I'm sort of falling behind in writing about my travels, both here and in letters to my family. I came "home" Sunday afternoon on the bus and felt utterly tired and disoriented. For one thing, my sleep was all over the place, and for another this isn't home in some ways (of course), though it's delightful. And then I had to be ready to teach three classes on Monday, in addition to attending the morning lecture (I don't HAVE to attend that, but it's always interesting, and it's a good example for the students who are taking the morning lecture class and supportive of the people teaching that class, so I do), and attending a lecture given by a faculty member in the evening (again, I don't HAVE to attend that, but I value being a supportive member of the community, so I do).
Anyway, the Abbey planners have ways of planning to add class days here and there, and then have days off elsewhere. Thus we'd had an extra day of classes the week before with a Thursday schedule, so we didn't have Thursday class last week.
The Blarney Stone is a rock on the inside of that outer wall across the gap. Fortunately, they've got this well-figured out for the tourists. First, there are two guys there whose job is to help you and take pictures. They've got a mat there, so when you go to kiss the stone, you aren't lying on wet rock.
When it's your turn, you lie on your back on the mat with your head slightly over the edge, then grab the metal bars and pull yourself out so that you can reach the stone for a quick kiss. Then you push yourself back and try to get up without being any less graceful than necessary.
As you look at it in while you're standing in line, you also have to hope that no one with the flu has gone up just before you.
And now, I hope to have gained the gift of gab. What better gift for someone in the business of professing about literature and stuff?
After Blarney Castle (and the park and stuff), we went on to Killarney, reaching there in the afternoon, in a sort of damp but not quite drizzling weather. I walked a bit, and found a tourist office, went in, and asked the very nice helper person what they would try to see if they had only the afternoon. The helper person suggested the local cathedral and Ross Castle up in the park. She also gave me a really useful map, so off I went. I wasn't too thrilled by the cathedral. (I think after some I've seen, it's going to take something really spectacular to rev my engines.)
But Ross Castle was cool. You walk up a couple of kilometers, through the national park (where I saw a herd of red deer!), which is absolutely beautiful. (See, a park gets me when a cathedral doesn't. I may be biased. I was able to go on a castle tour, fascinating in itself, and also spectacular, because the castle looks over this lovely lake.
In the park, they have something called "jaunting cars" which are little horse drawn cart things with seats, which go through different areas, including on a circular route between the castle and a convenient place in the city itself. Happily, one was there near the castle when I got out of the tour, and even more happily, it had been hired by a couple of students from the Abbey, so they were willing to share the ride back to town with me.
I had a very nice dinner at a pub recommended by the driver and went to sleep.
The next day, our coach took us around the "Ring of Kerry." We stopped every 45 minutes or so, including at a Bog Village. Sadly, while I understand what a "bog" is, I'm not quite sure what makes a place a bog village, other than being near the bog.
But thanks to the magic of the intertubes, I've learned a little bit!
Anyway, the Ring was very relaxing, with lots of naptime and pretty scenery, and not much walking.
The next morning, we left for Dublin, where we spent the afternoon. It wasn't long enough, I don't think. And, of course, it was drizzling rain. I used a hop on hop off bus thing, and rode around a bit, and also got to see St. Patrick's Cathedral, where I visited Jonathan Swift, and then Trinity College, where I visited the Book of Kells.
I seem to be disappointed by visits to see books, mostly. Usually, you're in a jostling crowd of people all trying to view one or two pages of some wonderful text under low light and in a case that protects it well but doesn't make it easy to see.
I got plenty damp, and went to get my room, went up and went to sleep without dinner. (Fortunately, I am not wasting away.)
Once in the passenger part of the ferry, you have three basic choices: a couch thing, which would be ideal, because you can stretch out, but which are taken up quickly; a roundish seat, which is pretty comfortable if you pull another up and curl between them a bit; or a "recliner" which doesn't recline nearly enough for me to actually get any sleep.
The first time, I tried to sleep on a recliner, but eventually found a roundish seat and actually got some sleep. The second time, I went for the roundish seat and alternated between reading and sleeping in pretty good comfort.
We went through Wales, and went through a tourist trap of a town known primarily for it's really long name, and then headed home.
This weekend, I'm going on the school trip to the Lake District! And I am NOWHERE near ready. :(
Before I go I need to:
grade several short papers (and print out some of them)
reread some Herbert
recharge my camera battery and such
teach two classes