Ireland Bucket List Update!

In no particular order:

  1. Guinness, Guinness, Guinness aka Explore Pubs
  2. Explore Dublin
  3. Do some serious hiking (Did 2 hour hiking, does that count?)
  4. Cycle around the countryside. (Don’t be afraid of biking!)
  5. Castles, Castles, Castles (Dublin Castle, please) (Outside of Dublin Castle? But, I also saw plenty of other castles!)
  6. Don’t let the rain stop you. (Also, it’s going to rain everyday. I’m sure frizzy hair is attractive in Ireland) (lol, the most random heat wave occurred in Ireland the last 2 weeks of my program)
  7. Cliffs of Moher!
  8. Blarney Stone
  9. Newgrange
  10. Connemara
  11. Ring of Kerry
  12. Listen to some local music.
  13. Get up early on the weekend, walk around, and have a cup of coffee at a local cafe/bakery. (early can be 11am, right?)
  14. Meet some locals and make friends. 
  15. Trinity College
  16. Do something you normally wouldn’t do. (Not anything illegal, but getting outside of my comfort zone).
  17. Aran Islands.
  18. Spend the whole day outside. Read outside, sit outside — take in the natural wonder that is Ireland.
  19. RIVERDANCE
  20. Visit England

Accomplished 15/20 of my bucket list! But, this means I obviously need to go back soon! :)

Writers don’t m…

Writers don’t make any money at all. We make about a dollar. It is terrible. But then again we don’t work either. We sit around in our underwear until noon then go downstairs and make coffee, fry some eggs, read the paper, read part of a book, smell the book, wonder if perhaps we ourselves should work on our book, smell the book again, throw the book across the room because we are quite jealous that any other person wrote a book, feel terribly guilty about throwing the schmuck’s book across the room because we secretly wonder if God in heaven noticed our evil jealousy, or worse, our laziness. We then lie across the couch facedown and mumble to God to forgive us because we are secretly afraid He is going to dry up all our words because we envied another man’s stupid words. And for this, as I said, we are paid a dollar. We are worth so much more.

Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

Last Days in Ireland :(

Thursday, July 18: 

We had our Modern Irish Lit Final Exam today and consequently our last English class. I adored this English class, and it was really one of the few classes I would elect to have at 8:30 in the morning. I enjoyed all the texts we read (we read 12 plays/books in 16 classes!), and I absolutely respected and appreciated our professor, Professor Lionel Pilkington. He was so eccentric, exciting, and dramatic, but he completely cared about us and wished us the best. I am so happy that someone in our class wanted a group photo with him. Such a great English class!

We also had our last History class . . .  but I didn’t really feel as much sentiment for this class. I mean, Professor Fisher is a great person and professor (I suppose..), but he definitely fails in comparison with Lionel and Modern Irish Lit. Maybe this is just because I’m an English major. It’s probably that.

After History class, we had our (pre-paid) program dinner at The King’s Head. I had clam chowder, fish and chips, and chocolate fondant. OMG, THAT CHOCOLATE FONDANT WAS THE BEST THING EVER. The chocolate just melted in my mouth. It’s all I ever wanted.

There was also a birthday dinner with birthday cakes afterward, but unfortunately (or fortunately for my weight) we had to leave to go to Trad on the Prom.

Trad on the Prom:

“Trad on the Prom celebrates the passion of Ireland’s past with a contemporary production, of world class music, song and dance derived from the pulsating energy that has survived from the dawn of Celtic mysticism to become the record breaking phenomenon it is today,” from their website. This performance had traditional song, music, and dance, including Irish uilleann pipes (which is apparently extremely hard to play), fiddles, guitars, keyboards, etc.

The picture I took of Trad on the Prom before I learned that we weren't allowed to take pictures.

The picture I took of Trad on the Prom before I learned that we weren’t allowed to take pictures.

I felt like Trad on the Prom was the piece of Irish culture that I envisioned seeing before coming to Ireland. I imagined traditional Irish music to be playing everywhere, where in actuality I heard mostly American music during my stay in Ireland. But, I love, love, love Irish music and dance. It’s so beautiful, haunting, and exciting.

I also got one CD by Ger Fahy, the man who played the Irish uilleann pipes, and he signed the CD as well! I can’t really read what he wrote, but he signed it! haha.

Afterward we went out for the last time to the Front Door, and even got Professor Fisher and Sinead (the Irish program assistant) to join us!

