Day 288: Armagh Awe

Armagh is the county town of County Armagh in Northern Ireland.  It was originally called Ard Macha after the Celtic goddess Macha.  It is a small city of about 15,000 inhabitants.  When Christianity came to Ireland in the fifth century A.D., St. Patrick established his principal church there.  Later, there was a monastery from which came The Book of Armagh.  Along with the Book of Kells and other precious manuscripts, it is housed at Trinity College in Dublin.  Written in Old Irish, It is one of the oldest books extant.

There are two cathedrals in Armagh.  Brian Boru, who conquered all of Ireland in the tenth century A. D. and became its high king is said to be buried at the St. Patrick’s Cathedral that was built in the fifth century.  It belongs to the Church of Ireland (Episcopal).  The second cathedral in Armagh, also St. Patrick’s, is a post-Reformation structure with twin spires that is Roman Catholic and the tallest structure in the county.

Laetitia took her group to both cathedrals and to the Georgian Armagh Observatory which was established in 1790. They also visited the Palace Stables Heritage Center, housed in reconstructed buildings that were once part of the Archbishop’s estate.  As they were touring the Heritage center, an overheard conversation between two teenage girls gave Laetitia the limerick of the day.

A thin wisp of a girl from Armagh
Who’d grown tired of stuffing her bra
Breathed a sigh of relief,
Though with some disbelief,
When Brent viewed her flat bosom with awe.

Day 109: Dong Throng

Laetitia had started her career with Mind’s Eye Limerick Tours in Dublin and was pleased to be back with new group at the end of her tour in Ireland. It is a city rich in history and culture, and it has had a significant impact on theater. It is the birthplace of several well-known playwrights, including Oscar Wilde, Sean O’Casey, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Brendan Behan, and George Bernard Shaw. Laetitia gave her group the afternoon off to go shopping, since she was taking them to an evening performance of Brian Friel’s play Dancing at Lughnasa at the Abbey Theatre.

As was her custom, Laetitia went early to the pub where she was meeting her group for dinner to have a Kilkenny and come up with a limerick. Sitting next to her at the bar was Patrick, a retired travel agent. As a young man he had worked for a travel agency in Hong Kong, when it was a crown colony. He went to the same church as a Vietnamese woman who worked for the travel agency. They had become friends and eventually married. When they heard that Hong Kong would eventually be given back to China, he brought his wife home to Dublin, where they started their own agency specializing in Asian travel. Many of their clients were women’s groups.

When they began to lead tours in post-war Vietnam, they found few currency exchanges there, so they established their own side business exchanging dong, the Vietnamese currency, for Irish pounds and later euros. Some of the young male staff of the agency claimed that the sign advertising their currency exchange service brought them some unexpected benefits, but Patrick thought they were just bragging. Laetitia thanked Patrick for his story and wrote down the limerick of the day.

A Dubliner, late of Hong Kong
Made a sign for his clients that throng
To Vietnam’s shores
On vacation tours
“Before you depart, get some dong.”

Day 100: Shrivel Drivel

The first stop of the day was Ballycroy National Park, an expanse of mountains and boglands in County Mayo that is home to a variety of rare plant and animal species. Its visitor center offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. The group did several hikes in the park before heading west to County Sligo.

William Butler Yeats was born in Dublin, but his parents were from County Sligo, and he often spent summers there with relatives. Some of his poems are set in the area. Laetitia and her group visited Merville, where the Yeats grandparents lived. They ended the day in Curry, primarily because an American physics professor who was on the tour had had a student from there and wanted to see the town. Some members of Laetitia’s group were skeptical about having a nerd in the group, but when they went to a pub in Curry and had a few drinks, he became the life of the party.

One of his best stories concerned his student from Curry. In a segment on relativistic physics, his class studied the Lorentz contraction, the phenomenon of a decrease in length seen by an observer in objects that move relative to the observer. The student scheduled an appointment, but instead of wanting to discuss the usual grade issues, he was concerned that his male member would shrink (as perceived by his paramour) if he made love too fast. He seemed relieved when he learned that the contraction was only significant at relative velocities near the speed of light. It provided the limerick of the day.

‘Twas a source of significant worry
For a young physics student from Curry
Would the Lorenz contraction
Mar his satisfaction
Each time he made love in a hurry?

Day 79: Rear Shift

Next Laetitia and her group visited Horseleap, a town along what was formerly the Dublin to Galway road. Its name dates back to the thirteenth century, when Norman lord Brian Fitzgerald, after a confrontation with Clan Mac Geoghan, was chased on horseback back to his castle in Damore, only to find the drawbridge closed. He made good his escape, then his horse leaped the moat. They stopped in a pub for Guinness and shepherd’s pie. The day’s gossip and limerick was about an enthusiastic local couple that, unlike Sir Brian, ended up in the water.

A young couple that lived in Horseleap
And thrashed ‘round making love in a jeep
Kicked with ecstasy near
The gearshift out of gear
And rolled into a lake three feet deep.