Thanks to everyone for their pictures of all their friends they met along the way. I know there are a few missing but we could not take the camera everywhere I guess, we already were sticking out as the tourist we were. I hope this is a good last thing to post, a goodbye. Keep in touch!
As far as the “Oneliners” we have decided to keep them to ourselves. They would not make much sense to you and half a story is not very interesting. Just know there are so many more stories that can not be published and if you are deciding to go to Ireland or not, I say, “Go!” There are more than enough reasons on these pages to convince you to leap out of your comfort zone. Travel will change you and no one can really tell you how because I have learned by watching 13 other people, it depends on the person and where your journey in life rests. Be assured you will not remain the same and even a year from returning I think you will be surprised how it still creeps into your sub-conscience and motivates a decision or simply the new pace at which you move through life. So what are you waiting for? Get your paperwork in!
Yet to come : the slideshow with all the people we met along our adventure and “One Liners”. So keep checking in…
I love this picture because on our last Fri. and Sat. we went to two towns: Rock of Cashell and Castle Caire; we were so exausted we just wanted to take our ritualistic nap. The Montestary had us on a strict routine of dinner at 5:30; so we usually napped after school for 30 minutes until dinner time. Habits are hard to break, I find I still want my nap; most likely cause I might still be on Dublin time, but I am in denial about that.
The Round Tower in Cashell was a great adventure, climbing the oldest bell tower in that part of Ireland. They are only found formed of this shape in Ireland. I climbed it with some of the funniest and craziest people so I did not get my epiphany moment like Josh (from last year’s group); but the view from the top was amazing. So much so that we stayed so long the ‘volunteer’ at the bottom came up to fetch us. We liked it, so we stayed and kind of lost time for a bit. The Rock of Cashell was one of the best sites for pictures. It felt like a graveyard though, yes it did have one but for the fact the roof was gone. It felt like ruins and we walked around to piece history back together. It was a place with more introspective thought. I stood alone in the room where the first king was crowned in 450 AD and time could be bent as Einstein suggests.
Kilkenny castle is furnished and when I hear the story I get mad. The Butler family sold it to the state for 50 pounds and then had to give all the Butler silver to the British for back taxes. The depression took its toll on so many in places we do not think. I am glad they sold it to the right people, Castle Restoration Committee. It is one of the few castles in all of Ireland with a roof and furnished. So they made the right decision; but a part of me remembers Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice and thinks of Mr. Darcy and wanting him and his children to keep it. Now it is everyone’s and the days of the castles are over. They stand on the countryside still obtaining respect and admiration from all who see them. You can not visit Ireland and not go see them. You will remember it forever. Don’t forget to get a good night of sleep first. Enjoy the slideshow. (Thanks Josh for some extra photos to complete it.)
Coolmore’s home is Ireland. It is home to 6 of the top 10 european sires in 2008. It is the largest breeding operation for Thoroughbred horses in the world. Gerry, our host, led us around some of the facilities where we saw Galileo, the world’s most expensive horse worth 60 million euro(shown here with the one white sock). We were able to see 5-6 of the 16 studs presently at Coolmore. Their other sires can be found at Coolmore Australia and USA(located in Kentucky). Coolmore is located on 2000 acres of the most exceptional land in Ireland. The studs mated 5x a day collecting fees of 7000-40000 per event. We were able to see the mating room as well, upon description it sounded like a medieval ritual but then again they are horses and not people. There were beautiful pastures of mares with their fillies and colts, unnamed untill their racing begins. Of course I tried to name one filly. It only resulted in a nickname the group gave me. Apparently in all my naiveness- which many of you will understand. I suggested a name to Gerry for the filly of “Butterfly Love” due to her unique markings. Not really understanding there is one person and one alone that names all of the horses and she does not take suggestions. So as the group ‘encouraged’ me to make my suggestion, they stood back waiting. Funny how I didn’t really see that coming. So the entire trip I became “Butterfly Love” while in his best Scarlet O’hara voice teasing me… Corey became Scarlet and the rest is history. Another inside joke that only the Ireland group will understand. I am actually glad for that because that name fits a horse much better than a person. You know though- It did not stop me from suggesting a few more names to our wonderful and gracious host Gerry who did such a good job at putting up with our ‘Twenty questions’.
