Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ireland Revisited: Powerscourt and Howth

Day 27 of 35: Monday, August 30, 2010

Howth Harbour at dusk.

Another brilliant morning, this one accompanied by the sounds of a small city being disassembled – the tents and other structures of the Irish Game and Country Fair being taken down and away. The complete process would take several days.

While Diane was preparing for our trip to the Powerscourt House and Gardens (and our overnight stay in Dublin), I visited the Demesne’s science museum, primarily to photograph some items concerning the 4th Earl (who gradually had become the focus of much of my archives explorations.) I was specifically looking to take some pictures of a birchbark canoe he had shipped back from Canada on his first trip to North America in 1884:

(Portrait of the Fourth Earl of Rosse courtesy of John C. McConnell, original photographer unknown.)

Three weeks before this day, we were preparing for our first excursion away from Birr, the one to County Antrim that wound up in the hospital at Coleraine and changed the nature of the rest of the stay in Ireland. While packing for that trip, Diane tucked her passport away in her suitcase in one of those nooks and pockets that modern suitcases seem to have a pox of. That action was forgotten, understandably, in all that happened later in the Northern Ireland adventure.

A couple of weeks later, she couldn't locate her passport while sorting through things in her shoulder bag. Having forgotten hiding it away in that odd suitcase pocket, she thought it lost, and we set up an appointment with the US Embassy in Dublin for an emergency replacement. (While the prospect of being stuck in Ireland wasn't entirely displeasing, we did have family and beasties back here in the US that we needed to return to.) Embassy staff were very helpful, as were the people at the Birr Library where we needed access to scanners and the internet. We were set up for an appointment on the morning of Tuesday, August 31st -- the day after this one -- so we made a hotel reservation in Dublin for this night, Monday the 30th.

While packing for the jaunt to Dublin, of course, the passport was found. So we cancelled the Embassy appointment, but kept the hotel reservation and made a 2-day holiday-within-a-holiday of it.

We set out for Powerscourt in the Wicklow Mountains at around noon and were there in only about two hours – the new ease of long-distance auto travel in Ireland continued to impress us. We were initially disappointed that more of the grand house is not open for viewing – and the parts that were (most of the ground floor) are given over to shops – but forgot about that pretty quickly in the overpowering sweep of the gardens and grounds in general.

Clockwise from upper-left: the great house from the terraced gardens, its domes reminding us of the Armagh Observatory three weeks earlier; Triton’s fountain and pond; Sugarloaf from the forest at the demesne’s far reaches; a bee at work in the walled garden (can you find him?)

Many more photos from this beautiful day at the Powerscourt Gardens are available in the day's slide show over on sharrington.net.

We stayed the night at the same airport hotel that we have always used (for familiarity and price, not because we’re particularly charmed by it – it’s serviceable and acceptable for a crash pad), planning to get up early tomorrow for a return visit to Brú na Bóinne. We had some time after dinner before the sun set, and decided to see if Howth harbour is as charming in 2010 in the evening as it was in 2006 at midday.

Oh, my.

Many more images are available in this slideshow on sharrington.net.

Next: August 31, 2010 -- Back to Brú na Bóinne
Previous: August 29, 2010 -- A Fair Day, Too
Beginning of the series: Prologue, August 2

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