Ireland – Our First Trip – by Allison Brennhofer. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports
[The ruins of Moore Hall, the home of the first Irish President, in Carnacon. Some of those in our group used that conveniently placed log to the left of the entrance to climb into the building.]
Our first trip outside a half-hour radius of Louisburgh was a success. We went to Galway for the weekend as a group.
Our trusty bus driver Owen actually was late Friday morning because his bus broke down and he had to get a replacement. With an hour and five minute delay, we set off. During what should have been a two hour drive, we instead stopped many places along the way, such as Moore Hall and Yeats’ Tower and arrived in Galway just eight hours after we left Louisburgh.
We checked into our B&Bs (there were too many of us to stay in one, so we split up among three) and walked as a group about ten minutes to get to the city center. Compared to Saint Paul, where I am from, a city of 80,000 people is not the largest place for me. However, after being in Louisburgh for three weeks now (a town of 800), Galway felt like home. There were restaurants, pubs, and shops all along this main street, similar to an outdoor mall. Cars weren’t allowed down the main street, so people milled about.
Our large group split off as we wandered down the street and eventually I and five others found a pub that looked promising. The food was delicious, but we didn’t spend too much time there because we had plans to meet up with other people in a different pub. We walked around a little before deciding to try a pub that advertised live music. There, we actually ran into a good chunk of the rest of our group. We snagged one of the last open tables and by complete coincidence, the people at the table next to us were also American. We found out they were studying at the university in Dublin through Penn State. Because they only have class Wednesdays and Thursdays, they’ve spent the rest of their time traveling around different places. It was interesting to run into other Americans. It was similar to how I feel when I run into other Minnesotans when I’m in another state back home, a mixture of surprise and happiness that someone else understands where you’re coming from. None of these people were from Minnesota, but the sentiment still applied.
The second day we were off bright and early to get to the Cliffs of Moher which were about an hour and a half south of Galway. I think I’ll let the picture speak for itself here because I wouldn’t be able to do it justice.
[One side of the Cliffs of Moher]
We weren’t even able to hike to the very edge of the cliffs because we ran out of time and it was a very long way to go. Every view that we did see, though, was breathtaking.
That day, we also saw the Portal Tomb, which is an ancient burial site. The informational sign at the site said that when a section of it needed replacing, 33 bodies were found that date back to 4200-2900 BC- the New Stone Age. The bodies probably had been moved there after a while because there is no evidence of decomposition in the tomb. More than likely, it was a ritualistic place that involved the movement of bones.
[The Portal Tomb]
We returned to Galway and had enough time to shop a little and eat dinner before we went to see Urinetown. It was a satirical musical which was definitely interesting. I don’t think it was the best production I have ever seen, but that was more due to what I find humorous. The cast was wonderful, they all sang and danced great and had perfect American accents. Everyone in our group was a little puzzled when, at the end, three people took about half an hour to thank everyone involved with the production. I have not seen an incredible amount of plays, so I was not sure if it was normal or not to thank everyone on the last night of a show. However, my professor said he was as baffled as us, as to why they thanked every possible person.
The rest of the night was ours to spend as we saw fit, even though it was already nearing 10:30. Luckily, the night life in Galway didn’t seem to pick up till midnight at the earliest, so my friends Arden and Victoria and I explored an authentic night out, which was a stark contrast to our tiny home base of Louisburgh.
Our professors took pity on us Sunday morning, letting us leave at 10 instead of 8:30 like the previous day. We ate our last meal at the B&B and set off for a few more places to see before returning to Louisburgh. We stopped in Cong, a small town where some of the scenes from The Quiet Man, a John Wayne movie, were filmed. The town is very proud of that, with a statue immortalizing him along with many shops named after the movie in various ways. Ashford Castle also resides in Cong, a castle from the 13th century. We were only able to see it from across the river that runs along the castle, because a guard patrols the bridge and collects the €10 charge to see the grounds.
[Ashford Castle. Now a hotel for the very, very wealthy which I am not.]
As amazing as it was to see Galway, I was ready to return to Louisburgh. It’s amazing how, in such a short amount of time, a place can already feel like home.
Allison serves as an editor for The North Star Reports.
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39 responses to “Ireland – Our First Trip – by Allison Brennhofer. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports”
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What a fun weekend trip! I giggled at the part about the excitement felt by seeing other Americans – sometimes I feel that way when I meet people from WI at CSS! That also seems like a bit of a homesickness reliever as well, to see people who are also away from their families and fighting the same battle. Cheers!
