Monday, August 30, 2010

Belfast Botanical Garden

On Mondy, August 30th it was a bank holiday. Which means all the banks were closed, other than that I am not sure if it has any significance. It is a day off before school officially starts so a little like Labor Day. So, we took the opportunity to visit the Botanic Gardens which are located beside Queen's University. The garden has been around since 1828 and is free to the public. They have garden pathways with "loads of lovely flowers", a rose garden, and two magnificent greenhouses. The Tropical Ravine was an amazing rain forest jungle. At one time there was a path to walk down among the plants but it is now blocked off.

The kids loved the different things to do in the garden. Ian said it was his second favorite place in Ireland so far. His first being Belfast Castle.

Plants in the Tropical Ravine.

The Palm House is one of the earliest examples of a curvilinear cast iron glasshouse.

Amazing scenery.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Look Through the Wardrobe

Today, I felt a little like Lucy looking through a wardrobe, but I got to see into the world of C.S. Lewis. His birthplace is only 5 miles from where we are staying. This statue is in front of Holywood Road Library. It shows C.S. Lewis peeking into the wardrobe, the gateway into Narnia.

"From the crest of the Holywood Hills, the boys would see THE MOURNE MOUNTAINS in the distance. Warren believed that his brother drew greatly on the County Down landscape, and the Mourne Mountains in particular, in creating the magical country of NARNIA."

Centenary Statue

This is St. Mark's where C.S. Lewis grandfather was the first Rector.

On 29th January 1899, Rev Thomas Hamilton baptised his grandson CLIVE STAPLES LEWIS at the font to the west end of the church.

Baptism Entry

In 1905 Albert Lewis built LITTLE LEA on the outskirts of Belfast.
"The new house seemed more like a city to young Jacks. He would write that the house - with its long corridors, empty sunlit rooms, indoor silences, attics and gurgling noises through cisterns and pipes - was almost a major character in his life's story. "

Parliament House

These are pictures of the grounds of Northern Ireland's Parliament building. The First minister of NI and the deputy First Minister carry out their job responsibilities in these buildings. Unfortunately, we were here on a Saturday so all the buildings were closed. There is also the Stormont Castle on site which we could not get into. We hope to go back to explore the inside of all the buildings. The landscape was amazing.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Knockbreada Cemetary

As we walked to the library today Gabe spied through a massive hedge, a cemetery. (I have no idea how he spotted it because it was well hidden from view.) He was intrigued. So, on our way back we went for a peek and ended up staying for a half hour or more. We walked along the many pathways looking at the dates of these people who were buried. Some dating back to the early 1800's. This brought up many theological questions. When people die where do their bodies go? Why don't we have cemeteries like this one at home? Do the broken up graves with holes mean that those are the people who get to heaven and rest are still waiting? Why can't we step on the graves? Why do people put flower pots on the graves? Will we be buried here? What's a soul? If we die in Ireland will we be buried here? And so on...I hopefully answered their questions as best as I could...I may need to obtain a doctorate in theology for our next visit.

Mowing Our Yard

Mowing the lawn has become a "want to do chore". The boys think it's pretty fun to mow with the little hand mower. The back yard received a cutting every 5 minutes for an hour yesterday. We have the best clipped yard in the neighborhood.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Here we are getting ready for school. We spent the day looking for all the right uniform clothes. They needed PE kits as well. Avery was very excited to be in hers and asked to stay in it all day. September 1st is their first day at school. The boys have to be in grey trousers and white polo shirts and the blue sweatshirt with the school logo. The girs have to be in grey skirts or jumpers with the same blue sweatshirt. Then they change clothes for PE. That should be interesting! Cam started back today with teacher inservice! I can't wait to hear how it went.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Knockbreda Primary School

Here is the school that the kids will be going to. We went to visit and got a tour and a chance to meet the principal today. It is about a 15 minute walk from our house, walking at a kid pace.
The kids felt at ease after meeting Principal McKenna and checking out the "toys".

Ian in his Primary 5 classroom or P5 for short. This is for kids who are 8-9 years old. There were lots of cool books to read. Ian is looking forward to PE where they have PE kits and have to change into shorts and t-shirts to play.

Gabe's Primary 3 classroom. He thought the tables were really cool and thinks that Mrs. Ally at MRA should get some for her classroom.

Avery in the Primary 2 classroom. This will be Avery's first year in school but in Ireland they start at the age of 4 so she already gets bumped up a level. We hope she will fit right in.

Our New Favorite Snack

When you are a kid there is nothing better than finding a new snack.
The Quinlan kids could eat cracker bread with Nutella (or any generic brand of hazelnut and chocolate spread) for every meal if their mommy would let them.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Quinlan Family Coat of Arms

"True to the End" -The Motto for the Quinlan Coat of Arms

While we were at the Belfast Castle we found an antique gift shop in the cellar where you can find out your family history. For a few pounds you can have them print up your coat of arms and history. We found the Quinlan name. The great Gaelic family Quinlan emerged in the County of Meath which is located south of Belfast and north of Dublin along the eastern part of the island. After years of invasions some of the family were exiled to Spain and others moved to other parts of the island. The first immigrants who could be considered kinsmen of the Quinlan clan arived in Quebec in 1825. In the 1840s some of the family arrived in Philadelphia and then moved westward.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Castle Garden Pictures

Belfast Castle

Today we went to Belfast Castle which is about 5 miles north of us. It is located on Cave Hill 400 feet above sea level. The first Belfast Castle was built by the Normans in 1611 by Sir Arthur Chichester, a Baron of Belfast. It was burned down almost 100 years later. In 1862 the 3rd Marquis of Donegall decided to build a new residence on the slopes of Cave Hill. The Castle was completed in 1870 and then in 1937 the Lord Mayor gave the castle and estate to the city of Belfast. It is now used for wedding receptions, dances, and afternoon teas. There are three hikes around Cave Hill. One which takes you to the top of the hill that overlooks all of Belfast. I hope we get a chance to make that hike before we leave. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.