today is our last day in Ireland; tomorrow we fly out at 6:30am so we're getting on a train and heading closer to Dublin. We got back in the train and went to check in at the Carnige Court Hotel. It was another pretty place and definely much nicer than the hostel in Kilkenny and the apartments in Bundoran.
todays breakfast was also a home cooked meal purchased from Dunnes down the street. We had rashers or bacon, bangers or sausage, eggs, (the best ever) fruits, and of course more bread; it was all so delicious.
after breakfast we went to checkout the Dunkore caves. These caves are different from our caves in that they are formed from the limestone and the columns with in them are formed over thousands of years by the water that seeps into the cave. We were told about the artifacts that were found in the cave proving that there was a large massacre here where the Vikings wiped out all of the people of Kilkenny. When the Vikings attacked the 'Kilkennians' took refuge in the cave. It is said that the Vikings didn't go in after them but that they set fire to the cave, causing the people inside to suffercate.
After twlling rhw the story the lights were then turned off for about twenty seconds and that gave me the ibby-jibbies; I can't imagine what it must have been like to have to have had to walk into that area back when there were no lights or pathway.
after the caves we returned to our hostel and were allowed to cruise around town until we wer to head out for our five o'clock stroll through the woods. The woods wee so beautiful but so different from the woods or more forests in Hawaii and our professor had to remind us that at one time the Irish had depleted all of their natural resources and that this woods were planted. Their woods had really very little understory in comparison to our forests back home and the trees were still rather small but they wee feen and growing AND BRAUTIFUL. It was nice to see all the dogs along the walk too.
Dinner tonight was our dances splurge night although it was not planned thus we were really, really underdressed and while the man says we were lucky they had a table to accommodate the eight of us, the way we were dressed we were lucky they even allowed us in. The man was the restaurant owner and the one who told us the story of Patronella and Dame Alice; he even walked us out and told us he reason for naming the alley butter slip. Apparently this alley that they are located in is the only alley shaded all day long therefore stayed cool enough for the butter makers to stand along the alley and sell their butte without it melting. My steak was joy very good but desert was amazing and the owner was such a nice guy; I think I just orders the wrong thing- nobody else complained about their dish.
today we got to sleep I. A little later seeing that it is now a group of eight rather than fifty. We met in the lobby and headed over to the Natural History Museum. Walking in I was just astonished; I really had not expected to see all these stuffed animals in glass cases. I had never seen anything like this, there were hundreds of not just animals but also bugs, and marine life among just about every living thing I could think of other than our own native animals; those I did not see any of. It was interesting to see all these animals that I probably would have never seen had o not come here along side creatures I didn't even know existed, like something out of a Dr. Surss book or something. The lobster they had in diaplay was extremely huge and the clarity of butterflies native to Ireland was amazing. At first I didn't realize that the first floor were al Irish natives and then the second floor was just whatever. It was kind of sad to think that all of these animals were hunted and killed to be stuffed and put on display, especially the little ones like the otter pups and lion cubs. On the other hand had these animals not been hunted, when the did or possibly become endangered or extinct many may never have known what they looked like. I found it very interesting that fences are not used but rather hedge rows and found a little blurb on the area with the butterflies talking about the way that native trees encourage and feed them but the alien species really do nothing for them- very similar to Hawaii.
Enjoy the pictures; I apologize for the glare, as I had mentioned earlier they were all behind glass.
after the museum we headed to the train station to catch an afternoon train to Kilkenny where we will spend the next three days. Coming to Kilkenny I had several first timers for me. It was my first time ever riding a train (awesome), firs time having something I kept seeing all over Ireland, garlic fries, and the first time I have ever stayed in a hostel. While I wasn't sure what to expect at the hostel it definitely was not as bad as I had imagined. All eight of us were stuffed into one room so sometimes it got a little frustrating waiting on others to close their suitcases so that I could open mine and vice versa but it was nice to be with people whom I knew rather than sleeping in a room with strangers (and having that many people crammed in one room probably helped to warm the room which I I'll it complain about).
after checking in we did some sight seeing waking and looked for our dinner spot. This definitely was a tourist area but a beautiful one at that. Kilkenny had a lot of which themed stuff which we found out later was on account of the town "witch" that used to live here and her servant whom was the first ever to be burned at the stake for allegedly being a witch. It was kind of crept to think that she was burned right out front the city hall of which we walked by everyone we would step outside.
