"Travelers411" Radio Show - July 27, 2013
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Hour 1

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Click here to listen to Geraldine O'Sullivan, Tour Guide at Craggaunowen The Living Past, Shannon Heritage interviewed by Stephanie Abrams without commercials.

Geraldine O'Sullivan, Tour Guide at Craggaunowen The Living Past, Shannon Heritage, Craggaunowen, County Clare, Ireland.
www.shannonheritage.com

Explore Living History at Craggaunowen, The Living Past, in County Clare, Part of the Shannon Heritage Collection

Travel Expert and Radio Show Host Stephanie Abrams and Geraldine O'Sullivan, an extremely knowledgeable Tour Guide at Craggaunowen , The Living Past, part of the Shannon Heritage collection of historical sites, are conducting this interview on the grounds of Craggaunowen. The site is about 9 miles from Ennis or 6 miles from Six Mile bridge. It's also about 10 miles outside of Limerick, so about half way between Limerick and Ennis. On approach to Craggaunowen visitors will likely come through a town called Quin, which is in County Clare. Stephanie describes the approach as passing by tower ruins surrounded by modern houses.

Geraldine says she has worked at Craggaunowen for 4 years, and also when she was quite young she worked on the grounds as a craft worker and experimented with various types of pottery and built an unusual type of kiln trying to understand the ancient crafts and methodology. Geraldine tells us a bit about some of the experiential aspects of visiting the site and walks us through its history and a few specific points of interest visitors will find including a classic Ring Fort (also known as a Faerie Fort), The Brendan, a currach style replica boat, the remains of a 1500 B.C. dugout canoe, an ancient cooking site and more. It's a living museum made up of several structures that visitors can walk around to see surrounded by woods to walk around in.

Geraldine says the site itself started out with the tower house which was built in 1550 by the McNamara clan (or family) who were the chieftains of the area, now County Clare. In 1963 John Hunt, an Art Historian and Archeologist, bought the House and significantly renovated it. They used it as a holiday house from the 1960's to 1980's and lived upstairs. Geraldine says the Pieces of furniture displayed in the house are all part of the Hunt collection. Interestingly, the Hunt Museum, in Limerick, is named after the Hunt family.

Geraldine says that Cromwell, in the 17th century would have confiscated a lot of houses, including Craggaunowen, but for some reason they rendered it uninhabitable, by removing the stairs and some of the battlements, instead of occupying it. In the 1800's the Steele family took over the house. They owned a manor house across the lake and they used the house as a summer home for about 100 years until it fell into wreck and ruin. It then stayed vacant until the Hunts bought it and put in new stairs, battlements (top of turrets), built the great hall, and otherwise invested in its restoration.

The materials and building technologies on display at the site are not all from the same time period, but represent both archival and reconstructed history. Geraldine notes that, for instance, the fireplace in the downstairs hall was brought in, in modern times, by the Hunts, and that in medieval times, the large stone floor probably would have been composed of mud, and that any fire would have just been laid out directly on the floor in the middle of the space.

According to Geraldine, tower houses were the popular style of dwelling in the period when the tower house at Craggaunowen was built. She says they were built to look like Norman castles and that the McNamara's built 50 such houses; the residents would have been part of the McNamara's family. Hunt built a reconstruction of a ring fort and a man-made island to show what it would have looked like in ancient times. There are over 40,000 ring forts in Ireland, also known as Faerie forts.

Geraldine describes a ring fort as having a stone wall composed of stone and clay, and a wooden palisade (or fence). She says typical ring forts could be up to about 70 meters in diameter, some of the smaller ones like at Craggaunowen are about 50 meters in diameter. Also faerie forts would typically be surround by a big field and a ring of trees. While the trees might not necessarily be hawthorn, Radio Show Host Stephanie Abrams contributes that Its considered bad luck in Ireland to cut down a hawthorn tree because faeries make their homes in them. She says if you were to cut one down they would lose their home and in turn play mischief on your forever. Geraldine mentions that in fact, about 5 years ago, the motorway between Limerick and Ennis had to be re-routed around a hawthorn tree because the locals would not permit it to be cut down.

