Irish Culture

Cork and the Blarney Castle! – by Vipra Patel

Hi! Today has been a long and eventful day! It’s hard to believe that it is already Tuesday and in a few days we’ll be packing out bags for our journey back. For me it’s a bittersweet thinking about going home. I miss my family and friends more than anything and wish they were here to experience everything I have. However, I can’t wait to share all the stories with them and be able to look back at everything.

Today we went to Cork and saw the Blarney Stone . Starting out bus ride at 5am, we reached our first stop, Cashel Castle, around 7am. We all walked around and took in the beautiful scenery. After that we were finally on our way to the Blarney Castle. After arriving everyone hiked up through the narrow spiral stairs to kiss the stone. I was expecting there to be a big rock that everyone kissed, but to my surprise it was actually just a part of the castle and up in the air. Everyone laid down one by one and quickly kissed the stone for their “Gift of Eloquence”. We all walked out with our very own souvenir pictures kissing the Blarney Stone.

Next stop was downtown Cork. We arrived around 2pm and had two hours to roam the city. Some went to grab a bite to eat while others shopped. I decided to go to Penney’s with a few of the girls, and Kyle to shop. Everyone gathered on the bus at 4 to head back to Dublin. As soon as the bus started up everyone was getting ready to take their three hour nap during the ride back.

After a long day we arrived around 7pm! As drained as we all were, the Blarney Stone was well worth it!

Dublin

Wrapping up – by Taylor Meegan

Wow… where to begin! Our last couple days in Dublin were packed with last minute souvenir shopping, eating at our favorite places, and getting a final authentic Irish meal. It is crazy thinking back to the beginning of this trip, coming in not knowing many people, not knowing the city, or what to expect from this trip. I think it is safe to say that we were all surprised and excited how amazing this trip was.  The food, to start with, was absolutely delicious. From Lemon Co. crepes and sandwiches to the vegetarian and organic food from Cornucopia, the food was some of the best we have had.  Our last meal in Ireland, we all went out to eat at O’Neill’s pub in order to eat an authentic Irish meal. Our meals ranged from corned beef and cabbage to beef and Guinness stew with delicious mashed potatoes and vegetables.

I think what I will miss most about this trip is exploring the country with our whole group. Ireland has to be the most beautiful place I have ever had the chance to visit. From the green mountains to the coastline, the views that we saw were breath taking. I can’t think of any place we traveled to that wasn’t exceptionally beautiful, and we went to tons of places. Starting at the Wicklow Mountains, then to the Ring of Kerry, Galway, the Aran Islands, Cork, and Kilkenny, everything was so pretty it was like looking at a postcard or being in a fairytale. Getting to all these wonderful and beautiful places is a different story. The amount hours we spent on a bus are a bit frightening. A couple trips we had to be on the bus by 6:00 in the morning and didn’t get home till after 7:00 at night, but every minute on the bus was worth all the different sights and tours we were able to experience.

I will miss Ireland so much, but I will miss the 14 other students just as much. The 15 of us made a make shift family over in Ireland. We went food shopping, cooked, cleaned (barely…), and ate together every day. From going on tours, to eating numerous pints of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and exploring the city of Dublin together, I can say that I have made 14 great new friends. You have Courtney 1 and Courtney 2 (AKA. Sam) who I think ate more peanut butter than anyone I know could eat in a month. Our “Mom” of the trip, Kelly O’Keefe who was always looking out for us (and who, by the way, took a part in the peanut butter eating). Kelly Lucas was our social planner and is also the only person I know who loves cows so much. Vipra just had the best name to shout, and we were all awoken many nights to Kyle screaming it for no good reason. Olivia had a special way of ordering and eating her meals, always starting with desert, which always looked better than any of our food. Emily Burns was Grandma Burns, and could always crack us up with her expressions that she used. Elizabeth Marshall ate more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the tours we took then I think I have in my whole life, some even for breakfast. Elizabeth Schilling was always our navigator, finding and following directions to lead us wherever we had to go when none of us knew any idea where we were. Kyle being the only boy made him pretty special. Then we have Nikki. Nikki always had a great time and loved making new friends in Ireland. Kim was the girl with the plan; she was always looking for tours and things to do! Emily Coyne had a lot of embarrassing moments, especially when her hair turned into an afro on top of The Cliffs of Moher. And finally we have Emily Bak, whose favorite restaurant is McDonalds and likes using terms such as “emburrassing” and can eat more than Kyle.  And we cannot leave out Heather! Heather planned so many nice tours and visits, cooked the absolute best garlic bread, and got lost quite frequently trying to meet up with all of us, which led to many laughs. I will miss being with everyone all day, everyday, and cannot wait to have some beach days in the sun, something we could not do in Ireland!