Started again a little later this morning, found a little place that had an outdoor heated dining area that wasn't really heated where we sat since the heating was under the tents and we were seated outside of the tents but this place was extremely cute although I have yet to see a place here that isn't. I had seafood chowder and a coffee mocha. The drink was delicious but once again, even though they are an island, the seafood was not very impressive at all.
after breakfast we walked over to the Jerpoint Abbey. It is the oldest building in all of Ireland as well as the longest cathedral. Also the Bishop responsible for prosecution of Dame Alice (the witch) and her servant Patronella belonged to this Abbey. We climbed the tower which consisted of a hundred and twenty steps with a diameter of four meters at the bottom, decreasing to three at the top; as we got closer to the top it became harder and harder to facilitate two way traffic but once in the top the view was phenomenal.
after the Abbey, it was lunchtime but we weren't hungry so we had planned on just getting some tea or something somewhere until stumbling upon a little place called cleene's and it's awesome sounding soup menu. I had a broccoli and lemon soup that was just amazing and the hot tea was good too. The owner was very friendly and the vegetarian girl in our group was so pleased; the owners wife is a vegetarian and has much influence over the menu leaving many options for our vegetarian. If ever in Kilkenny stop by Cleen's, you will not be disappointed.
After lunch we headed over to the Kilkenny Castle. This cast hold 800 years of history and is the oldest castle in Ireland with just one amazing sight after another. I probably spent a good two and a half hours in the castle; it was amazing. It had belonged to the Buttler family and hold the second longest corridor in in Ireland; the painting corridor. In the painting corridor there were painting hung all along both sides, some probably taller than I am. Over the years many changes were made to the castle including additions and enclosures; hanging along the hallway walls were photos of the castle at different times as well as at different stages of restoration. While much ofthe original furniture had been lost or sold and replicas now stand in their place there were a few originals pointed out an we were told that more are coming back to the castle. I truly fell I love with the castle and took my time absorbing it all causing the rest of the group to leave me and our professor behind. When we were unable to find the rest of the group we thought maybe they had gone across the street so we headed that way. While we didn't find the rest of our group we did find the Buttler family home and their garden, unfortunately the gates were locked and all I could get was a picture from the otherwise of the fence but still Beautiful. We also stopped into a little shop before heading back.
tonight we decided to do a nice home cooked meal so we went to the grocer around the corner and picked up a bunch of stuff. I really enjoyed cooking and eating together like this; passing the food around the table that was prepared together brought a stronger sense of togetherness I think.
Because some students were only staying ten days we headed back to Dublin for their last night to make travel to the airport in the morning easier. We spent the morning on the bus driving in from Bondoran and the afternoon at the national museum where we were able to see the artifacts that have been pulled out of the bog we had visited previously. Due to the composition of the bog it had high acidity, resulting in very well preserved items- human bodies included. Once inside the museum first I had to take a moment to admire once again the architecture and their attention to detail; it was so beautiful. I was surprised to find a canoe in there. From what I can tell, like the Hawaiians, they carved their canoe from a single piece of wood or log. While it differed in shape the resemblance was amazing; although now thinking back I don't know why they wouldn't have canoes, after all they are also an island and would need some sort transportation to get around on the water. While we had been told about the bog bodies I really didn't believe it until I actually saw it for myself; it was just amazing how the bog had preserved theses bodies so well over thousands of years- I can only imagine what we would find in our boss if we had them in Hawaii.
I had determined prior to fig to Ireland I was going too get a tattoo while tatto there. I live my tattoos and thought that this would be an once in a lifetime chance. Seeing that I have a very diverse background, with Irish being part of it, I want to get a tattoo to represent each of my ethnicities so of course getting the one to represent my Irish blood in Ireland only made sense. I got the shamrock on my right wrist (of course a for leased one for good luck) and the trinity knot on my left. Coming to Ireland I fell in love with Theo knot after and being a Christian the trinity knot made sense; it represents for me the father soon and holy spirit as well as part present summer future reminding me where I've been, where I am, and where I'm going. While the tattoo session did cause us to be late for our last dinner together and it was kind of a fancy more formal meal I have absolutely no regrets and live my"Irish ink."
