Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ireland 2010: The Gallerus Oratory and Bee Hive Huts

No, we didn't go back to Ireland for a second trip this year-- this post is out of chronological order--  I discovered I had not completed this last draft for Ireland, and just now finished it.  Sorry for the confusion, but this old stone building is incredible-- had to share.  [JK]

Flying over Ireland it appears as patchwork of fields, squared off by boundaries of what appears to be hedges and shrubs.  Upon closer inspection from the ground you discover that the fencing are rock walls or dykes, with an overgrowth of grass and shrubs.  In more barren areas they are clearly stacked stones.  Despite the abundance of stone available, it is mind boggling to consider how long it must have taken to construct so many field enclosures of stone.Many of the earliest structures and dwellings were constructed of stone, and over the ages the stones of ancient structures were probably "borrowed" to construct new ones, or create the pasture walls.  It is therefore amazing that some of the ancient structures have withstood the passage of time.  One structure, the Gallerus Oratory is one of the best preserved examples of this type of structure.  The Oratory or Séipéilín Ghallarais (The church of the place of the foreigners) was built sometime between the sixth and ninth centuries, possibly as late as the twelth century, and believed to be an early Christian church.  The construction technique, known as corbel vaulting, is a marvel-- dry-layed stones, with no mortar, and tiered to form a roof.  The rocks are also positioned and angled so carefully that the inside of the structure is bone dry, even to this day.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Singapore F1 Night Grand Prix

It has been quite a while since my last "cast" and one is certainly overdue.  We've been hosting guests here in Singapore, and traveling--  I will be making several posts over the coming days to update our activities and share a few pictures.  For now a short cast--  this weekend Singapore hosts the 3rd annual Singapore  F1 Grand Prix, one of the formula one races on the circuit.

Singapore Grand Prix 2010

Admittedly I know little to nothing about auto racing, but the atmosphere and intensity of excitement around Singapore has been building over the past days as they have prepared for the race--  it is contagious.  Formula One racing, much like football (soccer) is more popular in most areas of the world other than the U.S.  The race is held in the downtown streets of Singapore, which have been blocked off and lined with barriers and fencing.  The course is a loop of twisting and bending streets, requiring that the cars accelerate and brake/downshift quickly-- it is a broad combination of engineering of high-tech machinery, skilled drivers and crew, and strategy.  The course at one point makes ninety degree turns that pass through narrow roadway to race in front of the Marina Bay grandstands, only to exit a relatively short distance later with a similar ninety degree turn.
It would be nice to catch some of the race action live, but attending the race is not a cheap date, even if tickets were available (it is sold out)--  grandstand tickets sold for S$298.  It appears to be well attended--  I have not seen downtown as crowded as it has been for the race.  The Youth Olympic Games were held in Singapore in August, and it appeared to me that there were far fewer visitors in town for this event.  (Stealth marketing for the YOG--  how many people outside of Singapore knew that this event was occurring?)
I made a trip downtown during a practice session on the track and was able to experience only the audible portion of the race--  the 12 foot fences near the track are cloaked in screening to prevent viewing from areas not sanctioned and ticketed for attendance.  There appear to be many associated events--  concerts, private cocktail parties, and expensive automobiles at various hotels and shopping malls in the race area of downtown.
Singapore F1 Grand Prix sponsor vehicles--  Johnny Walker.
Pit and start area of the course, from Singapore Flyer
Race course near the Marina Bay and AYE
The turn to go into the Marina Bay grand stand area.  A sharp turn followed by another sharp turn--  Marina Bay Sands Resort/Casino in the background
A turn near the pit area

Got the fever?  Lotus cars on display at Millenium Square mall, just off the race course in downtown Singapore, building the hype of the race.  Yours for just a few $$$.