Thursday, June 23, 2011

Garderobes and tunes in the kitchen

Some people have anxiety dreams that involve walking naked down a street. Mine involve having to use  a lavatory in front of other people. So this wouldn't be my idea of fun:

This is one of the garderobes at the 15th century Listowel Castle in Co Kerry. They are not for those who fear heights either, as you look down two or three stories to the ground. I just looked on Wikipedia, that glorious font of not-quite-true information, to see how to spell garderobe. It says there that the word means a place to hang clothes, or a euphemism for historical toilets, but it seems it isn't a euphemism at all. We took a guided tour (the only way to see the recently renovated castle) which was excellent. The very knowledgeable guide told us how clothes were indeed hung in the garderobe at the end of the day and the door firmly shut. Ammonia fumes would rise from the steaming heaps below so killing any bugs and mites living in the clothes ready to munch you for breakfast.

The castle is beautifully restored using, where possible, methods and materials that would have been used when the FitzMaurices built the castle. It's full of shadows and memories.

It's tunes time here in Gortavrulla. We have a friend and his two daughters staying. Con is from Donegal, though has lived in Cheshire since the 50s. He's 96 and still playing fiddle. Whenever I'm back visiting my parents I always go and have a few tunes with him. He's full of stories and Donegal tunes. It's the only chance I get to play the highlands he's been giving me over the years. So last night a fiddle-playing friend came down and we had tunes in the kitchen - the best place by far for jigs and reels. We even had an appreciative audience - the daughters, and Dominic's two friends from Germany. Tonight we're into Feakle for the session in Shortt's. Tomorrow he's off to Donegal to meet the friends who are still alive (his words). One of them - the one he used to go to house dances with when young and foolish - is a year older than Con.


  1. I admire their system of pest-control in everyday attire. Must remember.

  2. Yup. It's a good one. Especially for modern-day Dublin.