"" Writer's Wanderings: Ireland - Jerpoint Abbey

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ireland - Jerpoint Abbey

Jerpoint Abbey was an if-we-have-time stop. I'm so glad we did. Our guide painted a wonderful picture of what life might have been like with these Cisterian monks. With a half smile, she told of their vows of simplicity and poverty and then went into the colorful stories of how much of that seemed to change when money was needed to keep the abbey going. It seems the powers that controled the monastery were a bit lenient with these monks or just didn't know exactly how wonderfully they had enhanced their monastery.

The abbey dates back to 1180 and the Cistarian monaster ywas active until Henry VIII dissolved all monasteries in the mid-1500s. Of course throughout the centuries other things were added to the abbey and several old tombs are there as well.

Intricate carving can be seen on some of the lintels and around the tops of several columns. There is also evidence that many places in the building were painted with bright colors. Patrons of the church were honored along the square walkway that encloses the central grassy area, the cloister. There is even the wife of one pictured in stone at a time when women were not allowed in the building.

We left before the heavens opened up with another cold drizzly shower and continued on to Kilkenny arriving just in time to see a huge parade containing a variety of race cars in town for the Cannonball race.

The little town was also alive with hurling fans. Apparently there was a great rival game being played that weekend. You might ask, "what is hurling?" We did.

In Ireland, hurling has nothing to do with a sour stomach. It is an ancient Gaelic team game played with sticks called hurleys and a ball called a sliotar. We were told it resembles lacrosse a bit but with different rules and is obviously as popular as some of our major team sports in the US. Checkered flags were flying all over the place. When the colors of the checks changed, we knew we'd crossed into a different team's territory--kind of like a Buckeye crossing into Wolverine territory.

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