Blog Posts Tagged ‘Museum’
Long before it was separated into the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, this island was occupied by dozens of contentious tribes. Jealous and aggressive, they were often embroiled in battles against one another, or a few of them might briefly join forces against another tribe.
The ivy-covered ruins of Ballycarberry Castle overlooks Doulus Bay near the town of Cahersiveen on the Iveragh Peninsula. Researchers say some form of residence was there in 1398, but this castle probably dates to 1569.
Consequently, for protection of at least their august selves the ruling chieftains, later minor royalty, would have built castles in which to live.
Occasionally, in the previous century, a surviving castle here or there was restored and opened to the public. One of the most popular is the landmark for a medieval theme park, the Bunratty Folk Park. It is about 11 miles from bustling Limerick, about 10 minutes from Shannon Airport.
Though some ancient artifacts serve historians, this one serves tourists.
The main building, dubbed the castle, is an accurate recreation of the main tower of a castle built in the 1400s. Beyond it is a series of real and authentically recreated buildings that portray late 19th century village and farm life.
The castle is furnished with pieces from the 15th and 16th centuries, but the reason most people pay the admission fee is not to admire the museum pieces but to attend the medieval banquets held twice a night during the summer tourist season.
From among the 140 or so diners at each meal, the hosts select a man and woman to play the lord and lady of the manor. Talented locals act as the butler – actually, the master of ceremonies – and as the serving wenches. A harpist and a violinist provide music, as background for the eight-wench chorus and also fine solos.
The only utensil for the diners during the courses of soup, meat and vegetables is a knife. The meal itself would move along swiftly except that, between the servings, the butler makes jovial announcements, the chorus sings and musicians play.
Of course, the recently anointed lord and lady are included in some of the frivolity, and at least one other diner will be mocked – but in good fun.
Most of the music played would have been heard in these halls when they were new. But the night I attended, another newer and more familiar song caused one of the young singers to wipe away tears: the lament sung by parent to son, the Londonderry Air, or Danny Boy.
If you go
The Bunratty Castle Medieval Banquet has two seatings a night. The castle is just off the N18 highway – the Limerick/Ennis Road.
For more information and to make reservations, go to www.shannonheritage.com/Entertainment/BunrattyCastleBanquet.
MANCHESTER, England — Situated among gently rolling hills about 185 miles northwest of London, Manchester was one of the outposts for Rome’s legions in the late First Century A.D. They stayed about three centuries, to be followed by Vikings, Scots and other Europeans.
It’s fair to say none of them would recognize the place now.
The development really started in the 17th century, when forward thinkers decided to import cotton from the New World to build Manchester’s textile business, according to docents in the city’s Museum of Science & Industry.
When the Industrial Revolution arrived in the 1700s, and steam power replaced water wheels, Manchester was launched.
A canal was built to bring the cotton from the docks of mighty Liverpool, 38 miles away. Manchester’s population roughly tripled between 1770 and 1800. Among the newcomers: mechanics and inventors, who understood Manchester could offer them work and pay for experimenting.
They developed machines to speed the processing of the raw cotton; it arrived in bales that still contained leaves and twigs from the ground of America’s South. The machines refined the cotton thread, then strengthened it before it was used in looms to create cloth. The museum docents demonstrate the processes on clattering machinery left from Manchester’s heyday.
The world’s first train dedicated to hauling both freight and passengers arrived here in 1830; that station, in rebuilt form, is one of the museum’s buildings.
Manchester became the de facto mechanical laboratory for the Industrial Revolution.
The bustling city’s roughly 100 companies turned out millions of square yards of cloth – an estimated 70 percent of all the world’s textiles. Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli nicknamed it Cottonopolis.
To host the visiting monied crowd, huge hotels went up in the most ornate Victorian and Edwardian styles. City Hall, created by Venetian craftsmen and occupying a city block, opened in 1877 and is still in use.
There would be eventual decline — the city hasn’t produced a significant amount of cloth for more than a quarter-century. But oddly, it was a huge truck bomb, detonated by the Irish Republican Army in 1996, that led to the rejuvenation or rehabilitation of the city core:
The blast, which injured about 200, angered enough people with money that they decided to invest in Manchester’s future.
Now the lively town is home to an estimated 85,000 college students, Great Britain’s largest Chinese community after London’s, a bubbling cauldron of pop music creativity (everyone from Herman’s Hermits to Morissey and the Smiths), an acclaimed symphony orchestra, and a vibrant arts scene.
And then there’s world-famed Manchester United, the soccer team that lost David Beckham, and its arch-rival, Manchester City.
If you’re coming to take in England’s glorious Lake District, a couple of hours’ drive north, you can fly nonstop from the U.S. to Manchester. Spend a couple of days here, to get a feel for this great-again city.
For all the starting advice you’ll need, including help with reservations, go to the city’s official tourism site, .