THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch11 – part 4

THE FALLING OUT – Sea of GalileeCG-book-cover-w

The next day was the Sabbath and as Cornelius predicted, Jesus’ open declaration was on everyone’s mouth. Cornelius sat among ten other non-Jews, all proselytes, on seven tiered steps against the western wall of the synagogue. There were another set of steps at the opposite wall. Capernaum’s synagogue was large and able to hold hundreds at a time. The whole assembly faced the south wall mainly because that was the direction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. At that wall, on a raised platform, Elan, the synagogue leader, had reverently brought out The Torah, the holy scrolls, from an ornately decorated cabinet also called the Ark built into an alcove. John, the brother of James, was called to read from the scrolls. With his shawl over his head, he read a passage from the Prophet Jeremiah after which Elan lead the congregation in a chant-like prayer.

The synagogue was filled to capacity. The main floor area with its row upon row of wooden benches was occupied only by the men sitting shoulder to shoulder. The women and children were always relegated in the upper galleries in the back. Cornelius finally spotted Jesus seated near the front row surrounded by the Twelve and other disciples. Seated on the opposite side were a group of men in more elegant clothing. He knew some of them to be local Pharisees but there were a number of new faces that Cornelius did not know.

When the prayer finished, Elan, the synagogue leader, returned the Talmud back into the Ark and then opened the floor for discussion. At once, one of the local Pharisees stood up and called out to Jesus challengingly, “Rabbi, we have heard that you claim to be our promised messiah! And that you are the bread of life and we have to believe in you! What is this talk? If what you say is true, what then do you do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe you? What work do you perform?”

Others stood calling out, “Yes! Give us a sign!”

“After all, our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness,” the same Pharisee said somewhat mockingly, “as it written, ‘MOSES GAVE THEM BREAD OUT OF HEAVEN TO EAT.’ “

Jesus then stood and calmly said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven…” [John 6:31-32 NASB]

Against Peter’s whispered objections, Jesus walked out of the protective circle of his disciples to the front and sat down on the raised platform. Elan seeing that he had taken the posture of the teacher called for the house to be silent and gestured them to sit.

“Truly, I say again, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.”

From the back of the synagogue, some called out, “Lord, always give us this bread.” From among the Pharisees, there were a few chuckles.

Jesus again repeated to them that he was the bread of life, then he said, “he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”

Then, he stood and walked to where his disciples were and said, “This is the will of Him who sent me, that of all that He has given me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I myself will raise him up on the last day.” [John 6:34-… NASB]

Cornelius noted that the Pharisees were agitated and were talking among themselves. Elan, who was seated on his customary bench at the front, was visibly and uncomfortably worried.

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The story continues on in my next post.

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Sketching Ireland #6

Kilkenny – At Last!

LOL! We’re finally completing the first leg of the itinerary that I’m following based on a travel blob by Wanderlust Crew. We’re getting into Kilkenny Ireland. Technically, the first leg should have taken only a few hours drive on the M9 from Dublin, but with my detours… hahaha… we’re about 5 days later, give or take (vicariously, of course).

Kilkenny, which means “church of Cainnech”, may be the smallest city in Ireland, but for a time during the 17th century Kilkenny was unofficially the capital of Ireland. Built on both banks of the River Nore, this 400 year plus city is a tourist destination, and its environs include historic buildings such as Kilkenny Castle, St. Canice’s Cathedral and round tower, Rothe House, Shee Alms House, Black Abbey, St. Mary’s Cathedral, Kilkenny Town Hall, St. Francis Abbey, Grace’s Castle, and St. John’s Priory. Kilkenny is also known for its craft and design workshops, the Watergate Theatre, public gardens and museums. Annual events include Kilkenny Arts Festival, the Cat Laughs comedy festival and music at the Kilkenny Roots Festival. [contents from Wikipedia]

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Before we head in to the city, we’re making a quick stop at the Paddy’s Country Pub just off the M9 for a late breakfast or a brunch. Based on Tripadvisor dot com, a commentary recommended Irish Bacon and Cabbage. I loved sketching this pub. The front all the way up to the roof was covered with a thick vine foliage.

