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Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Monday, October 27, 2008

ireland where halloween began

Here in Ireland — where Halloween began — carved pumpkins are everywhere. Arriving at Druid's Glen Resort, an elegant Marriott an hour from Dublin, I found jack-o-lanterns at every turn. Check out the photo here in which the stem has been used as the nose.

As we travel to Northern Ireland later this week for Halloween itself, I'm told we'll see the original jack o lanterns — those carved from turnips. It will be my first ever visit to Northern Ireland and I understand that Belfast, especially, is a happening town since the Troubles, as they call them, are over.

We arrived in Dublin this morning after a 7.5 hour flight on American Airlines from Chicago only to find that Ireland had fallen back an hour to winter time last night. We'll do that at home a week from now, so perhaps I'll get to keep that extra hour I've earned. I do hope that Teddy remembers to set the clock at home back or I'll be waiting at the airport an extra hour — something especially unpleasant after a long plane ride home

It's brisk here — probably in the 40s and breezy — so I'm glad brought hat and gloves. Carryon gets more difficult when I travel with camera and computer but those two things are pretty minimal and well worthwhile.

All of Dublin seemed out and about at today at Glendelough, the ruins of the 6th century monastery founded by the monk St. Kevin, which is Caomhin in Irish, and means "gentle offspring." (It's pronounced KEEvin)

The ancient Irish language is the first language in this country and all signs have the Irish words first, followed by the English words.

Glendelough's 900 year old round tower, one of about 100 found around Ireland, is typical of the bell towers built by monks to warn of an invasion by Vikings. It's the centerpiece of the one time settlement, which today includes the ruins of a cathedral, a chapel and the outlines of a fortified village.

While locals flew kites where monks once had their gardens, and other trekked up the nearby mountain to the cave where St. Kevin did his devotions, our group of writers toured the former village and the surrounding graveyard. "It still is an active graveyard," said our guide Joan Power . "And until 1850 the cathedral here was a place of worship."

Her name, Power , reveals she is descended from the French Normans who were invited here in 1169 by an Irish king seeking them as allies in his quest to conquer the land.

"Over the years the name has been Anglicized from the French dePaor," she told me.

To this day, those living in Ireland's 32 counties can still tell by people's surnames where they are from.

Murphys, for instance are most likely to hail from County Cork.


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April 4, 2009 at 4:30 AM 

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