Ireland – The Round Tower Experience – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports
[A view of the round tower from the ground]
In the midsized town of Kilkenny, Ireland there is a hidden gem that isn’t widely known about. The city of Kilkenny is home to around twenty thousand people. When you ask most people what the city is best known for you will almost always get one of two answers: they will either mention the Kilkenny Castle that has sat in the city the times when they were fighting off Vikings, or they will tell you about Smithwicks, the beer brewing company that has its home on Kilkennys main street. Neither of these things are the hidden gem of the city that I want to share with you.
Tucked into the west side of the city is a cathedral called St. Canices. It is no secret that Ireland seems to be the land of 10,000 churches but this church happens to be special. Much like many of the other cathedrals this church has a round tower standing of to the right of it. This round tower was used to watch who was coming up and down the river back in the day when Vikings often scoured the land. What made this round tower so special was the fact that it is one of two in the entire world that the public is actually allowed to climb up to the top.
[The stairs I had to climb up to get to the very top]
When our group had first arrived at St. Canices Cathedral, we were told that the tower had already been booked out by a group for the day. Many of us students were disappointed especially after learning that it was only one of two still open. Luckily for us, the tour group that had booked out the tower never showed up. This meant that our entire group go to climb to the very top. When I first bought my ticket to climb up there, I didn’t have a single clue as to what I was signing myself up for.
When I thought about the inside of the tower I imagined what looked like a never ending spiral staircase going from the bottom of the tower to the top. To even get inside the first floor of the round tower, I had to climb up a cold metal ladder. Once I walked through the open door of the round tower, I realized it wasn’t at all what I expected. The inside was dimly lit and several ladders could be seen above me. Not wanting to hold the people up behind me, I quickly got on the ladder and began to climb.
The first few ladders were easy but the higher up we got, the steeper the ladders became. Around the fourth ladder, a voice could be heard coming out of the speakers on the wall. It would be logical to think that the voice coming from the speaker would be encouraging you to just keep climbing but instead it joked about the fact that the tower had already begun lean to one side “but don’t worry, it should stay standing long enough for you to make it to the top”. The higher up we climbed, the windier it became. The round tower has glassless windows so the air creates somewhat of a vortex within.
[The view of the city from the top]
After the sixth ladder, I had made it to the final landing. The only thing that stood between me and the very top of the round tower was a set of stone stairs that were extremely uneven. I put one foot up on the first step of the stairs and then foolishly looked down. It was at that moment that I realized from that point on, if I fell, I would fall more than a single story and it would more than likely be the death of me. With a deep breath, I continued my way up the last few steps. Holding onto the nearby fence to steady myself as I emerged to the open air.
The view from the top was breath taking. I looked down to the ground below and couldn’t believe how far up I had climbed. The top of the round tower had an uneven floor, so I had to be careful not trip as I took in all the scenery in front of me. We had to wait for everyone to make it to the top before we could begin our descent back down. Once everyone made it up we snapped a quick group picture before heading back down to the ground. I was nervous about the descent. I thought it was going to be harder than getting up there was. Luckily, I made it down with easy.
Once I reached the ground floor, I looked up in awe. I couldn’t believe that I had climbed all those ladders in such a short amount of time. Afterwards the guide told us it is only a matter of time before that tower eventually falls. I was thankful she hadn’t mentioned that before we began climbing but at that moment realized how lucky I am to get to say that I have had the experience of climbing up a round tower.
[The ladders that I had to climb up]
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The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm
Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.
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