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google-maps-kil2.jpgAfter breakfast, we got back on the M9 and because I’m using the hover mode on Google Earth/Map, I can see that I have two exit the M9 and take the N10 into Kilkenny.

If this was an actual vacation and not a vicarious one, I would not want to bring my towed tear drop camper into a busy city. So, we needed to find someplace to camp. Fortunately, after doing some googling, I found the Tree Grove which was south of the city and conveniently just off the N10. The campground was the only one listed in the area. After ditching the trailer, we got back on the N10 and work our way back to the North side of the city to meet up with some people.

Kilkenny is divided by the River Nore. We drove around the eastern side of the city which happened to be quite modern. Most of the touristy stuff is on the western side. We were in the Newpark district when we drove by a marsh.

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The Newpark Fen or Marsh is a diverse habitat with open water and a rich variety of bird, mammal, plant and insect species. It was designated an area of scientific interest and is recognised as being of local scientific importance. It is a most important natural reserve with no less than 49 different species of birds identified to date and more than 70 species of plants, trees and shrubs. It includes a bird feeding area, wildlife information boards, a 2km circular walk and a wheelchair accessible walkway. In my sketch of the marsh, I included an Irish duck on the foreground. After the marsh, we head for the river.

The River Nore is a 140-kilometre (87 mi) long river. Along with the River Suir and River Barrow, it is one of the constituent rivers of the group known as the Three Sisters. After it flows through the city it will eventually end up emptying into the Celtic Sea way far south. When you have a river like the Nore in a tourist city, what can you expect? Kayaking!

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By the way, those people we’re meeting, happen to be my brother and his wife. That’s them in my sketch. Well, in reality, that’s their faces on the bodies of actual kayakers on the actual River Nore. Supposedly, they would have leisurely kayaked down the river under bridges and past the Kilkenny Castle then land near the campground. Meanwhile, as we crossed the Green’s Bridge again, I spotted a giant sundial.

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It is the Monumental Sundial entitled Arch and Sundial in the garden beside Green’s Bridge. The Arts Council (sometimes called the Arts Council of Ireland) commisioned artist Brian King to mark the success of Kilkenny in the Tidy Towns competition in 1985. A nearby plaque tells the user how to read the sundial and how to convert sun time to watch time. The Arabic hour numerals are carved into the seats of the pinic stools. [contents from http://www.sundials-ireland.com]

In my next post, we go to Kilkenny Medeivel Mile. See you then.

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Sketching Ireland #5

Carlow – A Must Stop

Why? Well, Carlow is just off the M9 and is a fair size town to just pass by. According to Wikipedia, the settlement of Carlow is thousands of years old and pre-dates written Irish history. The town had played a major role in Irish history, serving as the capital of the country in the 14th century. Besides, read what Carlow Tourism wrote on their site and tell me that you would not drop by as well.

Immerse yourself in the story of Ireland’s Ancient East in County Carlow. Get off the beaten track to see, hear, touch and feel the imprints of the millennia of settlers in this county. Take your time to discover it all – Stone Age artifacts, monasteries, medieval castles and large country houses and estates.

google-maps-oakpark-w.jpgUnfortunately, I’m just making a quick exploration. But I did save some provided photos for later ‘Sketching from the Neck Up’ projects. Meanwhile, Carlow Tourism said that ‘Carlow is a treasure trove of wonderful gardens to visit. Some of the best in the country are here and the county also contains what is regarded as the best garden centre in the country – Arboretum Home and Garden Heaven, which has been continuously awarded a coveted 5 stars in the Bord Bia Garden Centre of the Year Awards.’ One particular park I found is just on the outskirts of the town.

Oak Park Forest Park

There are few locations which could rival the beauty and tranquillity of Oak Park Forest Park. Ideal for leisurely strolls and walks, a visit here is a relaxing and pleasurable experience and a must for any visitor to Co. Carlow. Colour coded circular walkways of varying lengths with excellent accessible surfaces and easy gradients make a visit here an enjoyable experience for young and old alike.

