For the Love of Galway – Activities in and Around the City

I have been pretty terrible about keeping up with dates, but I want to let you all in on the little things we have been doing around the city because so far I have only talked of a lot of walking around and how beautiful it is but we have been doing a lot of other activities as well.

Galway United FC soccer game – We went to the soccer game on Tuesday, June 21.  Now, I absolutely love soccer and like watching it on TV and even more in person so I had great expectations after learning that the field was close enough for us to walk there.  I was sorely disappointed.  The stands were pretty scarce and the Galway team was not very good.  Usually I can get into a game regardless but the amount that the Galway team was being dominated was just sad; there were a couple of really standout players who were clearly talented, but the rest of the team was pretty lazy and very unaggressive.  It was a fun night because there was a large group of us that went to the game (probably 20) and then the rain set in.  It does rain here a LOT, but usually it rains for a little bit (maybe an hour) and then will be done and it is also typically a light rain.  The night of the soccer game it downpoured.  It was crazy and we tried to wait it out but there was no way so we had to walk home and were drenched through by the time we got back to Corrib Village (our apartment complex).  Overall, a fun time but disappointing game.

Cliffs of Moher and the Burren – Our program took a trip to the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren on Friday, June 24.  Mom, Aunt Mick, and Sam went to the Burren and Cliffs when they were in Ireland and said it was so beautiful so I was very excited about this trip.  The difference was that Mom and co. went on a nice, sunny day and we went on a rainy day.  It was still very beautiful and we had a really awesome guided tour of the Burren via Burren Walks.  Our tour guide was hilarious and the land was beautiful.  It was on a mountain so we were able to see the different farms in the area and he explained the different shades of green to us as the different stages of harvesting.  The guide also told us there is a phrase for the area that when translated means ‘the fertile rock’.  I thought that was such a beautiful way to describe the area.

I look like a turtle with my hood and backpack <don't judge>

Next we had lunch and then headed on to the Cliffs of Moher.  This area is supposed to house the most brilliant views in Ireland.  It was gorgeous but foggy.  I actually loved it.  People in Ireland always apologize about the weather and when you go somewhere and it is foggy they say how horrible it is that you missed the views.  Even with the fog I thought the Cliffs were fantastic so I can only imagine how beautiful they are on a clear day!  It was very windy and the rain was falling hard so it was a little painful to walk in the wind this way.  The picture below shows that we couldn’t even keep out eyes open!

The weekend of June 25 I went with some friends to Dingle.  It was just a girls trip: two of my roommates <Shannon and Ashley>, Haley, and me.  We rented a car and Shannon was a champion driver!  I was so impressed with how well she handled driving on the itty bitty roads and on the left side and she seemed totally unphased.  I loved Dingle!  The drive down was very foggy and it was great!  There was a point where we stopped on the road where there incredible greenery and then the foggy clouds were dipping down between the mountains and I thought ‘if I got to pick what heaven looks like for me, this would absolutely be it’.  We got in Saturday afternoon and were walking around to find a B and B and we kept going in and finding no vacancies.  There was a pub we were already planning to go to because of the good trad music and as we got to that pub there was a B and B right across the road so we took a shot and we got the last two rooms they had!  It couldn’t have been more perfect.  Dingle is just such a cute, quaint little town.  LOTS of pubs <a bartender told us that there are more pubs per area than anywhere else in Ireland> and stores; we thoroughly enjoyed the shopping!  We also saw an O’Sullivans pub with the Gaelic spelling which made me very happy.  Saturday night we went to the pub for trad music and it was the best!  It was just a guitarist and an accordian player and it could not have been more perfect.  We got to sit by the fire place and even had some rowdy entertainment.  Two very drunk girls from Cork decided to do traditional Irish dancing in the small 4 ft by 5 ft area where there was an opening and they kept running into  our table and knocking over our drinks but it was amusing to say the least.  The musicians were clearly a little annoyed, but you could tell they also thought t was kind of funny.  Sunday we got up and drove the Ring of Dingle and the views were spectacular.  We came across a little town and went into this tiny church and all of the paperwork, pamphlets, and even the headstones in their cemetery only had Gaelic writing.  I find Gaelic so interesting because there seems to be very very little correlation to English or any other language I have seen so it’s not like you can look at the signs and just figure it out.  If they don’t list English under the Gaelic you are just out of luck!

