Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Hill, A Rock, A Well, A Beer

Below is last year's St. Patrick's Day post with pictures from our trip to Ireland (which was in 2009). Reposting in honor of St. Patrick's Day 2012!

Since we are still eating our green rice krispie treats, I think it is still okay to post about St. Patrick...right?

A little over a year ago we had the great privilege of traveling to Ireland. Though our original intent was to connect to St. Declan (a special family saint for us and a predecessor to St. Patrick), we found ourselves very taken with the story of the more famous Saint of Ireland.

The view behind M is what can be seen from the Hill of Slane. This is the spot where St. Patrick lit his famous Paschal Fire to challenge the Druid Kings and convert the local people to the One True God. As you can see, it would have been visible for miles around.

D poses among the ruins of Slane Abbey. There is a graveyard there as well, with some very recent graves. Somewhere along the way we read that, to this very day, a local priest and his congregation gather on the Hill of Slane each Holy Saturday night to light a Paschal Fire. 
Hidden amongst the dandelions that A is clutching is a real live shamrock. The kids found the three and four leaf clovers all over the hill, which made for some fun catechesis. The dandelions were supposed to be for Grandma and Grandpa (no matter to her that we wouldn't see them for months....she held tight to them just the same. And I have no doubt there was a small tantrum had someplace along the Irish countryside when they were lost or wilted)

We also visited the Hill of Tara, sometimes called the Hill of the Kings which was the seat of the Druid kings of St. Patrick's day. Once a year the Druids lit a fire on this hill that was meant to stand out as a beacon to all within eye sight of the hill. All other fires were outlawed on that night. And on one such night, in the 5th century, the Druid Kings were shocked to see anther fire burning bright on a nearby hill.
It was the Paschal fire lit by St. Patrick. 

Now there stands a statue of St. Patrick on the Hill of Tara.
St Patrick, pray for us!

Another famous St Patrick spot is the Rock of Cashel with its ancient ruins and stormy weather 
(well at least it was windy and rainy the day we were there....I'm sure it isn't EVERY day!)

 This spot was the traditional seat of the Kings of Munster since St. Patrick converted King Aenghus to Christianity, which is why it is also called St. Patrick's Rock.

And if you have the energy, you can walk from the Rock of Cashel to Ardmore, were St. Declan began the Christianization of Ireland some years before St. Patrick. 

You can see the ruins of St Declan's Church in the background, and his famous well with it's healing waters is still there at the base of that wall. The blue water and beautiful beaches explain why Ardmore is a resort town. 

And speaking of healing waters, no pilgrimage to Ireland would be complete without a trip to that other famous Irish well, the Guinness warehouse. 
Which, by the way, if you ever get a chance to go, is a great little field trip. 
It was a high-tech, multi-sensory lesson about barley, hops and barrel making.
Seriously....the whole family loved it!
And not just because of the free beer at the end...only Jim loved that part. 

1 comment:

  1. The kids and I just read your post. Watching St. Patrick, Shepherd of the Emerald Isle, your pictures were perfect for them to make the connection. Thanks for sharing! It was a fun fieldtrip through your pictures :) (I think that only I got the Guinness picture immediately!) But my folks toured there years ago and said it was really an amazing tour.