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The park is a mature, mixed species woodland of over 120 acres with a predominance of beech, oak, scots pine, silver fir, larch and sycamore. The proximity of the walkways to the extensive collection of ferns, mosses and woodland flora provides the visitor with an ideal opportunity to interact with nature. Boasting a rich diversity of wildlife, the lakes and their surrounds provide a habitat for swans and ducks, while the islands shelter many wild and game birds. The Woodland Looped walks extend over 4km.

The park also features a picnic area, informal leisure areas and seating at regular intervals. For us who are physically challenged, the Looped Board Walks have anti-slip surfacing and are wheelchair accessible. You can read more in this PDF brochure link -> Carlow-Garden-Trail

After a vicarious visit in the forest, I’m heading in for town. My first stop – the River Barrow and the rowing club.

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I love watching a rowing team pulling on their oars, slicing through the water.

Downtown Carlow

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So, from the river, using Street-View, I went exploring down narrow streets. Just a block from the river, I found the ruins of the Carlow Castle which is today facing a modern apartment complex called the Water Front. I decided not to sketch the castle and continue my touring. I decided to check out Carlow College.

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On the way there, as I was passing the court house, I had to stop and sketch an 18th century canon which sat on a strange carriage. I say strange because as a historical student of this period, if this canon was fired, well… I can just imagine it flipping back and crushing the gun crew. But I think this canon carriage, in-front of the court house is more for display.

The college campus reminded me of my own college days. Because I was a Theatre major, I always look for the campus theater; in this case, VISUAL Carlow.

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VISUAL is one of Ireland’s leading contemporary art spaces situated in the heart of Carlow Town, with four world class gallery spaces and a 320-seat performance space. It receives national, international and regional touring productions as well as presenting locally produced work. The theatre itself comprises of one performance space and associated workshop space. It is the home venue for a number of Carlow based amateur and professional groups who can use it for workshops, rehearsals and presentation of their work. [content by http://www.visualcarlow.ie]

For my sketch subject, I chose a beautiful, chrome shining, modern art piece which stood about 3-storeys high and fronting Visual. After the college, we go shopping.

Five blocks south is Carlow’s shopping district and if this was an actual physical vacation, my wife will really be enjoying it. Meanwhile, since I’m not really a shopping type, I have to hunt for something to sketch. And in a small circular park surrounded by boutiques, shops, restaurants and tourists is the Liberty Tree.

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At first sight, the Liberty Tree is a bronze sculpture with a tree shaped outline. It stands on a circular base at the centre of a large fountain. I almost ignored it, until I looked closely at the tree’s trunk and found several emaciated human images hanging from the trunk; like they were cruelly tortured to death.

This almost gruesome sculpture actually commemorates the 1798 Irish Rising that started here in Carlow.

After the shopping, it is time to look for somewhere to eat. There are many recognizable restaurants in Carlow’s commercial area. I found McDonald’s and even a Burger King (by the river). But I went looking for a hole-in-the-wall type restaurant that’ll surprise me. In a narrow street, right across from the Cathedral is a Spanish restaurant, Mimosa.

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If you looked at the outside, it didn’t seem special. Now, look at the framed door of my sketch and you’ll see a star and 4 discs. Mimosa may seem a hole-in-the-wall, but it is an award winning place. So, I hope for future travellers, please eat there and write to me about it.

For more about Carlow, GUIDE TO CARLOW & CARLOW’S ADVENTURE TRAILS.

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch11 – part 3

THE FALLING OUT – Sea of GalileeCG-book-cover-w

An hour just before sunrise, the boats were broached securely on the beach with everyone sound asleep in their blankets. By sunrise, a passing herdsman recognized Jesus and went and spread the news. Two hours into the morning, a crowd of a hundred people with many that were sick and impaired were gathered around the encampment. Jesus and the disciples ministered to them for four hours after which they got back into the boats and sailed back to Capernaum.

