Monday, August 15, 2011

great-britain trip photo-log part 2: Ireland, small cars and graves

Day 3 - August 1, 2011, Monday

Today I took a wrong decision, I mean, a couple of wrong decisions that cost us precious time. First of all, I decided we should go find stuff on Dean's ancestors in the afternoon. However, instead of checking the schedule properly yesterday and let the lady know we needed breakfast by 7, I told her 8. Well, in order to fit everything in, we had to leave by 7:30.

We left by 9 and we took the scenic route as the guy who sold us Turkish Delight at St. George's Market had advised. We went through pretty old villages and saw beautiful views of the ocean as we reached the town he had mentioned we should choose as a spot to start our scenic route.

That added an extra hour and half to our trip. A pleasant hour and half, but one I was not counting on in order to fit everything in and be back to Cookstown before city hall was closed.

We went to the Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge, which is a cool rope bridge that was used by fisherman to get to this other island. We went to the Giant's Causeway soon after that, just a short drive from there.

On the way to the Causeway, Dean found this very cute village lost at the bottom of a hill. We had to go check it out. So we figured out how to get there and took some pictures.Here is Dean on he driveway that leads to it:

The Giant's Causeway is another cool place. A wonder of nature! It's a bunch of stone pillars in the shape of hexagons.

We can climb on them, since many of them make natural stairs. The legend says it was a bridge made by giants that led all the way to Mull of Kyntire. Dean is pointing to Mull of Kintyre in this pic.

After pics and games we had at this cutsie restaurant they had.

It was already 4 pm and we knew we would not be able to make it to the city hall. We would also have to skip the walled city of Londonderry. I wanted to go there so bad. But there was still hope that we could make it to the church graveyards.

That's when I took my second wrong decision - I punched in the GPS Presbyterian Curches near Cookstown. Well, the stupid GPS took us to Belfast!!!! A whole our out of our way!!!!

Now we are not making to Londonderry, cityhall or any freaking place at all for that matter.
ok, let's stick back to the plan and go to Corkill Rd. We assumed that was the Corkill his family lived back in the 1900s.

We got there and it was already 8 pm. On the way there we saw a pub called McCartney's. We decided we would get back there to eat. However, when we got to Corkill Rd and asked a boy that was outside his house he told us to go talk to a couple at the end of the street. We did. They invited us in and talked and talked and did not want us to leave.
It was finally close to 10pm when we were able to work our way out the door. Oh, don't take me wrong! it was a lovely time! And I feel like I have been getting better at understanding their accents. However, we wanted to eat. And I wanted to eat at McCartney's.
We looked for McCartney's till 11pm and decided it was time to give up since there would be no pub open at that time anymore. We ended up having dinner downtown Cookstown, at a McDonald's where we were finally able to use the internet and I called home or the first time!

One thing that has been pretty impressive here is the freakishly huge amount of rotaries. Here they are not called rotaries, they are called roundabouts. Whatever they are called, they are everywhere! They don't have intersections here, they have roundabouts!!!

Another thing they have a lot of here are sheep! Sheep are everywhere! Everyone in this country might own sheep. I hope we find some sheep crossing the road!

Dean is enjoying driving on the roads. They are just like we saw on Rick Steves - very narrow and we have to constantly make way for cars coming the other way. It hasn't been real bad, but it's been a little pain in the back.
Tomorrow we are hitting some church graveyards.

Day 4 - August 1, 2011, Tuesday

We traveled back to Liverpool today at 10 pm. This morning we went over to some church graveyards near Cookstown. We talked to people who told us the best places to go and we were impressed!
These guys that were just selling fruits next to a parking lot, when we told them the name of the family we were looking for, they said, don't go to the church grave yard up this street, go to the graveyard of New Church. And as we tried to imagine how many hundreds of years old the New Church was likely to be, we also asked, Why not the church up the street? It's a Roman Catholic church! From then we proceeded to try to imagine how on Earth did they know that!!!!