here is my heaven and the picture does it no justice





Galway is my new Number 1

After the Aran Islands it is like life settled in here and this place became my home which is so fun.  I go to class every day and then still have quite a bit of time to wander the city.  First session <the first 3 weeks> I only had one class from 9-11am, so I was done very early and had all day long to gallivant around!  This session <we only have two weeks left – sad> I have two classes.  I want to let you all know about my classes because like everything else that has been amazing here, the classes have been fantastic.  I already spoke a little about my Development of Human Rights class and all I can add is that I am so happy I took it.  Getting up at 9am after a night out is pretty rough, but so worth it.  I am so glad that I now know about the history of different human rights movements, how and why they began, and how they have progressed.  This session I have American Intelligence Activities Under a Human Rights Model <basically how the CIA fits in the world of human rights and are the tactics used okay> and International Responses to Human Trafficking.  These classes are so very interesting.  Again I am in the 9am and the 11am classes, so it is 2 more hours of class per day but the time just flies by because the information we are covering is so easy to take an interest in.

I am also thrilled to find other people who are interested in the same things.  Haley is one of my closest friends here and a friend I know I will keep in touch with long after we go back to the states and after 2.5 weeks we realized that we basically have the exact same interest:  education/child rights.  It is just funny because we were already great friends and the conversation of what we want to do hadn’t even come up, but once it did it was like, of course we want to do the same thing.  That only makes sense!  Another positive surprise is that the people on this program don’t feel the need to talk about school all of the time.  I would say law students talk about being in law school at least 70% of the time, at LEAST.  I really enjoy talking to my Memphis friends about classes and things we have read that are interesting <and with my friends we definitely talk about other things as well – but the larger group of classmates tends to find law school as the main common ground so that is where conversation gets focused> it is very refreshing to be in such a large group and have so many other similar interests that the school talk is what goes out the window.

Life here in Galway is more beautiful and enjoyable than I could imagine.  Every morning last session I walked to class along the river where I would see crew teams practicing and swans swimming and it was so nice to just walk along and listen to my music and take it all in.  This session I have the 9am with some very good friends so we usually all walk together.  In the afternoons I have been running some along the same river but in the opposite direction and I end up near an Ivy covered castle where there are wild horses.  They are beautiful, the first time I saw them I was stopped in my tracks because they were babies and there were people sitting so close-by but the horses were completely unfazed.  I have only taken my camera along once and the horses weren’t there but I will try, try again!  Here is a little glance at the river area.

The next two photos show something else I love about Galway.  The sun doesn’t set until close to 11pm and it rises around 5.  The days are so long which is great because we are only here for a short time so it helps us to really maximize the time we have!  Apparently in the winter they have short days, but a shop owner told me that its not crazy short.  The sun will set at 4 on the shortest day she said so that isn’t too bad; however, I am glad I am here to experience summer!  The next two photos were taken by haley b. and are of the cathedral and a beautiful Galway sunset.  Please enjoy these photos because they take my breath away!

Haley and I usually head to town at least 3 days a week, if not more <a lot of times Ashley comes too and sometimes other friends will come as well> and we use the excuse that we need to go shopping but we really don’t ever buy much.  I have bought only a handful of things since I have been here, but getting out and going into stores gives us a chance to get out and enjoy the city.  We walk in and just take in everything which is so much fun and I am so glad these girls are here and are as excited to get to know the city and make it our home for a the short little bit we are here.  The title of this post claims that Galway is my new number one.  Now this is huge.  Ireland has always been the number one country I have wanted to visit, but places to re-visit are a different story.  My family went to the Cayman Islands when I was 15 and it was so beautiful that we have all wanted to go back ever since <and we tried once, but a hurricane said ‘no way, Jose’>.  The Caymans have been the place that I would re-visit if given the choice for many years now, but Galway has officially surpassed the Caymans in my heart <not that I don’t want to go back to the Cayman Islands – are you crazy?  Of course I do> and if I had to choose between the two I would pick lovely little Galway every day!  I hope y’all are fantastic and I have much more to post and am actually going to try to get another post started later today but for now I am heading out for a run before dinner.  My roommate, Lydie, and another friend, Melissa are making breakfast for dinner for everyone tonight, which is another thing I love:  we have been having family dinners every week where everyone gets together <makes me happy>.


