March 3rd seems a lifetime ago. Within my “Thoughts” you will find it is the day I wondered if our undertaking was a trip, a vacation, a journey or a pilgrimage. I offered the following thoughts at that time:
• A Trip is any travel that takes one from point “A” to point “B” without regard to distance or purpose. It is the barest transport of a body from here to there. Purpose is irrelevant as is the quality of the experience.
• A Vacation is a departure from the routine of one’s life. It may or may not involve travel, such as a “staycation”. It evinces an intention to temporarily detour from one’s duties without shirking one’s responsibilities.
• A Journey conjures up the image of travel that is of an extended duration. “Journey” has the character of uniqueness relative to one’s prior experiences. It is self-directed, assumed as a personal responsibility, and not left into the hands of another. “Journey” can result in a redirection of one’s life and perhaps the lives of others.
Our travels these last 7 weeks certainly have qualified as a journey. We have over 5 weeks left before we again step foot in our own home. This has been a remarkable, but at times wearing experience. We correctly rejected the notion of these travels being a vacation as they have become our reality. However, for the last 4 days we have found the course of each day to be more in the hands of our Welsh friends, Huw and Nina Thomas. They have given us a brief and most welcome “departure from the routine of (our) life.” Good fortune has followed the four of us on this vacation within a journey.
Heavy rains were predicted for the entire day. However the overnight showers gave way to sunshine and pleasant temperatures as we toured Muckross House, Abbey, and the Dingle Peninsula.
There were brief showers, but they were a gift in their own right as emerald green fields were gilded before our eyes with the spectrum hues of a rainbow sky.
Vacations end and today is our last full day with our friends. In keeping with my “mantra” of always having a “next thing”, the four of us have begun to formulate a plan for their visit to us in the States. But first about the day…
Muckross House and Abbey are situated within Ireland’s first and oldest National Park. The House is a 65 room mansion that was built in 1843. In the 1860’s the family undertook a 6 year long project to prepare for a 2 day visit by Queen Victoria. The family had hopes of being conferred a title by the Queen, which unfortunately for them did not occur. The extensive decorating and furnishings that they purchased for the visit ended up bankrupting the family. The House and its 11,000 acres had to be sold to resolve the debts. Subsequent owners gifted Muckross to the Republic of Ireland which made it into its first National Park. Unfortunately, pictures within the home were not allowed. 70% of the furnishings are original to the House, including paintings, hunting trophies, and furniture. The owners beds and the bed in which the Queen slept for 2 nights are only 6 feet long. Aristocrats of the time preferred to sleep sitting up in the belief that it was healthier for them.
Within the extensive grounds of Muckross are the ruins of a Franciscan Abbey that dates to the 1440’s. It was built upon older, perhaps ancient structures, and is reputed to be the burial grounds for several chieftains of those earlier times. The Abbey was the victim in the 1500’s of Henry the VIII and his separation from the Catholic Church.
Our drive to Dingle and on the Dingle Peninsula was a feast for the eyes.
We spent the night near Tralee and will be proceeding on our last full day with Huw and Nina to Limerick.
Peace Everyone. Pete
PS. Christine, who “never” eats seafood, ate a HUGE plate of fish and chips!!