Saturday, January 27, 2007

Down in Downpatrick

Had a nice day out - this afternoon we drove to Downpatrick (about half an hour from Belfast) and visited the St Patrick Centre. It is a really good self guided tour that takes you through the life of Patrick, missionary to Ireland during the sixth century. According to the interpretive centre the whole driving the snakes from Ireland thing is a myth that was added by monks in later centuries in order to spice up the story which I found kind of disappointing. Nonetheless, the tour is based on Patrick's writings and there's lots of interesting information about the story of his life and early Ireland and Roman Britain. Plus, visiting the centre's the least we could do since in Ireland we are fortunate to get every March 17th as a bank holiday!

For a while when I didn't know for sure what I wanted to 'be' (still don't!) I was very keen on going into museum studies and working on exhibits like this. When I visit a really well-done centre like the one today it reminds me of this past ambition. I don't think I'll ever go into museum work, but I will say that museums are cool. Quite literally in this case because despite being a very modern facility the visitors centre was not heated at all (they must be trying to save on running costs because they don't get a lot of people in January!) so after an hour and a half of going through the exhibits we all had to go and get hot chocolate to warm up!

After we visited the centre we went to Downpatrick Cathedral which is the seat of Patrick's grave. The original walls were built in the twelfth century! When Stu and I were there a few years ago, it was funny (not necessarily haha) because these tourists (USofA I think but don't quote me) were getting photos taken while posing laying glamour model style on the big rock over the saint's grave. Nice.

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