or something like that in real life and the history is just a hobby for him. But he’s good at it. It was nice because you could tell that he genuinely liked and was passionate about what he told us. It was funny because we would be at a site or driving by this or that and he’d be speaking and then just go, “Oh! And another little story about….” or Roberta would ask him, “What’s that story about…” or “Tell them the story about the….”. I enjoyed it. We did and saw a lot on this particular Roberta trip. In addition to all of the St Brigid sites, we also saw Wolf Tone’s grave, Donnelly’s Hollow and the Curragh, and Donadee Forest.
I guess I’ll start with Mr. Wolf Tone since we saw that first. Mr. Wolf Tone is a prominent figure of Irish history. He was a founding member of the United Irishmen and is regarded by many as the father of Irish Republicanism. He sailed to France in February of 1796 (this was in the build up to the Irish Rebellion in 1798) and arranged for a French force to sail back with him. Unfortunately this plan later fell apart when the French failed to land at Bantry Bay due to bad weather and turned around and sailed back to France. He was later captured by British forces and taken prisoner. He attempted suicide and after eight days died of his wounds in prison before they had the chance to execute him. But that’s beside the point right now I suppose. Bottom line is, he was an important man. And fun fact, he and his wife had their honeymoon in Maynooth! Where they stayed is now a nightclub called Mantra. His wife was pretty young when they married and she eventually moved to the States after his death and to this day, most of his descendents live in the US. Seamus has met one of them and a few arrange for flowers to be put on his grave every year.
Our next stop was the Curragh and Donnelly’s Hollow. The Curragh is a big flat, open plain. In addition to having pastures for cows and sheep, the Curragh has also historically been the site of a military camp base. We drove through the little town that’s there near the base when we were there. It’s a nice place. There’s no real markers or walls for the sheep though so some of them were grazing on the edge of the road or could even cross the street if they so chose. Some of the sheep had a line of color painted on their back, mostly either blue or red. I’d assume that that is to tell your herd apart from your neighbor’s.
Donnelly’s Hollow was pretty cool. Seamus said that it used to be bigger than it is now. It’s actually a natural amphitheatre that was turned into a ring. Originally it was called Belcher’s Hollow but was renamed when Donnelly beat Tom Hall, a prominent English fighter at the time. Dan Donnelly was a professional boxer and the first Irish heavyweight champion. After winning against Hall, Donnelly drank away the prize money that he’d won. While he might have been viewed as a national hero, he was also broke. But when George Cooper and Tom Molyneux were touring Ireland as part of an exhibition tour to teach and promote boxing, he was approached by the two. They wanted to set up a match between Donnelly and Molyneux originally but upon hearing that Cooper had recently beaten Molyneux, Donnelly refused and arrangements were made for him to fight Cooper instead. The fight would be at Donnelly’s Hollow on December 13, 1815 and everyone who was able to, traveled to see it. It’s said that over 20,000 people crowded into the amphitheatre that day. The two went at each other for eleven rounds until Donnelly finished Cooper with a hit to the face. Everyone cheered and many followed in his footsteps as he left the amphitheatre and the footprints can still be seen clearly today as thousands have walked in his steps since. Donnelly later went on to own a string of taverns, most of which were unsuccessful and died in 1820 at the age of 32. A stone monument stands in Donnelly’s Hollow bearing a plaque commemorating the spot where Donnelly beat George Cooper.
Our last stop of the day was Donadee Forest. This place was quite pretty in my opinion. It was kind of cold and a little rainy but it was still really nice. We saw lots of families there walking and a few small camping sites it looked like. Seamus showed us the 9/11 memorial that was erected there. There’s two stone columns with the names of the firemen engraved on both. Apparently one of the firemen who died trying to get people out of the towers was from Ireland. Once a year, a mass is said near the memorial and loads of people go. I think Seamus has gone before, he said it was really something.
Seamus also showed us an old ice house which was cool. It was almost like a small igloo dug into the side of a hill with a cement top and a tunnel leading up to it. We also saw what was supposedly the site of the first church St Patrick established. There was also the remains of an old castle and a family crypt that’s supposed to be haunted. Seamus told us the story behind that one. I think it’s the Lady in White. While I enjoyed the walk through the forest, I think most of the others were happy to get back on the bus. It was pretty cold.
And so ended our second Roberta trip. If any of you guys are interested in reading the Lady in White story or checking out more local folklore, Seamus has his own webpage (http://seamuscullen.net/). Also, a few of my friends also have blogs so if you guys want to check out their pages I’ll post them below. Theirs are probably a little more up-to-date than mine at the moment.
Clayton, Jules, and Sarah are fellow members of my dinner group. Megan is also a student at NUIM this semester and is from Wisconsin. Amanda is studying in Limerick. We actually met on the WSA Budapest trip and my friend Bridget and I will be traveling to Berlin with her this weekend. It should be grand.
Alright, well, I have papers to write. Seriously, I think teachers just like making everything due all at once. We’ve had nothing to turn in all semester and now all of a sudden all my classes have papers due within the same two weeks. Craziness.