Nineteen Photos of Ireland

We didn’t have to drive far from the ferry to find this replica ship docked in the harbor of Kilkenny town.  It’s a copy of a ship built in Québec City in the 1840’s to carry human cargo across the Atlantic.  Not slaves, but Irish people, thrown off their land.  The potato famine made them destitute, and having people on the land did not fit into the landlords’ business plan.  Many of the Irish emigrants to the US had their one-way passage paid to speed the emptying of the land.  The people would be replaced by sheep.


On board ship, families remained below decks in these bunks (below) for 23 hours a day, with a bucket for a toilet and strictly-rationed food.  They got an hour on deck per day.


Most of what we’ve seen in Ireland, however, has been beautiful, like these sheep resting in their pasture like ducks on a pond.


and this mountaintop heather, looking like a stunted forest relentlessly trained by the west wind:



We saw many brightly-colored houses, as well:







And climbed to this ruin of a castle across the river from Caherciveen, in County Kerry:


The view from inside.  It’s low tide,and our campground was nearly visible on the other shore:


Here is Lynnell climbing a different hill.  In the background is a watchtower from the 1800’s, and in the far distance are the two Skellig Islands.


Our boat ride to Skellig Michael, the steeper one on the right, was cancelled due to waves and weather.  We were quite disappointed at not being able to climb to the monastery near the top of the Island.  UNESCO made it a World Heritage Site.  Monks in the 900 – 1100’s lived there as hermits, eating puffin, gannet, and seal and building 600+ stone steps, shelters, and walls.  The island became more famous recently:

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We were even going to bring light sabers with us.  Later, we visited a fossil site down a steep path to the Atlantic:


On a well-preserved seafloor from a time 300+ millions of years ago, fossilized footprints or more accurately flipperprints were found about 25 years ago.  The unknown tetrapod (Greek for quadruped, which is Latin for four-footed animal) was one of the very first creatures to move onto the land and begin the era of terrestrial evolution of which we are a very recent part.  Here are the footprints: the lighter gray ovals.  If you squint you can see the mark of a tail being dragged:


This next photo is a piece of the fossilized ripples in the ancient sea-bed where the tetrapod spent most of its time:


Finally, in 2009, President Obama traveled to the home of his great-great grandfather Kearney, who left Ireland in 1850 and ended up in Ohio.  A Visitor Center was built as part of a rest stop named for the President.  More to come soon.



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I am the Upper School Chaplain at Breck School in Golden Valley, Minnesota, USA., an Episcopal priest, and the author of the world religions text "Tree of World Religions," available on I've also done two lessons for TED-Ed.

2 thoughts on “Nineteen Photos of Ireland”

  1. John. Thank you so much for your post. I have been wondering how you and Lynnell were doing. Thank you for the Ireland photos. I recently found out through DNA, that I am 22% Irish and that my ancestors arrived in America in 1851 and ended up in Ohio, just like Obama’s ancestors. I will do some more research and find out if there is a connection.:) Seeing the boat they might have traveled on, brought tears to my eyes. But my Mayflowere ancestors probably had a more difficult voyage.


  2. John,
    What brilliant colors and landscapes and haunted seascapes! The light looks just like we’re all told it does, but stronger for you and L because you’re moving in it. Too bad weather kept you from visiting that monastery.
    I’ve reached patience’s limit typing on this phone: am in Milwaukee to see an exhibit on Thomas Hart Benton that a friend helped organize, and then to see FL Wright buildings in Racine.
    Big love to both of you.


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