Dinner.....I love pasta!
Dessert was good too; like a lime cheesecake kind of thing with awesome ice cream.
Early start this morning but for a good, no, no, a great cause- GAINTS CAUSEWAY. I was really excited about this trip because not only the magnificent natural formation of the rocks but I was told we would be able to see Scotland from the shore at Giants Causeway and being of Scottish decent I was excited. Unfortunately the fog was much too thick and even seeing much past the shoreline was considerably difficult. None-the-less I thoroughly enjoyed the hike down with the entertaining story of the the two giants, so much so that rather than catch a bus back up to the lobby area so that i would have time to look around in the, i guess it would be considered a museum, I hiked back up. The rock formations were so consistent that I found it hard to believe that it was a natural occurrence but then again what would be the point in creating this as far as human gain goes? To have something to look at? I think God does a fine job of that on his own and the Giants Causeway along with all the beautiful landscapes we've seen here and enjoy from all around the world is proof enough that he's got it all covered.
I was also amazed at how smooth the surface was and while i climbed up one side and down another I feared one of the hexagons breaking off and me tumbling to the ground but no such thing happened and if the amount of visitors there that day is any indicator of the normal day, if they were going to collapse or break I believe it would have happened long ago.
It was also interesting to learn that exploiting this natural wonder is nothing new and even in Ireland's beginning times this was a wonder to be seen for a fee.
If ever you visit Ireland you MUST SEE GIANTS CAUSEWAY.
After seeing the beautiful and meaningful murals throughout Derry we walked over to the city walls and got to walk up along them. We got to see where the soldiers would havepatrolled during the times when the wall was in use. We got to see the lookout towers and the little archers' nooks (um not sure what they're called) and most interesting was seeing and actually touching a real life cannon. It is amazing how big and heavy these things were and to imagine the struggle it was to move them around and get them here on top of the wall without all of our modern machinery and technology. Along the wall there was a beautiful little church that while i was unaware of it at the time weren't supposed to go into just so that we'd be able to to keep up with the rest of the group but i wasn't the only one to go in and i think even if i had know at the time there was no way i was going to just pass it by; the stained glass was exquisite, the garden outside beautiful. Everything here (in Ireland) is so dreamlike.
The walls are four hundred years old and intact which is evidence of just how effective they were when they were in use; since completion in 1619 they have never been breached. Inside the city walls you find Ireland's first planned city, the second largest city in Northern Ireland, and the fourth largest in all of Ireland. With in the city lies the Guildhall which houses an amazing pipe organ that unfortunately I was unable to hear due to lack of someone knowing how being present but I did think it very interesting that if I had claimed to be competent I would have been allowed to play it; maybe I should have made the claim just to hear it but seeing it was also amazing SOO.....
After seeing the Guildhall I headed to the Derry city craft village and got to see some really cool local made items. When it was time to go back and meet the rest of the group I was freezing (as usual) watching a few kids run through the water fountains in Guildhall Square.
Lectures first, FUN or Craic after...
This morning we heard two people lecture; the first was a lecture on the whole ordeal between Europe and Ireland and how North Ireland and the Republic of Ireland came to be as well as how 'peace' was achieved. We received an authentic duplicate of the 1916 Proclamation due to it's 100 year anniversary. this was written to both the men and women of Ireland which at the time was very unusual. This lecture really hit home for me and is another example of how two very different places, so far from each other can share almost identical challenges in the past. it is really sad how we were bullied by the Europeans causing us to loose so much of our lands, traditions, art, language- culture. I was very pleased to see that while they had been oppressed for many years the culture is making a come back and I think that we (Hawai'i) should be following their lead if we hope to have Hawaiian culture and language thrive again throughout the state; teaching the language in the schools and having bilingual signs would be a really good start. There was a lot of talk about Derry City or Free Derry which is where much of the fighting took place and murals from that time are still present on the building walls with modifications being made to better tell the current story but keeping the past present at the same time.
The second lecture was on Ireland's sustainability efforts and their ecotourism. While sustainability is not a word used in Irish tourism it is something that is implemented. I thought it fantastic that just eleven days ago Ireland had put in place a Climate change council and pretty cool that we (Hawai'i) are not the only ones to ban plastic shopping bags. While there were little tidbits of information thrown at us throughout the lecture, for the most part the woman was giving us resources such as book and movie titles to check out for more information.