Aran Islands 06.17.2011

They set up our program in a fantastic way.  We are here for six weeks, but four of the Fridays we do not have class.  Instead we have trips to areas around Galway and the ticket prices for the tours were included in our tuition so we do not have to worry about the extra expense; we don’t have to go on these trips, but if we want to it is already taken care of for us.  Friday the 17th <the same morning Mom, Aunt Mick, and Sam left>, we went as a program to the Aran Islands.   I only brought a weak memory card <this was an accident>, so my camera is taking about 30 pictures at a time and then hits its max until I upload them onto my computer.  I know I can buy a card cheaper in the states, so some of the photos from this post are from Haley, my fantastic Galway program friend!

We took a bus to the boat and the boat across.  We were hungry when we got there so we ate and then headed out for the day.  Ten or eleven of us rented bikes and someone had an ipod and speakers so we could listen to music along the way.  One of the funniest moments of this trip so far was as we were all pulling out from the bike shop we had an un-planned moment of pure soundtrack genius as “Highway to Hell” blared through the speakers.  We did not realize how uphill the biking would be, but the island is just amazing.  The views were incredible because from every point you can see the ocean, the green land, and the stone fences that snake their way throughout.

photo credit to h.b.

Our first stop was a watch tower that was very broken down in a way that it seemed like we should be stepping over ‘No Trespassing’ signs, but from the top the views <and the wind> were breathtaking.

photo credit to h.b. - looking out of the tower with my roommate, Shannon

photo credit to h.b.

photo credit to h.b.

From the top of the tower we saw a round fort <like the Stague Fort I saw at the Ring of Kerry> a little ways away so we got down from the tower and walked to the fort.  When we got there you could climb on top so most of the people we were with climbed up and enjoyed the view for a little bit.  I don’t know if I have a thing for forts or what, but this part of the day was key.  It was great because we were all just becoming friends and I think it was obvious then how well we were all going to get along during this program.  I also love that we were all taking it in, enjoying it, and really appreciating that we are in an amazing place for the summer.

photo credit h.b. - view of the fort from the tower

photo credit to h.b.

Peter on the fort

photo credit to h.b.

I think this photo actually came from Kevin

photo credit to h.b.

photo credit to h.b. - the group after the fort

After the fort, we kept riding <a lot of uphill> toward the cliffs.  All of the signs are in Gaelic and, apparently, to build a house there you have to have lived on the island for seven years and be fluent in Gaelic – so they take their culture very seriously which is pretty awesome.  We went through a town where you couldn’t bike any further so we had to hike up to the cliffs and another fort which were amazing!  There are so many beautiful colors and we all sat in awe.  I have never heard men say the word ‘beautiful’ as much as I have since we have been here.  I have heard the guys in my program utter that word many different times throughout this trip and it is so true and there really is no other word to use.  ‘Beautiful’ doesn’t even come close to capturing what we are actually seeing.

photo credit to h.b.

photo credit to h.b.

photo credit to h.b.

Overall, good day I say!


Galway catch up

We got to Galway on Saturday, June 11 and I met two of my roommates, Ashley from Florida and Shannon from Boston.  We have a four bedroom apartment with a common kitchen and living room.  That day we walked around Galway for a good while and just oriented ourselves in the city.  Sunday was a lazy, rainy day.  I met my third roommate, Lydie and looked around the apartment a little more.  There are four apartments in our building, all with students from our program; there is a building next door that also has four apartments of students from our program and outside our main doors the two buildings share a courtyard.  The apartment isn’t incredibly nice <ie, small kitchen, carpet stains, etc>, but the setup is probably the best it could be.  Because we are surrounded by people from our program all the time we have gotten to know each other really quickly.  There is another apartment of students that don’t live in the complex the rest of us do; they have an awesome apartment downtown, but because they go out with us a lot and are in classes, we are still able to get to know them pretty well.