The people at Tipperary were some of the nicest people found on our journey. From Angela the most gracious host arranging receptions and trips to Hedge schools, Coolmore, and Irish dancing, she made sure we saw the best of her beautiful country. Derek, an irish man raised in England who came back to marry irish, working at the college also made himself quite hospitable. The facilities reminded me much of Pellissippi, being a modern building amongst the older ones. The lunch everyday at the College was quite good, I personally recommend the panninis or the ham and cheese. School was enriching with full text versions of multiple plays, by authors such as Harold Pinter and James Joyce. Poems (my favorite genre) by authors such as: Eavan Boland, Seamus Heaney and Yeats. One of my favorite lines that describe the Irish so well,
I loved his whole manner
Sure-Footed but too sly
His deadpan sidling tact
His fisherman’s quick eye
And turned observant back.
– Seamus Heaney (Casualty)
What made the experience of leaning Irish Literature(mostly) in the setting it was written is how you can transplant yourself back in the time it was written as you see the history still on Ireland’s landscapes. Elaine is constantly teaching History while we are learning Literature and effortlessly we are retaining it. It makes every poem become more alive to us as we understand why our authors are writing and why we are remembering.
We made our way over to the local High school in Thurles and the 5th year hurlers (17yo) taught us some of the techniques and rules of the game, apparently a very toddler version of the game. We had some stand out as true athletes like Charles, Leah and Allyson. Scoring very high once the rules were changed to ‘only the Americans can score’. We were intertwined on each team and it allowed a fun game to go on instead of a massacre. It is very much like American Hockey and I was just glad we only came out of it with a few knocked knuckles. A time or two we almost took each other’s heads off but ‘almost’ is a long way away. When we finished they wanted us to teach them some american football. This was hilarious because they really did not have a concept of “Play over” and without a whistle it resembled more of a rugby match. They were a bit shocked how these american girls were beating them though, thanks to all those trick plays we learned watching UT football (No I am not being facetious).
So… It’s a beautiful day in Cork. Charles and I have decided to make the long trek to the Black Tower. It’s a beautiful tower and super old! Why not? So off we go… soon the clouds begin to roll in (this is typical of the Irish weather). It began to sprinkle as we asked for directions and how long it would take. Another 30 minute walk was ahead of us. “We’ve already come this far! Let’s just finish it.” And so we did… but the sprinkling turned into raining and the raining turned into pouring and the pouring into a monsoon! There we were… a mile from town and a mile from the tower- drenched. head to toe. The paper bags holding the things we had bought were no longer useful. Water had soaked through my boots (this was a feat all on its own) and raincoat. My hair was ruined. We hailed a cab and finally made it to our destination. 6 euro later… we walked through a kiddie museum. All of that for a ten minute walk through a kiddie museum!!!! We called another cab and paid more money to get back to the hostel. Let’s just say… Cork was an adventure. – Racheal Christiansen
It was raining again this morning with a grey sky. We were warned maybe the Cliffs would not be a good site to see today. An hour and half there, stay for 2 hours and then an hour and half back in the rain would not be fun. We resolved to do it anyway rather than another day of shopping. We stuck to our original decision, 9 of us and John. On our bus ride up there the clouds began separating and the blue revealed itself like a smile from the one you love. We felt invited as if Ireland was about to show us something special. We ogled over the landscape on the ride there- personally taking about a hundred pictures. Beautiful hills full of green everywhere with a grey spot that made the homes, walls and eventually the Cliffs. I saw a black faced lamb chewing the grass. A tan heifer stood while her calf suckled. Tall leaning prairie grass fanned out everywhere. Yellow wild flowers spotted the green pastures while earth tried to cover over the rocks, laying there for centuries. We could see all the way to Galway and the Aran islands. It was perfect.