The pictures are beautiful! Taking pictures when on vacation is probably the best thing you can do because most times we don’t always remember! Looks like that was a fun trip! I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland. I think whenever you get the chance to go on vacation and you have the money to do so, you should do it. Having all the resources we need to go any where in the world is a net thing and taking a break from our busy lives to forget about our busy lives can be refreshing for mot of us. Love the article!
This is such a cool experience for you to be having! Even by the few pictures you include in this article, it is clear to me the deep beauty and historical aspect of these places in Ireland. Although I have never been out of the country, I have been to Florida one time. We actually ran into people from Minneapolis when we were down there and it was comforting to have someone from our home state visiting with us. I have always loved theatre and musical productions so I would have loved to see Urinetown, although I have never heard of it. It is also very odd to read about the members of the cast thanking everyone. It is typical in the plays I went to for the members of the cast to briefly acknowledge their directors and stage-hands during curtain call at the end of the show, but I have never heard of having people discuss their thanks. It would be interesting to see if this is an Ireland theatre norm, or if this isn’t actually common there. Overall, I think it is such a unique experience you are having and I love being able to read about it and be able to briefly experience it as well.
This was a very cute and interesting post! It’s so cool how you’re able to also explore different places when abroad. I feel like that is a very good opportunity to compare and contrast various locations, learning more about how people are even though the distance may not be that far apart; for example, Minnesota compared to Iowa or Missouri. Your trip sounds like it was amazing, especially the hiking part of it. One of my favorite things about traveling is seeing mother nature at it’s natural sceneries and moments. Another thing that I thought was interesting in your post was the feeling of seeing people from a home location. I totally understand how it feels like and the sense of comfort you get knowing there are people from home in a different world with you; you suddenly feel like you know them and get a sense of connection. This was a really nice post to read. Thank you so much for sharing!!
This sounds like a great first trip! Going from living in a town of 800 to 80,000 would be quite a shock and I can see how it would feel more like home. I found it particularly interesting that cars are not allowed to drive on some parts of the main portion of town. This was the same in Wellington in New Zealand when I was there. I wonder if there are many American cities that have streets or areas of town where cars are not allowed to go? I cant imagine it would be many as we value our cars very much here on our side of the ocean. I love to hear about the differences and similarities that you often bring up in your article, keep writing please those of us at CSS are enjoying it!
Thanks for sharing, Allison! Since you had to stay in three separate B&Bs, there must be quite a lot of you on the trip. How many students are there? All of you must be having a great time. Your articles are always so interesting and informative, but it also sounds like you are really enjoying yourself. I didn’t get to see the Cliffs of Moher when I was there because it was too foggy. But, based on how beautiful they look in your picture, I would love to travel back to Ireland to see the cliffs since your picture made it look so breathtaking. As for the play, thanking every last person must be part of Irish culture since we don’t go to that extreme here in America; at least not that I know of. I hope your trip continues to be wonderful!
It sounds like the trip was a great success and very fun. I have enjoyed reading the articles from Ireland because of all the great updates on Owen and his bus driving stories. I understand completely what you are saying about seeing people from Minnesota in other states and how it is kind of exciting. I can imagine it being even more exciting to see Americans in another country. I think the feeling we get from seeing people who have something in common with us is nice especially when going somewhere completely new. It gives you a sense that they are going through similar things and that since they are from the same area you all share some of the same ideas and backgrounds. I have heard amazing things about the cliffs of Moher and they look beautiful from just the picture you posted. I bet the cliffs are even more breathe taking in person and it sounds like the Ireland trip is going well.
Seeing other Americans in Ireland is such a crazy thing! What a small world. I have always wanted to visit Ireland and after seeing your pictures of the Cliffs of Moher, I definitely want to visit there in my lifetime. I find it interesting they do not let cars on main street. All the main streets I have been down have cars parked up and down it. I hope your trip keeps going good.
Allison, thank you for sharing a few stories from your travels. I enjoy the common theme of your trusty bus driver, Owen. It seems like he will never let your group down. The architecture of the structures in your photos are quite magnificent, and it is crazy that the buildings are still standing. It goes to show the architectural genius of those who built it. One topic we have been covering so far in World History is the meaning of being human. Humans, although diverse, are still very relatable, and we tend to associate or connect with humans who share similar qualities to our own, as you were able to relate with the Americans you ran into at the pub.
