Saturday we were still in Dublin and took this as another day to explore the city. We first went to the Museum of Art and a library and the Museum of Archaeology. That last museum was really nice and we saw an unusual exhibit called The Bog Men. So, if you remember when we went to Stornoway, I talked a little bit about the Peat. Well this peat grows all over Scotland and Ireland. Bogs are a type of peatland found in cool, wet, and usually oceanic climates. The peat just keeps getting denser and thicker over time and things that are left in the bogs are just covered up by the peat. The peat decays slowly and so things left in it are preserved by the remarkable properties of the mosses.
Murder weapons are a common find. Archaeologists believe the bogs were sites for ritual sacrifices, because along with the murder weapons are bodies. They usually appear to have been tortured or killed in unnatural ways. Some of the bodies found in the peat bogs date back to 200 BC and yet they are preserved so well you can actually see the prints on their fingers. Their nails are still there too.
We also visited St Patrick’s Cathedral. The first documented reference to a church on this site was in 890 AD. Construction on the current cathedral building began in 1220. In 1432 the choir school was founded and is still in operation making it the oldest school in Dublin. The pupils at the school still sing in the Cathedral on a daily basis. Unfortunately we missed that.
In 1492 two royal families, the Fitzgerald’s and the Butler’s, were at war with each other competing for positions of power. The title of Lord Deputy of Dublin Castle was at stake and it fell to Gerald Fitzgerald which upset the Butler’s and they began to battle. The battle went badly for the Butler’s and they retreated into the Cathedral claiming sanctuary. The Fitzgerald’s followed them to the Cathedral and they stood on either side of the chapel door, arguing for hours. Eventually Gerald Fitzgerald called for a truce and told the Butler’s if they would come out there would be no harm done to them. The Butler’s were afraid and refused to leave the protection of the Cathedral. In an act of good faith, Fitzgerald took an ax to the door and hacked a hole into it. He then thrust his arm through the hole and offered his hand in peace. Basically saying take my hand or chop it off. They two families shook hands. All that is left from this is the actual door now but the saying “to chance your arm” comes from this experience.
Later that evening we ran into missionaries out on the Dublin streets doing there thing. We took Elder O’Connor and Elder Valiati out for dinner to Nando’s and then we got on a bus and headed back to our little cottage. It was a freezing cold night and it had begun to rain. When we got to the church someone had closed and locked the gates so we were stuck. Neither of us had our church phones with us so I used my personal US phone and started dialing numbers hoping I would figure out a missionaries number. I don’t really have any memorized but I know how a lot of them start!! Well, after several tries and actually getting my own church phone (I got my own voice mail), we found Sister Montierth. She called the President and got the phone number of the Zone Leaders in Dublin and we waited by the gate until they were able to come rescue us.
Sunday all we had to do was walk across the parking lot to the church. Sister Bingham was sitting on the stand along with her husband and another couple who turned out to be an English Area Seventy, Kenneth Tunnicliffe and his wife Vanessa. I hadn’t thought about the fact that they would also be at church. So they all spoke during sacrament meeting to the 50 or so of us who were in attendance. Then they joined us for Sunday School and Relief Society as well. Sister Bingham sat directly in front of me during Sunday School and then right behind me during Relief Society. I got to talk with her for a bit.
After church we took the bus back to town and walked into the GPO or the General Post Office. During the Easter Rising of 1916, the GPO served as the headquarters of the uprising’s leaders. The building was destroyed by fire during the rebellion but the facade is original and you can still see where bullets hit the columns during the fight.
We enjoyed the fireside that night listening again to Sister Bingham and the Tunnicliffes. Then we were picked up Monday morning by a taxi at 4:30 AM and came directly to the office when we landed back in Edinburgh. We had a very busy day and didn’t leave to go home until 6:00 PM so we went to Mia’s for dinner and then home and crawled into bed.
Tuesday was Sister’s Conference here in Edinburgh and we had all our sister missionaries in for the entire day filled with workshops, speakers, food, exercise and fun. It’s always good to see the missionaries interact with each other. They love to get together. I drove to the airport a couple times and to the train station. Busy busy still. I have tons of pictures and a few I want to add here but they are all on my computer at work. I used the mission camera so that will have to wait.
Wednesday and Thursday were just busy work days and Friday we decided to have a dinner at the mission home together. We hadn’t done anything to welcome the Helps yet so Sister Donaldson asked if we wanted to do a staff dinner. I made the comment – if we can do Mexican, not thinking we would but we did!! Enchiladas. It was so good. And I even got to pick the dessert. Sticky Toffee Pudding. One of my two favorites that she makes. It was perfect. Sister Wahlquist and Sister Wu came and ate with us and it was a great evening.
Saturday we headed to Perth and Scone Palace. This is where I had found the Highland Coo with Lacey and Blaze when they were here and I have been promising Sister Gifford ever since that we would go back so she could see the coos as well. So off we went to Perth. When we drove up to the Palace I noticed the gates were open but there was no one in the ticket booth outside the grounds like last time. So we didn’t have to pay anything to drive in. The Palace itself was closed for winter, which I didn’t realize was going to happen, but the grounds were free and the gift shop was open. The biggest thing I noticed though as we drove up were the coos were gone. So we went straight to the gift shop to ask. We found out one of the coos had a baby and they had put them out back and down a road from the palace as a quieter place for awhile. We were told we were welcome to go see them and she told us what road to walk down. So off we went. We found the cows and they were just as cute as last time. And there was the baby. I’m so glad we asked. There are peacocks all over the grounds of Scone Palace. That was fun to see as well.
The grounds of the palace were covered in Snow Drops. These are little bell-shaped flowers that grow wild all over in grass and mossy areas around here so we walked all through the grounds admiring the beautiful flowers and feeling the cool breeze as we walked. It wasn’t very cold so it was a pleasant activity.
Then we drove into Perth to High Street and parked along the River Tay and walked a few blocks through the shops. We found a little cafe to have lunch in and then headed back to the car. We decided since it was still early we would see what else we could find on our navigation system under Points of Interest Nearby. There were two castles nearby so we headed out to find them. The first was Elcho Castle. I had never heard of it but it was only 3 miles away so we headed up to it. It turned out to be a nice looking castle that was just up off the River Tay. But it was closed for the winter as well. We got out and took pictures and we think we might come back and try and see it another time.
Well, that’s about it for this week. President has me busy working on a tri-fold pamphlet that we are going to be using at the University. It’s titled 10 Things to Know about Mormon Missionaries. We are also designing a new pass along card that is unique to our area. We will see how that all unfolds in the next week or so.
Oh, I forgot… driving home today we finally stopped at a little street that we pass all the time so I could take this picture. Everytime we drive by I say I want to stop and get a picture of this statue. So here it is.
I hope everyone is doing well and looking forward to Spring. I miss you. I love you!!