Before we left for Ireland, I discovered a finch had built her nest in one of the hanging baskets on the front porch. I cautiously watered the plant from the one side, dribbling the water down the side so the nest would be okay.

Two days before our trip, I peeked and found four beautiful eggs. I watched the mama bird flutter in and out, leaving the nest any time people went in or out the front door.

The week in Ireland disappeared in a flurry of activities. Our friend and neighbor, Kate, sent us a photo of two baby birds that had hatched and all we could see were their yellow beaks stretched open as wide as a big yawn!

When we came home, the plant was fairly gone. I caught glimpses of the feathery hatchlings and the mama bird making trips to feed them. There seemed to be only two.

Yesterday one fledgling remained in the nest. I used a pair of binoculars to see him through the livingroom window. I don’t think his mama came, although I had seen her just the day before.

This evening before we left for Longwood Gardens, I spied the fledgling in the sunburst locust near the porch. He flew to the hanging basket and perched on the plastic hook for a long time, waiting and watching. I know he was watching for his mama. After a small eternity (I think I was holding my breath), he decided to fly away. I swallowed hard and fought back hot tears. As my vision blurred, I thought about how much I was missing my own mother. After all these years, it still hurts.






Dublin Castle

Dub Castle courtyard

For more than 1000 years before the Vikings came to Ireland’s shore, there has been a settlement at the site of the Dublin Castle. King John of England ordered the construction of a castle here. It functioned as the seat of colonial rule and the most important fortification in Ireland for eight centuries.

We were charmed by the 19th century cantilevered staircase. Above the double doorway you can see the official symbol of Ireland, the Gold Harp against a blue background. The throne room is set in the heart of the State Apartments. Visiting monarchs received homage here of local subjects. The throne was actually made for King George IV’s state visit to Ireland. It is a massive throne, and was probably built to fit a rather large man. When Queen Elizabeth came to visit, they quickly made an elegant stool so that she could first step up on it to position herself on the throne, and then be able to rest her feet so they would not awkwardly dangle in the air!

The Portrait Gallery was a banquet room where dinners often consisted of 16 to 30 courses (How is that possible?!) and were served on a table so long it took up the length of the room. The original wood paneling that lines the walls dates to the late 1740s. This room houses a collection of portraits of former Viceroys.  The State Drawing Room was restored after a fire in 1941. Its large mirrors, pier glasses, and console tables were all carefully restored.

Dub Castle stairs

St. Patrick’s Hall was formerly the Ballroom of the Viceregal court. It is home to the most significant painted ceiling in all of Ireland completed in 1790. Banners of the chivalric order of the Knights of St. Patrick hang from the walls. Today. it is the most important ceremonial room in Ireland and used for state banquets for visiting dignitaries and the inauguration of Ireland’s President, which takes place every seven years.

Dub Castle lightDub Castle entrance