Posts Tagged ‘trim castle’

My Recent Visits to Five Castles and Thoughts on a “Fortress for the Soul”

June 10, 2017

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In the last couple of months, I have had occasion to visit five old Irish castles, for one reason or another and it never ceases to fascinate me how these fortifications are still standing at all after hundreds of years! By the way, there is little difference between fortresses and castles, since both are “fortifications,” although castles may have been more comfortable to live in!

At the end of April we stayed close to Ballybunion Castle by the Atlantic Ocean in County Kerry when we visited that lovely lady, the ex-nun, Peggy O’Neill. Built around the dawn of the 1500’s, if Ballybunion Castle could talk it would tell us of ancient battles, sieges and power struggles over the centuries. On the way home we stopped to take a photograph of Desmond Castle by the pretty village of Adare with its thatched cottages in County Limerick. Beautifully reflected in the River Maigue, this castle (see the second one above) was built in the early part of the 1300’s and again was witness to turbulent struggles for hundreds of years.

A week later I had to travel over to Trim Castle with a delivery of my first book – “A Biblical Journey through the Irish Year,” for Trim Visitor Centre. Trim Castle is impressively large and medieval (12th century), standing by the River Boyne in the historical town of Trim in County Meath. Some days later I had a call from my aunt who (although approaching 88!) loves to travel and takes a great interest in history. “I’ll meet you at Tullynally Castle in County Westmeath, as I hope to travel there with the Historical Society,” she said. Unlike the others this castle is not at all in ruins and is actually still lived in, being a home to the Pakenham family for over 350 years. I took a photograph of it (above) with gathering clouds in the evening.

Soon after this we had a family reunion and picnic in the grounds of the more recent lovely Ardgillan Castle (built in 1738) which overlooks the Irish Sea in north County Dublin. Like Tullynally Castle, this one is not in ruins and is currently used for events at all times of the year. Older castles were often built by rivers or the sea and always strategically so as to afford protection from the enemy. Moats and drawbridges were a common sight at medieval castles and when the enemy would come to invade; the drawbridge would be taken up to bar their entry.

Castles are mentioned throughout the Bible; we read in 2Chronicles 17v12 “And Jehoshaphat waxed great exceedingly; and he built in Judah castles, and cities of store.” Castles were a sign of power and enormous wealth; to attack a castle one would have needed to be accompanied by a very great army indeed! In these dangerous days of random terrorist attacks I have been thinking of that verse in Isaiah 59vv19: “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord.”

The only hope for safety in our times is in our Fortress, the Holy One of Israel… the One of whom David said: “I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. We may not have the equivalent riches of the great lords and kings of old – but our riches are not of this world and while the fortresses of olden days will someday fall to ruins and eventually scattered ancient stones, our Fortress is an Everlasting One which cannot ever be moved. Our armour is a spiritual one and the Force that defends us has already won the battle. We already have the victory – if we have put our trust in His finished work at Calvary! Our riches in Him are beyond compare.

Who knows what future events will occur in our times, with regard to the current enemies of civilised society? Today the enemy is not as obvious as in days of old; he doesn’t wear the uniform of an invading army and he walks our streets with thoughts in his head that no one knows… When he attacks, it is without warning and sometimes there is no place to hide our physical bodies.

But there is a sure place to hide for the soul of mankind. There is a refuge in the Lord Jesus Christ who died to save us and if we have repented and are trusting in Him with all our hearts, “walking in the light as he is in the light,” He is our sure refuge for time and eternity… a rich and Everlasting Fortress for the soul. His will is that all should put their trust in Him today, for He loves you and paid the ultimate price to make you His own.

“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10v28)

LINK TO HYMN: “A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD” (BY MARTIN LUTHER: 1483 – 1546):

That Word above all earthly powers,

No thanks to them, abideth;

The Spirit and the gifts are ours

Thru Him who with us sideth.

Let goods and kindred go,

This mortal life also –

The body they may kill:

God’s truth abideth still:

His Kingdom is forever!

 

Sunshine, Hailstones… and the Ups and Down of Life

May 2, 2015

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Like the changeable Irish weather, this was a mixed week for me. On Tuesday I was at a funeral which was attended by many hundreds of people. The deceased, at 51 was quite young and had many close friends, acquaintances and loved ones, having three brothers and six sisters who all, of course, had extended family. When I reached there, after a two hour drive, I could scarcely believe how packed the village was with cars. The church could not contain everyone and so I, along with many others, was directed to the church hall – which was also packed. I felt a great sense of sadness for many reasons that day and after the funeral stood for a while at my parents’ grave. I longed to talk to them about my feelings… that overwhelming sense of loneliness. There were things I longed to say to them, that only they would understand. After that I was standing in a supermarket car park when I noticed that I was the only one left in the car park which was about to close… A voice sang over the intercom in that great empty space, somehow echoing my melancholy mood.

