The site of St. Patrick's Cathedral is said to be the earliest Christian site in Ireland, where St. Patrick baptized converts.
A wooden St. Patrick's Church stood on the site from the 5th century to about 1191, when the church was raised to the status of cathedral. The present building, the largest church in Ireland, was built between 1191 and 1270.
However, because of a major rebuilding in the 1870s prompted by the belief that the cathedral was in imminent danger of collapse, much of the current building and decoration dates from the Victorian era.
Though the rebuild ensured the survival of the cathedral, a failure to preserve records of the rebuild means that little is known as to how much of the current building is genuinely medieval and how much is Victorian pastiche.
During his stay in Dublin, Oliver Cromwell stabled his horses in the nave of the cathedral. Throughout its long history the cathedral had contributed much to Irish life. The writer and satirist Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver's Travels, was Dean of the cathedral from 1713 to 1745. His grave and epitaph can be seen in the cathedral.
The Choir School was founded in 1432 and many of its members took part in the very first performance of Handel's Messiah in 1742. The composition is on display in a glass case in the cathedral.
From 1783 until 1871 the cathedral served as the Chapel of the Most Illustrious Order Saint Patrick, for the members of the Knights of St. Patrick. With the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland in 1871 the installation ceremony moved to St. Patrick's Hall, Dublin Castle, but the heraldic banners of the knights at the time of the move still hang over the choir stalls to this day.
Today the cathedral is the location for a number of public national ceremonies. Ireland's Remembrance Day ceremonies, hosted by the Royal British Legion and attended by the President of Ireland, take place there every November.
The River Corrib (Irish -Abhainn na Gaillimhe) in the west of Ireland flows from Lough Corrib through Galway to Galway Bay. The river is among the shortest in Europe, with only a length of six kilometres from the lough to the Atlantic. It is popular with localwhitewater kayakers and is the training ground of NUI, Galway Kayak club, as well as several rowing clubs. The depth of this river reaches up to 94 feet.
The spectacular Cliffs of Moher in Ireland are located in County Clare, near the Burren Area. The highest point of the cliffs stands 710 feet high, and the cliffs themselves stretch five miles down the coast. From atop the Cliffs of Moher Ireland, visitors can see one of the most amazing views in Ireland. Weather permitting; you can see the Aran Islands in Galway Bay and the valleys and hills of Connemara, as well as the lighthouse on Loop Head and the mountains of Kerry to the south.
Bunratty Castle, North Munster, is sited on an original Viking Trading Camp which dates back to around 970 and is the last of four castles to be built on the site. Robert De Muscegros, a Norman, built the first defensive fortress (an earthen mound with a strong wooden tower on top) in 1250. His lands were later granted to Thomas De Clare who built the first stone castle on the site.
In 1318 the castle and surrounding town were completely destroyed when Richard De Clare, son of Thomas was killed in a battle between the Irish and the Normans.
After being restored for the king of England, it was once again laid to waste in 1332 by Irish Chieftains. For 21 years it lay in a state of ruin until being rebuilt by Sir Thomas Rokeby.
Once again the Irish besieged Bunratty and to this day has remained in Irish hands.
The present castle was built in 1425 by the McNamara family and remained in their possession until 1475 when it past to the O’Brien’s, the largest clan in North Munster. They then went about landscaping the castle grounds with picturesque gardens and which reputedly sustained a herd of 3000 deer.
Under Henry VIII's 'surrender and re-grant' scheme, the O'Brien's were granted the title 'Earls of Thomond' and they agreed to profess loyalty to the King of England. The reign of the O’Brien’s came to an end with the arrival of the Cromwellian troops and the castle and its grounds were surrendered. The O’Brien’s never returned to Bunratty.
Bunratty Castle and its lands were granted to various Plantation families, the last of whom was the Studdart family. In 1804 Bunratty fell into disrepair after the family decided to relocate to a more modern and comfortable at Bunratty House, located in the grounds of Folk Park.
Bunratty Castle was finally returned to its former glory when Lord Gort purchased the estate in 1954. It is now the most complete and authentically restored and furnished castle in Ireland and it has been open to the public since 1960.
The Book of Kells
—by Dermot O’Gara, IrishAbroad
The Book of Kells is one the most beautiful and ornate manuscripts ever produced.IrishAbroad’s Dermot O'Gara looks at its origins.
The Book of Kells is one of Ireland’s best-known attractions. It is currently housed in the Long Room of the Old Library in Trinity College, Dublin. The Book is an illuminated manuscript, which means it was written and illustrated by hand, and exquisitely adorned with colour. The text consists of the four gospels of the New Testament, written in Latin.
While much research has been undertaken on the book, surprisingly little is known about its origins. Historians have speculated that it was written by St Columba’s monks on the island of Iona, off the coast of Scotland, around 797AD to mark the second centenary of his death. This however is far from certain. In 805, Iona was the plundered by Viking raiders. While the manuscript survived this particular threat, the gold and silver binding in which it was probably set, was stolen by the raiders, who in all likelihood melted it down to make coins. The fleeing monks probably sailed back to Ireland, to set up a new monastery in Kells, and although this was repeatedly plundered throughout the tenth, this time at the hands of the Danes, somehow the book survived. It was kept in the monastery until the 17th century, when fearing for its safety the governor of Kells sent the book to Trinity College, to protect it from Cromwell’s soldiers.
The pages of the book are made from the skins of an estimated 185 calves. It’s likely that several monasteries pooled their resources, and shared their calfskins in making the book. The pigments used come from variety of sources, and the geographical spread of sources, point to a fairly sophisticated trade system being used by the monks. While many of the pigments were made using locally available materials, some of the ingredients came from sources such as pregnant Mediterranean insects, flowers from northern Europe, and even precious stones found only in Afghanistan!
But it is the beauty of the lavish decorations that embellish the text, which sets the Book of Kells apart from similar manuscripts. The illustrations number in their thousands, and range from the elaborated initial letters on each page, to full page, or ‘carpet’ illustrations. The monks drew heavily on animal imagery, lending an almost pagan quality to the book. Historians believe that the monks had access to artwork from the east, and the influences these had on the illustrations in the book is apparent.
Day 1- Fly overnight to Ireland