Hillcrest House day 1

I

n the 17th century, a command to “Hang the harpers wherever found” was given by Queen Elizabeth, who wanted to extinguish all aspects of Irish culture.

 

This morning Olcan, our host, driver, tour guide, and international musician gathered Becky, our teacher, an award winning photographer and watercolorist, plus six other students at Shannon airport plus us at the hotel. Our group headed north to Westport. First on the M16, made famous in song, and then through county roads, getting narrower as we got closer to Westport. We again passed fields of livestock and harvested barley separated by stone fences. We passed through peat areas where the Heather was just starting to bloom. Olcan would point out long abandon abbeys and castle towers. Occasionally we would see mass graves of famine victims. Relatives were too weak to dig down six feet. Ireland’s population was over 8 million before the famine, and 4 million after, due to immigration and death. Occasionally we would see a Standing Stone, graves of Celtic Chieftains. Its interesting seeing the many pieces of the puzzle that makes the Irish the wonderful people they are. We arrived in Westport in time for lunch, afterword Sue and I got lost. Now were talking about a town the size of the Belmont area of Dayton. We enjoyed looking in shop windows and taking pictures and ended up beside a river with beautiful stone bridges, but no where near our van. Sue and goofus did make it back in time allotted with out delaying the group. The house we are staying in is about 10 minutes outside of Westport. Normally, after dinner we would walk about a mile to Clew Bay, but tonight the weather is “soft” as they say. That means the misty rain that makes the grass so green and the flowers so large. Instead we visited another old abbey near the town of Newport and witnessed grave of a priest, hung by priest hunters during the Reformation. Across the river from the abbey, there is a hump in the earth, a home of Celts long ago. One of Olcan’s favorite saying is “you can tell time by reading the landscape.” Our group, 5 from the Boston area, 2 from Manhattan and us Buckeyes mix together well. It’s going to be a great time.


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