Thursday, May 20, 2010
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
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.
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
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Today was our big travel day. We took a long bus ride down to Cobh in Southern Ireland. On the way we stopped at Wicklow Park. It had a really old cemetery and monastery tower. The tower we saw was one of the seven remaining round towers in Ireland. We also saw an old priest house; there is a fun story behind that little building. People thought that if they were to kiss the house their teeth ailments would instantly heal. Since there were no dentists back then, this seemed like a good cure. There were also hundreds of tombstones ranging in ages. Then we stopped at the Wicklow Park bar and got lunch. I learned that I really do not like Irish mustard. It was amazingly bitter—so spicy, in fact, that I could not eat my sandwich.
Then we got back on the bus for another four hours. We arrived in Cobh and went on a Titanic Walking Tour where we walked around the city looking at historical buildings. The tour guide gave us a brief history of the city. He said that Cobh harbor was one of the largest harbors in the world. It was perfect for times of war, because the navy could keep a lot of ships here. It also had a very small opening, so enemy ships would have trouble penetrating the harbor. Then our guide told us all about Father Browne, which was really nice because I did my research paper on him. He confirmed a lot of my information and showed us pictures that Father Browne took while aboard the Titanic. All and all, I learned a lot from the tour and got some great photos. Tonight I plan to catch up on some sleep. May the luck of the Irish be with you all!
P.S. The Internet here is slow so I cannot upload my photos as of yet, but they will be coming soon.
Today was our free day in Dublin, Ireland. Chelsea and I went souvenir shopping and got lots of good gifts for those of you back home. We also went around the city and photographed buildings we passed by.
Then we traveled to the Guinness Factory Storehouse. It was really neat. The whole thing was shaped like one big pint of Guinness. The tour guide said that if one were to fill it, it would equal the biggest pint of beer in the world. He also said that the factory is the third biggest tourist attraction in Europe, which is pretty impressive. The entire place smelled of the brewing process—no complaints here. Even if someone were not a Guinness fan, he would still like the aroma of the factory. At the top of the storehouse was a built-in glass bar area where they served drinks. We could look out and see the whole city. We were also given a free pint of Guinness. I am not a big fan of beer, but this beer was very fresh. It was one of the best I have ever tasted. After that we stopped at a local pub for lunch. It had really good pasta for a very low price. Then we went back to the hotel to rest up and change.
Tonight we went to a show called The Last Waltz. It was a concert at the Olympia Theater. There were many different “sound alike” singers such as: Neil Diamond, Van Morrison, and Neil Young. The singers seemed to be very “Americanized,” which surprised me. I have to give a special shout-out to my mom. The Neil Diamond sound alike singer was really great! You would have really enjoyed it. The theater was an old fashion style building and the concert itself was new-age tribute to the 1960-80s rock and roll music. It was a great contrast; it was very different than what I was expecting but still very good. The Irish know how to have a good time. Everyone around us was having fun and rocking out to the music. Now I have to go pack for our trip down to Cobh tomorrow. Good night all—wish me luck!