That night, a number of men sought out Jesus after they arrived from where the multitude was fed. When they found out that Jesus was already at the house of Peter they rushed over and found him seated on the front porch teaching to a small crowd. Cornelius noted them approaching. They were about twenty of them. He noted that three of them were zealots, former companions of Simon. Simon also noticed them as well and whispered into Peter’s ear. Peter then moved ever so slowly and positioned himself slightly behind Jesus watching them. Cornelius and Cestus also subtlety positioned themselves so that they can intervene between Jesus and them if need be. But the men stopped at the edge of the seated crowd.

One of them asked, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

Jesus looked at them for a long while. Most of them started to look uncomfortable like they knew that he could see right through them. He slowly stood and took a couple of steps toward them. Then he answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.” He started to look at everybody else and said, “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.”

Then they asked Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?”

He again sat and told them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

Jesus then spent about twenty minutes or so in a dissertation that even to Cornelius was both incredible and yet profoundly disturbing. For months, Jesus had not openly declared who he was except to his closest disciples; but even to them he mostly referred to himself in the third person. But now Jesus have openly declared, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me will not hunger, and he who believes in me will never thirst.” [John 6:25-29,35 NASB]

For Cornelius, this was an incredible statement of which he has no doubt will keep his mind busy through out the night. But what was foremost on his mind was ‘why now?’ He must know that his statement will spread like wildfire. But to what end? Cornelius scanned the faces around him. His disciples showed confusion and concern. To the group of twenty men including the zealots among them, what he saw was disgust. Some of them have left even before Jesus finished. Others including a number of followers have left as well murmuring among themselves.

When Jesus had finished, only the twelve, a few others and Cornelius were left. No other words were spoken. All that Jesus did was smile and then went into the house.
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The story continues on in my next post.

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Sketching Ireland #4

Had to Stop at Castledermot

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Well, I’m back on the M9. I had to work myself back to Ballytore. Okay, I confess! I cheated! I flew back over the mountains back to my last stop on the M9.

It’s kinda funny, but the first leg of this Irish tour was suppose to be at Kilkenny. I hope you all don’t mind me making these extra stops. Because… hahaha… I’m making another “un-itinerary’ stop. It is a small town just off the M9, named Castledermot. At first, by its name, I thought there was castle about. But Castledermot (in County Kildare) was originally called ‘Diseart Diarmad’; meaning ‘Dermot’s Hermitage’. Now, there is a castle about 4-5 miles away, across the M9 from Castledermot. It was modernly refurbished into a hotel overlooking a golf course. I decided to focus on the small town.

Ruins of Franciscan Friary

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Believe it or not, this tiny town had historical significance. And to my delight I found part of it right on the main road just across a gas station. It was a ruin of a Franciscan friary which was once a very important ecclesiastical centre in this part of Ireland. This ‘frontier’ location was significant enough to attract many unwanted visitors over the years. It was attacked by Vikings in 841 and 867, the Normans in 1169, Edward the Bruce in 1316, the McMurroughs in 1405 and 1427, the Crown forces in 1530 and of course good old Cromwell whose forces destroyed most of the place in 1650. The town had been so important at one stage that it was allowed to mint its own coins. By 1850 however Castledermot was described as having ‘neither trade nor manufacture’ and is now wholly dependent on agriculture. [content from Wikipedia]

The sketch I made is of the inside of the friary showing the oldest intact stone window in Western Europe. It is believed the Franciscan Friary in Castledermot or Thrisledermot, as it was known at that time, was founded by Walter de Riddlesford II in the early part of the 13th century. All that remains of the Friary today is an undifferentiated nave and chancel church, with a 14th century aisle and transept added to the northside. There are three side chapels on the eastern side of the transept. An unusual feature of the building is the defensive tower attached to the south side of the church. [content from Wikipedia]

St Dairmuid’s Monastic Site

About 2 blocks from the ruins is an older monastic site founded by St Dairmuid back at 815 or 818 CE. He was the son of Dairmait, high king of Ireland, and was an abbot and bishop. However, he died in 823 CE not long after founding his monastery. His feast-day is held on 23rd June.

