Adventures in Ireland

The flight from Australia to Ireland was remarkably incident-free, compared to my last overseas flight to Canada. The only problem was an extended delay in Frankfurt (not the world’s most interesting airport) due to my flight to Dublin being held up. Michael met me at Dublin airport (he had arrived from Tampere the day before) and we drove to Celbridge where we were staying. By the time we got there, and I had showered, changed, etc, it was too late to do anything much that day. We did go to a bit of a family get-together that evening, but left at about 9pm because I really needed to get some sleep.

The next day we went to Kildare, and saw the 13th century St Brigit’s Cathedral. The attendant inside was very nice, and pointed out a few interesting things (such as the fertility symbol on the underside of the Bishop’s tomb). He also let Michael ring the Cathedral bell.

Next to the Cathedral is a round tower – the second highest in Ireland (at 32.9m). Apparently it is also the only one people are allowed to climb. We got to the top by means of a series of ladders, and at times it was a bit cramped and awkward getting off the ladders and onto the landings. The top was a bit wet and slimy (the pigeons had been there!) but the views were great. I took some photos of the Cathedral and the surrounding landscape.

After that, we went to the Irish National Stud, which is just outside Kildare. We did a tour, where the guide showed us all the main areas, and explained the process. Some of this I was already familiar with from the Dick Francis book Banker, but some was new to me. For example, they have to take a photo every time a stallion covers a mare, to prove that it wasn’t done by artificial insemination, which is banned to prevent the gene pool being reduced (because if AI was used, each top stallion could inseminate far, far more mares than is currently the case).

He also showed us the stalls for each of the stallions, and told us about them. After the tour finished, we walked past the stallions’ paddocks to see them. Right at the end of the row was Vintage Crop, who won the 1993 Melbourne Cup. We were a bit puzzled that the guide hadn’t mentioned him, and that we hadn’t seen his stall. Then in the gift shop, we saw Vintage Crop t-shirts, but again he wasn’t mentioned in the list of "Stallions 1946 to Present Day". Finally all was explained when I saw a picture of him in the guidebook – he is on retirement at the stud, but not working there as he is a gelding!

The stud also has Japanese Gardens, created about 100 years ago. They were nice, though we probably wouldn’t have made a special trip out to see them.

On Saturday morning, we had a brief wander around the ruins of 13th century Maynooth Castle. However, the main business of the day was our primary reason for being in Ireland – my cousin Jessica’s wedding.

The day had dawned grey and drizzly, and there was no suggestion that it might clear before the wedding, which was at 1:30. But then at about 1:00 blue sky started to appear, and there was even some sun. And this lasted right through to the end of the ceremony, allowing for photos, and milling around outside afterwards.

The ceremony was in the Lady Chapel Church, near Celbridge. The flowers were lovely (all done by Richard’s mother) and Jess looked beautiful. As well as the bridesmaid and best man, there was a flower girl and page boy, who both looked very cute (if rather nervous as they preceeded everyone up the aisle).

The reception was at Kilkea Castle, Ireland’s oldest continuously inhabited castle (built in the 12th century, and completely restored in the 19th century). The decor was atmospheric, the food was great, the best man did a good job of MCing, and the speeches were the right balance of humour and sentiment – and none of them was too long!


  1. Maureen said,

    October 4, 2007 at 10:53 am


    Thanks for the reminders of Rome and for the parts I missed! Did you chuck any coins in the fountain?

    How beautiful the wedding looks. The church and castle must have been so romantic. Sounds like the wedding went off without a hitch and no dark hansome stranger rode in on his stallion and kidnapped the bride (or groom these days!)

    Well I always thought Paris Hilton was a bit of a nag; seems like she’s also got a horse’s need to put her exploits on film!


  2. Kathryn said,

    October 9, 2007 at 1:27 am

    Hi Harriet,

    Good to see you’re having a good time. Looks like the wedding was beautiful, how amazing to have a reception in a real castle! Glad you liked David, it was one of the highlights of my long ago trip to Florence as well. And it doesn’t look like much changes, the queue to the Uffizi was huge in 1992!

    I’m extremely envious of your travels, but it gives me a little respite from Uni work, to follow your exploits. By the way, who is looking after Miss whilst you’re away?



  3. Administrator said,

    October 9, 2007 at 3:32 am

    Michael’s sister is flat-and-cat sitting while I am away. Apparently Mis is being very sooky! (Though she is probably enjoying the meals, since Susan gives her a lot more wet food than I do. So she’s a bit unimpressed when I get back and the regimen returns to mostly dry food, supplemented every couple of days with meat.)

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