My somewhat quirky views as I gaze at the world around me!

Posts tagged ‘vacation’



Years ago, as I anticipated my first trip to Ireland, I knew that I would enjoy the Emerald Isle.  After all, I’d been hearing about it, reading about it, studying all I could about Ireland for my entire life.  I remember saying to my daughter on our first day in Dublin (as we were crossing the O’Connell Bridge over the River Liffey, in fact) that I would come back and spend at least a week in Dublin itself, even if I had to come alone.  So, I was half in love with Dublin and Ireland already.  What a blessing to then meet the love of my life in Dublin, end up moving to Ireland, gaining Irish citizenship, and, hopefully, spending the rest of my life here!  Do you think it’s because St Valentine‘s remains are in a small church in the center of Dublin?

St Valentine is buried in a Dublin church! 

Believe it or not, but the mortal remains of St Valentine – the patron saint of all lovers – are held in the Carmelite Church in Dublin’s Whitefriar Street (Dublin 2). Every February 14 the church gets plenty of visitors – mostly couples wishing to receive St Valentine’s blessing or just take a photo in front of the saint’s tomb. So how did his body end up in Dublin? The legend goes that Valentine was a priest who lived in Rome at the time of Emperor Claudius II. The emperor thought that single men made the best warriors so he forbid his soldiers to marry, but Valentine had a different idea – and he continued to marry soldiers in spite of the emperor’s orders. When his superiors found out Valentine was thrown in jail, tortured and executed. He later became a patron saint of lovers. But in 1835 an Irish Carmelite priest Father John Spratt visited Rome. According to the legend, he was such a good preacher that Pope Gregory XVI decided to make Fr Spratt’s Church a gift of St Valentine’s body. So the remains of Valentine were dug up from the Roman Cemetery of St Hippolitus and transferred to Dublin’s Whitefriar Street Church in 1836.       THANK YOU!


And another bit……

Happy Lupercalia‘s Day!
Valentine’s Day derives from a Christianized version of a pagan holiday. Just as the Christians stole Christmas and Easter, from the pagans, they took this celebration from the Roman pagans.
If you do not adhere to Christology, then why would you want to celebrate to the name of a Catholic Saint who had nothing to do with the original festival?
The name “Valentine” comes from one of two Christian martyrs of the 3rd century. One describes a Roman Christian martyred during the persecution of Claudis II, the other, a bishop of Terni who got martyred in Rome. (Most Christian celebrations have a preoccupation with death and martyrdom.) There occurs several versions of the Christian legend but no one knows the truth for sure. Probably at least one of them did live and died, but we have little else to go on. But the celebration of giving notes and gifts to loved ones began long before the Christian version and no doubts exist about its historical practice.
In pre-Christian Rome, people celebrated “Valentine’s day” as Lupercalia, a Roman holiday that took place during the ides of February (the 15th). They believed that the goddess Juno Februata (where the name February comes from) inflicted her “love fever” on the young and unwary. The fertility festival of Lupercalia (in honor of the pastoral god Lupercus) involved an orgy and sexual excesses. Young men drew small “love notes” from a container composed by eligible young women. The men socialized with the women and attempted to guess who composed the note they had drawn. In this way, the festival brought young men and women together as sexual partners.
For years the Christian church tried to suppress the festival of Lupercalia. Interestingly, the Church did not object to the festival for its love celebrations but for the pagan beliefs that rejected the Christian god. In 496 C.E., Pope Gelasius changed Lupercalia from the 15th to the 14th and renamed it after the legendary St. Valentine in an attempt to stop the pagan celebration. Gelasius had hoped people would emulate the lives of saints. Even after the Church replaced Lupercus with St. Valentine and recast Cupid into a cherub, the Lupercalia festival continues much as it had before, but without the sexual excesses. The change of the name and the day of celebration serves as the only “contribution” that Christians brought to Valentine’s day.
To this day, men and women send love notes to each other. And in elementary schools across the country, children still put concealed notes or gifts in a box much as the ancient Romans did. So the idea of Valentine’s Day did not come from Christianity, but from the “heretic” Romans. Praise Juno!  THANK YOU…NO NAME ATTRIBUTED
So, if you come to Dublin, be sure to seek out the Whitefriars Chapel and be prepared to fall in love……………..
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Continuing in “reflection” mode….  I had always wanted to go up in a hot air balloon and a few years ago was able to cross that off my “bucket list“.  Actually, I really want to, someday, parachute off a hot air balloon, but am not sure THAT will ever happen!  After several failed attempts (each involving a 3:30 a.m. wake-up) I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of rising into the sky, floating over vineyards and fields and touching down in a lovely little river.  Even though my only pair of shoes were soaked, it was worth it!  We soared and landed several times in the trip over the Napa Valley and Pleasant Valley in northern California.

