|Jon Kennedy’s ‘Postcards from
his sojourn in Northern Ireland’
The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get
JONAL ENTRY 1305 | AUGUST 26 2013
. . . you have need of endurance, so that you may do the will of God and receive what is promised.
Diary: A real castle (if Disneyland gets to define ‘real’)
[My apologies, the italic type that shows up on most of the page does NOT show up at the editing level, so there’s no way to correct it. To see the proper formatting, go to the permanent version: http://www.nantyglo.com/2013JK/aug26.htm.]
August 23—It’s Friday so I’m off on another adventure; on a bus leaving Belfast’s Europa bus terminal for Newry. Newry is a large town/small city on the way to Dublin which I’ve been in only on buses and a train (and yes, the Pennsylvania Newry in Blair County was named after it). My plan is to go from there to Killkeel, the coastal town on the far side of the Mourne mountains from New Castle, as described here earlier. My barista recommended this, so it’s time, though I’m way behind on my work. I have just determined that both Newry and Kilkeel are in Northern Ireland, not across the border as I thought they might be.
Ironically, I rushed through all of last week’s diary except for Saturday and Sunday in Monday’s post, so I could get to the best part of the week, Saturday and Sunday, another day or so later. That’s ironic because I never got back to that diary update and now I’m adding another adventure to the queue and have no hope for ever recapping this week. So with no more delay:
Saturday, August 17
Ethel White, our friend from many contacts and contexts including the Dock Walks, invited us to meet her and a couple of her friends—Beth and Sheila—at the Ulster Museum while they looked at our puppet exhibition, Whispering Belfast, and another exhibit, which we did. Then Sheila, who works as a volunteer at the East Belfast Mission, suggested we all go to Skainos, the headquarters building of the EBM, for lunch, which we all did. During lunch I mentioned that I do bus and train excursions each week, which may have given Ethel the idea for an excursion to a couple of County Down sites she wanted to show us, and we all (except for Ward, who preferred to work on his poems), were up for that.
While we were eating at Skainos, an officer of the EBM, there with his wife, recognized Sheila and came over to our table to chat for a few minutes. Ethel introduced him and his wife to Beth, who is a missionary in Indonesia, home on furlough, and since Beth and I were sharing a booth, he assumed I was Beth’s husband, which brought some laughs and became a subtext for banter and jokes for the rest of the afternoon.
The sites Ethel wanted to take us to were a small island, Sketrick next to the village of Whiterock, which has the ruin of an ancient castle-fort, and it is accessed only via a causeway that gets flooded in high tide, and the town of Killyleagh (killy lee), which has the best preserved and most picturesque medieval castle I’ve ever seen; you could call it Disneyesque. We only drove in and out of the island beyond the causeway, without getting out of the car (maybe the tide was coming in?) but spent an hour or two in Killyleagh, which also has a very nice coffee shop/bakery where the ladies sat and chatted while I went on a photo safari. That turned out to be the highlight of last weekend. Below are three of the photos from Killyleagh.
Business fronts in historic Killyleagh are painted in the bold colors that many Irish homes and businesses are famous for. Killyleagh is on the western shore of Strangford Lough, the large inlet into Northern Ireland from the Irish sea that is believed to have given St. Patrick access to the island in the fifth century.
A view of Killyleagh Castle through the front gates. Visitors are not permitted to go inside the grounds beyond this point, as the castle is still occupied by members of its longtime owners family, Hamiltons. The temporary buildings are part of a filming project going on inside the castle, where it is being used as a set in a BBC series. The site is thought to be one of the most used locations for filming in the UK..
The castle as seen from the carpark (parking lot) at the Presbyterian Church at the foot of the hill. On the right the gatehouse is seen. The Presbyterian Church was traditionally the church of the Hamilton family.
Monday, August 26
Two Sundays have passed since the Saturday visit at Killyleagh, so I have given up trying to “catch up.”
I have now uploaded over 1,000 photos, mostly from my current visit to Northern Ireland, but also including many from my summer in Pennsylvania (2012), and a few photos of the family, at my Flickr site. At this writing, most of these are not organized or labeled. I hope to undertake organizing them at least into albums as time allows, so they may appear differently from one visit to the next. If you’re interested, click here for the Flicker site.
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Homiletical thought: God has not promised a life of comfort or ease, but has called us to endure and promises to help us do so. Most of the apostles, along with thousands other believers of the church’s first three centuries, suffered martyrdom. The prize is to the runner who finishes the course, but the good news is that there is a prize—life eternal—for all who cross the finish line.
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Please pray for my mission to Northern Ireland. You can read my overview of this undertaking here. My residence/postal address is 227 Crumlin Road, Belfast, Northern Ireland BT14 7DY, UK. Mobile: 44 7455 980890.