Sunday afternoon we had a program orientation.  We met the program director <who is also my professor for the first, three-week session> and were able to meet the other students.  The program is based out of a Boston law school with an affiliate school in Texas.  Most of the students are from Boston, 4 are from Texas, there are a couple of Canadians, the rest are from a lot of different law schools across the states: Tennessee, Ohio, Kansas, Florida, Minnesota, and California.  We also took a tour of the campus and then went to Monroe’s pub for pizza and pints.  My roommates and I ended up staying pretty late meeting people in the program and listening to the live music.

I am so glad I did this program.  I started law school because I wanted to go into human rights law <specifically education rights> but I don’t know of anyone else at my school who has that interest <note: I am sure there are people, I just have not met them> and I wasn’t sure how to go about getting into that field.  I saw this program as an opportunity to have a great time and learn a lot and so far, that is exactly what its been.  Monday, June 13 we started class.  This session I am only in one class: Development of Human Rights Law.  The professor is great.  He is very laid back but gives us a thorough history behind the human rights movement.  There is a lot of reading, but it could be worse.  I could have two classes this session 🙂 that comment will probably come back to bite me next session!

This is going off on a sidenote, but I am not here pretending that I know a ton about history.  Growing up, I was not at all interested in history or politics but for as lost as I felt academically in college <read: I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do and changed my mind about my major ridiculously often> something occurred there that changed my life.  I became interested in politics and the way policy works in the world and how it should be used to help better people’s lives.  Since then I have started to love history but I am still catching up.  Clearly I learned about history growing up but I wasn’t interested in it so I willingly forgot it all.  My class this session has helped me grasp a lot of what I once learned because it has taught me how World Wars 1 and 2 really started the human rights movement.  I want to understand how we got here and where we can go next.  Anyway, suffice it to say class is going great.

Mom, Aunt Mick, and Sam spent Monday at the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren and they loved it.  They had a nice, pretty day and were able to see the puffins.  They stayed the night there Monday night and Tuesday when I got out of class we met back up and the four of us went up to Connemara.  Connemara is beautiful!  A lot of places in Ireland you go to an area and there is a common driving trail around so you can see all of the sights.  On the drive there it was incredible to see the difference in the land; we were driving down the road with mountains on our left and mountains on our right and they looked incredibly different – pictures below.

We also saw sheep walking on the road and then we stopped at one of the beach areas to eat.

Our first big stop was the Kylemore Abbey.  It was built as a castle in 1845 and became an abbey in the 1920s.  The original owner’s wife died at a very young age and he had a Gothic Church built on the grounds in her honor.  The church was my favorite part of the grounds and the inside has marble columns and all of the marble comes from Ireland – green marble from Connemara, red from Cork, black from Kilkenny, and gray from Ulster.  The actual abbey is incredibly beautiful, but the inside was more of a museum and only a very small portion is open to view.

our first view of the abbey

with Mom in front of Kylemore Abbey

now with Aunt Mick

Kylemore Abbey

views on the grounds

the Gothic Church


the Gothic Church

Kylemore garden - the largest walled garden in Ireland


When we left the abbey, we drove to a coral beach.  Most of the sand has bits of coral in it.  There were also huge rocks all along the water and from the tides the rocks ahve a really cool marble look to them.  Mom and Aunt Mick scoured the beach for their finds (they both collect sand/shark teeth/rocks from beaches) and I had a fun time jumping from rock to rock and just sitting on the rocks enjoying the views.  There was also a horse right next to the beach and it was the most beautiful horse I have ever seen.  It was blonde-ish, but its mane and tail were dark brown.  On the drive home we saw some more

Wednesday we went to a little town for some antique shopping and I saw beautiful Connemara marble stud earrings but I refrained from getting them.  Subsequently, I regretted not getting them every day!  Funny how that happens.  After that, we went to Salthill which is close to Galway and there is a rock beach where people were swimming.  Crazies – it must be so cold!  The town is very nice too – we ate at a fantastic bakery while we were there!  If you have heard the song “Galway Girl” there is a line about taking his girl for a walk around the Salthill promenade; that’s where we went.  When I got back there were some ducks just chilling in my courtyard.

