It’s natural to notice the things that are different here in Ireland than what I’m accustomed to. I mean, we drive down a major highway passing relatively new housing developments and modern shopping centers and then cruise by a tall stone castle – or what remains of it – in the same stretch of road. I love spotting them like a Where’s Waldo? book or finding what doesn’t belong. But it does belong – it works here.
Some castles are very well-preserved while others have all but tumbled down. The one we stopped at in Kinvara is somewhere in between. It’s the Dungaire Castle. It stands proud and tall, yet its innards aren’t all there and we weren’t allowed to walk around inside its walls.
Still a sight to see and not one I’m used to seeing.
Next we drive on to the major city of Galway and spot a group camping out for their own Occupy Galway. I guess we’re all part of the same 99%.
Just steps away from the protestors people enjoy live guitar music in a peaceful town square of sorts. I guess that’s not so different either – going on with our normal lives despite all the…well, politics.
Then there is the gorgeous cathedral in the middle of the modern, thriving city. It is the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St. Nicholas (commonly known as Galway Cathedral because its full name is a mouthful). It was built in 1958 on the site of an old jail.
Take a step inside and the enormity envelopes you. It’s cool and a little damp and I can’t help but look up. I’m particularly taken by the unique stained glass windows nestled in each wall of the church that make the shape of friendly flowers. I wonder if I could commission a replica – same scale – from Isaiah’s brother Marvin who has proven talent in his hobby of stained glass making. Or maybe I could just enjoy the photos we took!
This huge and decorated cathedral seems worlds away from the modest church buildings I’ve known. And then I read notes from their recent Lenten services – since mass is held in the building each day – that match the scriptures we’ve been hearing from these sermons we stream each week from my childhood church.
And that bridges the gap of those differences I’m noticing in the cathedral. It’s a church building, albeit a stunning one, where people gather to worship. Just like our church back home.
I guess many things in Ireland aren’t that different after all.