Limerick and Cork and Dublin, Oh My!
Dia duit everyone!
Once again, it has been far too long since I’ve posted anything. But that just means this post will be chalk full of all my wonderful adventures! Life at UCD is passing along at a somewhat alarming pace. I can’t believe that exactly one month ago, I was getting on a plane. It feels like I’ve been here forever, but at the same time, I can’t believe how quickly everything is going. Everyone who told me that the semester would just fly by has been exactly right. Classes are still going well and I’m really enjoying them, for the most part. I’m still working on adjusting to the different teaching styles of the Irish education system, but I’m starting to get the hang of it. I have midterm essays coming up in just a few weeks, so that will be a real test of how well adjusted I actually am.
While I spend my weeks on campus and occasionally around town, my weekends have been totally devoted to travelling! We took a day trip out to Limerick a few weekends ago and even though it was rainy for most of the afternoon, it was great to see another city! When my guidebook told me that there was not much to see or do in Limerick, I was a little worried. But we managed to wander around and find a few things to occupy our time. We visited a local market and museum and we tried to go into St Mary’s Cathedral. When I say we tried, I mean we couldn’t find the actual entrance. Either we read all the signs wrong or it was closed for lunch. But the grounds and the graveyard were very pretty so we made sure to get plenty of pictures and moved on. The most interesting thing we did in Limerick would have to be our trip to King John’s Castle. We were a little disappointed to discover that the castle was not a royal castle and King John never actually even lived there. Instead, it was a military castle used during the Siege of Limerick in the 17th century. The coolest part of the castle was that we could go all the way to the top of some of the turrets and have a great view of the entire city!
I would have to say that my trip to Cork last weekend would probably be the highlight of my experience so far. Susan, Kate, Rorie and I took a 4 hour bus ride from Dublin on Saturday and stayed in a hostel over night. We didn’t quite plan for the trip all that well though. For example, we forgot about the fact that in Ireland, most things close at 5. By the time we got to Cork, found our hostel and got settled it was after 4. Since two of the things we wanted to do required another bus ride out of the city, we walked around and decided to check St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral. It was completely gorgeous! Beautiful stained glass windows everywhere. By the time we found the Cathedral, we only had 8 minutes to look around but I’m glad that we were able to spend a little time there. I’ve always loved stained glass windows and these were definitely worth seeing. Since everything was closing and the rain had stopped, we just wandered up and down the streets for a few hours, admiring the beautiful buildings and taking lots of pictures. We eventually stopped for dinner at a pub called La Chateau and caught a little bit of a rugby game on TV. After dinner, we were all pretty worn out from travelling all morning and walking around all afternoon so we decided to head back to the hostel and just hang out there for a little bit before getting a good night’s sleep!
We got up bright and early Sunday morning, checked out of the hotel and power walked to the bus station to make the first bus out to Blarney to visit the famous Blarney Castle. We only had twenty minutes to make the more than a mile long walk from the hostel to the bus station, but we somehow managed to do it with our bags and everything! And it was definitely worth the effort because the Blarney Castle grounds were beautiful. Plus, we got there right after it opened, so there weren’t too many people there yet. We had plenty of time to wander and take pictures of the grounds and gardens before even making it up to the castle. It was really interesting to be in such an old castle that people had actually lived in! Of course, we climbed to the top and we all kissed the Blarney Stone! I will now forever be blessed with the gift of gab. It was a little bit terrifying to be hanging upside down so far off the ground, but it was totally worth it! The Blarney Castle grounds are pretty large with lots of gardens and lakes to see. It was beautiful and green in January but I could only imagine what it will look like come spring, once all the flowers start to bloom! The Poison Garden would be really cool to see in the spring. It was full of poisonous plants, a lot of which I didn’t know could be dangerous! There was even a Narcotics Cage and a spot for a marijuana plant, but those had been seized by the Garda.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make it out to Cobh to see the Titanic exhibit that I had been looking forward to. We just ran out of time, but it’s something I would definitely consider going back to see sometime! We made it back to Dublin on an express bus and got back to campus around 7 or so, giving me plenty of time to figure out how to watch the Super Bowl! It’s been kind of a bummer to be away from Indianapolis this past week, with so much excitement from Jimmy Fallon on campus and all the Super Bowl festivities going on in town. So I was glad that I was able to find a way to watch the game online with a few friends! Granted I was up until 3am, but it was nice to have a little touch of home. And the game did get pretty exciting there at the end, so all and all it was worth the sleep deprivation.
I haven’t done as much exploring around Dublin lately as I did early in the semester, but last week I finally made it to Bulters Chocolate Cafe! And let me just say, I think that Butler University should have a branch on campus. They had the most delicious hot chocolate. I will definitely be going back soon. On Monday afternoon, after we finished with classes, Rorie and headed out to the zoo! I haven’t been to the zoo at home in years so I was like a little kid all over again seeing all the animals. We only had an hour and a half to see everything, so we did a pretty speedy trip and because it was late in the day, we weren’t able to see all the animals. We are definitely planning to go back in the spring when it’s warmer and we have a little bit more time!
IFSA-Butler is taking us on a trip up to Belfast this weekend and I am so excited! We leave tomorrow night, so this will be the longest trip I’ve taken so far. I’ll be sure to get plenty of pictures and hopefully, I’ll be quicker about sharing them with everyone!