Saturday, 6 October 2001
Well, I got a lot more than I bargained for.
It didn’t start out well. I was awakened from a deep and needed sleep by the beginnings of a party--evidently, a wedding dance. By 11 or so, I could tell I’d not be sleeping as long as that noise was going on, so I took my book back up. Sometime after 2, the festivities drew to a close, and I then learned (from the fact that most of my fellow guests were members of the wedding party) that this hotel has paper-thin walls. Interesting. Sort of.
But somehow a few short hours later--about 8, I saw blue sky out my window, and I leaped up and packed my equipment. I knew that Trim Castle didn’t open until 10, but figured I could get some shots of the surroundings on this very lovely morning, which indeed happened beyond any right to expect. The castle tour takes you into the keep (no, I don’t know what that is, but it’s the biggest part of the remaining castle), and up onto the top. Very, very impressive (it’s the largest _original_ castle remnant in Ireland, anything similar having long been converted into manor houses, etc.).
I returned to my hotel at about noon, and it remaining gorgeous if blustery, decided to call the Dunsany Castle to see whether this afternoon might not be good for the pictures I had arranged to take there. I was very nervous about this call. A woman answered. I explained that I’d been given the number by ... (with whom I’d been communicating via email), and she claimed to know nothing about any of this. Whoops. “With whom am I speaking?” I asked. “Lady Dunsany,” she replied with what I thought was a French accent. I then explained as much as I could of what I had already discussed with the gentleman I had assumed was their literary executor. She betrayed her Brazilian origins by engaging me in a long...conversation, and ended up inviting me to tea. “Whoa!” I nearly screamed. “You must understand that I’m traveling light and am in no way dressed for a tea at Dunsany Castle with Lord and Lady Dunsany!” “Oh, Eddie is just wearing some old thing,” she went on, “and I’m still in bed, anyway.” Eventually, we agreed that I’d show up about 2, take pictures, then come to the door about 3 for tea. Which is more or less what happened. There they were, just two normal looking people who probably straddled my own age (he a bit older, she younger). Lord Dunsany (pronounced ‘doon-sane-ey’ with the accent on the middle syllable) and I talked for a while, and then Maria (Lady Dunsany) brought “tea”--she appreciated that I’m a coffee drinker, she being Brazilian. I had a great time, and was shown a great deal of the house and belongings, including scads of original Dunsany manuscripts. It was not unlike visiting Winterthur (in Delaware), actually, except that someone actually lives in the house. We’re talking an incredible experience here. Who could have expected such a thing. Even in my wildest dreams I never conceived such a possibility.
So, back to a relatively calm evening (we had one party scare, but it went quiet after a couple Bruce Springsteen songs). I’ll go out in the morning and photograph Tara (the home of the original Irish gods), and then amble into Dublin (about 20 miles away) for a couple days. It’s all downhill from here...
Meath (and its Dunsany Castle) was my goal for this trip, so there are more photos than is, perhaps, proportional to its importance. Without question, it is a serious farming area, which is centered on the River Boyne. I stayed in Trim, the primary attraction of which is the Trim Castle, but also visited the famous Tara, reputed to be the pre-Christian spiritual home of Things Irish. Dunno about that, but it was cute and the weather broke very nicely.
The second picture is one-half of a roundabout. In Dublin, access to the roundabout opening is now controlled by traffic lights (for high-volume lanes).
The young man holding the map is a Trim photographer who helped me find Dunsany Castle.
The last three pictures are of the village of Dunsany, just outside the manor house.
Edward, Lord Dunsany. This Edward Plunkett [1939–2011] is the 20th Lord Dunsany. His grandfather—the previous Edward—is the Lord Dunsany we know as an author. The 20th Lord Dunsany was an artist in paints. His son, the 21st, is an artist in film.