Our trip to Ireland was incredible.MarkForBlog

I’ll just start this blog with that statement. I had been there about 15 years before with my parents, however, going now, especially that we drove ourselves, changed everything and it almost felt like I was there for the first time.  With a tour (which is what we did the first time), you get on the bus and it takes you to places, which are incredible, but unless you very active in where you are going, it can blend together. This time, with Rachel and I deciding ourselves where to go, and then having to find the place (the GPS in the car was not always the most accurate), it added an element that I will not forget, and might convince me to put off most tours in the future.

We were there for 10 days, flying into and out of Dublin Airport. We stayed in the southern half of the country, although we definitely made the east, south and west coast (Ireland is relative in size to Indiana). However, with the state of the roads (they now have a few four lane motorways but the majority are winding, narrow, two-lane roads that were the cause of our first married fight), getting places quickly was not always a guarantee. The scenery made up for it. The most beautiful scenic place we saw (both agree on this) is the Cliffs of Moher, on the far western coast of Ireland. However, the different national parks we went through, Wicklow, Connemara, the Burren, Killarney, all had their own beauty to them, although they are different than what we in America think of as a national park.

Library related, in Dublin we did go to Trinity College and see the Book of Kells, an ornate book written (disputed between monasteries in Ireland and Scotland) around 800. I’m sure many of you have seen recreated pictures of some of the pages, seeing the actual book in front of you is just incredible. The trip is also made by being able to walk partway through the Old Library at Trinity College, which I guess to be football-field size in length, and 30 or more feet tall, lined with books (Trinity College had a law passed for them in about 1800 that they were entitled to a copy of every book printed in Ireland and England). It takes your breath away, even for a non-librarian.

Rachel and I spent a lot of time visiting ruins throughout the country of both castles, cathedrals and monasteries, and I have to say that being on these sites, many of which I studied in my medieval history days, was my favorite part of the “touristy” part of the trip. Walking the ruins of Innisfallen, (monastery that was one of the main centers of learning for 1,000 years) or going to the ruins of the monastery at Clonmacnoise, (right in the center of the country) or visiting the Rock of Cashel, (former home to the southern Irish kings and then turned into a major cathedral and holy place) and thinking about the age (most of them started around the 11th-12th c.) of the buildings that are standing, and then realizing that these monasteries were founded sometimes 600-700 years before this, for a student of history it was nearly overwhelming. Not only that, but as a Catholic, thinking about the saints that lived and studied in these areas, it is sometimes hard to put into words.

If you get the chance to go to Ireland (and even though it was off-peak season in October, the weather was still 40s-50s and the land was green (a few trees were starting to turn but on some plants, flowers still bloomed), I recommend it at any time of the year.

Here is some basic information about the library:

  • Our standard hours are Tuesdays, Thursdays, 12 to 8 p.m.; Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Our address is 3257 S. Lake Dr., St. Francis, WI 53235, right next to Henni Hall, due west of the South Parking Lot.
  • The library’s phone number is (414) 747-6479. If you would like to contact me through email, it is mschrauth@sfs.edu.
  • There is free Wi-Fi available.
  • “Like” us on Facebook – Salzmann Library.
  • The library catalog is available online.