Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ireland Revisited: Back to Birr!

Day 4 of 35: Saturday, August 7, 2010

A last glimpse out of our airport hotel window before heading off to the Midlands and back to Birr. Note the approaching airliner in the upper-left and the old cottage -- an island of the past in a sea of autos -- at lower-center.

We checked out of the hotel at about eleven, expecting to reach Birr at about one o'clock. We took the new M4 motorway (not available to us in 2006) and came in via Tullamore, which brought us to Birr considerably earlier than we had planned. It was a very pleasant, easy, scenic drive. As we entered County Offaly, we had a sense of coming home that became more intense the closer we came and the more familiar the land and the roads grew.

The old home-away-from, the Bothy, Birr Castle Demesne

When we arrived, staff had not quite finished preparing the Bothy for us, so we spent a couple of hours driving around Birr and the nearby countryside, re-acquainting ourselves. Many things had changed in four years, the most obvious of which was a new Tesco supermarket on the south side of town. Among its charms, in addition to groceries for the cottage's kitchen, were an ATM and a checker from Southern California who had recently moved here with her Irish husband.

Would look right at home in San Jose

We spent the late afternoon and evening strolling the Demesne grounds.

Fallen champion and as it appeared in 2006

We found that the great old Champion beech tree by the lakeside near the telescope had come down, and, while we were inspecting its stump, Lord Rosse appeared (with clipboard and pruning loppers, out tending things as is his wont on summer evenings.) He told us that the tree had been felled only a day before, at the insistence of the company that was insuring the Game and Country Fair later this month, because of evidence of rot. That's a shame; it was one of our favorites on the Demesne's Red Tree Trail.

Familiar charms:

The Leviathan of Parsonstown...

... the falls in the Fernery in gathering dusk...

... the old brick bridge over the Little Brosna...

... and the Bothy's "secret gate" to the gardens.

It was delicious to be back.

This day's short slide show can be seen by clicking here.

Next: August 8, 2010 -- Reunion with an Old Friend
Previous: August 6, 2010 -- The National Stud


Brian Fies said...

You're making me homesick for a place I've never been. Looking forward to following along.

Sherwood Harrington said...

Welcome aboard the tourbus, Brian! I think there will be some things of particular interest to you coming along shortly.

Margaret Ryall said...

Oh what a treat. I just came back from my summer home after being deprived of internet for weeks and I find The Bothy in all its glory. I wanted to walk through the door into the Millennium Garden. It brought back so many great memories. My painting of that door (Threshold) is going to a friend next week!

Looking forward to the next installment.