Climbing the Devil’s Bit

Since I had never climbed the Bit, doing it when I came back was high on my list. Legend has it that the devil himself took a bite out of the mountain and the bite is the Rock of Cashel.

From Wikipedia;

 The Book of Dimma was supposedly discovered in a cave on the mountain in 1789. It is an illuminated manuscript copy of the four Gospels and was written in the monastery of St. Cronan in Roscrea some time during the 8th century. According to legend, Cronan ordered his scribe Dimma to produce the manuscript before sunset on that day. He then used miraculous powers to ensure that the sun did not set for forty days, and Dimma spent all of this period completing the manuscript without feeling the need to eat or sleep. The manuscript disappeared following the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century. There is some debate about whether or not the manuscript was actually found on the Devil’s Bit amid claims that it could not have survived without damage in an outdoor environment for over two centuries. The Book of Dimma is currently housed in the library of Trinity College Dublin.

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The Devil’s Bit is located just a few kilometres from Templemore in Co. Tipperary. It is surprisingly well signposted. Leave your car in the car park and begin your ascent. The walk is meant to be a loop but we just climbed to the top and back down again. The top is quite breathtaking but confusing so be careful which path you take back.

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If you are of average fitness, this should be easy to medium difficulty. It takes about 2 hours for the round trip. From the beginning, the view is amazing. Unfortunately for us, it rained when we were half way up so we had to shelter under some trees while it passed. This resulted in the rocks getting a bit slippery so we had a few slips on the way down. For that reason, I recommend you wear some decent walking/hiking boots as opposed to trainers like us!

This shrine is half way up.

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When the sun shines, the view is breathtaking!

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The view on the way down!

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If you have any questions about doing this walk, just shoot me an email, backhomeinireland@gmail.com

A day in Dublin

I only had one job to do in Dublin and I almost didn’t make it because I was so distracted by the photo opportunities that were everywhere! Unfortunately, the rain only got worse during the day and I went home early but here are some photos I took on my visit;

First stop Trinity College. The place was packed with tourists and locals and the grounds were as beautiful as ever.

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Off to Stephan’s Green where people were out enjoying the park before the rainy afternoon.

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Without a doubt, it is the great characters you meet that make you remember a trip. While walking through the park, I met this gentleman who was feeding the pigeons. I stopped and asked to take a picture. He obliged and told me how he rescues the pigeons and feeds them three times a week. Once he started talking, he wasn’t to be stopped and before I knew it, there were 4 or 5 people standing around having a great chat about the pigeons.

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Over to the city centre.

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Fleet street

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Obligatory picture of the spire.

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And then it poured rain and off I went.

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Barack Obama Plaza- Capitalizing on an association.

When I heard the words “Barack Obama Plaza”, images of photo zones, interactive history of his ancestry and commemorative photos came to mind.  Instead, when I visited for the first time today, I arrived at a rest stop.

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The ground floor is full of different eating venues, from Supermacs to Tim Hortons. All very well if you need a rest on the road to Limerick. It’s very conveniently located next to the motorway. The second floor is a “visitor centre” and by visitor centre they mean one room that was clearly put there as an after thought to justify calling it Barack Obama Plaza.

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wpid-20150818_161134.jpgAlthough the ground floor was full of people eating, the visitor centre was empty and I had it to myself. It took me about 5 minutes to walk around and read the posters.There are no photo zones and it’s all a bit bland.  I went back to my car and off to the actual village of Moneygall.

My main problem with the Plaza is that Barack Obama had nothing to do with it. He has never visited it, didn’t open it, nothing. I understand that business is business but here is a classic example of the exploitation of an association.

I took the 3 minute drive into the village of Moneygall.

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Moneygall village is a  beautifully kept village and the people obviously very proud of their association with President Obama. All along the street you can see the Irish and American flags.  Near the end of the village is the ancestral home of President Obama. I was disappointed to find that the house is currently closed as is the Obama cafe next door. Instead of having an eye sore of a rest stop pretending to be an Obama visitor centre, wouldn’t it be lovely to visit the house and have all the need to know information inside? I believe this won’t be happening due to financial restrictions. During my visit, the village was eerily quiet with very few people to be seen. Visitors are clearly not making the 3 minute car journey from the Plaza to the village and as a result the businesses of the village are suffering. I find that most disappointing because with the right injection of funds, and the correct marketing, Moneygall village has everything you need to provide a nice, genuine visit.

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Overall, I was very disappointed with my visit to the Barack Obama Plaza. The only good point is that it is free to go to the visitor centre so at least I can’t complain that I wasted my money. I wouldn’t recommend a visit but if the ancestral house reopens, it may be worth a small detour.

Messages in presses and other features of Irish houses

Being home has made me laugh. It’s the small things that we say that make me realise how brilliantly unique Irish houses are. Here are some of the features and phrases that you’ll only find in Ireland;

  1. The Immersion; Irish people are completely OBSESSED with the immersion. The way they go on about it, you’d swear it was pivotal to the house standing. So what is the immersion? It’s what makes the water hot for showers. You switch it on before the shower and off again afterwards. If you don’t turn it off, watch out! You will be plagued, harassed and when you’re 80, you’ll be reminded about that time you didn’t turn off the immersion. Des Bishop does a great sketch on the immersion in one of his shows, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52bna-tn_dY

My mum and dad have solar panels on their house because they heat the shower without needed to turn on the immersion in the summer. It’s like the perfect solution to everything! (if only we had more sunshine)

The famous immersion!

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2. The press: A few weeks ago in Korea, my friend asked me where I kept the bread and I replied “oh it’s in that press over there” She looked at me like I was speaking another language and I realized that no one else uses the word press! What is a press?

These are presses…………

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Where you store your food and stuff are presses.

3. Messages: I’m not sure if this is unique to my house or every house in Ireland. Messages are what you buy when you go to town to do the shopping. This is a weekly event so it includes food and maybe clothes and so on. When you come home from town you bring the messages in out of the car and then proceed to “put the messages in the press”

4. Hotpress: Now that you know what a press is, you should learn what a hotpress is. The hotpress is the small room where you keep your boiler. That room is naturally hot and so we keep our sheets, clothes or anything else that needs to be “aired” in there.

The hotpress in our house.

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That’s all I can think of for now. Leave comments if you can remember anything else!

Coming home!

I am very excited to be coming home to Ireland! I haven’t spent proper time there in the six years I’ve been in Korea so I’m exciting by the prospect of discovering all it has to offer.
I’ve wanted to do a Masters for the last few years but the time just never seemed right. I was busy making progress with my life in Korea and just kept putting it off.  Earlier this year, I went on a trip to Myanmar. There, we visited a pottery factory where they wheel spinner was a young girl of no more than 14 or 15. She was expected to give up her education after elementary school to spin the wheel. The money she earned would go to support her family. I came away from that trip realising how fortunate I am to come from a country where educational opportunities are just waiting to be taken. I returned to Korea and applied for my Masters. Thankfully, I got accepted SO for the next 12 months, I shall be a student of U.L! Exciting times.
If I’ve realised anything over the last few years, it’s that I’ve taken Ireland for granted in the past. There are so many great places to see and visit and I haven’t bothered to explore what’s right in front of me. So, hopefully I can get out and see with new eyes when I return.
Stay tuned for blogs on all my adventures while I’m back home in Ireland.