9/17/2010

Today was a great day! I actually got a lot done, surprisingly.

I woke up on time today--at 9:30! On my own! I was very excited about that. I headed off to Ross castle at around 10:30 and I took a tour of the inside, it was so interesting! The castle was built in the 15th century. All of the rooms inside are accessible by a spiral staircase in the center of the tower. Which, insidentally, is built in a clockwise direction to aid the soldiers defending the tower and impede the attacking soldiers as everyone fought right handed (the left hand was considered the devil's hand and so all soldiers were taught how to fight with their right hands). The steps themselves are all different heights and are called "stumble steps". They were intended to cause attacking soldiers to trip as they charged if they made it past the exterior defenses. Also, the one bed, which belonged to the lord and lady of the castle, was very short. There are two reasons for this. The first is that laying flat mimics the dead, and therefore was to be avoided. The second was they all had breathing problems and therefore it was essential to sit in an elevated position. They had respiratory issues due to the closed quarters inside of the castle, and what they burned for light. They would gather a few dried reeds and tie them together, then dip each end into animal fat. Each gathering of reeds would burn for about 15 minutes, and the smoke that came off of them was very thick and acrid...causing the lung issues. Due to this and the use of pewter dinnerware (which contains lead, and therefore causes lead poisoning) the life expectancy was 30 years old. It was all very interesting.

Sometime in the past couple hundred years, a new law went into effect--the two roofs law. It said that if you had more than one property, you had to pay taxes on all of them, regardless of if you were living in all of them or not, as long as they had roofs. So in response to this owners of castles all over Ireland took the roofs off of their castles, and Ross castle was included. Only one castle in Ireland still has it's original roof. Of course, without a roof, the castles quickly fell into disrepair and became dilapidated. In the 1950's one of the men who helped build the Pentagon, bought the castle, and brought the Irish government in on restoring it. Work crews and artisans trained to use the tools used in the 15th century, and the same materials, restored the castle over a twenty year period, and then the owner gave the castle back to Ireland so they could open it up for tours. So cool!!!!!

After I took the tour, I sat on the edge of the lake, which is called Lough Leane by the way, and wrote in my journal for a little while, and oh my god, it was gorgeous out!!! All day today it was bright and sunny, with very few clouds. The breeze was a bit chilly by the lake, but other than that it was perfect. On my way back to town I took a small detour to see the pier (also on Lough Leane) because one of my housemates told me it had a great view, and indeed it did. Just lovely.

I stopped in one of the small local bookstores. It was soooooo cute!!! It had two stories and it was shoved into this super tiny space. I loved it. I admit I bought the final Harry Potter book because when I was by the lake I decided I had to read it again, in Ireland. Plus, I need to get the rest of the series in the British format, as I only have books 1-3. After that I stopped back by my little cafe that I like, Skelligs Chocolate Cafe, and chatted with the girl that works there for a little while. Such a sweet person, I really really like her. I hate to admit it but I've forgotten her name....Kara? Something like that. Anyways, after that I decided to explore more and went a different way into town and found some new shops, including the tattoo parlor! They were already closed, as it was 5:30 PM by then, but I plan on going back to ask about prices and look at their portfolios, etc. I'm determined to get my clovers done in Ireland. I think that would be awesome! Woohoo!!!

After that I walked into the gardens, but I was worried I'd get locked in--as it was twenty to closing, but I'll go back later, it looked beautiful! So green, with lots of roses.

Not much has happened since then, I made myself dinner and talked to Finbarr and Jer for a while. It's getting extremely cold as night falls. Two nights ago it was freezing, last night was mild, and I have a feeling we're in for another chilly night. Oh, I love Ireland. :) To be honest, the weather reminds me of Placerville in the Fall and Winter. It has that same feel to it. With the crisp clean air. Just add more wind and rain and viola! You've got Ireland. The trees have already started to change, just barely; and a few have already started to lose their leaves. Can't wait to see Fall in Ireland. Sounds breathtaking.
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