Due to the lack of available technology it was not possible to do this to my original design of blogging as I went. So, I ended up doing it the old fashioned way; buying a journal and writing as I went – on paper! So these blogs for the next few days are either full extracts or just excerpts from the journal (with very little editing, purposefully), video taken on the trip and photos, plus any use of hindsight I feel relevant or enlightening. I would explain the purpose of these posts but it just so happens I must have been in a philosophical mood on the first day because I approach the question there.
8th of May 2012 – Day 1:
“There is a school of thought which claims that the only thing that can be learnt from the words of an historian is knowledge about that historian. With that in mind, the research process of an historical work is just as important as the outcome of that research; i.e. a book.
To that end I present one word that sums up the excitement, caution, planning and whimsy that I feel right now – trepidation.
Having completed my flight, and wait for 2 hours for my good friend and touring companion to join me, my mind is careering back home to my pregnant wife and young puppy who I have left for a week. I’ve never left her for a week before, and haven’t left for more than one day since we found out she was pregnant.
It seems there is as much humanity in the study of history as there is in the history itself.
Turning to the history I have to wonder, how good an idea is this? I am an Ancient Historian really, why in the world would I look at Early Medieval castles . . . in Ireland? Oh, how I wish I had an answer to that one.
A problem arises with youth that can succinctly be described as arrogance. I am doing it because I believe(d) I can.
The premise is one of ignorance – I know nothing on the topic and through this study I hope to end it with a relative degree of expertise. Can it be done? I don’t know but it is how I like to work so the challenge is set.
I am no fool though, I have commandeered an archaeologist and good friend Ali (Alistair Black) to join me. His expertise in Early Medieval castles is matched only by his outmoded & archaic views on English superiority and the glory of the Empire that was. Maybe not the best choice for a trip to Ireland!
His knowledge of Irish history sits into 2 categories. Pre-history and Post-Cromwell . . . so sod all on Medieval Ireland – not great, we will have to learn together as we go!
With our ignorance at the appropriate level, the tour has been mapped out using the scourge of the University lecture hall . . . WIKIPEDIA!
Not a sentiment I share, Wikipedia was used as I personally think it should – not a beacon or bastion of knowledge but a springboard for research to get off the ground. God, that’s a laboured metaphor, note to self: read more Oscar Wilde.
So the tour is set – 1 night in Dublin, 1 night and two castles in co. Wexford, 1 night + 2 castles in/around Kilkenny, 1 night & 1 castle in co. Cork (the county with the most castles in Ireland, I think this number may increase!), 1 night n’ 2 castles around Ennis, 1 night in Athlone and numerous pubs, 2 castles and 1 night in Dublin and surrounding area.
Due to the fortuitous nature of fate, or destiny, I shall see my Grandmother on her 88th birthday. I haven’t seen her or my Granddad for over a year and a half – as she reminds me regularly. Not for want of trying, but weather has gotten even the best laid plans scuppered – think of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia as an example. But even as her memory begins to leave her she still counts these failed visits as indebted. I think to date I owe 3 visits!”