We continue to be recipients of Irish generosity and this morning is no exception. Upon entering our tour bus, we were gifted with a book from our tour bus driver, Mike, entitled A Pocket History of the 1916 Rising. The Story of Ireland’s Independence.
Traveling this morning, we enjoy a sunny day with some low fog hovering at the base of rolling green hills and cows lounging in the pastures. Through each small town we see iconic Irish cottages with beautifully manicured gardens. Queen Anne Lace lines the sides of the road and creates a guide rail for us. Sister Mary Joy tells us it is a weed, but we all beg to differ. I could never tire of this beautiful scenery in Ireland.
Today we are scheduled to be real tourists! We are going to the Rock of Cashel, a limestone fortress on the plains of Tipperay. Its origins as a center of power date back to the 4th and 5th centuries A.D. In 1101 the King of Cashel gave the fortress to the church and it became a great stronghold of the Christian faith.
St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is said to have baptized the King of Munster at the Rock of Cashel sometime between the 13th and 15th centuries. St. Patrick converted pagan Irish people to Christianity. As part of his instruction, he used the three-leafed clover to describe the Trinity. Ironically, the three-leafed clover is not the symbol of Ireland. It is the harp. (As a side note, Guinness brewery also wanted to use the harp as a logo, but because Ireland had copyright privileges, Guinness uses the harp backwards.)
As we exited the chapel in the Rock of Cashel, Sister Sheila exited with outreached arms and declared excitedly, “Welcome to the sunshine!”
Before leaving Cashel, we all gathered for our morning tea and scone (of course!).
We enjoyed lunch in a picturesque village with thatched roofed cottages called Adare in County Limerick. Our mealtimes together are a wonderful part of the pilgrimage because we relax, share and enjoy good Irish food together.
On our way to Tralee, our final destination of the day, we pass through a village call Abbeyfeale. Abbeyfeale holds a very special place in Dottie’s heart as it is the village her grandfather grew up in until he was 19 and came to America. As Dottie exclaimed to her fellow pilgrims – “this is a thrill of a lifetime”!
As our driver ended his tenure with us, he wanted to give us a “special” Irish blessing: As you slide down the banister of life, may the splinters be facing in the opposite direction.