We hit 1 presbyterian and one church of Ireland churches. We took pictures of the graves that carried the last name Watt. I cried like a baby every time I saw a grave of a baby. It just Think babies and gravestones should never occupy the same space. SOmething has gone terribly wrong. Young people, they should live to be old folks.

Seeing grave stones is a very humbly experience. There it is! The end of us all! Some gravestones were hard to read. Time and nature have taken their tolls on the man-made inscription that some day meant so much to someone, but now it lays there, almost completely gone, on a piece of stone that marks the spot of the final rest of someone that no one remembers anymore. No one cares. Some one who lived on this Earth of God, just like me and you. Someone who was a baby, a child, a young teenager, and an adult. Some who lived and loved and dreamed. Like you and me. Some one no one knows anymore. Like you and me will be someday.

That's it, my friends. That's the end. Fifty, a hundred years after you die, unless you were ubber famous like shakespeare, who will know who you were? Who will visit your grave and lay flowers and make sure the inscription that contains those two important dates of birth and death, and the name by which you are now called doesn't get erased by time? And that grass does not grow all around and make your gravestone almost unnoticed? Who will even care?

Well at least in Brazil the cemeteries get taken care of and gravestones don't get eaten up by grass. But who visits the dead of the dead? Who will visit my great-grandma's grave when my brother and I are gone? Who will know who she is?

Now in Brazil we don't usually bury people in graveyards. We bury them in cemeteries. It's a very weird concept for me to think of churches as a place where normal people get buried.

We went over to belfast and saw the place where the Titanic was built, Harland and Wolff Shipyard. And there, another humbling experience - the size of the thing. I think it's called a dock - the actual place the ship was kept - is ridiculously long and deep. The Titanic was a monster!!!! I shot a video of it and the card ran out before I could finish it. The video is about 40 seconds long. I was shooting is as I went alongside the length of it. I was not even halfway through with it when the video stopped.

We bought a couple of magnets and key chains there in order to get free parking. Great bargain, we figured.

We then headed to Dublin, back to our final Irish destination. On the way back I tried to take pictures of the loyalists and the republicans neighborhoods. On the way up we noticed how the flags changed as we entered N.Ireland. But on the way back we did not find them anymore, so I could not get pictures of the change. On the way up it did not occur to me that pics of those things would be interesting.

But even in N.Ireland you can find places that use the tri-color flag. Those people are called republicans. The ones that use the unionist flag are a called loyalists.
here is an example of a loyalist neighborhood.
At first Dean thought maybe people here were really patriotic like in America, bc they display the flags in their yards and stuff, but we came to a conclusion that this displaying of flags is more a political statement than a display of patriotism.

Dublin on a Tuesday is a much different experience than on a Sunday. There is traffic and paid parking. We went to St.Michan's church to see the mummies of St. Michan's. It was a paid tour, but worth every penny. Our guide was fantastic, he even knew I could only be Corinthians or Palmeiras when I told him I was from Brazil. He was a Beatles fan who claims the Beatles were actually Irish. The mummies were amazingly well kept. We got to shake hands with one of them and see some other graves in the crypt. Some of them were lit, because they were officially inactive. Some were in the dark bc they still might be used by the families that own them, even though they have not be used for over 100 years, they are technically still active and can be used by the families at anytime they wish to do so. So we can't get in or keep them lit, as it is illegal to do so.

We tried to make it to the Book of Kells but we were 20 minutes too late. Finally time to eat though. at 5:30 pm, lolol!!!! We went to the Brazen head, The oldest pub in Ireland, dating from 1198...I finally got to try Guinness. Did not like it!!!! But I tried it!

We brought back from Ireland the phone number of a Watt to give to Dean's aunt who is doing to the family line research.

Back to Liverpool and to our Holiday Inn for a nice reasonable night of sleep. Tomorrow, it's the Beatles Trail.

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