Now the fun part.....High ropes
when I first heard the term 'High Ropes' I wasn't sure what they meant. We had the choice of high ropes, yoga on the beach, or kayaking. I had wanted to do the yoga since I enjoy yoga and was actually really kind of missing my exercise regimen which actually includes yoga but the woman in-charge was like, 'you can do yoga on a beautiful beach anytime, why not do something you can't do in Hawai'i?' OK, high ropes it is, since I can also definitely do kayaking at home as well. When we got to the Donegal Adventure Center and I saw the high ropes obstacle course I thought nothing of it other than, 'I could have also done this at home' but probably wouldn't have; it was like a big climbing course. Prior to actually doing any of them it didn't look too intimidating but with each activity they got, not worst but I guess a little scarier. Doing each activity took a little more courage than the last and when you were done with each it felt so good, that 'I can do anything feeling.' When we were done and met up with the rest of the students I was really relieved I didn't choose to do the kayaking- they had to put those full body wet-suits on again.
After the long night we had last night getting out of bed to be at breakfast at ten was a little hard but getting in the water, I was looking forward to that. I can't believe a North Shore girl and only the second time ever I will have been surfing, like actually surfing. I've body surfed and gotten pounded plenty but with a board only once in the Pacific and now, once in the Atlantic. Even harder than getting up this morning was getting into the full body wet-suit. While at the hostel last night one of the surfers warned us, not about getting into to suits but how one must train before getting in the water with them on; due to the extreme resistance maneuvering in a full body wet-suit is quite challenging. It only took about forty-five minutes to put the suit on, something I swore I will never do again, we headed out to the beach. First we did some instruction on the beach with our huge foam boards and then spent about an hour actually on the water, which really wasn't long enough. upon entering the water it was a little FREEZING but it was a matter of no time before I had warmed up to it; especially being a North Shore Hawaiian girl first thing I had to do was dive under- good hang over cure too!
After surfing and some lunch we did a coastal walk where we learned about the issues they have with their waste water treatment plants and the waste leaking into the nearby water. we also got to walk on the beautiful quarts and limestone that makes up majority of the island and examine fossils left behind in plain sight. We saw some opihi or limpets with barnacles growing on them, something that doesn't happen in Hawai'i. Not sure why the barnacles but found it interesting that while it is an island and they do eat fish and shellfish, unlike Hawai'i, the Irish do not eat their opihi, not even in their time of the great famine or the great hunger as some like to say since famine implies no food which was not the case here, just mismanaged and improperly distributed food. Along our walk we came to a widhing chair, had a sat and made a wish and then walked across the fairy bridge. The perfect end to our chilly coastal walk was a nice hot latte at the beach where we had been surfing that morning.
Dinner was alrialright but the movie that follwed was great. Yhe movie was a documetary of how surfinsurfing got to Ireland; i really enjoyed it and immediately ordered two copies-ocopies-one for me and another for my dad a lifelong sufer whom i miss terribly.
Our first stop was at the Creevykeel Court Cairn or tomb. First thing I noticed before walking through the bushes and actually seeing Creevykeel was (again) a tree littered with material and what not tied to it. Secondly, I noticed how much this place resembles our heiau in Hawai'i. While it's my understanding that the heiau in Hawai'i were more like shrines and temples but I may be wrong. Anyway, I hope that's the case here and that this 'tomb' didn't really have bodies underfoot; poor guys getting walked all over. But just to be sure and since I don't know the proper Irish protocol I followed what I know of Hawaiian protocol and cringed every time I saw some one stepping on, over, or on top of the sacred stones. Also the view: BREATHTAKING, with the fields of green and ocean in the distance along with a castle.
