5 Hodgepodge Month (YAY ME!)

Where did January go? 5 Wednesdays, 5 Hodgepodges, so YAY ME!  What better way to end January than by answering some questions brought to us by Joyce?

1. Speaking of endings....at your wit's end, at loose ends, a dead end, burn the candle at both ends, all's well that end's well, or no end in sight...which 'end' phrase might best be applied to your life lately? Explain.  

At my wit's end. Work stuff. Sometimes it's hard to get an answer from people who are supposed to be "in the know".

2. What was a must-have accessory when you were growing up? Did you own one? If so tell us what you remember about it.

I know there must have been something, but I can't think of anything right now. I know as soon as I read other posts it'll come to me!!!

3. Something that made you smile yesterday?

Coming home to some pups who were happy to see me. My sweet little 15-year-old Jack Russell Mix (Pepper) has to wear a diaper during the day because she is taking medicine for a heart murmur and she can no longer hold it during the day. Since she doesn't have a tail, I also have to put "fancy pants" on her to help keep up the diaper. The whole not having a tail makes it hard for the diaper & fancy pants to stay on, so she will often come to me looking all "gangsta" with her britches halfway down!

4. January 30th is National Croissant Day. Do you like croissants? Sweet or savory? We're having chicken salad for lunch...would you rather have yours served on a croissant, a wrap, a bagel, bread, or a roll of some sort?

Ooooo! A chicken salad on a croissant is the best!

5. Sum up your January in fifteen words or less.

Snowy, cold, nice unexpected week's break from school!

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

I'm halfway through my Ireland posts already. 4 down, 4 to go!

Ireland: Knock- Part 4

In 1879 on a very rainy night in the small village of Knock, Ireland, the Virgin Mary, St. John the Evangelist,  and St. Joseph appeared on an altar that also had a lamb and a cross. My guess is that it looked a lot like this:
The Apparition Chapel. Unfortunately, it was closed due to renovations that were scheduled to begin.
In 2017 on a very rainy day, 2 American women made a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Knock.  M had been there before; up until a few years ago, I knew nothing of Knock. We took a bus from Galway to Knock and made it to the basilica just in time for Mass. It turned out to be a funeral mass. M (who is not Catholic) turned to me and asked if it was okay that we were there since it was a funeral. I said yes, but didn't fully explain that it is our duty as Catholics to bury the dead. Not literally bury them, but attend funeral masses and pray for them.
The woman who had passed away was 90+ years old. She was a Sister of Mercy but left the order and was married at age 76. Her name was Christina, and she sounded like an absolutely marvelous and fascinating woman.
As Mass was being said, I just kept looking at the mosaic on the altar, not believing that I was actually right where Mary appeared.
The mosaic of the apparition that is in the basilica
The choir sounded amazingly beautiful, and when they sang "Lady of Knock" I completely lost it. There I was, in the place where she appeared, listening to the song about her.  It was one of the most, if not the most deeply religious experiences I've ever had. 
After Mass, M & I walked around the basilica. It was absolutely gorgeous. (For larger pictures, click on one and scroll through.)

Unfortunately, it was raining sideways (literally) and it was pretty chilly, so we weren't able to leisurely stroll through the grounds as I imagined us doing. The upside was that we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves.
The Basilica

The columns around the outside had stones from different areas of Ireland

The Papal Cross

1 of the Outdoor Stations of the Cross


St. Theresa

Flowers at the foot of St. Theresa
Close up of St. Theresa

Holy Water area
More Holy Water on tap!

The part of the wall in the square is from the original church where the apparitions took place.
Giant Rosary on the wall of the Apparition Chapel

I'm actually not sure what this is, but in the right background are the graves of the Monsignors who served at Knock
I loved the crosses on the fences
Parish Church 

This was just off of the property of the shrine

Monument to Richard Jordan and James O'Malley who were Captains. 

There were a lot of things we missed because it was so nasty out and we had to catch our bus back to Galway. We stopped at this little cafe around the corner from the Shrine and had wonderful soup and Irish Brown Bread. We enjoyed the sites on the way back to Galway:

The rain that day was absolutely ridiculous! When we got back to town, we saw abandoned umbrellas because they did no good with the wind. That was the only bad day we had. Originally we were going to go to Knock first, then the Aran Islands, but the lady at the tour company said that sometimes tourists get stranded on the island if the weather turns bad and we couldn't chance missing our ride to Killarney. That turned out to be a very wise decision; with the weather like it was that day, we thought that the ferry may not have even run so we would have missed the island.
Here is a video of the song "Lady of Knock".

Ireland: Aran Islands- Part 3

Part of the tour was the opportunity to take some day trips. The Aran Islands was a must. We took a bus to catch the ferry that would take us to Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands.
On the ferry
Shortly after this picture, the water turned rough and we looked like 2 drunk ladies trying to make our way back downstairs to our seats. After a short ride, we made it to this beautiful island. 
Celtic cross in front of "one of the oldest bars on the Atlantic"

I'm not sure what this is, but it had names of towns/villages and distances
I snapped the following pictures as we waited for our van to take us on the tour.

We had 4 or 5 other people in the van with us. We felt like we missed out on a lot of the history because one of the men was doing his stand-up comedy routine with the driver. 
The oldest house on the island
The scenery was just breathtaking:

This is the house from the documentary "Man of Aran"

Our first stop was "Seven Churches", although there is really only 2. It is the site of a former monastery.

M & I were the last ones back in the van. We could have spent so much more time there...one of the bad things about being in a group. Our next stop was Dun Aengus. We had a nice little hike to the top (with some stops along the way!):

Don't believe the sign...I think it took longer than 20 minutes to get to the top. It was pretty steep!

Once we got to the top, the views were amazing:

 The exact purpose of Dun Aengus is not known. It is also not known just how old it is. Archeologists have found items dating to the Bronze Age. It has been approximated to be around 1200-700 BC.

 It is estimated that the walls below were constructed around 500 BC:

 This platform may have been used for rituals:

 It started raining on the way down, so we grabbed  a sandwich in this little cafe to stay dry and get warm:

 We had time to wander around just a bit before the ferry left to go back to Galway:

 I found out later that old buildings are not torn down because of the bats, which keep the mosquito population in check.

Our driver is a member of the fire dept. This is an old structure that used to house the fire equipment
A close-up of the stone fences. As the people would clear off their land, they would build the fences by stacking the stones. 
Kilronan Village

We had an excellent day!

The bus ride back to Galway was...interesting. We had to sit on the top section of a double-decker bus. We felt like it was going to turn over at every curve.
We visited the Aran Sweater Market before we left and I bought the boys a sweater...with free shipping! While the wool is not from the island (the soil is not conducive for sheep farming), the sweaters are made on the island.
Another interesting fact: our driver said there is no crime on the island. He said there is a police presence due to the tourists, but no crimes are reported. 
What we missed: 
The Worm Hole. We probably should have asked our driver about it. This is a diving spot made popular by the RedBull Cliff Diving.
Standing Stones. This is another monastery ruin.
The Light House. Until I googled the island, I didn't even know there was one there.
Dun Eoghanacht. Another fort much like Dun Aengus but without the views (possibly).
The Puffing Holes.
I'm sure we just didn't have enough time. I guess next time we need to book a room on the island and spend the night!
We have 1 more day in Galway...but we didn't stay in the city. Stay tuned to see our next adventure!

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