Monday, February 28, 2011

Mel Gibson was here. Kind of.

     We visited Kilkenny, and I didn’t meet anyone named Kenny. I think it’s because they’re all dead.  
      In Kilkenny, we climbed up our first round tower. I’m still not sure what the purpose of round towers is yet.  Some say valuables would be stored there or it would serve as a hiding place when Vikings invaded. However, all the Vikings need is a ladder to get in or fire to smoke out those in hiding, and those are two things the Vikings always had in their knapsacks apparently. I think they just wanted to spit bomb the people below for kicks and giggles because they knew they’d get away with it. Is it raining? [It always rains in Ireland.] Oh, ok.
     Kilkenny Castle was a beast of a structure. It was intact and everything. You know the movie Braveheart? It was filmed there. Well, one part of it. When you see the drawbridge being lowered in the film, the audio is from Kilkenny’s Castle. This landmark was almost really cool.
On our way out of Kilkenny, we stopped at the Rock of Cashel and Hore Abbey. St. Patrick’s cross is at the Rock of Cashel. Legend has it that if you hop on one foot nine times around the cross, you’ll get married. Our guide, somewhat bitterly, told us it didn’t work. That’s because the cross tourists are allowed to hop around is a replica and the real cross is inside with a fence around it covered in saran wrap or some other sort of preserving material. Or, perhaps it doesn’t work because you look a bit desperate and quite OCD repeatedly circling a rock on one foot.
                Hore Abbey (put your mind in the gutter and you’ll know how to pronounce it) was just down the lane from Rock of Cashel.  Now, here’s where I’m confused. The word “whore” came into being before 1100. Hore Abbey, a monastery, was erected in 1270. So, whoever named the abbey knew exactly what the name sounded like. The monks ranged in age from 12-35, so I think it must have been the result of a naming compromise between the elder monks and the younger monks.
                Harold: I think we should call it Pretty Abbey. What do you think?
                Cody: I’d like to call it the Saucy Hooker.
                Harold: That’s an abomination! How about Hore Abbey?
Is Hore Abbey in ruins because it's stripping itself down?

     I received a fine taste of Irish humor this week. Our bus driver, Brian Kinger, is 50ish and Irish. He’s the type to chase Guinness with Guinness.  At the pub, I overheard this conversation he was having with my roommate, Emily:
                Brian: So, do you have any kids?
                Emily: No, I’m 20.
                Brian: You’ve been menstruating since you were twelve.
Also, we saw a play in Dublin. I’m not much of a dramatic arts person. My parents took me to see the Nutcracker Ballet when I was about 9, and I didn’t smile for two hours. Those two instances were closely correlated. When Laura and Kyle (our program directors) told us we’d be seeing The Cripple of Inishmaan, I cringed a bit. I thought it was going to be a heavy drama about the cripple, or downfall, of the nation Inishmaan. Actually, it was a play featuring classic dark Irish humor about a guy with a limp and one hand who wants to be an actor in America. This was a huge relief since I’m always up for making fun of the disabled.
Waiting for the cripple to limp out.

     Swan Update:  I have bought both the swan’s and his mate’s allegiance with tasty wheat bread.
The student has beaten the master. So long, sensei.

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