God, groceries, and Guinness

“That blows my mind” was my catchphrase today as we saw several things so impressive that they were hard for me to comprehend.

The first was the ease in which Master Craftsman Sean Daly hand carved the crystal glass in the first photo into the one in the second photo in less than 60 seconds.

He did it right in front of my eyes and I still could hardly believe it. Sean learned his trade working for Waterford Crystal back when they still did everything by hand and he has kept this art alive with his company Dingle Crystal.

​He is living proof that sometimes they do make things like they used to.

Next we took a driving tour of some of the most photographed places in Ireland and we quickly discovered why. But before we get to that, let me just mention that the tour guide was quick to point out a well known street corner where there was a beautiful old church, a grocery story, and a pub. He said it was well known because you could get all the essentials of life on one street corner: God, groceries, and Guinness. That pretty much sums up the Irish people right there. But anyway, the Slea Head Drive was gorgeous from start to finish.

This landscape below was apparently used in the filming of the next Star Wars movie, so we’ll all have to check back here next December.

I asked Mom to take a pano with me in it because a pano is really the only way to capture even a fraction of that kind of nature. She did very well and we ended up with the lovely shot below. After intense scrutiny, I’m still not sure if it’s a distortion from the pano or just my hair being its normal ridiculous self.

Then we were on to the Blasket Islands, a group of islands that was inhabited until the 1950s. Starting in the early 1900s, there was a great effort by scholars to preserve the culture of these people because they had lived there for generations mostly undisturbed by the outside world. Many people came over the years to learn the Irish language from these people. Many of the islanders were encouraged to write books about their experiences and a few became international best sellers, including The Island Man, which I have added to my rather long reading list. In the interpretive center there was a lot of information about their history, oral storytelling tradition, and way of life, as well as this stunning stained glass art titled “The Journey.”

Our last stop was one of the most mind-blowing for me. I’ve traveled a bit in Europe and seen a lot of old structures. Most were more aesthetically pleasing than the Gallarus Oratory, but none impressed me quite as much from an engineering perspective (words I never thought I would say!).

It might not seem overly impressive at first glance, but this oratory was built by monks in in the 700s (yes, over 1,300 years ago) with 1. only the most basic of tools, 2. the rocks that they could dig out of the ground around them, and 3. absolutely no mortar. Just look at those perfectly curved lines! There wasn’t even an anchor stone in the middle, so I literally have no idea how the roof didn’t cave in the first day, much less remain standing for well over a thousand years.

After returning to our home away from home in Dingle, we did a little shopping. I finally caved and bought a wool sweater in Irish green. I’m not sure how I will be able to get it home in my carry-on suitcase much less wear it indoors once I get home, but I sure am enjoying it while walking around in the brisk Ireland summer.

Those are the highlights of our day and I’m going to try to get to sleep before midnight for once so good night!



About The 1st Draft

I am a 30-something English teacher living in the Midwest who loves books, television, soccer, a good conversation, Cardinals baseball, and playing with my adorable nieces and nephews.
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