Friday, July 19:

My last day in Galway. We had lunch in Griffin’s, my favorite little cafe/bakery in Galway. I had my last buttery and fattening croissant. We went to the market for the last time, where I bought a painting of Galway. Then, I went back to Corrib to pack, which was a lot more frustrating packing to go home than it was to pack in the beginning. I managed to fit everything, though, except one pair of sneakers.

I took the bus to Dublin, and arrived at my hotel around 10:30pm.

I left for the airport at 8am. Met up with Emma and John. Checked in my suitcase, went through security twice, and survived customs. The flight was long, but I made it home!

 

I loved, loved, loved Ireland!! I definitely would love to come back to Ireland or study abroad elsewhere. The world is out there and there’s so much to see and do.

Dangling off yet another cliff in Ireland

Wednesday, July 17:

Our last Geology excursion was a full-day trip to the Burren (including Ailwee Cave) and the Cliffs of Moher, two of the most popular destinations in this region.

Our first stop was at the Burren, which means “great rock” in Gaelic Irish. Burren also contains Burren National Park, which is one of the 6 National Parks in Ireland.

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Pulling an Erin and taking a selfie at the Burren

Pulling an Erin and taking a selfie at the Burren

Next we went to the Cliffs of Moher, aka the Cliffs of Insanity. The Cliffs of Moher rise 390 feet above the Atlantic Ocean and reach a maximum height of 702 feet; they also stretch for 5 miles along County Clare in the west of Ireland. Yeah, I was there, that high up. And, I’m so glad I didn’t get clumsy and lose my footing anywhere.

Next we went to Ailwee Cave, back at the Burren.

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Bear emerging from the cave. Causal.

Bear emerging from the cave. Causal.

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Beautiful waterfall in the cave.

Beautiful waterfall in the cave.

At the gift shop, I finally got my sunglasses that I have been searching for all over Galway! Ailwee Cave, the only gift shop with sunglasses in all of Ireland. Except really.

2013 Festivals in Galway

There were three festivals in Galway during the last 2 weeks of our program and some are going on until the end of July. There were the Galway Film Fleadh, the Galway Arts Festival, and the Galway Fringe Festival. I made myself (and subsequently others) see at least one event from each one of the festivals.

Galway Film Fleadh:

This was the 25th Film Festival that went on from July 9-14. They had some Irish films, world cinema, and some special guests (Saoirse Ronan and Zachary Quinto). Unfortunately during Monday – Thursday, I had an 8:30am class and homework to do, so it was hard to see too many films. Also, I really wanted to see a comedy, but literally most of the films they showcased were dark and depressing, but probably amazing. I wanted to giggle.

I did see Coldwater, which I wrote about in my previous blog post.

Galway Arts Festival:

The Arts Festival is from July 15-28 and features worldwide acts and events. They had theatre & dance, street spectacles, music, first thought, visual arts, and comedy. The one event that I really wanted to go to but it is after my program is “Whose Line is it Anyway?” “Whose Line” is coming to Galway after I leave! :(

I went to a ballet called The Rite of Spring & Petrushka at the Black Box Theatre.

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The ballet was simply fantastic. It was so beautifully danced, enacted, and performed. At first I struggled to make meaning out of the ballet, but later I realized I should just take it as it is and just enjoy the experience.

The ballet was two parts with the first being The Rite of Spring, originally directed by Igor Stravinsky, and the second was Keegan-Dolan’s new interpretation of Petrushka. Stravinsky originally wrote the ballet in 1913, featuring two parts: (1) Adoration of the Earth, and (2) The Sacrifice. Stravinsky wrote about the origins of his ballet in his autobiography: “One day [in 1910], when I was finishing the last pages of L’Oiseau de Feu in St Petersburg, I had a fleeting vision … I saw in my imagination a solemn pagan rite: sage elders, seated in a circle, watching a young girl dance herself to death. They were sacrificing her to propitiate the god of Spring. Such was the theme of the Sacre du Printemps.”

The first part, The Rite of Spring, was exciting but graphic and slightly disturbing. Petrushka was brighter, happier, and more pleasant. All in all, the ballet was fantastic, and I’m so happy I went.

After the ballet, we went to see an outdoor performance of fire-breathing Dragons. My friend and I almost got trampled by the dragons because we didn’t move out of the way fast enough.

We stayed in the crowd, in the direction path of the dragon, and didn't move until the dragons came rushing toward us.

We stayed in the crowd, in the direction path of the dragon, and didn’t move until the dragons came rushing toward us.

