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Thursday, May 20, 2010

"From Bantry Bay up to Derry Quay, And from Galway to Dublin town, No maid I've seen like the sweet Colleen, hat I met in the County Down."

I am sad to say to all of you that this will be my last blog while here in Ireland. I'm reflecting on my times here in Ireland, as I listen to some Irish rock music, and am in the company of new friends. It's been a good time here, and I'm certainly sad to see it come to an end. 

We took our bus to Limerick, but first we stopped in a little town called Adare. It wasn't much of a stop, only for about 20 minutes at a sort of "rest stop" I guess you could say. But Caiti fell asleep on the bus and got locked on the bus and wasn't able to get out! Luckily, the people here are so willing to help, and so nice, a fellow bus driver came to her rescue. He showed us how to get off the bus in case of an emergency and Caiti was able to get out of a side door. I guess it might have been one of those things where you had to be there to think it was funny.

The once again the wheels on the bus went round and round again, and a few hours later dropped us off at the Cliffs of Moher. I can't begin to explain how beautiful it was. The cliffs were filled with rolling green grass. The cliffs were perfectly etched in symmetrical lines, which met beautiful with the crystal clear water crashing against the rocks at the bottom. The sea was so blue, and that was all you could see for miles was blue seas, and blue skies blending together. 

I wish I had pictures to show you but sadly I still haven't figured out what is wrong with my camera, and or computer. So, I will say go sneak around on another photography/photojournalism student's blog and check out the beautiful scenery we were able to see today.

Our group split up, and I walked all over the cliffs taking hundreds of pictures, and tons of panoramas. Andy, Aaron, David and I got a little daring and layed down with our heads looking over the cliffs. I made the boys a little nervous because I kept leaning over the edge. But I must say, I love the thrill, and enjoyed laughing at them get nervous. But as you can all tell, I'm okay, and I didn't fall off!

But two hours there I guess was plenty enough for me. It's not that I didn't enjoy the scenery, it's the scenery didn't love me. Yes, I got sunburned. My face is in a lot of pain, I have a burn line on my chest, and a lovely mark from my necklace. I'm also sporting the farmers tan. How appropriate for going back home!

But after that, all of us piled on the bus, and headed for our hotel. It was a short bus ride, and we drove through Limerick a bit to see the sights. Having Tige, and Joe as our guides has been quite amazing. They have such a deep understanding for their culture, and know just about every place in Ireland! I recommend them if you have a large group coming to Ireland! :-)

Our hotel is the Clarion, and it's really nice. I have to say I have been quite impressed with all the places we have stayed at. They have all been so wonderfully nice!

We dropped our stuff off, got a moments rest, and then headed to Bunratty Castle for a medieval dinner! The place was great!
We immediately were greeted with a glass of Mead, and mingled around for a few songs, and then were ushered down to dinner. We had soup which we had to eat with no spoons, spare ribs, chicken, potatoes, vegetables, and for dessert a custard.  Everything was so great, and the performance of them singing was so amazing. Their voices were so beautiful.

Once we were on our way out, Jan grabbed me and showed me a bagpipe player outside that was a perfect shot for my project. I was so happy. I got a few pictures of him, and now I feel that I can hand it quite an impressive photo essay. I just pray it all comes together the way I want it to. While the bagpipe player was playing, Joe showed me how to Irish step dance, and his method was anything but conventional. I would share here, but I won't. If you are interested ask me when I get back!

Nicole, Andy, Aaron, Bethany, David, and I went around to shoot some pictures for a few minutes, and now here I am writing this blog. This experience here has been absolutely amazing every single step of the way. All the media visits, and tours have enriched my idea of Ireland so well. I feel like I finally know where I come from, and am glad I have stories, and experiences to bring back to my grandfather who is from here. 

We had a quick meeting where we all shared our favorite experiences, and it was awesome to see that everyone had something to share. From experiencing Dublin, to the Cliffs of Moher, from Day 1 until this afternoon was covered in our meeting. All of us have been so thankful to be on this trip, and I'm glad I was able to come. It was a lot of work, a lot of early mornings and late nights, a lot of carrying heavy luggage, and spending tons of money in souvenirs, but I can honestly say, I wouldn't have wanted to experience Ireland any other way.




Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"May the roof above us never fall in." - Irish Blessing

So the trip is winding down now, and as one of our last days here, we had a free day here in Killarney.

I also wanted to add that in my daze of tiredness yesterday, as I read through my blog today, I realized I didn't let anyone know about the most interesting part of my day. The sheepdog demonstration! It was so amazing to see how obedient the dogs were, and how well they listened to commands. Each dog knew different commands that were individually assigned to them. It was fun to see how the sheep herder called the dogs to make the sheep turn left, and turn right. It was also hysterical to see the dogs walk a few steps and stop, and walk a few steps and stop as there master commanded them. It was so interesting.

