Day 34: Tennyson, Anyone?

Laetitia and her group visited Ross Castle, built by the O’Donoghue clan during the fifteenth century. The poet Lord Alfred Tennyson visited this area in 1848. The Victorian hotel that he stayed in offered boat rides at sunset. At a spot on the lake known for its echo, the boatman blew a bugle. Tennyson described this scene at sunset on Muckross Lake, with views of Ross Castle, O’Sullivan’s Cascade, and snowy peaks in several verses of a poem called The Princess:

The splendor falls on castle walls
And snowy summits old in story;
The long light shakes across the lakes
And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
Blow, bugle, answer echoes, dying, dying, dying.

At Ross Castle, Laetitia and her group boarded a boat. The boat was wooden, constructed of lapped boards held with nails, similar to the Viking boats Laetitia had once seen at a museum in Oslo. According to the boatman, this style of boat has been used on the Killarney lakes for centuries. They went to Innisfallen Island and walked among the ruins of the monastery that had been founded by St. Finian, the Leper, in 640 AD. Thomas Moore had visited here and found it a magical place, describing it as a “fairy isle” in his poem/song, Sweet Innisfallen:

Sweet Inisfallen, long shall dwell
In memory’s dream that sunny smile
Which over thee on that evening fell
When first I saw that fairy isle.

On the return trip, the boatman told Laetitia about a local lad named Bret who hoped to use the island’s magic toward his own ends. The story became the basis of the limerick of the day.

In his boat, Bret delighted in haulin’
Young ladies to “Sweet Innisfallen”
Whom he wished to beguile
On Tom Moore’s “fairy isle”
A practice that some found appallin.’

Day 33: Antsy Pants

Laetitia met her group at Muckross House. When Queen Victoria visited Killarney, she and her retinue were the guests of the Herbert family in this mansion on Muckross Lake. The Herberts made extensive revisions to Muckross House and grounds in anticipation of the royal visit. They had hoped to recover the large financial outlay that these renovations entailed from the publicity that the Queen’s visit would bring, but those rewards never materialized, leaving the Herberts in an unstable financial condition.

As they were touring the grounds, Laetitia noticed a group of picnickers on a grassy knoll separated from the lake by a white board fence. Suddenly one of them leaped up, jumped over the fence, ran down, and jumped into the lake. Laetitia and her group were on the lake side of the fence, so they helped the dripping woman out of the water. The lady, whose name was Myrtle, told Laetitia what had happened, and it became the limerick of the day.

Down to Muckross Lake careened Myrtle
After clearing a fence like a hurdle
As she’d sat on the grass
At a picnic repast
Red ants had invaded her girdle.

Day 32: Ladies View

Laetitia met her group in Killarney, and they spent the day hiking to Ladies View at Killarney National Park. When Queen Victoria visited the Killarney Lakes area in 1861, her retinue stopped at a spot with a splendid view of the lakes so her ladies-in-waiting could admire the view. The place came to be known as “Ladies View.” That afternoon, back in a pub in Killarney, Laetitia heard a joke about an American college student that became the limerick of the day.

Touring Ireland, a lad from Purdue
As he stopped for his map to review
Saw three maids, it would seem
Bathing nude in a stream
And he thought he was at Ladies View.

Day 31: Ale Tale

As she walked down Raglan Road toward the Emerald Victorian in the early dawn hour, Laetitia looked forward to the alkaloid rush that only freshly roasted and ground coffee can bring. She was also excited because today she wouldn’t actually have to lead a tour.

She had been delighted to receive an email the day before from Mind’s Eye headquarters wherever that was and learn that about once every month or so she should go to the Emerald Victorian and do some long-term planning instead of leading a tour. She still needed to provide a limerick, however, since those who read the Mind’s Eye blog would expect it.

As she sipped her first cup of coffee and browsed the library, she wondered where the headquarters of Mind’s Eye Limerick Tours might be. She still suspected that her grandmother was somehow involved in this, but she decided it wouldn’t be prudent to ask.

When Laetitia and her grandmother had toured Ireland, they both especially liked an Irish cream ale called Kilkenny. They had also found it on trips to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, but they could never find it in the United States. This experience from the past inspired the limerick of the day.

Though Kilkenny’s a wonderful brew
Quaffed in Dublin and Halifax too
And Christchurch and Sydney
Great with steak pie and kidney
In the U.S. it’s rare as the gnu.