But then I reminded myself… the Lord was with me during all of that day, upholding me and comforting me. I remembered how, on reaching the village, I prayed that He would provide me with a parking spot – somewhere. It seemed impossible as the streets were so packed. Miraculously, my simple prayer was answered in an instant, when I noticed a man putting a little boy into a car seat. Noticing my predicament, he smiled and waved for me to take his spot when he had gone. And that spot was very close to the church which was good, as I had been delayed on the journey. It was good to be there, if only to give a comforting hug to the bereaved and to speak words of comfort to others that I met.

The following day I made another journey in my own County Meath, to distribute books and again I felt the Lord’s guidance and comforting Presence. It was a sunny day as I set out and I felt much encouraged as I travelled to the town of Ashbourne where the large modern library stocks my books. Ashbourne, although a small town, has a cosmopolitan feel, with many people of different nationalities living here. Driving on through little hamlets, villages and rural areas, I passed through the small towns of Ratoath – and Dunshaughlin which also has a library where the books are available. I soon arrived at my last destination – the quaint town of Trim. Here I was reminded of my parking incident of the previous day; I was about to buy the parking ticket, when a business man who was simultaneously about to leave the car park came over and kindly offered me his ticket, which he said was valid for the rest of the day. Again, I felt the Lord caring for me and encouraging me.

Even the traffic warden had a smile on his face, when he turned his attention from sticking a parking ticket on some unfortunate’s car, to face the river where ducks and tiny ducklings were waddling by the waters’ edge. Sunshine sparkled on the rippling river Boyne where the quivering leaves of lovely trees were reflected. “Aren’t they so beautiful?” I said, as I snapped a photograph of the little ducklings and their duck chaperones.

“Indeed they are,” affirmed the traffic warden warmly, as he too took out his camera – which would normally have been put to more unpopular use!

It was good to meet the lady in the Trim Visitor Centre again, to visit the little library and to talk to Antonia in Antonia’s Bookstore which also stocks my books.

Heavy rain and hail came down just as I reached the car. Again, the Lord prevented me from getting totally drenched! I sat eating a sandwich as I looked out at it in fascination. ‘What a changeable day,’ I thought, ‘just like life itself… one minute the sun is splitting the trees and the next thing you see a black threatening sky, hear a peal of thunder and soon there are hailstones banging off your windscreen…’

And yet the Lord is with those who love and serve Him through all the weary ways in life – He is ever- present in the sunshine and ever caring in the storms. As I recall the ducks attending to their young, I am reminded of the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32v11, about an eagle this time… “As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings…” so the Lord does lead us as He led Moses.

He cares for, protects and guides His children; He bears them up and they shelter in the shadow of His wings. Yes… and how He loves all the people of this world, desiring that they would accept His greatest gift of all: the gift of the Lord Jesus Christ who died to save us all.

“O Lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom thou hast made them all; the earth is full of thy riches.” (Psalm 104v24) How the deity of Christ is upheld in this verse… “And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:” (Ephesians 3v9) Our wonderful Creator – and our loving Redeemer… He cares for me. Why not cast all your care upon Him for… “He careth for you.” (1Peter 5v7)

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A Visit to Lovely Trim in County Meath

November 30, 2013

 

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My books have been distributed to some unusual outlets in interesting locations, one of these being the tourist information office and genealogy centre in the medieval town of Trim in County Meath. From time to time I call at these places to see whether the books are still on the shelves and whether the outlets concerned require more. Just recently I had reason to travel once again to Trim, a quaint little ‘country’ town of famous historical significance with its numerous ancient monuments. Boasting the largest Norman Castle in Ireland which was built in 1173, the town is also home to Trim Cathedral.

The Trim Castle Hotel which is just across the road from the tourist information, genealogy and coffee shop is where many visitors from the U.S.A. stay and I have reason to believe that many of these may have acquired a copy of “A Biblical Journey through the Irish Year.”

The bookshop “Antonia’s” is another outlet and the books can also be acquired through the small library in Trim.

My mind travels nostalgically back to some quiet afternoons as I sat quickly scratching my biro across some paper; while the Lord gave me the words for my first book I had such a strong sense of His Presence. Back then I had no laptop and only a little access to our computer, as my daughters were all studying at the time. I trusted Him and I still trust Him for the future; to guide my every word to His glory and for the extension of His Kingdom.

Eight hundred and forty years have passed since the great castle in Trim had its beginnings and I find it so fascinating that this large fortification still stands to remind today’s men and women on Trim’s streets of how it was all those years ago.

Today God’s Word, the Bible, still remains (and forever will) to remind us of not only ‘how it was’ – but how it will be and how we should live today in this world. Never has a book so comprehensively covered every aspect of life and given instructions on how it should be lived – but then God’s Word is no ordinary ‘book.’

 As I look at the emerald banks lining the sparkling River Boyne which flows by the castle, I am reminded that “all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” (1Peter 1v24&25)

I thank the Lord today that His Word “will not return unto Him void” and that my fellow countrymen and women, as well as visitors to Ireland may, through the written and spoken words of the Lord’s servants, still be touched by that ‘still small voice’ and brought to a living faith in my Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour.

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