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Copyright 2014                   Mary Jane E Clark

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They say that the New Year is a time for reflection.  So, I’ll be posting some of my favorite reflections over the next little bit of time.  Always fascinated by the mirror image, I wonder if there is an alternate reality on the other side.

The lone “survivor” of the failed Yamato Colony experiment of the early 1900s, George Morikami continued to grow and sell fruits and vegetables into his old age.  In the 1970s, he donated his farmlands to Palm Beach County with the intent of creating a cultural link between his two homelands, the USA and Japan.  Thus, the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens was created.  The complex of 6 interconnected gardens is called “Roji-en” or “Garden of the Drops of Dew” and is located in Delray Beach, Florida.

Copyright 2013                          Mary Jane E Clark



These two islands, Skellig Michael and Little Skellig, lie off the coast of County Kerry in the southwest corner of Ireland.   Skellig Michael, or Great Skellig, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Up a 1000 year old stone staircase, perched on a narrow ledge, is a 6th century Christian monastery consisting of 6 beehive cells and 2 boat shaped oratories.  The still-standing dry stone structures were inhabited by reclusive monks until the 12th century, when they relocated to the Augustinian Priory at Ballinskellig on the mainland.  By necessity self-sufficient, the monks traded eggs, seal meat and feathers for cereal, tools and animal skins from passing boats.  The skins were used to produce vellum, upon which the monks copied illuminated religious manuscripts.

Today, the Skelligs are home to vast nesting and breeding bird colonies as well as giant basking sharks, dolphins and sea turtles.

Copyright 2013                            Mary Jane E Clark



Waterford, established by the Vikings in 914, is Ireland’s oldest city.   Sitting on the banks of the River Suir  Estuary, it has long been Ireland’s major southeast port.  This photo was taken from the top of Reginald’s Tower, built by the Anglo-Normans in 1185, and considered Ireland’s oldest civic urban building.  The Tower sits at the apex of The Viking Triangle, a fascinating collection of medieval and Georgian museums, cathedrals, bustling shops and, of course, the Waterford Crystal Visitor’s Center.  (Sadly, most “Waterford” crystal is now produced outside of Ireland in Eastern Europe and China.)

I find a poignancy in the numerous expensive, fast sailing toys outflanking the sole working fishing trawler.

Copyright 2013              Mary Jane E Clark




The Ulster-American Folk Park, outside Omagh, Co.Tyrone, is a fascinating experience, portraying the lifestyles of Ulster men and women who lived in the area and emigrated to the United States in the early 1800s.  It is located on the grounds of the former Mellon Family farm, of Carnegie Mellon fame.  I loved the juxtaposition of the American farmstead rail fences with the Irish foliage.

Copy right 2013                                            Mary Jane E Clark

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Way down in the southwest corner of Ireland is the County Kerry, locale of the Ring of Kerry, the Dingle Peninsula, the Beara Peninsula, the Lakes of Killarney and several glorious mountain ranges.  I’ve visited a number of times but on the most recent trip in September, we were blessed with incredible weather…..perfect for photography.  This is the view from Clogher Head, just about the westernmost point on the Dingle.  This area has it all:  the Atlantic Ocean, cliffs and mountains, secluded golden beaches and charming villages.  One of my favorite counties!  (Actually, I love all 32 of them)  Remember, you can always click on the image to enlarge it or on a highlighted word for more detail.

Copyright 2013                                 Mary Jane E Clark

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