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Today, you’ll find in the ancient monastic site, the church of St James (which is modern) and a round tower, now somewhat damaged, dating from the 10th century. You’ll also find the foundations of a ruined church, a reconstructed Romanesque doorway (arch), grave-slabs dating from the 8th-12th century and two 9th century High Crosses.

Castledermot High Crosses  St Dairmuid s Cross   Ancient Cross   The Megalithic Portal and Megalith Map .pngA high cross or standing cross is a free-standing Christian cross made of stone and often richly decorated. The best preserved of the two high crosses, the North Cross, stands at 10 feet tall and is made of granite. On it’s base (front) there is a hunting scene, while on the back the miracle of the loaves and fishes. The shaft (front) has panels depicting biblical scenes, including David with his harp and Adam and Eve. The central panel between the wheel-head (heaven) shows the crucifixion of Christ.

The South Cross has only the granite shaft remaining but the detail, although worn, shows Daniel in the lion’s den in the lower panel (front) while the top panel has the sacrifice of Isaac; the middle panel has Celtic interlacing and spirals (front and back).

Castledermot-holed-stone-w.jpgIn the graveyard is a holed stone that was formerly known as the ‘swearing stone’. A ringed cross is carved on one face of the stone and the circular hole extends through the centre of the cross. The purpose of this stone is somewhat enigmatic, but it is suggested that it may have been used during wedding ceremonies or for swearing oaths or allegiances in early Christian times. [contents by megalithicireland.com]

After Castledermot, there is one other stop before we reach Kilkenny, the large town of Carlow. I hope to see you then.

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Sketching Ireland #3

Detour to Glendalough

road-map-3.jpgWhile researching my next stop in my itinerary of following the M9 Highway to the city of Kilkenny, I came upon promotional touristy stuff on beautiful mountain lakes just east of my last stop. The place is called Glendalough, pronounced as Gleann Dá Loch, meaning “Valley of two lakes”. When I first read the name, suddenly Brigadoon came to mind. Brigadoon was an old movie musical of a mystical village in the Highlands of Scotland starring Gene Kelly. Well, Glendalough may not magically appear every hundred years through the mist, but clearly it does sound like a worthwhile detour to take. However, I had to backtrack back to Ballytore and take country back roads first to the town of Dunlavin. Implementing Street View, I found that the town was quite modern. Frankly, I hoped to see more classical Irish style cottages with its tatched roof and stone walls. So, I continued on northeast to what was a pleasant drive on a well paved two lane road [R756] lined with hedges, wooden fences and fields of barley (I think). I drove by both country estates, quaint houses and farms but no public places like pubs & restaurants. (Note to travelers: gas stations can usually be found on major road junction.)

Anyway, the next stop in our detour, believe it or not, is Hollywood. No… not the one in Los Angeles. For one thing, Hollywood Ireland is smaller but much older than it’s LA’s namesake. Here is a historical note, Hollywood was an old designated stage coach stop. As a travel blogger, I recommend that you stop over at Hollywood and eat. I suggest you stop at either the HOLLYWOOD CAFE and HOLLYWOOD INN. For there will be no place to eat on the long road to Glendalough.

Glendalough

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The drive into the mountains of Glendalough is not like driving through the Cascades of Washington State or even the Rockies. These mountains were not as high or sheer, but I really enjoyed riding through them even if I’m watching it on my computer monitor. I can even imagine feeling the cold air through my imaginary Fonzie like leather jacket. As I turned a bend on the highway, I came upon a wonderful sight of Glendalough resting at the bottom of a valley between two mountains. Those mountains are the Tonelagee and the Camaderry enveloping the glacial valley of Glendalough. For a sketching project, I made a perspective map of Glendalough. I love making this kind of maps. You’ll probably see more of these later.

Cascading Stream

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When driving into the valley, I look to the right and found to my delight a flowing mountain stream cascading down rocks and mossy boulders. So, I think we’ll camp next to the stream.

