Not a lot of time to blog since my time in Ireland is full of wonderful sites to visit. Yesterday it was The Burren, land of fissured bedrock. It's a unique landscape where arctic, alpine and Mediterranean plants live side-by-side. It's also a land dotted with holy wells and monastic ruins.
Our guide took us to the ruins at Temple Cronan, an important monastic sanctuary site. The ruins have been dated to the 12th century, but there is thought that an original building may have been established as early as the mid-600's by St. Cronan. It could have been a pagan worship site before that.
There will be more about The Burren...but not today. I have places to go and things to see!
How ever do people learn to speak this language? I thought French was hard! At church on Sunday we sang a prayer in Gaelic. Everybody seemed to know it; I hummed along. I hear Gaelic all the time on the street, and it's actually the first language of many people along the west coast
It was such a pleasure to worship at the St. Nicholas Collegiate Church on Sunday. The 11 AM sung Eucharist service was well-attended; I would estimate at least 100 people, including several families with young children. The choir was exceptional. The church, Anglican/Church of Ireland/Episcopalian, is the largest medieval parish church in Ireland that was remained in constant use. (Although it was used by Cromwell's forces as a stable for their horses when they took Galway in 1652 after a nine month siege.)
The church is fascinating to tour. Its oldest tomb dates from the late 13th/early 14th century. Called the Crusader's Tomb, it may have been moved here from a nearby chapel of the Knights Templar which was destroyed in 1324. Its inscription is in Norman French, and it is decorated with an elaborate cross...
This tall pseudo-Celtic cross is the WWI memorial remembering those parishioners who died during that Great War....
The Shoemaker's Tomb commemorates a shoemaker and his wife. The slab contains a very rare example of a 16th century interlaced Celtic-Revival cross...
This banner which hangs by the Choir Room contains representations of the coats of arms of the 14 'Tribes of Galway.' These were 14 influential merchant families which ran Galway from the 15th-17th centuries. Interestingly, all but two of the families were from either England or Wales, but integrated so well into Galway society that they became quite powerful...and Gaelic adopting local manners and customs. If you count, you'll see that there are 15 illustrations; the one in the middle does not represent any of the families...
The 14 Tribes of Galway
I hope to have time during my visit in Galway to return and take a guided tour of the church. So many interesting things to learn about!
This is the St. Nicholas Collegiate Church in Galway. It was built in the early 1300's on the site of an earlier chapel. While today we think of St. Nicholas as a mostly secular 'saint' for children and Christmas, in medieval times he was the patron saint of sailors and very important to this seafaring town of Galway.
You may be asking yourself...why do I even care about this pretty church? If you're American, you certainly should care. It is said that Christopher Columbus worshiped here in 1477, years before he discovered the Americas. It is also said that his famous voyage of 1492 was inspired in part by the voyages of the Irish saint, St. Brendan the Navigator. According to legend, St. Brendan's sailings took him deep into the Atlantic, perhaps even as far as north America.
Was Chris inspired by tales of St. Brendan or did he think they were merely Irish boasting about discovering a new land? We'll never know for sure. What we do know for sure is that 'in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.' and put the Americas on the world map!
I went to Sunday morning services here . More about the interior of the church in my next blog post.