There are some wonderful ancient ruins in Co Laois at a place called the Rock of Dunamase and on a partly cloudy, blue-sky day, Inna, Erin, and I scouted it for a shoot the following day.

It was a little over an hour from our base in Limerick, and as Erin had business in Dublin that day, we planned the scouting trip to take place on our way there.

These particular ruins date from the 1200s, so they aren’t considered ancient by Irish standards. But they were built on a prior fortress dating from the 800s and before that, the belief is that early settlements date back into the era when the Fianna dominated Irish history in the 200s.

You could see why such a place was chosen for such a castle, as the elevation of the rock itself gave a panoramic view that seemed to extend forever across the plains of Co. Laois and Co. Kildare.

We spent the best part of two hours there imagining life in its heyday and while Erin’s obsessed over where the prisoners might have been kept and where everyone went to the toilet, Inna and I scoured different sections looking for possible shoot locations for the following day.

While there are far more reasons to want to be alive now than then, it was easy to lose ourselves in the romance of what life might have been like back then (unless of course, you are a prisoner or needed to use a toilet). We imagined how they entered the castle, where they lived, how they guarded, even down to where they kept their horses. It was a wonderful mental exercise and each of the three of us came up with original thoughts that pieced life together in a way it all made sense.

Along the way, I was taking pics and I have added them to the end of the blog (the color ones) for you to see. The second day, Inna and I came back just as the sun arose and we got our shoot done before the rains came and engulfed the whole area. Mostly black and white, some of them have been added at the end of the blog too. I hope you enjoy!

Anyway by the time all was said and done, my visit to Ireland was full of wonderful memories and central to them was Dunamase. Though it was less than ten minutes off the beaten track and I mean the main Dublin to Limerick road, I had never been there before.

Up until three months ago, I hadn’t even heard of it.

Bear in mind I had spent a million years living in Ireland before moving to the US and yet here was an amazing treasure that I knew absolutely nothing about. And why was that, I asked?

Therein lies the thought for today’s blog.

Like most creatures on the planet, humans like to live in routine. We create patterns of life for ourselves that allow us to run our daily lives without thinking.

We wake up at the same time, go to work at the same time, eat at the same time, watch TV at the same time, go to bed at the same time.

The older we get, the more routine we become, eating the same foods, going to the same places, mixing with the same friends.

Routine adds stability to our lives, which is why cats love it, for example. It gives us a feeling that we are somewhat in control. When something alters our routine, we begrudge it, maybe even resist it.

Routine creates a reluctance for change and is a bedrock of conservatism.

But when we step away from routine, we encounter things we haven’t met or done before and this step adds excitement and learning into our lives.

Yes, we may occasionally do something that we don’t like or enjoy but that falls into the “lesson learnt” category.

Like most things in life, a balance is essential to healthy living. We should establish for ourselves an accepted level of routine but then balance that out with steps from the beaten track that take us to new places and experiences.

These steps provide the color in our storybook and become the core memories that flesh out the value that our life has had. You see, a life built solely on routine isn’t just boring … it is one that stifles the brains ability to create new memories.

When on our deathbed, do we muse fondly over memories of the days we made it to work on time or that time we stumbled into an old ruin at Dunamase?

… just a thought!