I don't know if this has ever happened to you. When I arrived in Ireland, I went to the bank in the terminal and bought some Euros for my trip. I didn't take much, thinking I would be able to take out more later. I mentioned my fear of Irish directions in a previous post. Here's why. I ran out of Euros and searched for a bank. I was told, "just up the road... look for the sign... you can't miss it." I headed into the town with my usual dread of hitting something and searched for the Allied Ireland Bank. I drove through the town a few times before deciding to park and have a go on foot. Someone pointed the bank's sign out to me - a 12-inch square, hanging 10 feet in the air, with the initials AIB. Right. I tried to use the ATM but apparently, I entered too many numbers. No money for me. I asked for help, (this is why I love this place) and a meeting of bank employees occurred, they agreed that all would be well once I called my bank. They also recommended I go see the castle on the beach. I returned to the car, called my bank, was told that if I only entered the first 4 numbers of my code, it should work. Back to the ATM and Bingo! My experiences in Ireland renewed my faith in humanity. I popped back in the car and drove off to the castle. Crossing the bridge, I could see it off in the distance. When I arrived a young couple was climbing their way up to it. It was raining and they walked slowly, arms out like wings, up the steep hill. I looped around the neighborhood and parked as they were coming down. As I started up the hill they gave me a warning, "It's slippery. Be careful". The now-familiar smell of livestock filled my nose. Farmers and historic preservationists have figured out a mutually beneficial arrangement where sheep graze and the plant life is kept in check. There's a big DANGER sign but I thought, if the castle has survived the last several hundreds of years, what are the chances it will collapse on me? The entire right side is covered in a dark green vine. In places that might have been the only thing holding it together. But I went in anyway. Once inside I stood in front of huge openings with sweeping views of the area. Weird little nooks at various heights in the walls made me curious. They must have been where timber was inserted for flooring and roofing. I climbed up a dilapidated stone stairwell as far as I could and looked out again at the sea. This time I paused and imagine myself a guest (or a servant more likely) in the estate. What would I have worn? What were my duties? Why was I there? Closing my eyes, I relaxed. When I opened my eyes I suddenly felt nervous. There were stones strewn about that were once part of the walls. So I made my way out and walked around outside. A half-wall was left standing. It was embedded with fireplaces and encircles the castle on the inland side. Turning around I spotted a jagged hole that led into the right-hand section. Sheep prints everywhere and that smell was stronger inside. I was too nervous to step fully in but I took a good look around from the "doorway". It was raining pretty hard. My camera was getting wet. The wind picked up too. So I headed out. I've skipped to a section of my trip when I was at the residency. More details to follow.
Castle over the beach. copyright Donna Cleary
A room with a view. Copyright Donna Cleary
Peeking back out through the entry, I spot my little rental car. The poor thing took quite a beating.
The "entry" into the main castle, a jagged hole. copyright Donna Cleary
Too nervous to go all the way in, I snap a photo instead. Love the arched details. copyright Donna Cleary