But back to today...

I woke up early enough for breakfast, and then headed out to take pictures for my project. I walked all around, but I stayed close enough to the hotel so that I was comfortable. I found a few people that were willing to be photographed and they worked perfectly for my web project. So many of you who are reading this might be confused as to what my project is. Let me take a moment to explain.

Everyone here has to do a web project component as part of the graded assignments for the class. We all picked our own projects, and we cover them while here in Ireland. My topic is a photo essay about "the people of Ireland." It seems pretty general, but I narrowed it down to mostly photographing the blue-collar workers of Ireland, and I also photographed a few street performers.

But anyways, I was able to photographer, a butcher, a baker, and a candle stick maker. Ha ha, wait some people might not get that reference. It's from a children's poem. Anyways!

I really did get a butcher, I also photographed a candy shop owner, a horse-drawn carriage driver, and cop giving out a ticket! All in all I'm pretty happy with today's progress, and I'm hoping to get that last few photographs tomorrow while we are on exploring Limerick.

After that I came back to have lunch with Caiti and Jeremy, and we went shopping a little bit. I got a few things for myself, and now I am seriously done purchasing things! I'm running out of money!

Jan, myself, and the rest of the photography students met up at 4:00 p.m. today to discuss the process of putting the photographs online for our website. Afterwards at 4:30 p.m. a speaker from the Kerryman Newspaper, the editor-in-chief, Declan Malone. He was hesitant to talk to us, he seemed to be a quiet man. We managed to open him up by asking questions. 

Frankie asked about his staff, and I thought the most interesting thing about it was how small his staff was. He said there aren't any photographers on staff because they hire all freelance photographers! To me that seems insane, and sad. Also there are only four writers on staff, and two of them cover sports! So that leaves the other two to write the rest of the paper! But mostly he said once again he hires freelance writers. To me it seems like the paper is solely relying on freelance photographers because of how cheap it is. 

I was fascinated by what he had to say, but my hunger quickly took over once his lecture was done. 

I am currently trying to pack my suitcase with all of my gifts from Ireland, and its a daunting task I must say. So everyone wish me luck and hope that I don't have to leave anything behind!



Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light, May good luck pursue you each morning and night."- Irish Blessing

Words to describe today:
-Wet
-Cold
-Uncomfortable
-Foggy

We started off at 8:30 a.m. and I had to eat my breakfast so quickly because it came out at 8:26 a.m.! Anyways, we hopped on our bus, and an hour and a half later arrived in the town where our hotel is at. But wait, we didn't stop there.

We stopped at the Kerry Bog Museum which was like a tiny little village set up to mimic what old towns would look like. There were houses with blacksmiths, and peasant workers. There were also live horses on the property behind fences. They didn't look too happy, but I can't blame them, the weather was sort of depressing. 

I walked around, and eventually spent more time in the gift shop than I did at the actual museum. I picked up a few more gifts, but I don't know how I'm going to be able to fit them in my suitcase. I hope it all works out. 

We drove, and drove, and drove and drove. We drove forever through Killarney and saw some beautiful sights. Too bad it wasn't great weather, the pictures aren't going to be as good as I would have liked them to be. But a slight drizzle here in Ireland, can get soak you in a matter of 30 seconds. And the fog was so thick out, I could barely see 5-feet in front of me. 

I managed to get a few good shots, a few panoramas, and some pictures of myself in front of the beautiful lakes and valleys. All in all I was sad the weather was nice, but I guess you can't ask for too much of the Irish weather. It's temperamental, and I don't blame it. 

We stopped once more for lunch. I wasn't hungry so I shopped some more, and finally got all my shopping done! Yeah right, I'll probably get some more things to shove into my already full suitcase. 

A few stops, some scenic foggy and grey pictures, and 10-hours later, here we are at our hotel. It's pretty nice, but I'm sad Caiti, Micky, and I got split up again. But we are only here for two nights, so I guess it isn't so bad. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

“The Irish - Be they kings, or poets, or farmers, They're a people of great worth, They keep company with the angels, And bring a bit of heaven here t

I can't believe the gorgeous view I have at our hotel Bella Vista. It was great waking up to it this morning. I was so well rested but that didn't stop me from passing out on the bus. This trip is taking so much out of me, but I don't care I'm having so much fun.

We first visited Red FM radio station and it was absolutely enthralling. A few speakers told us about the radio station. One speaker named Eilish, was fluent in the native Irish language. She was speaker so quickly about different things in Irish and I was sitting there in awe. It was so awesome to hear that radio stations here are required to broadcast advertisements in Irish and in English. 

The whole atmosphere of the station was so relaxed, and all of them were fairly young. And surprisingly only one person there we met had a background in communications. Its been a trend here lately that a lot of people we speak to do not have degrees in communications. Well, they are good at what they are doing, so they are doing something right!

