Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ireland Revisited: Before the Fair

Day 24 of 35: Friday, August 27, 2010

This day was one of several on this trip which felt a little like we imagine most days would be if we actually lived in Birr. For me, that entailed a little work (research in the archives, writing, and continuing the bench panoramas photography project), some errands, and a lot of slacking off. Missing, of course, were family and animals, and those are not minor things.

My time in the Archives on this morning was spent trying to get a little more of a feel for what the 4th Earl of Rosse was like as a person. I came across accounts of an incident early in his earldom, in 1868, when he and his brothers were arrested by a couple of drunken policemen. The incident’s last reference in the archives was a letter to the 4th Earl by the head of Ireland’s constabulary, which included this bit of highly-accomplished groveling:

A fuller account of this episode is included in this earlier SherWords entry.

The day was brilliant with plentiful sun and dramatic clouds. Diane and I spent most of midday shopping downtown.

The above corner of Emmet Square, looking almost due north, includes the brick post office building and, to its left, grey buildings that contain offices of the Enrights’ enterprises and Enright’s Bar (the short building immediately to the left of the P.O.) Birr’s most famous current musician, Mundy (Edmund Enright) occasionally still helps out there, pulling perfect (it’s said) pints of Guinness for customers.

In the late afternoon and evening we strolled around the Demesne, watching final preparations for the weekend’s Irish Game and Country Fair. While doing so, we stumbled on a part of the Demesne we had never seen before, the “Secret Winter Garden” and its thatched-roof gazebo.

Vendors' tents being prepared for the 2010 Irish Game and Country Fair. The structure in the background at right is part of the support structure for the great telescope.

Secret Winter Garden, Birr Castle Demesne.

At the end of the day we strolled past our old friend’s hangout. She was there and, after a short conversation, followed us back to the Bothy for a snack. She is still very, very wary, stopping every few yards to look all around nervously – but I don’t think she needs to worry about the obnoxious Bichon any more. We hadn’t seen it running loose since we mentioned it to Lord Rosse a week earlier.

More images from this day can be seen in this slideshow over on

Next: August 28, 2010 -- A Fair Day
Previous: August 26, 2010 -- Brian Boru's Revenge
Beginning of the series: Prologue, August 2

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