I’m sorry I haven’t blogged on here yet, but I have actually only really had time to update my previous blog twice, so you have not missed out on much! Here’s a link to those if you want to check them out: http://emmagottbrath.wordpress.com/.
The past two weeks have been pretty busy! I will start with my trip to Dingle in County Kerry two weekends ago.
I had heard a lot about Dingle from a couple people, but I was really sold on it while talking to my brother, Richie, before I left. This past summer he traveled around Europe for a month, so I asked him where I needed to go and he said that even if I could only take one trip some where that I had to visit Dingle. Initially I thought he might have been in cahoots with my parents on this advice since financially speaking going to Dingle would be about as cheap as it gets, but when I got there I knew he was not kidding. Dingle is basically the epitome of the typical Irish postcard picture: rolling hills, beautiful ocean scapes, little fishing boats, pubs, farmers’ markets, etc. Kelsi, Rachel, and I even picked the perfect weekend to go — the Dingle Food and Wine Festival–accompanied by amazing weather. We got in early enough the first night to go out on the town and enjoy some live music at the pubs and venture in to town with some locals who had been playing music.
It was really great to ride again, especially in such a beautiful place. Our horses were kind of stubborn and kept stopping to eat which was funny, but unfortunately ended with Kelsi losing her camera (that’s another story though). We then went back to town and explored a bit before returning to the hostel to get ready for the night and meet some friends coming up. We went in to town for the night again, walking around, and pub hopping. We accidentally found the band we had heard the night before and got a DJ to play Country Roads which was fun. The next day was mostly traveling, but the country side was so beautiful that I hardly did anything other than look out the window.
This past weekend, I went to Belfast through Arcadia. The trip up was long, but we still had enough time to get to know some of the other students from other colleges and went out to town with some of the UCD students we had orientation with. The next day was the best day of the weekend, however, because we went to see Giant’s Causeway. The pictures do not even start to do the place justice.
Unfortunately, my camera died right as we got to the most famous part of the Causeway so this is the only picture I got of that part:
It was very cold and windy, but a fun experience climbing on all the rocks and hearing about the legendary giant, Finn McCool, who supposedly created it many thousands of years ago.
After we were finished at the Causeway, we returned to the city and broke up to do things on our own. Kelsi, two girls from Cork, and I visited the Botanical Gardens and ventured around downtown Belfast and saw The Crown Bar, which is this very ornate bar that is often regarded as one of the most beautiful bars in the world. We did not stay for a drink though because it was a bit of an older crowd. That night we went out to a bar called Filthy McNasty’s which sounds bad, but was actually really nice! We met a local who offered to show us around town a bit. At the end of the night we ended up back at this restaurant called Wok-A-Mole which has Mexican and Asian cuisine. I had gotten a burrito there the first night which was rather strange but still hit the spot.
The next day we had a presentation about the murals in Belfast and the Troubles for the past 30 years. We learned lot about how the murals have evolved over time and continue to change according to the political atmosphere. Then we went on a bus tour of the city to see some of the murals and the divide of Catholics and Protestant. I was surprised to see how segregated it really was. It was very easy to imagine how it would have been scary to go to some places even a decade ago.
We also got to see the studios where Game of Thrones is filmed which was awesome even though we just saw it from the bus.
After the bus tour we left to go back to Limerick for some much needed rest.
Other than my weekends away so far, I have been making lots of friends who have been helping me learn more about the country. My housemates occasionally talk about politics, but mostly about reality tv (The X Factor is really big here). Classes have been going well, but it is hard to say how I am doing in them since we only have two or three grades in each class that make up the total grade and I have not had any papers due yet. I would have to say the Irish Folklore is my favorite class. We had a story teller come in and tell us about his experiences with people who have told him their stories about fairies and the like. I’m even looking forward to writing my paper for that class which is about funerary tradition here. I actually have to go now though to write my first paper here! No need to wish me luck, I have the luck of the Irish on my side! 😉