It’s crazy how landscape and buildings can define a place! It’s so interesting to see places like the ancient burial ground that you put a picture up of, because it’s difficult to comprehend how long it’s been around! I feel like the older things are, the greater appreciation I can have for them because of how much history they’ve gone through. That’s not to say that newer structures are not as important, because many are. I do think, however, that something’s value increases as time goes on.
I have really enjoyed reading about your Ireland experiences so far (and living vicariously through them)! I especially resonated with your connection to the students from the States. I think it is so interesting how it takes being in a foreign environment to push people into finding similarities and have a sense of home, or as you say, become “sentimental” about home. Especially because if it was just you visiting Penn state, you wouldn’t have that familiarity with them. I also thought that your tidbit statue of John Wayne was pretty neat because it speaks to a lot of different things like the importance of art, but also the fact that they wanted to hold on to a memory, and this was their way of doing so. It sounds like you’re having a fantastic time, and I hope you continue doing so!
Your adventures in Ireland appear to be starting off well! I find it humorous that your two hour drive ended up being eight hours, but it is important to stop and see local historical sites within different nations. Out of curiosity, I wonder how the living situations were situated for the B&B’s? Since you all had to split into 3 different B&B’s, would you say they were relatively small? Either way, being able to experience a town such as Galway, which seems to have a similar population size to Duluth must have had many awesome local attractions among its’ many pubs, restaurants etc. I wonder if there were any similarities you noticed between Galway and Duluth? I am glad you were able to find some common ground with some students that were also from the US, as it makes becoming comfortable in a new country a little easier. I can’t wait to hear more!
Thank you for the update on how your Ireland trip is going! For being in a country as large as some of our US states, it was quite remarkable that you were able to connect with other American students on a study abroad trip as well. Connections from back home can be a sign of relief as you are transitioning into a semester abroad. I hope you are enjoying every aspect of traveling to these different places each day! Even though you may be running around all the time, getting up early, and on a continuous schedule, you are making memories and exploring the majority of Ireland in a short period of time. I grew up in a small town, so I would (and have) enjoyed the small town of Louisburgh and feel more uncomfortable in a large city. It is great to hear that you are making connections in Ireland to back home. I hear that the Cliffs of Moher are very steep and dangerous but tourists like to venture to see how close they can get to the edge before their stomachs drop, how close did you get to the edge? Lastly, having a place such as Louisburgh to come back to after a days worth of travelling and to call home can be reassuring that travelling abroad isn’t so scary and can be the trip of a lifetime. I hope to keep hearing about your trip!
You trip seems wonderful, and you seem to be having a great time. You’ve done so much. It always puts me in shock how much you can do when traveling but still think that it isn’t enough. Studying abroad is a great experience and it’s important to take advantage of every moment you have. How interesting that such a small town can feel at home for a city girl. I’m from the cities, as well, and long for the city life all of the time. So knowing that a small town can feel similar to home is a comforting feeling.
This article was obviously about a trip to Ireland, but there was no main theme that I picked up. Each section though was interesting and had its own story to tell about the different aspects of Ireland. Traveling abroad is something that people often say to do because it is an experience of a life time, and through this story, it seems that this is true. Many people worry about being far away from home and not being able to connect with the culture, but like this story stated, there is the chance of running into people, who are in the same boat.
I love hearing about different people’s adventures in different countries! This trip sounds incredible! There are so many things to see in different countries. It makes me wonder what people travel to America to see. Do we have different attractions similar to the castles and cliffs of Ireland here in America? I also wonder if the locals in Ireland, who get to look at those things every day think that we are crazy for wanting to see such a thing. Traveling abroad is an experience I hope to one day have. I am glad that you are feeling a sense of home in Ireland and hope that that feeling continues!
You sure are right, in such a short amount of time a place can feel like home. I am a freshmen here at CSS and I am from a small town in Michigan. Everything in Duluth was totally different than what I was used to when I first moved here. The terrain was different, the people were different, and the accent was different. I was a little uneasy at first but then I realized that this place was not so bad and it started feeling like home. It never will be home for me, but it is as close as it can get for now, so I can make due. I believe that places give that homely vibe when there are great people there to make it feel a little more comfortable.
Thank you for sharing your experience with us! Although I would love to be in Ireland in person, the pictures that you provide us gives me a really good visual on what it’s like there. The one picture that caught my attention was the Cliffs of Moher. It looks so beautiful and calming at the same time! Something about the water gives me joy and slows me down in this fast-pace society. I believe people should travel to free themselves from stress and to be able to slow down and embrace in the beautiful nature surrounding them. I hope one day I get to visit a beautiful place like Ireland, to be able to explore the nature as well as their history.
