Monday, August 29, 2011

Ireland Revisited: A Fair Day, Too

Day 26 of 35: Sunday, August 29, 2010

I attended a Sunday church service for the first time in decades today, at Lord Rosse’s invitation. During the organ recital a week ago, he had pointed out the memorial plaques on St. Brendan’s inner walls, many of whom are for Parsons family members, especially the Earls. He made special note of a very large one for the Third Earl (the “telescope Earl”), high up behind the balcony, seeming to look down on the congregation, the pulpit, and the altar. I hadn’t brought my camera then, thinking it would be out of place and somewhat disrespectful at a small music recital in a church, but Lord Rosse encouraged me to come back with it to the following Sunday’s service. So I did, but kept it hidden under my hat on the pew beside me during the service itself.

Right, above: the third Earl’s memorial plaque. The last sentence is, “He was renowned in the loftiest range of science, and he revealed to mankind by the unrivalled creation of his genius a wider vision of the glory of God.” The memorial is about five feet tall. Left, above: outside the church is a recent sign which commemorates the world’s first automobile fatality, which took place in the road at the place where I was standing to take the photo. It occurred in 1869, two years after the third Earl died, under the iron wheels of a steam-powered vehicle of his design. The victim was one of his cousins, Mary Ward, herself a noted scientist, a pioneer in microscopy. More about Mary Ward and about this accident can be found in the second part of this earlier post on SherWords.

This afternoon Diane and I thoroughly enjoyed the last hours of the Irish Game and Country Fair, including:

... a display of carriage driving by the Birr Equestrian Centre...

... and another fascinating round of falconry.

Two little creatures particularly delighted us, a champion terrier and a small African vulture.

The next-to-last event at the Fair’s main arena was the “Final of the Five Nations Working Terrier Championships,” in which the year’s winners from previous fairs in Ireland, Northern Ireland (which was described by the M. C. as “technically another country”), Scotland, Wales, and England were squared off against one another for the year’s final round of judging. The winner was this little black guy from England:

During the entire awards ceremony, he was absolutely fixated on the second-place trophy, a stuffed fox head, and would pay attention to nothing else.

The African vulture, the opening act of the falconer's final show, was just about as cute as a buzzard could possibly be, and "cute as a buzzard" are four words I never thought I'd string together.

He responded to the sound of the falconer’s voice like a well-trained dog might, he worked the crowd at the fence (which he’s doing in this picture) masterfully, and his bouncing, rolling, lurching ground gait was hysterical. While only about the height and weight of one of our chickens, his wingspan was impressive:

Afternoon fades on the fair's last day.

Many more images from the two-day event (including links for further information on some of the activities) are available in this slideshow on

Next: August 30, 2010 -- Powerscourt and Howth
Previous: August 28, 2010 -- A Fair Day
Beginning of the series: Prologue, August 2

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