Friday, 6 March 2015

Before setting out for a day in Dublin on Sunday (1 March), Gerry decided to teach me a little about hurling. For those of you who do not know, hurling is an Irish sport which is maintained by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). It is played with a stick called a hurley and the ball, known as a sliotar (pronounced "slitter"). Gerry coaches a women's hurling team, so I was actually able to pick up some of the skills of the sport. The women's version of hurling, with slightly varying rules, is called "camogie." Since it is against the rules to pick the sliotar up off of the ground with your hands, I learned how to "roll" and "flick" it up into my hands using the hurley. I also learned to "strike" the sliotar from on the ground or by throwing it into the air and striking. I attempted "dribbling," which is essentially being able to balance the sliotar on the hurley while moving down the field, either by bouncing or simply balancing it using the flat side of the hurley. The rules become rather complicated, but I would suggest viewing the first link I provided, because it really is a very interesting, albeit fast-paced, sport.

Our first destination of the day was Liffey Valley, which of course is along the Liffey, about four miles away from the city, though it feels as if you are nowhere near the city. We drove through the village called Lucan, where we stopped nearby in an area known as the Strawberry Beds to see what is called a weir. I do not know of any of these back in the States, and so had never seen one before. Although I did not take any pictures, you can view Wren's Nest Weir here.

We traveled next to, and spent most of the remainder of the day in, Phoenix Park, which covers 1752 acres and has been a part of Dublin since 1662. The weather was not so agreeable to start off, and it was raining when we arrived, so we sought shelter in the Farmleigh Estate, which is the Victorian mansion in the park that belonged to the Guinness family for three generations. It was bought by the state in 1999, seven years after the passing of Benjamin Guinness. We took a tour of the mansion, which was complete with a dummy bookcase in the Edward Guinness' study that opened up to lead into his personal safe. There was no photography allowed inside, but I have included a picture taken from Google below.

Backside of the Farmleigh Estate
In the courtyard outside the estate

I was delighted to find that it had begun to snow whilst we were on the tour. For a few glorious moments, it felt like I was back in Indiana. Despite Indiana's bitter cold winters, I would not trade our snow-covered fields for anything. The snow on that day in Phoenix Park was perfect throughout the gardens on the estate, but within the hour it was as if it had never happened.




Also in Phoenix Park is the Papal Cross, which stands 116 feet high and was built in 1979 for the Pope's visit to Ireland, where a mass was held with over 1.25 million people in attendance. Gerry was present for this mass, working as a steward. 

Phoenix Park is home to a herd of fallow deer. The deer were originally placed in the park during the 17th century when the it functioned as royal hunting grounds. The park was opened to the public in 1747 and the deer have remained a permanent fixture, though the herd size must be contained.


The two closest to the camera were locking antlers, but I missed the picture by a second or so

Although you are technically supposed to remain 50 meters away from the deer, the rules are not fully enforced and many people have come to feed them over the years, so they are amazingly at ease around humans.

This particular deer was convinced I had some food, but lost interest once he realized my hands were empty

Don't worry, I'll be back soon with food ;)

It is just amazing to me that they live comfortably so close to the city, but with plenty of food and more than enough space to roam, I suppose it isn't so bad for a deer. It makes me wish we would incorporate something like this into parks back home.

After being out in the cold for some time, a cup of cappuccino really hit the spot

After spending time with the deer, we left the park to watch the rugby match that was going on. Gerry took me to Nancy Hands Pub, where we stayed for a late lunch. Ireland was playing England in a match of the Six Nations Tournament. I had never before seen a rugby game and had no idea how it was played, so Gerry explained it to me as we watched. Although I am still a little fuzzy on the exact function of a "scrum," I was surprised to find that I now have a better understanding of rugby than I ever have had of American football. Oh, and Ireland won!

Lastly, on our way back to campus we pulled back into Phoenix Park to have a look at the 175 foot tall Wellington Monument. Dedicated to the Duke of Wellington, its foundation was laid in 1817 but the monument remained unfinished until 1861.

Great picture that Gerry got with the moon directly over the monument
Well, with it being Friday, our two-week spring break started today. Tomorrow evening I'm attending a haunted tour of Dublin with Krystal, and I have a few other places in mind to visit during this week of break. However, I also have plenty of school work to do, with an essay and a midterm exam the first week we come back. Also, David will be arriving a week from today! We have plans for him to see the Giant's Causeway, Blarney Castle, and who knows what else! I can hardly believe the time of his arrival is so close, it seemed so far at the start of my trip.
That's it for now, cheers!

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