Just taking pictures before the dragons trampled over us. Actually they didn't, but we didn't move out of its direction for a while! haha

Just taking pictures before the dragons trampled over us. Actually they didn’t, but we didn’t move out of its direction for a while! haha

Da dragon. Without wings. "It's awkward that the dragon isn't a real dragon," Sinead.

Da dragon. Without wings. “It’s awkward that the dragon isn’t a real dragon,” Sinead.

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The aftermath of the dragons

The aftermath of the dragons

Afterward, we got gelato. :)

Galway Fringe Festival:

The Fringe Festival is almost like the Arts Festival but instead of worldwide, renowed artists, the Fringe Festival features local performers. They had, similarly to the Arts Festival, art, cabaret, children’s theatre, comedy, dance, literature, music, photography, theatre, and workshops.

I saw and bullied others into seeing a theatre performance called “Reality Shows.” “Reality Shows” basically made fun of this type of TV genre, and it advertised “Go for the giggles,” which was the only thing I wanted to do at the time.

It wasn’t fantastic, but I did definitely giggle.

1st Time Horseback Riding!

Weekend of July 12: 

The 3rd weekend of the WM summer study abroad program was designated to be a free weekend. Most people originally wanted to get out of Galway for the weekend to see England, Belfast, and other places, but as the program went on and we realized that (1) we spent a lot of money already (and will continue to spend money) and (2) going to England over the weekend would be stressful and we really wouldn’t have time to see and do things. I think 3 people actually traveled that weekend, and the rest of the program stayed in Galway.

My third weekend was filled with relaxation, shopping, films, and horseback riding. Honestly, at that point, we all so exhausted that a laid back weekend was much appreciated.

Friday, July 12:

On Friday, I went horseback riding for the first time ever! I think I went horseback riding for like 10 minutes when I was 12 years old. But, this was a legit horseback riding experience that was an hour long and there was galloping involved. Legit.

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Petting da horse

Petting da horse

I don’t actually have pictures of me riding my horse named Twixt  because I was busying trying not to fall off and such, but I did actually go horseback riding! When we galloped, it was actually the scariest thing ever. I totally thought I was going to fall off and have an early death. I also think I offended the little girl leading my horse (little girls knew more about horseback riding than us . . . to add insult to injury). It was a great experience though, I was just a little, more like extremely freaked out when my horse started galloping.

Afterward, our Pacific Rim obsessed group went to see that movie. It was ridiculously cheesy with stupid-ass lines but some good special effects? I rolled my eyes a lot and ranted afterward. haha, but a good experience?

Saturday, July 13:

We went shopping in the morning, in the mall and then the little locally run market they have on the weekend. Later, we went to the Film Fleadh and saw an American movie called Coldwater. It was about reform school in America, and while it was really good (expertly made), it was also extremely depressing because it was so realistic. Afterward, we were talking about how the movie made us cry and the directors of said movie heard us and came up to us, saying “We hope you don’t get nightmares, tonight.” That was somewhat of an embarrassing encounter, but it also showed how cool the Film Fleadh was. We ran into the directors of the film we just saw. I never ran into a director of a film I just watched. It was a great experience.

Dem Irish Marble

Thursday, July 11:

Thursday was the optional Geology field trip to the Strokestown Marble Quarry and Moycullen Marble Factory, basically all things marble.

We first stopped at The Quiet Man Bridge where Megan had a mini heart attack from having her dream come true.

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I think Megan had a permanent smile the rest of the trip. The Quiet Man Bridge was all she ever wanted.

I think Megan had a permanent smile the rest of the trip. The Quiet Man Bridge was all she ever wanted.

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Next we went to the Strokestown Marble Quarry, where we saw some marble in action! Like marble getting drilled, cut, sawed, and watered — the normal.

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Gotta water your marble.  Actually, you water marble to make the colors stand out more.

Gotta water your marble.
Actually, you water marble to make the colors stand out more.

Drilling dem marble.

Drilling dem marble.

Showcasing dem marble.

Showcasing dem marble.

Sawing da marble.

Sawing da marble.

Look cut marble!

Look cut marble!

The man showing us the Quarry was so nice and softspoken! He even gave all of us a free piece of Irish marble, which is a whole lot cooler tNexthan it sounds. You be jelly.

We then went to the Moycullen Marble Factory, where we saw even more marble, and had the chance to buy some marble souvenirs. I bought 2 crosses made out of Connemara marble for my family, and a four leaf clover marble key chain.

Appreciate dem marble, guys.