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July 9

We started out our day today by going to see St. Dolough’s Church.  This tiny, and I mean TINY, church had so much character and mystery! The church still functions as an Anglican church with meetings every Sunday.  The current “sanctuary” was not built till 1864, but the Irish have been worshipping on that site since 600.  The old bell tower, Anchorite cell, and living quarters are still standing and are attached to the sanctuary.  The new sanctuary is very small, but even so it is the largest room in the entire church.  In the front there was a podium with the Bible open.  This podium is the shape of an eagle with the Bible resting open on its wings.  At the front and to the right there is a TINY doorway that leads onto the old sanctuary.  In this room there is the bell cord and also a leper’s window.  To the back of that room there is another TINY doorway that leads to the Anchorite cell, 12ft by 12ft.  This is where a man would spend the rest of his life in solitude.  We were told a bit about the “rules” for living in there, they included only having 3 windows- for light, communion, and food, no fire, fasting 3 days of the week, no blankets, and many others…..wow! In the corner of that room is now a staircase.  It reminded me of the staircase at my grandparents’ lakehouse, except wayyy smaller! There were about 3 similar to it throughout the old church and each was winding, with uneven steps and barly shoulder width.  Up the first staircase was the living quarters of the head priest…one TINY room, then farther up the stairs was the living quarters of the men of the church, long and narrow but hardly larger than one bedroom, in mondern American standards, but 8 or so men would eat and sleep and live in this small area! Then up the last set of stairs was the bell tower, and boy is that bell loud when you are in there!  Out front of the church there is a granite cross, one of the only of its kind, that was there when the first owners of Malahide castle arrived in Ireland (more about that in a second).  Outside of the church is the octagonal baptistery.  On the back side, there is a Hawthorne tree that had grown through the surrounding wall of the baptistery.  When they excavated the area they built up the wall around the tree but didn’t tear it down according to Irish superstition.

Next we went on to Malahide castle.  The lands were granted to the Talbot family in 1174 y Prine John, son of Henry II.  The Talbot family has lived in the castle for 800 years!  It was only about 30 years ago that the last of the Talbots sold it to the state.  Sadly pictures were not allowed within the living quarters for it was quite ornate and breathtaking!  Above one of the fireplaces is the 15th century Flemish carving that has been in the family since it was made.  There are also beautifully ornate Ricoco styled crown mouldings in both of the drawing rooms.  Each of the 3 large rooms on the first floor were beautifully decorated by historical pieces as well as artwork from the Irish museum.  Also on that floor was the large dining hall.  This hall is still used today as well as the small second floor terrace for the string quartet.  Dominating one of the walls is a ginormous painting of the Battle of the Boyne surrounded by portraits of the Talbots involved in the battle.  On another wall is a portrait of Oliver Cromwell, who stayed at the castle while in Dublin.  A small door off the dining hall leads to the library, a very quaint small room filled with some very old books.  I loved it! Then upstairs there were 3 bedrooms and a water closet.  Each room was filled with period pieces of furniture.  The water closet had a brass tub and a beautiful pitcher and bowl for washing.  In the child’s room there were some beautiful baptismal gowns and some fascinating children’s toys.  These reminded me of the ones at the beginning of the movie Atonement…since I couldn’t take pictures, that’s about the best way to describe them J

After visitng the castle we went to Howthe, a small fishing village north of Dublin.  This village was absolutely adorable! Right out of the bay is the Eye of Ireland where the Vikings first set foot.  Up one of the winding roads is an old church ruin with graveyard.  At first we could not figure out how to get to it as it was raised up and behind houses on all 4 sides.  After a bit of exploring we found an alley and a set of steps that led up to another street and the entrance down into the church yard.  The church, called St. Mary’s, was first built in 1042, by Sitric, King of Dublin.  Two additions were made in the 13th and 14th centuries, and it was modified in the 15th and 16th centuries.  Now it is roofless and some important people are buried inside, including St. Lawrence.  From inside the churchyard we could see the Eye of Ireland…it was breathtaking!

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