The last three days have been warm and sunny and everyone is mad with joy. I have to say that living in Fremantle I used to take it completely for granted.. you know… ten, twelve, fourteen hours of sunshine a day. Here in Limerick, the sun peeps out from scurrying clouds and immediately everyone rushes outdoors, girls put on their short shorts, the ice-cream carts tinkle their bells and people start randomly sunbathing on any available patch of grass. It’s pretty fun. On Saturday, Robin and I went on another little adventure trip, this time to the village of Adare, a short bus trip from Limerick City. It was definitely ice-cream weather.
We went to the farmers market where there were all of four stalls and I bought eggs and soil-covered carrots from someone’s garden with the most delicious carroty smell. Then we went to a shop that was selling everything you might want (and many, many things you might not want) as Christmas decorations. I was creeped out by the animatronic teddies blowing bubbles, elves on flying foxes, and Santas, but Robin hasn’t seen Dr Who, so she didn’t know they were about to turn evil, get up off their chairs and start coming for us. We
had scones and coffee at Miss Crumpet’s tea shop(pe) upstairs which was also a bit scary, you know, doilies and decorative plates etc. but Frank Sinatra was playing and we had an in-depth discussion about resonance and what it sounds like when people get nodes on their vocal cords… Like, what actually ARE the vocal cords? Until last week I didn’t even know. I do know now, I’ve been reading up and looking on YouTube. aMAZing, people! As the breath passes through them vocal cords, or vocal folds as they tend to be called these days, look like the trembling lips of a beautiful mollusc, rippling with waves of vibrations. Embarrassingly, I thought the ‘cords’ were vertical (…somehow…), and many. Okay, enough of that before I reveal too much! We have a class called Vocal Health and Pedagogy and I’m learning all about what’s going on down in there. It is so miraculous, so amazing, such an intricate dance of intention and coordination, breath making sound by vibrating the folds, muscles adjusting the resonance chamber and articulating the sound into words and pitches. Wow. Anyway, talking shop made it okay to be sitting in Miss Crumpets.
When we left we did my favourite thing: go poking around old ruins. Today’s were a 700-800 year old Augustinian friary thrillingly called The Black Abbey. I thought of the monks walking around and around the beautiful stone cloister come rain or shine. I hope they had a monastery cat who would sit on the window sill and purr. And they I went and sat under a Linden tree which is a holy temple itself.
A little way up the river we came across an interpretation board with all the Riperian creatures painted as a mural: kingfisher and otter, dragonfly and oak, marsh marigold, greenshank, red-breasted this and black-headed that… all with their Irish names. I’ve copied them out and I’m going to ask our Irish song teacher Nóirín ní Riain, how to pronounce them. There’s something very precious about being able to address the animals and plants of a place by their own names.
From our vantage point we could see the gorgeous old ruins of Desmond Castle – as you see from the picture at the top of this post. I got as close as I could by walking against speeding traffic up a stone wall-flanked road and then climbing over that wall onto its grounds. But sadly it was all closed up and I had to content myself with peering in the arrow slits. Have a look at at beautiful window sitting so sweet in the ruined wall. Who looked out of there at the rising moon, I wonder. At the very bottom of the photo you’ll see an arched entrance to a tunnel. It was a ten foot long passage through to the inner grounds, with only about a foot of clear water to wade through. I was so tempted to take of my sneaks and roll up my jeans, but something got the better of me. Wish I had, now.
Another church we visited had this little tapestry gem in it. And a marble monument on the wall that said this: “To the Memory of the Reverend John Quin who died by a fall from his horse on the 18th day of November 1789 in the 28th year of his life. Whose eminent virtues adorned with shining talents, captivating and amiable manners will long be remembered and regretted.” Can’t you just see him.
Well, good people, here ends tonight’s little tale. Hope you’re getting some ice-cream weather where you are too.