The 27th Gerard Manley Hopkins International Festival took place in Newbridge, Kildare, at the Dominican college there. It is situated in quite a lovely spot on a bend along the River Liffey, and if ever a spot could inspire the muse, this is it.
There were, however, alongside academic lectures, poetry recitations and singing (notably, ‘Molly Malone’ in Latin, off-key, which I understand is something of a tradition), trips to various places of interest in Co. Kildare.
First we went to Maynooth College (NUI), where it is thanks to the kindness of Miho Takahashi that I have these photos at all.
Then we proceeded to have a tour of the Russell Library, at which I could have stayed all day, and possibly half the night. They were having a special exhibit on WWI, and on the particular straits of their German Professor, Bewerunge, who went on a visit home in 1914, and didn’t make it back to Ireland until 1921, I believe. This should be a lesson to us.
And if I haven’t managed to convince you to visit yet, the Chapel was worth the entire day alone. Here is the outside, which helps to almost enclose the square (it would’ve done, except they ran out of money, and hired a different architect, etc). Also, there is a rather interesting garden at the foreground, which won a few prizes and all, designed by a well-known gentleman recently, but I’d much rather talk about the chapel.
It is very narrow, very high and very long. I believe they said it was one of the biggest college chapels in the world, and I believe them. (You can check out some of the history here: Chapel). Notably, the history of how the Chapel, and the College were founded is mind-boggling. In the late 18th century, the British Crown (!) funded it because those Irish priests were getting far too many revolutionary ideas from the continent.
But really, what is most impressive is the detail. For example, each one of those pews is unique in design, decorated with a species of plant native to Ireland. Or we could talk about the floor:
One of the other trips we made was to the Bog of Allen, next to the Hill of Allen, which is a historically important site in Irish History and one which tends to pop up in folklore quite a bit.
This peat: black, brown and white. Black is the most dense, and comes from the deepest part of bog, and burns the best. Brown is the middle layer, and white is the top (mostly used for gardening, I believe).
Anyway, here we are, stacking peat to dry:
As I have said, there was much pub-visiting in the evening, and if you went, it was largely regarded as a public service that you had to perform. Here is proof that, as they say, I did my bit.