Traveling Seredipities

I am in the middle of a trip to Ireland and England with Desiree and her sister.  We completed our time in Ireland and have just arrived in Cambridge.

We visited the usual sites: the Guinness Storehouse, Kilmainam Gaol, Trinity College Librry and the Book of Kells.  None of these disappointed, as we had planned on taking them in.

Trinity College Library with Desiree and Daiquiri

Des Goes to Kilmainam Gaol

How about a pint?

But there is something about the unexpected find on a trip, the happy serendipity that feels a little less touristy and authentic and personal.  So far I have had three.

On our first day in Dublin, we walked past a sign that read "Chester Beatty Library."  Later that day, after Des and her sister had gone to the hotel, I walked to find the place with such a name and asked, "Are the Chester Beatty biblical papyrii here."  Indeed they were.

The Chester Beatty Library

In the early part of the last century, several papyrii of biblical texts were published from a private collection by a mining mogul named Chester Beatty.  One is a rather complete collection of Paul's letters from the second century--an amazingly early date.  Pick up any Commentary on the Greek of Paul's letters you will hear the writer reference P46, the Chester Beatty papyrii. From it we have an early witness to the integrity of the biblical record and also a fairly good picture of the emerging biblical canon as far as Paul's letters go. Another papyrus fragment, P66, contains very early, second century record of John's Gospel (Chapter 19). Only a few fragmented lines, but corroborated by later texts this find is like discovering the steering mechanism of a BMW in an aboriginal dig--the rest of these car existed somewhere, and one wonders how it got where it did and when.  Anyway, I got to stare at the papyrii for a good half hour before they closed down the place.

One page of P46, containing much of the Pauline epistles.  This page is from 2 Corinthians 11.
The next day, Des and I got to visit an exhibit on Yeats at the National Library.  I wouldn't have known about this if our hotel hadn't been right around the corner.  We ran in one afternoon late, sure that it would be closed.  But they stayed open until 8 and is was free!  Lots of fascinating stuff, including several documentary style videos in rooms that had been appropriately appointed with Yeats paraphernalia.  One highlight was an area with 360 degree screens, with the poems themselves displayed on one screen and flanking screens showing interpretive images, as the likes of Sinead O'Connor and Seamus Heaney read the poems aloud.  Yeats himself read "The Lake Isle of Innisfree."

The latest serendipity was not an intellectual one, but touched another part of my life.  We arrived in the resort town of Killarney and went to the bike shop to rent bikes to ride around the park the next day.  Turns out there is a charity ride around the Ring of Kerry on the first Saturday of July each year. They were expecting 11,000 riders this year!  Derry at O'Sullivan's rented me a road bike and I did my own Ring of Kerry ride, all 180 km of it, on Friday, the day before the ride.  It was spectacular, with stunning views, quaint towns, stiff winds, challenging climbs, and lots of sheep.  And you could even say, technically, that it was the first to finish.  I bought a shirt to commemorate the occasion.

Renting a bike in Killarney

An early morning scene along the Ring of Kerry

Stunning View along the coast

The route was marked clearly with these mile signs along the way, all 180 km

Stopped in towns like this along the way for water and food.

Bought a shirt at the end

Now for Cambridge and Oxford, where our adventures are planned out more carefully.

Some of the colleges at Cambridge:

 At Oxford we followed the trail of Lewis and Tolkien:

And Churchill--Blenheim Palace 

C.S. Lewis' home, the Kilns

Lewis' Study

Lewis' Grave site

The house where Tolkien wrote The Hobbit

Lewis' rooms in Magdalen College 


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