Wool & Whiskey – Ireland Edition, Days 8 and 9

Viewmont House provided us with a comfortable home in Longford. Our rooms were large and gracious, meals wonderful, and the upstairs library made a cozy, well lit space for our morning workshop with Patricia. Though she’s a knitwear designer, she is also a fine practitioner of traditional Irish crochet techniques. With tiny crochet hooks and fine cotton yarn, the group went to work!

In the afternoon, we ventured out to take a boat ride on the River Shannon. Destination: Clanmacnoise Monastery.

Clanmacnoise is a sixth century monastery established by St. Ciaran (pronounced kee-ruhn). Its a hauntingly beautiful site, located along the river. Multiple high crosses were recovered here and much of the original buildings still stand – a cathedral, several churches and two round towers. Several of the high kings of Tara and Connacht are buried here. There’s now a museum and cafe on site as well.

I was utterly captivated by this place. More so than any other site we’d visited. Instead of heading into the museum, I went out to wander among the buildings, even walking a mile or so up the road to another, associated site. Too much to look at. Everything felt like sculpture — very old sculpture — set out on the land. Walking about was like experiencing a beautiful composition that changed and recomposed itself every time you moved. The views, the light, the physical objects around. I lost track of the historical tale of the place in favor of experiencing the physical wonder of it, only returning to quickly go through the museum during our final few bits of time there.

And then (can you believe it?) it was time for our final dinner.

Of which I have no pictures because I forgot to take my phone!

Or… maybe I intentionally forgot to take it. When I’m taking photos, I’ve got one part of my head in what’s happening, the other in capturing to record. On our last night together, I like to be as present as possible. Every group that travels with us is unique. Some folks I will see again, but some I will not. It’s time for last questions, exchanging pictures and addresses and group photos (not taken by me). By tomorrow morning, everyone’s minds will be on making those flights.

I wish somehow that the trip didn’t end with an extraordinarily long and uncomfortable flight. But that’s how it goes. Perhaps it’s good to have a big chunk of time when your brain is no longer taking in new information but instead, can just let it all steep, like a tea bag. All the flavor and benefits gradually permeate your head and heart. And then can stay there.

Heather and I waited in Dublin for the day. Hurricane Lorenzo was supposed to hit Ireland just as our group was set to fly home. Luckily, the hurricane fizzled. The two of us, plus our friend and traveler Laurie (who stayed an extra two days in Dublin for a bit of solo exploration) found our hotels, some food, and then spent the afternoon at the National Museum.

That is a body. Recovered from and fully preserved by the Irish bog in which it was found. Kind of morbid but also incredibly fascinating. There are several at the museum. They actually provide a glimpse into the life of Ireland’s people at the various times in which they lived. Their clothes, bodies, even stomach contents were intricately evaluated by scientists. Fascinating stuff!

I was also mesmerized by an exhibit on Irish gold work from the Iron age forward to medieval times.

And of course, we had to visit at least one of Dublin’s knit shops.

I’ll admit to buying some yarn here…

And an evening wander back to our hotel rounded out the night.

So this part of the Wool & Whiskey – Ireland Edition trip came to a close. But it wasn’t the end. I still had a week here in Ireland. More to find. More to see. More questions to ask.

So tune in for the next part, wherein Suzie drives a right-drive manual car for the first time, more contemporary and traditional fiber crafters are found, Irish mountains and coastline are happily visited, and the state of wool in Ireland is finally ascertained.

Picture below is a hint. About wool. Yes, I know those are cows. It’s a subtle hint.

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