Sounds like an awesome trip! The parts where you got to explore the cliffs, and the old ruins sound like a ton of fun! I have never been out of this country and reading this makes me want to venture out a little bit! All of the history that you were able to take in seems like it would be breath taking! Very well written and well done!
The stark population contrast of Saint Paul and Louisburgh is of course a bit of a shock to you. I know that when I arrived in Duluth from England, I thought it was a pretty small town/city, compared to what some of my Minnesotan friends thought! But I agree that you can make your town feel like home, just as Duluth has felt like home to me. The landscape of Ireland and the history of its buildings really help you gain a sense of the country’s culture and traditions. When you meet other American people while traveling abroad it really makes you think of home and how fortunate you are to be across the Atlantic! You’re able to appreciate and take in the beauty of the experiences and memories you are making!
With all these stories being told of these foreign trips really makes me jealous, I hope one day I get a trip or opportunity like this. What really interested me was the cliffs but then again I feel like the ancient ruins and sight seeing would be incredible. Just it’s crazy what one trip can do to your mind on opening up to new cultures and just new way of life that is different from what we live everyday. Many don’t like change but I think I would at least like to try it. But thank you for sharing it just makes me want to explore taht much more out of the country.
I’ve always heard wonderful things about Galway! Judging by the pictures you took it is incredibly beautiful. How neat that you met other American’s while in Ireland, especially ones that were college students! I think I would be a little jealous of them, only class two days a week and the rest of the time spent traveling? That sounds like a dream! It truly is awesome that you get to experience so much of Ireland’s culture while studying there. I’m excited to hear about more of your travels!
I love how many different places there are to visit around such a small area of land. When i think of travailing i always picture having to go long distances to find so many historical places. But over there it seems like every town has its own piece of history that is interesting in its own right. It makes me wonder how the native people deal with the history that they live with everyday? does it make them proud about the area surrounding them, or are they so use to it that they don’t even realize what they have around them, i would kill for a chance to see.
This sounds like so much fun! I can completely understand the happiness you feel when you meet someone from your country while you are traveling. It’s fun to see how their experiences compare with yours! That picture of the cliffs is absolutely beautiful and it is so cool that you got to see the Portal Tomb! It’s amazing to see things that are that old, especially since we don’t have anything that old in the US. I hope the rest of your trip goes well!
Wow! Your trip sounds so amazing! I went to the Ireland in the spring meeting for 2018, and I really want to go! Now after reading about your experiences, it makes me want to go even more! That’s so crazy that you ran into Americans! I hope your trip continues to go well, and I will forever be jealous!
I always love hearing about the cliffs, because to me that is an absolute beautiful sight. I also enjoyed hearing about the castle at Cong, that may just be because I am a History major focusing on medieval warfare. It looks like you had a wonderful time in Ireland and had a great opportunity to learn. I was really jealous to hear of the students who got the opportunity to study over in Ireland, it has always been my dream to study over seas. This was a enjoyable reed and was extremely well written.
This excursion sounds very fun during your trip! The cliffs and the old ruins sound like the image would be beautiful. The historical aspect peaks my interest and sounds like a place I would enjoy a lot. The entire trip sounds rather fun. I personally enjoy the inclusion of your bus driver in the different pieces you have written. I hope you continue to have fun!
Thank you for sharing more about you trip in Ireland! This seemed like a nice weekend away with a lot of exploring involved. I have always wanted to visit the cliffs of Moher and I think it does stink that you didn’t get to spend a ton of time there but it seemed like you guys had a lot to do in such a short weekend. I thought that it was also cool that you guys got to see the Portal tomb and Moore Hall two very different structures with a lot of history to tell. What is Yeats tower? Great Article! I can’t wait to hear more!
All of your pictures are so beautiful! The more I read about Ireland, the more I want to go there! After that eight minute bus ride I’m sure you were more than ready to get off! I don’t mind driving for long distances, but I hate sitting in the car for them! At least you made some cool stops along the way! As for the B&B’s you stayed at, I’m kind of curious why you had to split your group into three different ones. Where they small, or just fairly full? It’s really cool that you got to see and learn about all of those historic locations. Especially the Portal Tomb because it has such an interesting history, but yet looks so peaceful and like it is in the middle of nowhere. Thanks for sharing about your trip!
