Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Fairy Tree

A Fairy Tree forest
As we drove from Galway to Limerick, we passed this copse of trees. I would have thought nothing of it, but our tour director, Jill, pointed it out to us and explained its significance.

In the Catholic church, it was (perhaps still is) forbidden to bury anyone who had not been baptized within the sacred grounds of the church. For families of babies who died before a priest could visit, this was heartbreaking, and they buried their infants under a Hawthorn tree.

Eventually, the land might be cleared and used for sod, harvest or grazing, but the trees were never disturbed. Some called them Fairy Trees.

They are such a strong part of the culture that these trees are actually protected.
Jill showed us the tree that rerouted a highway.
In one case, a highway was actually rerouted because of a protected tree - and we actually saw the tree. Now, I would never have known the significance of this nondescript bit of shrubbery but, as always, the Irish tale made it a landmark - and a significant memory for me of that trip (now a month past!).

As I've mentioned in previous posts about this trip, I was feeling increasingly ill. At this point, I still hadn't registered it as motion sickness or even nausea. I just felt . . . lethargic and without appetite. On this day, however, it was very clearly nausea. We stopped for lunch in Limerick, where there was a vibrant farmer's market in full swing.
The view from a sitting area above the market.
I let Steve wander around while I escaped to a sitting area above the market (and well away from the smells and bustle). I tried to breathe deeply. It didn't work. Before I knew it, I was vomiting inelegantly into a garbage can. I dashed down the stairs to the restroom, only to stop again at another garbage can.

With that, I felt well enough to walk around. I wasn't at all hungry, but I did enjoy everything on display.
I cannot imagine meat being displayed like this in a Canadian open-air market.

Beautiful, buttery cheese

Preserves (I did buy some of these as gifts)
Outside the main courtyard, there were tinkers, some selling bits and scraps they had gathered here and there, others performing.
His music was delightful, but you can see he makes no secret of what he does with his cash.
I dreaded getting back on the bus, but it was time. Fortunately, we drove only a short distance, then took a rest stop at a beautiful park in Adare, County Limerick.

Adare: Winner of the 1976 National Tidy Towns Competition
I spent most of the hour lying on a park bench gazing at the sky.
When it wasn't raining, the skies were so lovely.
Once we reached Killarney, I begged off the "Jaunting Carts" ride through the grounds of Muckross House and shopped for every anti-nausea potion and gimmick I could find. These pictures are from Steve.
A lovely little thatched-roof cottage

These are the "jaunting carts."

They even saw deer!

Another view of the jaunting carts.
That evening we went out to a Ceilidh (pronounced KAY-lee) - a traditional Celtic get-together, another optional excursion on our tour. We were greeted at the entrance to the pub by a shapely lantern.

Evidently this little chap, positioned gazing at her, found her quite . . . stimulating.
I truly don't know how else one is to interpret this.
He certainly looks red-faced about being caught.
Inside, we enjoyed a good meal, music, and dancing.
The bodhrán, a drum-like instrument, was amazing to me - such a variety of sounds from one instrument,
from brushes, to clicks to more common drum-sounds.

The chap on the left had the air of a frequent patron of the pub.
The chap on the right is holding an Uilleann pipe (pronounced "EE-lin pipe).

The whole time I watched these step dancers,
I was terrified they would back up and fall down the stairs.
With that, it was back to our rooms and to bed, where we slept very, very well indeed.

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