A mixed bag: my last trips in Ireland

The thought of how little time I have left in Ireland makes me feel a little sick — as I’m writing this, the countdown is down to less than two weeks. I have a new understanding of what it means to be a mixed bag of emotions. So, for these past weekends I’ve been trying to make the most of the time I have left by making some quick trips to the places in Ireland that were still on my list.

Here’s the quick rundown:

Cork and Killarney

A story I was working on about Irish attitudes towards Jews brought me to Cork for interviews (they went fabulously — I’m saving those stories for a separate post). Since I made the journey as far as Cork, I decided to take advantage of it and see Killarney as long as I was venturing outside Dublin. Funnily enough, I planned the trip so last-minute that I overlooked the location of the B & B that I booked before I left. It was a good 10 miles out of town, and consequently I didn’t really see any of the town of Killarney at all. What I did get to enjoy, however, was the peacefulness and serenity of the surrounding countryside. I took long walks and enjoyed the quiet for the evening and morning before heading back to Dublin to continue work on my story.

Galway

I had been hearing Galway’s praises pretty much non-stop since arriving in Ireland, so when Emily suggested we take a last-minute trip there last weekend I couldn’t say no. We took a non-stop bus from the Dublin city center to Galway , which took less than 3 hours. We spent that night and the next day exploring before returning in time to meet Emily’s friend from home.

We both wished we could’ve had more time there, but I think we did a pretty darn good job to seeing most of the city in 24 hours.

Our first full day began with the greeting of an unfamiliar friend — the sun! We decided to take advantage of our luck and walk along the river a short way to Galway bay. We breathed in the sea air and basked in the bright, yellow light for a good part of the morning.

Next stop was the Saturday market. There were tons of stalls filled with fresh fruit and vegetables, homemade bread and jams, flowers, crafts and other fun trinkets.

We got a few gifts that  I won’t disclose for the sake of a good surprise. I did make one purchase for myself — a gold bracelet taht called to me from an antique stall. The place caught my attention right away, with odds and ends displayed proudly in shallow, open boxes, guarded by a man with an Sherlock Holmes pipe in his mouth that I don’t believe he was actually smoking. The guy explained that the bracelet was from an African tribe located somewhere near the Sahara Desert. I didn’t know if I should believe him but regardless, the bracelet is pretty cool. I’ve worn it every day since.

After shopping and moseying for a few hours, we were getting pretty hungry. To my delight, we found a great place with fresh, native oysters for our final meal in Galway. It was at The Spanish Arch restaurant, named after a monument nearby. I had to have Emily document the moment I had been looking forward to for far too long.

Nom nom nom. The seafood stew was pretty darn good, too.

Soon after our late lunch (and afternoon tea, which has become a habit), we hopped the bus back to Dublin. Now, the party is really over — I’ve got my last final in one week! Do I even remember how to study? Anyone who’s still reading, think happy thoughts for me.

Spring has sprung

Spring has sprung here in Dublin. During these past few days of glorious sunshine, I’ve been enjoying the change in weather by The Grand Canal, a beautiful spot just moments away from my accommodation. It has been so lovely, but not so great for getting work done.

The canal glitters as the light dances in short bursts across its moving surface,

the pulsing water stretching in front of me far in each direction.

Across the way, cars murmur past seeming slower and quieter.

The sun brightens the blue-grey sky as the grass shutters with the rhythm of the wind.

The branches of the tall, barren trees surround me reaching for the water.

Smiles everywhere.

Gaits are wider and slower.

He walks alone with vague purpose. Going nowhere.

Couples with hands clasped and conversations low.

A toddler dances down the path, holding tight to his mother’s steady hand.

A man reads against the side of a building, removed and watching.

The hard morning of a businessman shows on his face.

Her chains clink and her camera beats against her chest as she gazes upwards.

The pup walks faithfully at his heels, looking ahead and not noticing any of it.

Birds fly together, higher and higher. Putting on a show.

Conversations fade into one pleasant buzz, rising and falling.

The man puts down his book and looks up as we meet eyes.

We’re all out together again and have this in common.

Happy spring, everyone!

St. Paddy’s Day Parade

I had been looking forward to this day for a long time. It was St. Patrick’s Day, and I got to celebrate the day in Dublin! The holiday here is extended into a weekend full of festivities all around the city. However, Saturday was the big day and the featured event was the parade.

The parade’s theme was HOW? WHAT? WHY? and the performers explored “the wonder and curiosity of science,” in particular some science-related questions children might ask (things like: how do we dream?). The theme was interpreted by actors with elaborate costumes that followed large, magical floats. Marching bands from Ireland, UK, Russia and America performed amongst the companies as well.

My suitemates and I woke up early to grab a front-row seat to the parade near St. Patrick’s Cathedral, right at the endpoint of the route. As we waited, we noticed the streets filling up with people, most of whom were dressed in fabulous wacky, green outfits and red wigs.

It was a wonderful day all around, but I think my favorite part was when the marching band from the University of Missouri (my school back home) marched by. Taylor and I truly went crazy, singing along to the fight song and cheering on our schoolmates.

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