Thursday, June 16, Mom, Aunt Mick, and Sam met me at school after class and we walked over to the Galway Cathedral.  It is so incredibly beautiful that I have been back two more times since our first visit!  The floors are marble with the same colors I saw at Kylemore Abbey.  You just cannot get used to that kind of beauty.

Galway Cathedral




After the Cathedral we walked around the city.  We stopped at the Spanish Arch along the river.

After that we walked around Quay Street which is now the area that I love.  I cannot believe I am so lucky to be able to live in this city <even if for a short time>.


Quay Street (pronounced 'key')

Thursday night we went to dinner.  Mom, Aunt Mick, and Sam had to leave the next morning at 5am so I went out with friends from school.  We went to a pub called ‘The Quays’  and had sooo much fun!  They have a band that plays every Thursday that is amazing – just my style!  A LOT of Johnny Cash, some Lynrd Skynrd, some John Denver.  Needless to say we have been back and will go again!  Friday morning I woke up at 4 or 4:30 to go make sure Mom and crew were up and to say goodbyes.  I am so glad they were able to come here and we got to see such amazing things while they were here.  I feel so lucky that we had the time to travel around because now I am able to fully enjoy being in Galway and know that I am not missing out too much on the rest of Ireland because I saw and enjoyed so much of it.

I will try to post again soon.  It takes a really long time to get all the pictures up and organized, but I want to put a lot so y’all can really see and feel like you are here with me!  I haven’t taken too many pictures since settling in to Galway because I see a lot of the same things every day, but it is not lost on me.  I wake up every day so excited to be here and I am glad to be sharing it with y’all <even if I am really terrible at updating frequently>.



Dublin to Galway – the fabulous trip

Our route is below.  Wednesday we went from Dublin to Wicklow to Glendalough to Callan.  Thursday we went from Callan to Cork and Kinsale, then to Killarney where we started the Ring of Kerry and stayed the night in Kenmare.  Friday we finished the Ring of Kerry then went up to Limerick and Lough Gur where we stayed the night.  Saturday we went to the Knappogue Castle by Bunratty then up to Galway – our final destination!

Wednesday, June 8 we checked out of our Dublin hotel and went to pick up the rental car, then we met up with Aunt Mick and Sam – they made it to Dublin too!  Pretty immediately we headed out of the city toward Wicklow where we had lunch before making our way to Glendalough, a medieval monastic settlement.  This place was destroyed in 1398 but there are still remnants of the buildings and it is beautiful.  In the pictures you will see the ruins from the monastery, the cemetery by the church <I so prefer the ld headstones to the shiny ones they make now>, the gate to the cemetery, and the sheep along the walk to Upper Lake.

After Glendalough we wanted to head toward Tipperary because we had some distance to cover but w ended up stopping in Callan because we were all very tired so we found a bed and breakfast that turned out to be the best possible place for us to stay.  The owner’s name was Ena and she was the sweetest lady, she recommended where we should go to dinner <where I had the best beef stew I have had yet> and made us a traditional Irish breakfast the next morning.  She also had fantastic gardens on her property and had chickens, ducks, 2 horses, and a donkey.  I got to hold a baby chicken that was only three weeks old!  Ena was hospitable and we had such a great time talking with her about her renovating her rental properties and the boarding school students that come to stay in her house during the school year – we could not have asked for a better B and B experience!

When we left Ena’s on Thursday, we drove down to Cork.  Apparently my Sullivan family is from that area.  I am not sure where and don’t know anyone there but I wanted to just go to see what it looks like and I think if I had more time I would have really liked it.  It was a city that was hard to navigate and as I was reading the map, Mom was driving, and we were not seeing eye to eye – it was a little stressful so we drove on down to Kinsale which is a town right on the water where we ate lunch before starting our drive to Killarney so we could travel the Ring of Kerry.  We got to Killarney and started the Ring of Kerry drive and the views were breathtaking.  NOTE – in the second picture I am not wearing a snuggie but a blanket – I’m not judging but just clarifying!  Sam and I also climbed the perfect tree at this pitstop!