Afterwards we were on our way to the Blarney Castle. It was so amazing. The scenic views around the grounds were absolutely breathtaking. We walked through a part of the castle that lead to the dungan. I hit my head about four or five times because the ceilings were no more than four feet tall. And when we got to the end of the dungan area, there were names painted all over the walls, and it was really creepy. 

Then we started our journey up the steps to the Blarney Castle, and to the Blarney Stone. The stairs were so narrow, and me being a klutz didn't help, so I slipped a lot. But we finally made it up to the top after a little while and again the views were so breath taking. Then it was time to kiss the stone! It was so terrifying because it isn't what I thought it would be.. 

First off, it's not a stone off the top of a cliff like I was told before. Its a stone inside of the wall of the castle, and you have to hang over the edge to kiss it. There were metal bars for you to hold onto, and a man there holding us up. I almost kiss the wrong stone too! But I kissed the Blarney Stone! How many of you can say that??

After that we ventured down and went on a shopping spree. I'm almost done with buying presents for everyone. Having a large family is hard, and buying stuff for Jon and his family was hard too. But I won't complain because I love them all and can't wait to see them when I get back.

That was pretty much it for the day 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

"have you ever kissed the Blarney Stone?"-Lolita

Last night was our last night in the city of Dublin. We went out to The Temple Bar, and had a wonderful time. There was a celtic band, and people were irish dancing once again, and I’m still not tired of it. But one of the strangests this happened. I finally traced down my family roots, and found out where my family is from. So this was brand new information to me. We met an irishman named Mike McClan, and he said he could tell peoples heritage just by looking at them.

He said he took one look into my green eyes and could tell I was Irish. I wasn’t took impressed because a lot of people are Irish, but then it got a little weirder. Everyone split up into different conversations and I was still talking to him. He says I can bet your from Northern Ireland. WEIRD! I had just found out the city where my family is from is in Northern Ireland. So if that isn’t creepy enough he says, your Catholic right? I was a little reluctant to answer, until he said he was Catholic too.

What’s up with the Irish knowing peoples heritages just from one look at a persons face?? Anyways, all I have to say is that my last night in Dublin was a lot of fun. 

So we packed on up and moved on out of Dublin. Hopped on a bus with our new tour guide Jon, and headed for Cobh! We stopped in at Wicklow Mountain National Park, and the views of the hills were so beautiful it almost took my breath away. It was so awesome seeing the sights and inside this park was St. Kevin’s Monestary. There was a beautiful cemetary, I mean if you can imagine a cemetary as beautiful. It was so old, and the gravestones were so intricate with the carving in stone it was absolutely amazing.

Our tour guide set us free for almost an hour in this wonderful park, and I took so many pictures. The ruins of St. Kevins, were beautiful, and the views of the hills and mountains were great. I would upload a picture, but something is happening with my camera, and errors keep occuring when I try to upload pictures. I’ll keep trying, so everyone pray I pull through and get my photos up soon!

After Wicklow Mountain National Park, it was back on the bus for a 3-hour ride to our final destination in Cobh. I was asleep the whole ride. I am now running on a total of 6-hours of sleep in that passed two days! But I’m gonna keep going and going and going!

When we arrived in Cobh were were greated by our tour guide for Cobh, Michael Martin. He showed us some sights in Cobh including memorials for the sinking of the Lucitania, and the Titanic. It was so beautiful. And the views in the harbor are amazing. St. Colman’s Cathedral serves as the focal point of the town, and it is an absolutely beautiful gothic midevil themed church.

After our quick tour, we headed back to our new hotel the Bella Vista. Fun fact; Bella Vista used to be a Convent! We just had dinner, and I am growing more tired with every word I type. I think this is all I have for today everyone. Tomorrow should be promising with our trip to the Blarney Castle. I’m still debating on whether or not to kiss the stone. Who votes yes? Who votes no?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"Always remember to forget the troubles that passed away, But never forget the blessings that come each day"-Melissa McCorkle

Well schools out in Dublin, and we were set free! Of course I took some time for well needed rest. I went to bed early, and woke up at 10 a.m. and was ready to start the day. David, Jeremy and I walked down to Grafton Street, and it was booming! There were hundreds upon hundreds of people there, and many different buskers doing their performances, it was great since Jeremy and I are doing similar projects about the people of Ireland.

There was a man there who was stood still and it looked like the wind was blowing in his hair and his tie was blown backwards. He really put hairspray in his hair and wire in his tie to make the illusion, it was great! Another busker was a puppetier, and he had a jester puppet that performed to music. There were a few magicians, bands, and individual musicians that all had great talent. Jeremy interviewed the band “The Riptide Movement,” they were absolutely amazing and he gave us their single “It’s hard to explain.” I suggest people check them out on myspace.com and facebook.com, they are definately worth listening to. Very fun, and very upbeat.

