We're here in Ireland and having a marvelous time. The center here has computers, so I'm writing from one of those. We spent almost all yesterday wandering around Dublin and seeing some of the more well known sites, such as the James Joyce and Molly Malone statues, the Oscar Wilde House, the now-protestant Christ Church (built in 1038) and St. Patricks (built around 1100), Dublin castle, St. Stephen's Green, O'Connell St., and a few other things. The city is absolutely charming, especially compared to the sketchiness of Rome - very clean (street cleaners everywhere), quite colorful, and filled with lovely brick architecture and brightly painted doors. We ate at a bakery for lunch, where they made us sandwiches and tea (at long last, tea again!), and everyone was very friendly.
At the center where we're staying (perhaps a half-hour bus ride outside of Dublin), everyone is also extraordinarily friendly, as is usual in such places, and even more talkative. Mary's friend, Noreen, came all the way across the island from Galway to welcome us for the day, and we talked to her about the various sites and history of the places we were considering a visit too. This house here is gigantic: it rooms about 70 people in various corners.It's ancient and cracked in places, but the chapel is lovely and made with lots of green marble, the breakfasts (which Meg, Chelsea, and I helped prepare this morning) are delicious, and as I've said already, the friendliness is like nothing I've seen before.
The general plan for today was to catch a bus down to Glendalough to see the ancient monasteries there, but as it turned out, we got back to Dublin too late to catch the latest bus. So instead we went to Enniskerry, a tiny town rather near Glendalough and the Wicklow mountains, and headed for the famous Powerscourt Waterfall there. The guy at the bus stop in Dublin said it was a bit of a walk from the stop in Enniskerry to the waterfall. It ended up being about 5 miles out, so we walked all told, well over 10 miles total today. It was a lovely walk through some very green sheep country, and despite the fact that the road was exceedingly narrow and had no shoulder, we finished the journey in no more than six pieces.
The day ended uneventfully in a pub, where two of us ate some very delicious Irish lamb stew with Guinness bread, and others had either chowder or lamb-and-vegetable pie.