Thursday night we stayed at a B and B in Kenmare and had dinner at a pub with live music <my fave>.  The music du’jour was Irish folk singer Pat Kelleher – he was awesome.  It was also really funny because he asked where everyone was from and most of the people were from America or Australia so then when he would have us sing along the Australians would challenge the Americans – it was a good time and we all loved Pat’s music!  Friday morning we left to finish the Ring of Kerry and our first stop was the Staigue Fort.  This might be my favorite thing I have seen yet.  This fort was built between 300 and 400 AD and it was built without mortar!  I just think it is insane to realize that people could build something like this simply by stacking rocks.  It must have taken such strategy to build something that could withstand that much time.  There was a fantastic view and sheep all over around this fort too – it was the best!

I absolutely love this picture.

Side note: beautiful flowers just grow wild here – there are purple rhododendrons all over the mountainsides as well as fox gloves <top picture> and fuschias <second picture>.

After the fort we went on to Waterville.  Here is Sam near the beach with green rocks!

After the Ring of Kerry, we headed to Limerick where we went to Lough Gur.  There is a stone circle and we found baby calves <just weeks old> in the middle!  As we were leaving, the owner of the land came over and told us that there was a smaller circle and a standing stone and told us how we could walk through the fields to get there.  On the way there we passed to adult cows and MAN, the cows here a ginormous!  I have been thinking that all along <don’t know how to explain, but they have incredibly long legs>, but up close it was obvious how big they are!  So, the trek to the standing stone is seriously no joke.  We hiked across a field over a barbed wire fence and climbed up a cinder block wall!  Then the smaller circle was in the field on the way back to the car.  It was very cool to have to hike around and find the other stones!

We stayed Friday night at a B and B right down the road from the rocks and had a picnic on the lake for dinner; we stopped at a church ruin after dinner.

Saturday morning we went to Bunratty but ended up going to the Knappogue Castle instead of Bunratty Castle. Knappogue Castle was built in 1467!  We also went to the walled Victorian garden which was stunning and built in 1817.

After Knappogue Castle we headed up to Galway where I will be until the end of July.  Mom, Aunt Mick, and Sam stayed most of the week in the building next to mine <my apartment complex also offers B and B service> so that was fun because I was able to spend the first week going to class but then still getting to hang out and site-see with family!  I will post about this past week, the apartment, and the start of class tomorrow or Sunday.  Hope everyone has a great weekend!




sorry for the delay

We have been staying in Bed and Breakfast places and have limited internet, so now that we are in Galway I have time to update!  So, back to Tuesday, June 7 – after finding out that Sam and Aunt Mick didn’t make their flight and were going to fly in Wednesday, we decided to spend another night in Dublin.  We got out of the hotel and went to the vodafone store to get a go-phone for my time here.  So, I do have a phone but mostly just for emergencies.  Then we decided to walk to the Guinness storehouse for a tour of the brew factory and we took a scenic route.  On the way we stopped by an old walled city.  <all photos in today’s post were taken by my mom, with the Guinness Gravity Bar photo as an exception – that was a google image find>

walled city

walled city


walled city

walled city

There are gardens everywhere here, even inside the walled city. It is such a beautiful place!

Next on our walking tour of the beautiful city of Dublin was St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  We actually came upon it on accident because we were on the wrong road – how lucky are we!  I know it seems as if we are lost in Ireland ALL the time but the maps are crazy.  On map doesn’t match the next, the road names on the map don’t match the road names in person don’t match those on the map, one road is called multiple names at different points, and the road names are on signs like in the states but on the corners of building and they aren’t always easy to find; for an already directionally challenged person, this makes for a huge headache!  The cathedral was built between 1190 and 1270 <it was built up around the original building so it was a process that took 80 years>.

St. Patrick's Cathedral

St. Patrick's Cathedral

such beautiful details

We also came across St. Augustine and John Church on the way to the storehouse.  The architecture here is so detailed that you end up gawking at every building you pass!  I don’t know the history behind this church I just know that the colors were unique and drew our intrigue.

