A Sure Cure for a Painful Swelling of the Bottom

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Flag of United Kingdom  , Northern Ireland,
Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Newgrange is the third largest passage grave found in Ireland.  It was built around 3200 BC which makes it around 700 years older than the Pyramids of Giza.  We were told that the Neolithic (the younger of the stone-age dudes) were farmers that settled in Bru Na Boinne due to the rich fertile land and nearby river.  Other than that there is very little known about this ancient culture.  It is believed that the average life expectancy was 30 and yet the tombs took around 60 years to build. They used a quarter million tonnes of stone to construct these monuments. To mine the quartz they would have to have travelled 70 kms, the granite 40 kms and then the mound itself was filled with local river stones. Astoundingly, in this area there had been 40 passage graves found.  We strayed to the interior of one and were given a sample of how the sunrise of the winter solstice shines down the passage to the tomb. It was eerie to be in the innermost parts of something so ancient.

After Newgrange we continued chugging along north on to Belfast where we learned that there is three things they do not talk about:-

1. Religion
2. Politics
3. Football

To this day, you cannot wear a football shirt in a pub in Belfast - you will not be served.

We took an Irish Black Taxi tour. Alo made the fatal mistake of asking if the Protestants were the Irish. Youch! Needless to say, our frisky taxi driver slammed on the brakes, gushed into the back seat with us and flusterdly gave us an invigorating history lesson of what all the cuff-el was about. He seemed to be as miffed as a fist full of fluffy fairy feathers and thus we were pretty confident our taxi man was I_R_I_S_H, as well as pissed with us for not having guessing. In 1921, three of the four provinces of Ireland were given independence, but Ulster, with Belfast being its capital, was kept under British rule. Naturally the Irish, who were C-A-T-H-O-L-I-C, weren't thrilled with this arrangement and thus the city was divided with the Catholics (Irish) on one side and the Protestants (English) on the other. There has been all sorts of riots, protests and lots of other crap that went on over the years. Some of it was:-
1972 - 'Bloody Sunday' U2 sang about it;
1970's - Up until the mid 1970's - English Pubs had signs, 'No Blacks, No Dogs and No Irish'.
1981 - 'The Blanket Protest' Basically some fella didn't want to wear a prison uniform so decided to go starkers.  He must have gotten a bit too cold though, so wrapped a blanked around himself, the rest of the inmates followed suit (or lack thereof).
1981 - 'The Hunger Strike'  Ten people starved themselves to death.  The most photographed mural in the World is the one of Bobby Sands - he was the first to die after 61 days without food.
During this time the street names were all blacked out.  This was to confuse the English when they invaded.  U2 sang about this as well.
1998 - Cease Fire.  Everyone gets sick of the crap and decides enough is enough. With American's for mediators, they decided to have a half Irish, half English government and this appears to be working for them.

The murals are painted on both sides of the peace walls, well basically any wall that can be painted on. These were messages that each side wanted to communicate to each other, and the rest of the world, as they were banned from printing their views in the newspapers. The murals are powerful. One of the most famous is a Tromp L'loeil (trick of the eye) and was on the Protestant (English) side of town. It's an army officer pointing his gun. It didn't matter where we stood, it appeared that the gun was pointing directly at us. (A bit like Mona Lisa's eyes). Its message was - 'it doesn't matter where you go, we are watching you'. It was compelling and very freaky.

From a more positive perspective, there were great inventors in Belfast:- Ferguson Tractors; Dunlop Tires; and the Defibrillator. They were also known for making beautiful linen.

The last few days the weather had been grand, to be sure to be sure - we took our gloves and jackets off. The Irish took their clothes off (they seem to be fond of this practice) and went skinny dipping at the beach.

What a lovely way to end our stay in Ireland - at the CityWest Hotel. We went to the bistro for dinner; slept in a real bed; had a lovely, long, hot shower (twice); had a smorgas-board breaky; and Bill even got his wish - a round of golf (we wonder if it was the one he made on the Wishing Steps at Blarney). We say "Slainte" (cheers) to the Irish. You are a vivacious, kindly and delightful folk, and we had a cracking good time. Thank you!!
PS.  For a painful swelling of the bum (otherwise known as haemorrhoids) pray to the Saint of Haemorrhoids. Yes, there actually is one, the Irish Saint Fiacre. King Henry V died when his haemorrhoids became poisonous because he upset St Fiacre. The history books, say he died of dysentery but either which way, it was a right pain in the bum - ha ha!!

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Heather Knuth on

Well Im moving to Belfast if you cant talk religion, politics or football LOL!!! No more arguments, sounds good to me......

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