Thursday, May 20, 2010

Day 12

This morning we set off on an hour and half bus ride to Adare, Ireland. It is a quaint little town that claims to be the “prettiest town in Ireland.” It has houses with thatched roofs and beautiful gardens.

Then we traveled to the Cliffs of Moher, which proved to be my favorite part of the trip. They were absolutely spectacular. The rich green of the grass and the blues of the sky and ocean were breathtaking. One of my favorite points was when I went off on my own and hopped over the fence to get a closer look. At this point there was no barrier, and I could have stepped out and plummeted six hundred feet into the ocean below. But it was nice to get some shots without any interference of a fence or rock barrier. The best moment came after I climbed over the fence and turned around to see the waves crashing against the sheer rock cliffs—the most picturesque site I have ever seen.

After that we went to Limerick where we are spending our last night in Ireland. We went out to the Bunratty Medieval Castle Banquet in County Clare. The dinner was inside a castle, and we had to eat our food with our hands like they did in the medieval times. We were given mead, or honey wine, which made me very warm but was pretty good. It is always good to try new things. For dinner we had brown bread, soup, ribs, chicken, potatoes, and a fruit mousse dessert. It was all really tasty. There were also performers there dressed in medieval costumes. They sang and played instruments. One of my favorite songs they sang was “Danny Boy;” it was a wonderful rendition of one of my favorite folk songs. We head back to the States tomorrow. We get up and leave here at 5:00 AM, Ireland time, and get home at 4:44 PM, Pittsburgh time. Good-bye Ireland—I will miss you!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Day 11

Today was our free day in Killarney. I slept in this morning to catch up on my sleep, which was really nice. I had a traditional Irish breakfast for the first time in Ireland. It included toast, eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding, and white pudding. Black pudding is pretty interesting because it has blood in it, which sounds fairly unappetizing, but was actually very good. I could not really taste a difference between the two puddings. All in all, it was extremely filling but quite excellent.

Then we went shopping around Killarney. We bought some souvenirs and took photos of the town. I am getting some good shots for my web project on Irish fashion. I am noticing a lot of the clothing in stores and on people are pretty similar to what we wear in the U.S.

Then we met Declan Malone, the editor of The Kerryman. This paper is the best selling regional newspaper based in North Kerry. It is extremely localized; it relates local events, sports, and advertisements. Malone said that this newspaper had a lot of sports stories in it making the sports pieces one of the most popular sections of the newspaper. When he was talking about photographers, he said that if they were to get rid of all the photographers and just make the journalists take the pictures for them that it would equal a recipe for disaster. His final advise for photographers was to try to tell a story with a photo and always keep the passion.

Tonight we went out to eat at a very nice restaurant. I had ham and mashed potatoes—a very classic Irish meal. The potatoes were really creamy and good. Then we went back to our room and had some friend bonding time. We talked about life issues and decisions. It was a surprisingly fun time. I have to pack to move again for one last time in Ireland. I am sad that this experience is almost over, but I feel like I really got a lot out of it.

Day 10 - Photos

Irish Whistler and Guitar Player
Tin Flute Player

Irish Dancer

Ring of Kerry

Sheep Dog Demonstration

Irish Sheep

Day 10

Today we traveled to Killarney, Southern Ireland. First we stopped by the Bog Museum where there were several thatched-roofed houses. It was neat to look at the way the houses used to be in Ireland. All of the houses’ roofs used to be made of thatch, but now only a few remain in the whole country.

Next we went to a sheep dog presentation. The modern-day shepherd used the dogs to herd the sheep up and down the hills of the Irish countryside. He used voice commands when the dogs were close by and a high-pitched whistle when the dogs got too far away. He worked with two dogs while we were watching him. Each dog had its own whistle commands; the dogs were so well trained. They could herd the sheep left and right, up and down, and all around the hilly field.

Then we traveled around the Ring of Kerry. It was rainy and very hazy out so the photographs were not the best. We still stopped a few times to take photos of the beautiful countryside. There were many rivers and lakes that we passed by—we even saw the ocean.

Then we finally got to the hotel; it was very luxurious in comparison to the other hotels where we have spent the night. We went out to eat at The Danny Mann Lounge. We had a great Irish meal and Bailey’s cheesecake for dessert. It was very tasty. After we ate we listened to an Irish folk singing group called the Irish Weavers. They played the guitar, the accordion, and the tin flute. It was really neat. They also sang many traditional Irish songs. They really got the crowd into it; everyone was clapping and having a good time.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Day 9 - Photos

The View out Blarney Castle

Watch Tower

Blarney Castle

Day 9

Today we woke up to church bells. They started ringing. We found out they ring about every fifteen minutes--in all hours of the night. After we got ready, we traveled to Cork City where we visited the RedFM Radio Station. There were many different people who were kind enough to speak with us, such as: the production manager, a Gaelic language specialist, and an advertisement and sales agent. Each person told us about their specific job within the radio station. RedFM is meant for a younger age group, so the radio station itself reflected this demographic. They decorated the interior of the building in a young feeling mood with lots of red colors. They also play music according to what the age group wants to hear. They also showed us around the production room which was pretty neat. At the end of the visit we all got a free pen; I have to admit free souvenirs are my favorite.

Then we went to the Blarney Castle. I took a lot of photos and kissed the Blarney Stone. Now I will have good luck for the rest of the year! The whole process of actually climbing up the stairs of the castle was more intense than whole kissing ordeal. The staircase was very tight, and the stairs themselves were narrow and steep. When we finally reached the top, we saw out over the Irish countryside. It was so pretty but very high up. We got to the stone and I was the first one to kiss it. I laid down and bent over backwards to kiss it. For a split second I looked down; it was very scary. I am also short, so I had to scoot down so the man who was holding on to me was just barely grabbing my knees. It was fairly frightening but totally worth it. It was one of the best experiences of my life. While at Blarney, I also got a lot of my souvenir shopping done. I bought an aren sweater for myself. Ireland is known for its nice sheep's wool.

Well I'm off to bed. We are traveling again in the morning and I have to pack. We will be headed to Killarney which should be a fun day. After kissing the Blarney Stone today, I have the luck of the Irish, so I hope to spread it to you!