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BRAY, GLENDALOUGH, MT. USHER
We walked and walked on the beautiful coast of the Irish Sea South of Dublin, as far as Bray Head and back.
Later, at our hotel on the esplanade, we got a table by the peat fire, and there the barman served us an excellent dinner of pork (again) and a fine dessert of what? Profiteraries? I'll have to look it up. Profritillaries??? A cream puff with chocolate sauce. For the second night in a row we retired with live music under the floorboards. Not half as bad as Kildare, though. It was, after all, St. Patrick's Day eve.
[I wrote the previous paragraph ion 1996. Believe it or not, I still have the menu for that night at the Esplanade Hotel. It is neatly typed onto one page of hotel letterhead and dated Sunday, March 16, 1996. Just three choices, and what a nice dinner: Terrine of Game with Seasonal Leaves, a choice of chicken, cod, or pork (which we had, au jus with an apple stuffing), and PROFITEROLES with Cream and Chocolate Sauce.]
Then we drove east, deep into the hills, to see the sixth century monastic settlement at Glendalough, in County Wicklow. It was a scary drive, not because it was bad but just because we were scared. We were afraid it would be like Sally's Gap or, worse, Leenane. In fact, it was easy going. Up-close sheepies and good ruins and a fine round tower. I got my first inkling of the meaning of a round tower (a place to hide when the Vikings came).
The ground was lumpy and heaving with dead bodies old and new. It began to rain in sheets, and we retreated to the shelter of a big thick tree. A dead Elizabeth had a very nice resting place there. Fluffy graves, we called them. Some were incredibly old, others only about the age of the oldest we have ever found in Virginia and Boston.
So the idea seems to have been that when the Vikings came to plunder, everybody ran up into the round towers, where provisions were stored. Then the Vikes got nervous and left. It was a spooky place.
The drive back to Wicklow was easy, and Mount Usher was perfect from beginnning to end. We started in the tea room, where the scones were just out of the oven. Then we saw the amazing gardens. Hornbeam hedges with doors cut in them, lots in bloom, daffodils naturalized throughout and also crocuses in blue, white and yellow. There were other narcissus-like blooms I didn't recognize and a dark red weepy variety of quince. Plums and cherries bloomed (as they had not at Birr). It's milder here than in the center of Ireland and the northwest.
There was a little river crossing with a plank and stepping stones, and a dog graveyard (Darling Topper, Dear Toby, Digger, Shep, and so on). Most amazing was a weeping conifer of some sort that formed a thick dome in which was cut a door. You could just get in the tree. Inside it was as dark as night. If you looked up, just bits of daylight glimmered like stars.
No film! We have no pictures of Mt. Usher!
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