Glendalough Monastic Site

Glendalough Monastic Site, also known as the city of the seven churches, was once enclosed within a circular wall of stone. You enter through the Gateway.

The Gateway

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There is a delightful feeling of discovery as you walk through the arches and along the pathway towards the settlement. The very picturesque Gateway has the distinction of being Ireland’s only surviving example of a medieval gateway to an early monastic city. This structure was originally two-storied with two fine granite arches. The gatekeeper would have lived on the second floor. The projecting walls at each end indicate it had a timber roof. Very little remains of the enclosure walls. [content from http://www.megalithicireland.com]

Monastic Site Map

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The Round Tower was built of mica-slate interspersed with granite. It stands about 30 metres high, with an entrance 3.5 metres from the base. The conical roof was rebuilt in 1876 using the original stones. The tower originally had six timber floors, connected by ladders. The four storeys above entrance level are each lit by a small window; while the top storey has four windows facing the cardinal compass points. Round towers, landmarks for approaching visitors, were built as bell towers, but also served on occasion as store-houses and as places of refuge in times of attack. [content from Wikipedia]

The Cathedral
The largest and most imposing of the buildings at Glendalough, the cathedral had several phases of construction, the earliest, consisting of the present nave with its antae. The large mica-schist stones which can be seen up to the height of the square-headed west doorway were re-used from an earlier smaller church. A few metres south of the cathedral an early cross of local granite, with an unpierced ring, is commonly known as St. Kevin’s Cross. [content from Wikipedia]

St. Kevin’s Cross
St. Kevin’s Cross is a fine example of a plain cross remarkably carved from a single granite stone. The arms of the cross are over a metre in length. The imperforate cross stands about 2.5m tall. It may have marked the boundary of the cemetery in which stands the priests’ house. A local legend surrounding St. Kevin’s Cross says that anyone who can wrap their arms around the entire width of the cross body and close the circle by touching fingertips will have their wishes granted. [content from http://www.megalithicireland.com]

The Priests’ House
Almost totally reconstructed from the original stones, based on a 1779 sketch made by Beranger, the Priests’ House is a small Romanesque building, with a decorative arch at the east end. It gets its name from the practice of interring priests there in the 18th and 19th centuries. Its original purpose is unknown although it may have been used to house relics of St. Kevin. [content from Wikipedia]

St. Kevin’s Church or “Kitchen”
St. Kevin’s Church is an intact stone-roofed structure. The steep roof, formed of overlapping stones, is supported internally by a semi-circular vault. Access to the croft or roof chamber was through a rectangular opening towards the western end of the vault. The church also had a timber first floor. The belfry with its conical cap and four small windows rises from the west end of the stone roof in the form of a miniature round tower. It is commonly known as St. Kevin’s Kitchen as the bell tower resembles a kitchen chimney. However, food was not cooked there. [content from Wikipedia]

St. Mary’s or Our Lady’s Church

St. Mary’s one of the earliest and best constructed of the churches built just outside and west of the Monastic Site. The church belonged to local nuns and was probably built outside the main enclosure. The chancel has an east window with hood moulding. On the outside of the window are two very weather worn carved heads. Built into the altar is one of the many bullaun stones in Glendalough.

Glendalough Bullauns – The Deerstone

At this early Christian monastic site are a number of interesting bullaun stones. Bullaun are large stones first flattened on the top then a bowl shap was carved into it. One of these is known as the Deerstone. The site was founded by St Kevin who died in 617 AD. According to legend St Kevin had no cow so he persuaded a doe to leave milk in the bullaun for him. Situated in and around the valley there are over forty other bullaun stones, a number of which are located on the monastic site.

There are more to check out and I’ll reveal it at later SKETCHING from the Neck Up posts.

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Glendalough is also a fantastic recreational area with kayaking on the lakes, rock climbing and numerous trails for both hiking and mountain bikes. One of those trails led me to my final drawing of an old stone crusher with an abandoned miner’s village on the background.

Well, we got to head back to the M9 and continue with my itinerary.

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