The picture you included of the Cliffs of Moher is absolutely beautiful. I can’t imagine the picture totally does it justice either. It sounds as though it takes quite a long while to get from city to city and town to town and, in some cases, to see more places specific to sight-seeing and historical exploring. Or perhaps you passed some small towns on the way? I also find it interesting what you said about the tomb and how bodies and bones may have been moved to/from there. Did you learn anything more about how their ancestors used to burry their dead?
To start, your feelings of warmth and homecoming upon meeting other Americans is completely understandable… Even when I was in Florida, I felt at ‘home’ just conversing with a person from Wisconsin (I’m not even a huge fan of Wisconsin). This highlights our tendencies to feel strongly and fondly of our homelands, even when the places we find ourselves are beyond amazing. I also have to say that your experience with the ancient tomb is fascinating. The idea that such a figure is still important today- reminding us of the people who came before us- shows that humanity really is one massive, collective entity. While we may differ across space and time, we are ultimately connected, and monuments like this are excellent at reminding us.
Allie, each of your articles makes me wish I was in Ireland! It sounds amazing! I love all the photographs included in each article that help to build a vision of your trip. I laughed to myself when I read the part about finding people that are from America- I do the same thing. It’s funny that we travel to experience things different from what we know but get so excited when we find people like us. Thanks for sharing!
When there is no other way to describe a destination but with a picture means the trip was amazing! I loved how you made the connection with home and the size of the cities over in Ireland. With that being said, being in different sized city’s can help a person know what size fits them the best. For me, I grew up in a smaller town and was never a fan. On the other side the cities is way to big. Did you ever find that perfect in between that felt perfect? When you described the history over in Ireland and the rich culture does it make you feel that, back home in Minnesota, our culture is not as rich?
Allison, what a great post! I am glad to see that you are having a great time in Ireland so far! It is so awesome that you have been able to travel other places while you are abroad. I found it funny about what you said about seeing other Americans. I think even though you do not know these people at all seeing them is still comforting and a nice little reminder of home. I loved the pictures you included and hope you enjoy the rest of your time abroad!
It sounds like you had what my idea of a road trip is. I love the fact that you stopped in many places along the way, as I believe that when traveling more than following a schedule on must be prepared to explore the unexpected, to be mesmerized by a scene and stops to enjoy it. I can imagine the feeling at home whenever you get back to a larger place, as I feel the same way in Duluth as you do is Louisburg and feel at home when I go to the cities, as it has a population more similar to the one in my home. I am really jealous of those Americans who met in the pub, as I would love to be able to have that much time to travel and class only twice a week ( I might be saying this because midterms are happening right now). The Cliffs of Moher from what I can see in the pictures would be something that would take my breath away, and just like you I feel I would not be able to do it justice by describing such scenery into words. It is really interesting how the Portal Tomb was a ritualistic place that involved the movement of bones, as from what I have seen usually it is a disgrace and really disrespectful to move someone’s bones once they are buried. I am curious to know why the actors of Urinetown thanked everyone, maybe it was because they were no longer going to be acting and therefore though it was an appropriate way to say goodbye to the theater.
I think it is interesting how you ran into Americans and compared it to running into Minnesotans in the US. Whenever I am chatting with someone far away (Washington DC this summer for example) they always relate to me their experiences of Duluth or Wisconsin. I thought it was awesome how connecting to someone so far away can be done through your cultural identity. It sounds like you and quite the trip and experienced the differences that Ireland has to offer with small villages and closed streets. I wonder how the locals view the tourists and if they can tell right away as many can tell when someone foreign travels to the United States. The Cliffs and the other various pictures you took convey the beauty and history of the land and how it is told through natural landscapes and architecture.
Such a beautiful article, I deliberately clicked on the Ireland tab since it is a place that I am missing more every day (the weather right now does not make it better). One thing that caught my attention and made me laugh was how a two-hour bus ride turned into an eight-hour drive. During my studies in Northern Ireland, this was one of the things we often experienced as a group. Our program director would reiterate how long a drive would be but that drive would end up being longer, due to the stops and people we meet along the way. Being raised in a culture that does not seem to worry about time this did not bother me, but it was easy to see some agitation in other students. Another thing was we would plan on leaving a certain time but when we said goodbye to people we had visited, our professor had no rush whatsoever on getting to the other place. Being in that kind of environment reminded me of home, where there is no need to rush. It is more meaningful and in some sense respectful to just take at the moment and whatever was to come next, it eventually would come. Thank you for sharing.