Cheeseheads in Dublin

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On November 4, Connie Loden, from the Heart of Wisconsin Business and Economic Alliance in Wisconsin Rapids, arrived in Dublin with a group of people from the Wisconsin Rapids area. Their purpose was a tour of Ireland looking at regional branding and marketing initiatives in communities, and other types of small-community and rural-area economic development. I’ve known Connie for some time through my involvement with the Wisconsin Rural Leadership Program and Wisconsin Rural Partners. She asked Kathleen and I if we’d be willing to meet with her group to give them a brief orientation to Ireland. We were more than happy to help, so we headed to Dublin for the weekend. We spent a few hours Saturday evening with the jet-lagged group, and had a blast sharing much of what we’d learned about Ireland by that time. It was great to spend a little time with some folks from home!

Headed for home on Sunday, before we got out of Dublin we stumbled upon the Knitting and Stitching Expo at the Royal Dublin Society, kind of the Ireland version of the Wisconsin State Fair Grounds. Kathleen was of course thrilled to finally find fabric to buy and other quilters to talk with.

After leaving Dublin we made a side trip through Glendalough on our way home. I’d seen many pictures of the area from Kathleen’s prior visit and was eager to visit. Glendalough is the site of a monastery founded in the 6th century that eventually grew into one of the great universities of Ireland. The setting is absolutely beautiful, and there are several ancient buildings dating from around 1000 A.D., including a Round Tower and a couple of churches. You find these round towers all over Ireland. They were built by monastic communities as a place to store the community’s valuables against raids from Viking invaders. The towers generally don’t have doorways on the ground, rather their doors are 15-20 feet up on the tower. When invaders threatened, the monks could climb the ladder with their valuables, then pull up the ladders once safely inside.

Though we had just a short time for our visit on this day, I’ve no doubt we’ll be back. It’s just absolutely incredible to be able to wander around these ancient sites, and of all we’ve visited so far Glendalough definitely has a special feeling about it.

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