St. Augustine and John Church

St. Augustine and John Church

Next up was the Guinness tour.  I got us lost here and it was my fault, not the map!  Eventually we made it there and the building was so awesome!  They said it was a Chicago style building but it has huge metal beams all throughout that hold up the building and the purpose is so that anything could happen to the outside walls of the building and the structure would survive.  They were a great almost minty color that really popped on the mostly black background of the rest of the factory.  The tour is a self-guided one but they suggest you spend about 2 hours going through – it is a seven story building and the way they’ve set it up is very cool.  They lay out all of the elements that go into their beer.  There was barley set out so you could pick it up and a waterfall to show the water and clear frames that showed the hops and the yeast.  It was very hands-on and set up like a tour I have never seen.  They also do a tasting halfway through and then when you finish the tour you get to go to the top of the building to the gravity bar that overlooks Dublin where you get a free <really, including in your ticket price would be more accurate> pint of Guinness.  Unfortunately, I am not a dark beer fan.  I thought that I could try to become accustomed to it but at the first tasting which was just about 4 ounces, I could barely get it down.  So, I had a diet coke in the gravity bar and am going to have to find a light beer that I like here.  I saw an ad for a Harp lager that is local that I am going to try.  Maybe as time goes on my opinion of dark beer will change!  The Guinness Storehouse was built in 1904.

Guinness Storehouse

Guinness Storehouse

Guinness Gravity Bar

this photo is not my own, we didn't take a photo from the Gravity Bar, but I wanted to show what it was like.

As we left the Guinness tour we were STARVING.  We decided to find a place to eat on the walk back to the hotel and on the way we came across Christ Church Cathedral.  It is atypical for a city to have two medieval cathedrals, it is thought that St. Patrick’s Cathedral was meant to replace Christ Church and luckily that didn’t happen!  The church was founded in 1030.

Christ Church Cathedral

On Wednesday we met up with Aunt Mick and Sam and left Dublin for the rest of our tour of Ireland.  I will post details and pictures of Wicklow, Glendalough, Callan, County Cork, Ring of Kerry, Limerick and Lough Gur, Knappogue Castle, and then the trip into Galway later today or tomorrow!


hello, Dublin!

We’re here!  It took about 18 hours for us to get from Nashville to Liverpool but we were lucky that our 8 hour flight from Memphis to Amsterdam was overnight so we were able to sleep a bit and the flight was nice – they served dinner and breakfast and showed three movies.  I don’t sleep very well sitting up, but we both managed to sleep a few hours on that plane.  We were excited to have a 5 hour stop in Amsterdam, so we put our carry-ons in a locker, got train tickets, and were assured by the ticket seller that once off the train there was shopping and food within a three minute walk.  Well, we were there for at least 45 minutes and walked in every direction and could not find a thing, it was as if we were stuck in this big, cement industrial park with offices everywhere and no people <seriously, we probably only saw 20 people while we were there but we saw at least a couple thousand bikes parked in the lots so I want to know where everyone was>.  I am sure it was all right under our noses but our maps didn’t match up to any of the road names which was a little frustrating and made me feel slightly like a novice world-travelling failure.  Once we realized we had no hope of finding anything we just sat for a while before heading back to the airport; the weather was nice and there was a great breeze.  Our flight from Amsterdam to Liverpool was short, about an hour and a half, but it provided me with the best nap I had of the whole trip!  In Liverpool there was a hotel right across from the airport and since we didn’t have any reservations we went and stayed the night there.  There was a big Beatles larger than life mural on the wall and the hotel was decorated with plush pink and lim green <but, mostly pink>, pretty different from the mostly neutrals you find in US hotels! Once we got into the hotel, Mom sent a couple of emails and I fell straight asleep!  It was only about 5pm but we ended up sleeping until around 8:30 then getting up to go eat dinner.  We didn’t end up really going to bed until about

Hotel Lobby in Liverpool

3 am which was just 9 pm at home so apparently our bodies were not amused or surrendering to our time-change shenanigans.  When we got up Sunday we caught a bus from the Liverpool airport to the central station where we could catch a train to Holyhead <the town where the ferries leave for Ireland>.  Here are the few pictures I took in Liverpool:

art in the Liverpool train station

This is not Liverpool, but Chester - our train stop on the way to Holyhead, I like the arches

