Blackrock Castle Observatory

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One of the first things that struck me when we moved to Ireland was the number of castles. You’ll just be driving or walking along here, turn a corner, and–BAM!–castle! They’re everywhere. Some are just little piles of rubble and others have been beautifully restored. Coming from Seattle where the oldest thing we have is a crumbling piece of highway called The Viaduct, the castles have made quite an impression on me.

There’s a really neat castle down the road from Jon’s office called Blackrock Castle. This particular castle was recently restored and is now home to a restaurant and an observatory/science center.  It’s right on a pedestrian path that goes along the waterfront, so I frequent the area on my runs. Until this week, though, I had never set foot inside the castle walls. Friday happened to be “Free First Friday” at the castle and, since “free” and “castle” happen to be two of my favorite words, I just had to go.

All of the exhibits were open to the public for free in the evening, and they even had some little workshops and a guest speaker available (we didn’t burden the guest speaker with our presence). We did have a great time exploring the hands-on exhibits inside the observatory.

David colored a rocket ship picture (and it must have made quite an impression on him because now his favorite game is to turn every box in our home into a rocket ship):

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We looked out a “moon window” at a cargo ship floating past us in the harbor (I pointed out that this was the same kind of “big ship” that carries little boys’ balls and toys from places like Seattle to places like Ireland).

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The boys moved metallic objects around a table with giant magnets:

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And David got to experiment with sand and water to see if he could make land formations like they have found on Mars (he really just built sandcastles, but maybe someday they will find sandcastles on Mars, too):

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As we were leaving the castle we saw another Irish icon: a beautiful rainbow arching over the dimming horizon:

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Goodnight, castle. Goodnight, rainbow. Goodnight, Ireland.

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