Monday, September 23, 2019

Moving at a Slower Pace

23 Sept
 After the Ring of Kerry, I decided to back of the cycling and save my legs for my upcoming race (more about that poor choice later). I tootled around Killarney for one more day, visiting the fantastic Muckross House. The estate has been preserved to its mid 1800 state and walking through the insides was like having a Downton Abby moment, especially walking through the kitchen hallways with a huge row of bells to call the servants.
 Queen Victoria visited here just before Albert died, and her visit was a large part why the owner went into debt and lost the house.

Muckross Abbey was built in the 1400s by the Franciscan monks. Not soon after, Henry VIII dissolved the monastery, they started up again after his death but the monastery fell into complete ruin when Cromwell came through in the 1640s.
 I threw my bike into a train, easy, and rode up to Thurles. I almost didn't make it off the train because the platform was on the other side. Someone outside the train had to take 3 bikes out before mine could get unloaded. With the quick stop it was a little frantic, but as always, things worked out fine. 

A 12 mile, thankfully flat, cycle brought me to the Rock of Cashel, seat of the ancient irish kings. Once a castle site, it became purely religious in the 11th century and now is made up of St Patrick's cathedral and Cormac's chapel.

 Cormac's chapel was built in 1130 out of beautifully carved sandstone. Unlike most of the pointy gothic style of Ireland's medieval buildings, the chapel was built with the rounded romanesque archways and geometric designs.
Inside is the oldest intact stone stairway in all of Ireland.
The most notable thing about the chapel is the remnants of frescoes that used vermilion from Spain for the red colors and very expensive lapis lazuli (blue) from Afghanistan to depict biblical scenes.

There was also a sarcophagus predating the chapel that had Nordic dragons, figure eights, and what looked like mermaids all over it. Important bodies were put in there, covered in lime, and they decomposed in about 5 weeks. The bones were taken out, put someplace special, and someone else important got to take their turn.

The chapel has only been open for a few years and to limit the humidity and bacteria inside, only a few people get to go in each day. I got lucky because it was pouring rain and not many people were motivated to be outside.
Tomorrow, I'll take advantage of any break in the rain to cycle for an hour back to Thurles, squeeze my bike into a train, and make it through to Dublin.

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