On the first part of the train we sat across from a very nice woman who talked to us the whole time.  She talked to us about the national healthcare here <she says it is great, but apparently they are about to get rid of it after about 70 years of having it> and she also talked to us about her kids and grandkids.  She has a daughter in London and a son in Scotland and was telling us how she goes about visiting them, mostly by public transit.  I have always been a little in awe of public transportation – I loved walking and taking the subway in New York and in Boston, but its even cooler here because they can travel that way between countries!  After the first train, we had a short wait before our next one left so we got lunch then caught the train and we had to stand almost the whole trip – it was packed – but eventually we made it to Holyhead.  I wasn’t quite sure where the ferry office would be, but it was right there at the train station, so we got our tickets and only had to wait about 30 minutes.  Perfect timing!  As we were standing there, I saw a girl walk past wearing what I thought was a University of Memphis sweatshirt, but her bag was kind of covering it so I couldn’t be sure.  When we got on the bus that took us to the ferry and she got on too and I could see it was a U of M shirt.  I thought this was an incredible coincidence so I asked her about it and she kind of acted like it was no big deal.  Apparently she is from Ireland and went to school at the U of M and now works for the Commercial Appeal.  I thought it was the coolest thing but she wasn’t too friendly; I think I must have just caught her off-guard because Mom said she smiled at us when we were getting off the ferry and I didn’t see her.  The ferry took about 2 hours and it was pretty nice because I had school stuff I needed to work on and Mom was reading a book so it gave us a nice break to do those things.  When we got to Dublin we had to get on a bus to get from the port to the city center and the guy in the seat in front of us started talking and told us some places to go.  He was very friendly and also told us that Monday was an Irish holiday.  I just looked it up and it is a bank holiday – every first Monday of June here, so a lot of businesses would be closed.  The guy on the bus also said that I would love Galway and he said it is better than Dublin – apparently over one third of all the people in Ireland live in Dublin, so I assume Galway is just a bit more low-key but there is still stuff to do because it is a college area and there are also some of the prettiest cliffs and parks on that side of Ireland.  Again, we didn’t have reservations because we weren’t sure what day we’d get here so we were a little weary walking around the city with our HUGE luggage; I am not super anxious about crime in cities <Hello,I live in Memphis!> but I also didn’t want to be an obvious target walking around with all of my possessions, so we went to the first hotel we came to and it worked out perfectly! Yesterday was lazy, Monday, lazy!  Mom had a stomachache Sunday night and some yesterday morning so she slept in and I had to finish my write-on competition materials for school so I got up early and worked on those for about 5 hours.  By the time Mom got up I was wrapping things up and then wanted to take a nap!  We didn’t get out of the hotel until afternoon but I think our bodies were still just exhausted and behind from the time change.  We got out and walked around the city and went to dinner.  We were going to go to vodaphone so I could get a go-phone, but because of the holiday they were closed.  We walked by the Leinster House which was built in 1745.  They say that the architect who designed the White House did so with this building in mind.

The Leinster House

Gate at the Leinster House

The Bank of Ireland was great too – it was this huge, beautiful building with rounded walls, but I didn’t get any pictures so I will try to do so today if we pass by it again.  We also went into a park at St. Stephens Green (established 1663), which reminded me a lot of Central Park.  Here are a few pictures:

Mom in St. Stephen's Green

We walked around a little after dinner then came back to the hotel.  Here are two more pictures from Dublin.  We loved the moss growing up on this house and the second picture is taken of one side of the river from the other.  Dublin is divided in half by the River Liffey and we are staying on the north side, but very close to the river so we can get everywhere easily!

Today, we got up and went down for breakfast.  We were expecting Aunt Mick and Sam to make it into Dublin today, but their flight was overloaded with cargo, so even though there were empty seats, they couldn’t make it.  They are going to try again tonight.  The flight has 38 open seats and they are around 10th on the standby list, in the meantime they are stranded in the Atlanta airport, so cross your fingers and say a little prayer that they get to fly out tonight and we will see them tomorrow around 10am!  I am just so excited to be here – I have wanted to visit Ireland my whole life and cannot believe I am finally doing it!  I hope you are all doing well – I plan to write again soon.