Geraldine says that people would have been living withinin a ring fort and that it would have been an early farmyard. If you think about St. Patrick coming to Ireland in the 6th Century, "this" would have been the sort of place he'd been brought to. They designed the ring forts to protect animals as well. The farms were self sufficient places and they had technology for weaving, pole lathes for turning wood, made pottery , produced grains, and did a lot of barter.

At Craggaunowen they have 3 houses: a living house, a work house which is for weaving, and a little shed that's rectangular and shaped like a little church. Geraldine explains that as Christianity developed in Ireland, people started building houses in the shape of churches. Geraldine says another interesting feature at Craggaunowen is its souterrain (or underground passage). She says these are often found in ring forts, and could have been used for a quick escape to a far off copse of trees, for defense and also are useful as a cellar.

Geraldine says that at Craggaunowen the tower house has a spinning wheel exhibit and guides take on the role of a time-appropriate resident/weaver. She says that in olden days women wore linen dresses on hotter days [which were more common in that time for the region]. At the site, the guides wear woolen waste coats made on site (or vests in American English). They spin the wool and dye it themselves and weave it into wool garments. Styles common to the period include T-shaped woolen dresses. They also produce jackets and bags on site. They use natural dyes, similar to what was used in medieval times, to color the fabric using plants, nettles, dandelions, ferns, berries, gorse (yellow).

Another interesting exhibit at Craggaunowen is the Brendan, a currach style boat that Tim Severin, an Englishman living in west Cork, commissioned and used to travel to America in. It's a replica of the leather boat that St. Brendan would have sailed to America in during the 6th century. In 1976 Severin and three other sailors made the journey from Ireland to Newfoundland hoping to retrace the historic journey St. Brendan originally made. Their route took them from the North of Ireland to Scotland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland and finally to Newfoundland. It's said that Brendan took 7 years to make the journey because he would have been preaching the gospel and building churches along the route.

Also on site at Craggaunowen are the remains of a dugout canoe which dates from 1500 BC. It was found about half a mile away from Craggaunowen buried just at the edge of the lake. It's a hollowed out oak tree trunk and the kind of thing that would have been used to get from mainland to the man-made island. Geraldine says that It has disintegrated a bit over the years but is a remarkable find.

There are also the remains of an ancient cooking site. Geraldine says there are thousands of them which are found around the country side and they are basically a horseshoe shaped mound of stones. At the center are generally one of two troughs. They would be used to heat rocks, a process taking hours. When the rocks were hot enough they would put the rocks into large brazier containing up to 1000 liters of water. The rocks would heat that much water in just 10 minutes or so and then meat from animals like boar or deer would be put in the boiling water to cook.

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Travelers411 Directory:
Click here for the Shannon Heritage Directory listing where you'll find links to all interviews with Shannon Heritage in one place.

Click here for more info and links to all interviews featuring Geraldine O'Sullivan.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=16422

For more information visit www.shannonheritage.com


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News and Updates from Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams


Guests Include:

Geraldine O'Sullivan, Tour Guide at Craggaunowen The Living Past, Shannon Heritage, Craggaunowen, County Clare, Ireland.
www.shannonheritage.com

Hour 2

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Click here to listen to Chris Kelly, Owner and Producer, Trad on the Prom interviewed by Stephanie Abrams without commercials.

Chris Kelly, Owner and Producer, Trad on the Prom, Galway, Ireland.
www.tradontheprom.com

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Travelers411 Directory:
Click here for the Trad on the Prom Directory listing where you'll find links to all interviews with Trad on the Prom in one place.

Click here for more info and links to all interviews featuring Chris Kelly.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=16423

For more information visit www.tradontheprom.com


Guests Include:

Chris Kelly, Owner and Producer, Trad on the Prom, Galway, Ireland.
www.tradontheprom.com

Hour 3

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Adrienne Martyn, Sales and Marketing Manager, Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, County Galway, Ireland.
www.kylemoreabbeytourism.com

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Click here for the Kylemore Abbey Directory listing where you'll find links to all interviews with Kylemore Abbey in one place.

Click here for more info and links to all interviews featuring Adrienne Martyn.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=16424

For more information visit www.kylemoreabbeytourism.com


Guests Include:

Adrienne Martyn, Sales and Marketing Manager, Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, County Galway, Ireland.
www.kylemoreabbeytourism.com

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