Thoughts on fitness, health, good nutrition ... and running.

Welcome to Bald Man Running, a blog launched by Frank Murphy on January 1, 2015.

In March, 2013 I was selected as a contestant for the sixth season of Fort Wayne's Smallest Winner. Through this amazing program, I learned about good nutrition, sound exercise and accountability. By October, I would lose over 88 pounds (almost 37% of my original weight)! One of the many things I acquired through FWSW was a love for running. You can retrace my weight loss journey and discover how I became a runner by reading those entries labeled "fwsw" ...

Note: Many of the blog entries on this website predate 1/1/2015. Prior to launching BMR, I had written articles for various projects, and I have imported many of them into this blog (labeled "retro").

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Ireland - Day 9-10

Highlights - Brú na Bóinne, Bray Head, Kilruddery, Glasnevin

My last full day started in Ardee (my third morning at the same BnB) and would end in Swords (a suburb of Dublin). I wouldn't have much time on the following day ... so here's my last entry.

First stop? Brú na Bóinne, which is a Stone Age site sometimes called "the Irish Stonehenge" ... it's a popular tourist stop, and I'd not done much of that. As far as museum-like activities where I paid for a tour, this would be only the second time I did that on the whole trip. For the most part, I stuck to outdoor locations and did a lot of walking or hiking to get there.

One reason I opted to skip so many of these types of attractions is that you've got pre-buy tickets online and you're stuck with whatever time slot you get. If this had been a free site, I would likely spent about an hour here ... but this wound taking about four hours of my time. It wasn't that expensive, but it sure was a large investment of time. I probably would have skipped it if I'd known ahead of time how long it would take ...

Still ... it is a beautiful site. The River Boyne and valley are important sites in Ireland ... it's where the Salmon of Knowledge was caught, and it's the site of a famous battle (Battle of the Boyne). It gets it's name from the goddess Boann ... and her stories in the Irish myths are bonkers.

I did get to go into the innermost chamber of the Newgrange site. It looks like a mound of dirt, but there's a stone structure in the heart of it and the earth mound covers it up.

They wouldn't let us take pics, but it was pretty cool. On the day of the solstice, the sun illuminates the inner chamber for a few minutes. It's a tunnel that's about 60 feet long and is otherwise pitch blank except for the solstice. It's amazing ... this thing was built over 5000 years ago, and it still works as it was designed. 

From there, I went to Bray, which is in County Wicklow.

Over a year ago, Anne Marie and I intended to get married in Ireland and participate in the EcoTrail Wicklow race. We had to cancel that trip, but the race still has a strong allure. It takes place in September. If I hadn't went in April, I would have waited until September to run this race.

Anyway, I was hoping to visit several sites in the area because it is where Anne McCaffrey lived. She was the author of the Dragonriders of Pern. Several spots in this area inspired locations on Pern, including the fact that both Wicklow and Pern are home to village/hold named Greystones. She is buried nearby as well.

The plan was to do the gorgeous and notable Bray-Greystones Cliff Walk. Unfortunately, it was closed due to a very recent landslide. There are other trails in the area, so I was still able to find something fun to do.

I hiked to the top of Bray Head ... on a clear day, you can see Wales from the top. It was not a clear day. I also made it to Ballynamuddagh, which was a little bit higher.

As I was coming down the mountain, I saw signage for Kilruddery House, and that was also on my list. I didn't realize I'd be going right by it ... so I took that in as well. Beautiful gardens and buildings! It's featured in several TV shows and movies, including My Left Foot, Far and Away, Angela's Ashes, Camelot, The Tudors, and Fate: the Winx Saga.


I love trying to get reflection photos, and I really didn't have too much luck over the course of the whole trip. These are probably the best of those attempts.

It started getting dark, so the plan was to get to Swords and enjoy a late dinner there. It was a full day, but I felt like I spent too long at Brú na Bóinne.

Day 10

I had enough time to do one short thing before getting to the airport was visit ... I chose to visit Glasnevin Cemetery.

I did get one of my better sunrise pictures, but not too many of those.

Glasnevin is a beautiful cemetery and is notable for the many folks buried there. Michael Collins, Kitty Kiernan, Éamon De Valera, Charles Parnell, Constance Markievicz, Grace (Plunkett) Gifford, Luke Kelly and so many others. That list is in no particular order and far from complete.

Perhaps the most famous person buried here is Michael Collins. He's roughly the George Washington of Ireland. Visiting his site and the memorial to many of those who died in the Easter Rising (many of whom are not buried here due to the nature of their executions) was sobering.

As I was leaving, I saw a group of four people entering. They were carrying flowers with them and it was obvious they were going to visit a gravesite. It did not look like there had been a recent funeral. I very timidly asked if they would share the name of the person they were there to remember, and they told me it was their sister/cousin named Delores. They told me a little about her and I was thankful for that opportunity to hear a little of their story.

After I wished them well and turned to leave, one of the ladies asked if I would share a loved one's name and story with them in return for the opportunity they had to talk of Delores. I told them a little bit about my daughter, and they said her name. It was a very touching and meaningful exchange, and I'm glad that we had the opportunity to talk about those we love and miss.

That's it! That's my trip to Ireland. Despite the fact I rambled on and on for several blog entries, I'm sure I've left a lot of stuff out. I wrote this for my own sake. A few years ago, I took a trip to Spain and it was a wonderful experience ... but I didn't really write too much down, and I'm sure I've forgotten much of what made that trip so special. I took a lot of pictures then, but when I scroll through them, I'm not always sure what I'm looking at ... so this time, I kept a journal ... and when I got home, I took the time to transcribe that written journal into these blog entries. Maybe it's not great prose, and I suspect that someday I'll come back through and clean it up a bit, but for now ... I've got some written text to go along with my pictures. 

I saw Narnia. I ran a race. I hiked the Táin Way. I saw where Cú Chulainn lived, fought and died. The way I figured it, I'd already visited these places many times in my imagination ... this was my chance to visit in real life. 

I went with incredibly high expectations and they were wildly exceeded. The trip of a lifetime! I'm very grateful for the opportunity. I'm thankful my wife encouraged and supported this trip. I am a blessed and fortunate man. 

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