Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ireland - Day 4

Ireland – April 12th – Day four

Day four dawned a little overcast and chilly, we decided to stay a little closer to home today and headed off to Grey Abbey to see Mount Stewart House. We drove into Grey Abbey not expecting an Abbey. But there it was, a ruin of an old abbey on the side of the road with a graveyard full of headstones at odd angles. As I walked thru it I kept saying “sorry” as I stepped on people.

There is something about ruins of spiritual places, I sometimes think I can feel the presence of the people that worshipped there. I do wonder what happened to them and the places. Do they just become too old to maintain? Did they fall out of favor and were just left to rot? As far as ruins go, this place was beautiful.

It did have a creep factor to it as well, due to the crows in the trees that made lots of noise.

There was also a litle church up on the hill above it that was lovely. Locked so we could not go inside, but lovely none the less. Across the road was a field full of what else? Sheep.

OK, we had been wondering why all the sheep had paint on the them. So being a person who strives to get answers to the unknown I asked our hostess Ann. It seems that they paint the rams chest with a certain color and them let them out into the fields with the girl sheep. Once the ram has done its deed the girl sheep he does it with gets marked on their backs from the paint on his front. The farmers then know what ram did what sheep and that lambs will probably result from the union.

Any way back on the road. It was lunch time and since we were already in a town we went to lunch there. First we went to a little tea shop, where in addition to there not being much on the menu that a vegetarian would eat the woman running the place had very dirty fingernails that freaked my beloved out, so we left to find another place. We went into a little coffee/tea/lunch place across the street and had a lovely lunch after CMMS was told that the first two things she selected we no longer available. There was as top at a phramacy where my beloved found a cute little pharmacist.

Then back on the road to our original destination, Mount Stewart House. The original house was built in the 1700's and parts of that house still exists. You can see it in the floors, the wood floors in the oldest part of the house were amazing. Along with the plaster work of the ceilings and the chair rails around some of the rooms. The family has a long history and one of their most lovely was Marie (pronounced Mary). She was the only child of her parents that was raised in the house so her parent's left this house to her. In addition to the house were gardens, beautiful gardens. Daffodils are a big thing here in Ireland, you see them everywhere and Mount Stewart House gardens were no exception. Rhodadendrons and camillias and azalias were everywhere and you could tell that someone put a lot of their own heart and soul into this garden. We did not get up to the lake (yes, they had their own lake) but I am sure it was lovely. Now even though the house is now part of the national trust, Lady Marie's daughter Lady Hope still has private apartments in the house and was in residence while we were there. She did stick her head out of a door and went right back in when she saw us in the hall way. She lives full time in Venice, how sad for her.

We went up and down a beautiful staircase that was designed by an architect in London that never came to the house. He designed the staircase and had it built by local craftsmen, who followed his design to the letter. Unfortunately when they were finished, it was off center from the door at the bottom of the stairs. Just a little reminder to always measure twice and cut once or maybe take the time to come the wilds of Ireland when you are working on a project here. You think????

Chip, CMMS and I were the only ones in our tour and our little tour guide was wonderful and we were very happy we took the time to come to Mount Stewart House.

Then back to our little home away from home for a nice pasta dinner and a wam bed.

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