Travel Journal April 1, 1999
Train ride to Dublin. A Herald's Hospitality.


Got up early that morning, packed my stuff and headed for the train station. I bought a ticket to Dublin for £27, this included the connection train to Belfast Central Station. Unfortunately, the windows on the train were a little too dirty for effective picture taking. Once off the train, I hailed a cab and headed over to the Ireland State Geneological Office to meet my friend Scott, who I had telephoned a few days earlier.

Scott MacMillan (who's business card says "consulting herald") is one of the people that you talk to when you want to apply for a family crest in Ireland. I had met him at Westercon last year, and we'd had a long conversation about heraldry, the internet, science fiction, and many other subjects. Later, he extended an invitation to stay with him and his wife (Katherine Kurtz, the well-known fantasy author) when I was travelling in Ireland.

I got to the office, which has a very interesting mini-museum on the first floor. While I was waiting for Scott to come down, I stupidly forgot to take any pictures, but there was a number of really interesting heraldic items such as military honors, old manuscripts, ceremonial outfits, etc. After stuffing my bag into his office, we went across the street and had tea.

Scott is currently working on a "grant" (which is what a herald's giving of arms to a person is called) for an important family, and he showed me some of the work in progress, and the materials that are used. I was particularly interested in how heraldic data is indexed, and what efforts are made to prevent it from decaying.

Then I rode back with him to Holybrooke Hall, which is where they live. I have to say that I was rather awed by this Victorian manor house. Here's a shot from the outside:

In the main hall, there's a large stained glass window:

More pictures of the main hall. The next two pictures are a comparison of flash modes. The first picture was taken with the ordinary flash, the second with the special "synchronized flash" mode of the Epson camera, which is supposed to be able to light up backgrounds. As you can see, it sure seems to work.


More pictures of the main hall. On the wall is Bullwinkle, a fossilized Irish Elk, extinct for 13,000 years. This is an absolutely magnificent specimen - over 15 feet across, the third largest in Ireland. Several times I found myself just gazing at it for long periods of time.


Here is the library:


And the room where I stayed. I told Scott, "You're house is seriously dangerous, I could get very spoiled if I stay here too long."


And here's Oswald, the dog contingent of the household.

Oswald likes to go to the beach, so there was nothing for it but to's a shot of the beach.

Later than night we had Indian food, and Scott made many jokes with the waitress.

I'm very happy to be here, the conversation and the scenery are both very good.