Afterh Creeykeel we drove out to Drumcliffe on our way to Sligo and stopped to see the High Cross and W. B. Yeats' grave. I also picked up a couple of books that were collections of his poems and seeing that he is unable to sign them I did the next best thing; took a picture with his grave and the books. While I know I could have picked up Yeats from about any bookstore, getting a picture of them with his tombstone I could not. After Drumcliffe we went to Sligo and were set loose in the city for a few hours of exploring. I grabbed lunch from the Bagel Bar to go and it was awesome. I saw one tattoo parlor and they were unable to do my tattoo at the moment but told me that it would only take like an hour, stating that maybe one of the other four parlors in the city could do it for me, so with just under two and a half hours to kill, I was on a mission with my panini and smoothie in hand. I had no such luck getting a tattoo that day but did truly enjoy my sight seeing and even came across an original mini copper in one of the parking garages.
after leaving sligo with no new ink we made one last stop on our way back to Bundoran; Glencar Waterfall which i located at the foot of the hills Yeats would frequent and where he believes the fairies that he writes about live. It is also rumored that his body still remains in these hills and was never actually moved to his tomb at Drumcliffe. We were also introduced to the 99, a delicious ice cream treat with a chocolate stick in the soft serve or whatever it's called there- maybe just a 99. The ice cream was delicious, the pastures and hills surrounding the waterfall beautiful and the walk to the waterfall and the waterfall it's self- magical. I thought it was really cute to see my friend and fellow classmate making a lei for the fairies.
For dinner we were at McGriggles again and tonight I decided to try the seafood pasta; I was really surprised- for an island they really did not do the seafood well. But the dessert, homemade apple pie with custard over top, looks better than it sounds but way better than my disappointing main-course.
Tonight was the big night, the concert we've been hearing about since we got here- Johnny Gallagher & the Boxtie Band. According to the Irish he is the greatest guitarist alive and for sure the most famous in Ireland. I thought it kind of strange to have the concert start at midnight but I guess when the sun doesn't go down until ten or eleven midnight is reasonable. Well Johnny he started late and ended on time but he played the entire time with no breaks so I give him that. I was a little surprised that all of his songs were covers of American songs but it was nice to not have to pretend to really enjoy music that I had never heard before, instead I just genuinely enjoyed the whole experience. At first I was a little worried about the crowds, there were so many people and then I became concerned about fighting happening because of the amount of people and the diversity but no such thing. Some guys were throwing their glasses down causing them to shatter when their drinks were done but apparently that's normal and the bar owner actually said that it was a pretty mild night and usually many more glasses get broken- maybe it had something to do with the over fifty study abroad students in the audience that were unaware of this custom. The concert finished at three a.m., went and hung out did some kanikapila with the Irish in their hostel until about 5:30a.m,, enjoyed the sunrise on the walk back to our apartments and then I surf at like eleven; this will be interesting.
The lecture on the Gaelic language really hit home. Everyday that i am here i am seeing more and more similarities between the irish culture and its suppression and the hawaiian culture and our suppreasion. For much of the same reasons both our cultures and languages were endangered as well as many of the same reasons for the revival of them. The Gaelic language, as with the Hawaiian language, were supressed in order for the whiteman to gain power (yes i realize Irish are white also, stick with me) and the revival in both areas can be accredited to the people's love for their land and their desire to see their land and their people flourish. There were even a few times during the lecture, i dont know what it was but i felt myself tearing up.
lunch was just a stop at their local super market, SuperValu, i got the best prepacked salad ever. It had the freshest veggies, the tastiest tomates, and the best chicken breast you will ever try; it was crisp, it was moistt, it was heaven. And the bread, with pesto tomatoes olives caraway seeds and god only knows what else was also magnigicent!
also finished these...to go with my scarf
the folk village was cute and the gift Store had something for everyone although i was surprised at the cost of an Irish calendar, 6-8 euro which is like 10 to 11 dolalars so i passed but i did get some cool postcards to send home. I really liked seeimg the way my ancestors lived and the cute little fairy door they had. We were told, not at this time but earlier in the trip, that its not uncommon to see little areas for the fairies set up to welcome them.
the cliffs are amazing, so beautiful. Mika and i saw a veach and asked Niamh if peiple go thee and she said nope, no way to get there...we giggled about it and i said if it were hawai'i we'd find a way. But i guess when its freezing all the time no rwason to go iut of your way to get to a secluded beach...the walk was about a mile each way so Mika and i decided we were going to run it. the way down was fast and fairly easy; the way up was, in mika's words, "Heavy."
dinner was 'bangers' and mash, amazingly yummy for something so simple