David went off and did some of his own shopping so Jeremy and I did the same. We stopped in this shopped called “Crest & Arms” and found our family histories in great detail. The shop owner was so knowledgable of all the histories of many of the names, and spoke fluent Gaelic, Latin, English, and French. I  was so intrigued by all his knowledge. After that we went back and I raved about this place and convinced Caiti and Ryan to come back with me. Magically David appeared outside and he tagged along.

The man was happy to see I brought him more business, and Caiti, Ryan, and David were so happy to find their family histories. It’s great being here in Ireland and finding out about our roots. It so interesting to know finally where my family is from and to say that I’ve been to my homeland.

But sadly, tomorrow I will be leaving here. But thankfully not back to the States. Not just yet. We will be travelling to Cobh tomorrow. And don’t even think about pronouncing it like “Cob,” it’s actually pronunciation is “Cove.” The ‘b’ used to have two dots over it which made it a ‘v’ sound, but when it was transfered to English that’s how the spelling ended up. Weird eh? Anyways, we will be going through a Titanic walking tour which I’m super happy about! I love the history of the Titanic, every since I was younger. So this experience is extra special for me.

Since it’s our last night in Dublin, that gang’s going out for our last ‘hoorah!’ I better get to packing tonight before we leave, I don’t wanna leave anything behind!

So stay tuned for my adventures in Cobh!

Friday, May 14, 2010

"Even when they have nothing, the Irish emit a kind of happiness, a joy." - Fiona Shaw

Its was an early start today. I mean really early. No, I don’t think you fully understand, we were walking and on our way at 6:30 a.m! I woke up at 5:00 a.m. to wake Ryan up so she could Skype with her mom. It just so happened to be perfect timing since her mom is 8 hours behind us they were able to video chat this morning. After I woke Ryan up I hopped into an extremely cold shower, but it was good because it woke me right up.

We hopped on a train at Connelly Station, and two short hours, and a few rolling green hills later we arrived in Belfast! Now when they say that the Republic of Ireland, and Northern Ireland are two different countries, most people ignore it thinking Ireland is just Ireland. Let me tell you, who ever thinks that couldn’t be any more wrong.

Everyone got on the tour bus thinking nothing much of a tour of just another city in Ireland. But the fact of the matter is that Northern Ireland is still recovering, and suffering the effects of the war going on between the Catholics and the Protestants. Murals were painted on multiple buildings serving as huge displays in memory of the hardships and troubling times Northern Ireland has gone through. Our tour guide Michael pointed out to us the peace wall that is still up that seperates the Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods, and that even schools are seperated by religion. There are very few schools where children are mixed up with Catholic and Protestants.

I wasn’t aware of just how prevalent the issue was, or just how serious the issue still is. It’s crazy to think that prejeduce like that still exists in our world, but I guess something may never change.

We first drove up to the Northern Ireland Assembly Building, and I thought I was going to the White House. The long drive up to it was so beautiful, and we were able to quickly go inside the Grand Hall of it to take pictures. After about a 15-minute visit we were back on the bus.

But as I was in awe of all the murals and chaos of Belfast we drove up to Belfast Castle for a few moments for literally five-minutes of photos, and then hopped back on the bus and headed for the Titanic Shipyards. I was pretty excited, but a little dissapointed that we didn’t get a walking tour of it.  We ate at the White Star Cafe, which was in the Shipyard. Everything was delicious, but I wasn’t exactly graceful. Needless to say I slipped down the steps, but luckily it was only one step, and I caught myself very quickly. All while holding a bowl of soup! Impressive eh?

After that we hopped right back on the bus, and headed for the Belfast Telegraph. We spoke with Gerry Patterson about different aspects of news, but he caught my attention once Helen asked a question about the problems between Catholics and Protestants, and Gerry shared a story with us from his past. He said he had a Protestant girlfriend and while they were driving around she made him duck down in the car so her parents wouldn’t see her with a Catholic. Crazy right?

After meeting with Gerry we hopped back on the bus, then hopped right back off. Are you seeing a trend here? We walked a few blocks and were able to take pictures inside of Saint Patricks Church, and saw a painting of Madonna worth millions of dollars. It’s protected by bullet proof glass!

I took a few pictures, and said a prayer in the church, then we walked to dinner. Everything was great especially my apple crumb pie dessert! YUMMY. We took a group photo, presented Michael with his gift from us, and headed back to the train station. We got on our train and set ourselves up for a two hour journey back to Dublin.

I was really excited to be in Belfast. The town where my grandfather’s family is from is very close to Belfast, and I was so excited to see where my roots have came from. So far so good everyone, 6 out of 6 days have been successful and fun. I have a free day tomorrow, and I’m hoping to use it wisely. Tune in tomorrow same time, same blog.