September 15th: wake up, finish packing, hit the road by 10am. We stuffed in our new home for the next four days, a stuffy Lally’s Tour bus, and drove for an hour or so to stop at W. B. Yeats’ old Cottage/Tower. We met Gerard O’Brien, our literature professor, at the Cottage/Tower; he told us some more about the old structure and read a poem and we headed to Coole Park. Coole Park is where the famous Lady Gregory lived for years. Here we checked out the lake, grounds, and autograph tree. We moved on and quickly came to the realization that it was 3pm and none of us have eaten so we found refuge at a SuperMac’s (the McDonald’s Equivalent of Ireland) and continued our trek to Cork. Once in Cork we toured the beautiful city and it’s university. Finally we got to our first hostel of the trip, which was again more packed and stuffy so many of us simply dropped our stuff off and went to find a pub and/or some food. In this town we found a pub called “The Franciscan Well,” which turned out to be a great microbrewery for us to hang out in that night. This pub also had us stumble upon 3 fellow Minnesotans! One guy recognized a Twins hat someone had on and we talked to them for some time, but, oddly, the conversation was coming to a close shortly after we found out two of them had close relatives on the Tommie football team. “Enough of this company,” I said. I didn’t actually say that but, their relatives are on the Tommie team, one of them a current stud on the team.
We moved on in the morning to Blarney Castle and did, indeed, kiss the Blarney stone. So yes I am much more eloquent at this point, can you tell? Later, we stopped on the side of the road to have a look at the Michael Collins Memorial, where he was assassinated, and one of our directors gave us the full story. To this day, you can see many passers-by making the sign of the cross as they continue driving. We traveled a little further to stop at Muckross Castle and have a look around. We finally stopped in Killarney and dropped our stuff in a new hostel and went to find groceries that we could cook in the community kitchen of the hostel. Off we go again into town, since its someone’s birthday, and we found a few great pubs to hang out in. Met a man from Wisconsin this time, who was probably 7 feet tall.
This next day we spent at Muckross house and driving for several hours around the Ring of Kerry, which is just a pretty peninsula with lots of cliffs and great views of the ocean. We saw the island that is the closest European point to the US. That was mostly a long day in a bus, but we eventually returned to our same hostel as the previous night and had a more relaxed night in the pubs; we actually found an old fashioned Irish storyteller, who was the most vulgar person I’ve ever met in my life.
This day was much easier. We had a short drive to Tralee where we checked out the Kerry County Museum then drove through the Dingle Peninsula for a few hours, which was similar to the sights seen in the Ring of Kerry. We landed again in Tralee and, again, dropped our stuff and went searching for groceries to cook in the community kitchen. Found a few more pubs and had a quiet night.
The final day had arrived of our exhausting trip and we were all ready for a break. We hopped on the bus and went to the Cliffs of Moher for a few hours. We ate, looked at the exhibit and walked around the “regular” parts of the cliffs, which were all covered with big stone fences, stopping you from getting with 20ft of the edge. Well if you went all the way to the left end of the fences there was an interesting sight; first there was a memorial for “those lost at the cliffs”, then there was a “DANGER DO NOT GO BEYOND THIS POINT” sign, next there was sign saying how windy and dangerous the cliffs were, finally you could see all the people who disregarded all of these signs and warnings of death. Well we, being the smart deliberators we all are, followed suit and walked past these signs to get the real views of the cliffs. We took some silly pictures of us pretending to fall and be more scared than we were, in reality and we quickly scurried back to safety. I encourage you to look at http://picasaweb.google.com/j.phenow/Galway10# so you can see the fun pictures. There are probably some other good ones taken by others on Facebook. We ended our day with a stop in Galway for some weekly groceries and rest.
An interesting few days, indeed. Hope all is well with everyone at home, see you guys in a few months! Its coming up fast!