Dublin

“Home” At Last – by Elizabeth Marshall

Today is the final Monday we are here and even with 5 days left on this amazing journey, I already miss my new friends and the beautiful country of Ireland. I purposively have not read any other blog posts so that when I do go home and reality hits, I can find comfort in the memories that lie within each sentence. I was just talking to a few friends today about how the thought of saying goodbye at JFK Airport is tear-jerking. Don’t get me wrong, I am very excited to hug my parents, dog Bella, family and friends, talk to people in the same time zone, and not have to calculate what time it is in America or how many dollars I am really spending on a 3 euro coffee. But saying goodbye to 14 new friends I have spent the past month with and to an amazing experience we all dreamed about and have been living is not easy. Thank you to everyone who has supported and given me this opportunity of a lifetime!

Sunday was day 3 of our excursion to Galway! We went on an all day bus tour with a very sweet tour guide through Connemara, Kylemore Abbey, Ross Errilly Friary, and many other scenic stops! I think it is safe to say we were all very tired from the past few early morning days and the passage between stops was spent asleep, at least it was for me. Kylemore Abbey was by far my favorite part of the tour! The beautiful Victorian Walled Garden, the largest one of it’s kind in Ireland, was breath-taking and so precisely designed. I admired the array of flowers and plants, the layout of the paths, and the shapes of the flowers in the grass. The entire time I was walking through, I could not help but appreciate the amount of time and work the grounds crew has put into keeping this garden as beautiful as it was. I know how much time my mom puts into the gardens at my house and this garden was 100 times bigger! The food at the restaurant at Kylemore Abbey was amazing, fresh, fairly priced, and the water and bathrooms were free! A huge plus all around!

Our bus back to Dublin left at 6:15 pm and we arrived in the City Center at around 8:50 pm. As much as we loved the tours of Galway and Connemara, biking around the Aran Island, and walking around Kylemore Abbey, nothing could beat the thought of being back in our apartments at UCD, our “home.”  Also after spending more than 8 hours of the day on various buses, I think all of us were relieved to smell fresh air as we walked home through UCD to Roebuck Hall.

Today we were lucky enough to sleep in because class didn’t start until 2 pm. I along with 11 other students went into Dublin around 11 am to pay for our bus tour to Cork tomorrow! Then we went shopping for a few hours and stopped in at a familiar American restaurant, McDonalds, for coffee and lunch. First time this trip I have been in a fast food restaurant and I have to say, I have never seen a fancier or bigger McDonalds in my life. After class and meeting with our mentors, apartment 6 had the whole group and Heather’s family over for a pasta dinner, cooked by Master Chief Emily Bak. Everyone pitched in with utensils, chairs, tables, dishes, preparation, and the cost of food and it was a lot of fun! It is safe to say there were no periods of silence throughout the evening!

Take care and hope everyone is enjoying their summer!

Dublin

 

Ring of Kerry – by Nikki Yannatos

I can’t believe that today marks the halfway point of this study abroad experience! I definitely don’t want to leave Dublin anytime soon. Today me and nine other students decided to take a trip to county Kerry! Our day began very early this morning because we needed to catch a train that would bring us across Ireland. We left at 6 am from the dorm and all of us were barely awake. However, after sleeping for about three hours on the train and drinking a cup of tea we were ready to explore this beautiful county.  When we finally arrived we were picked up by the tour company and it was time to begin the drive known as the Ring of Kerry.

Our tour began by stopping at a breathtaking view of the coastline. This was the first time we saw the coast of Ireland and we were all amazed at this view of the Atlantic Ocean hitting the land. After taking many pictures we continued on to see how a shepherd herds his sheep with his border collies. Seeing the sheep herding was my favorite part of this tour because I’ve never seen anything like it. Two of the Emilys even pet one of the sheep! After the demonstration it was time to continue on to our many more stops. These stops included dingle bay, seeing wool get made, and the national park of Killarney.

Overall this trip was amazing! The views were spectacular and we all enjoyed traveling to another part of Ireland. Sláinte! (“cheers” in Gailic)

Dublin

Enjoying the Music – by Emily Burns

The past few days have certainly been eventful. We’ve
been on the go constantly but I do not regret a second of it. It’s been great
getting to know people I just sat in front of lecture or students I would see
walk into Neafsey’s 3100 class. I feel like I have seen so much of Dublin
already but still have so much to see. Eventually I’ll understand the bus
routes through out the city… (Too early for that joke?). Although we have had a
few navigational bumps in the road, we had an enjoyable evening at the Literary
Pub Crawl. Although I am not a history fanatic, additional sightseeing was a
bonus, especially the grounds of Trinity College at sunset. The hosts for the
crawl were very animated and energetic which made the event very entertaining.

Enjoying food, drink and the company of good friends was
the theme for the weekend. After a delectable Italian dinner and Irish dessert
drink, including Bailey’s,Kahlua, and vanilla icecream (the most delicious 7.50
euro I have spent on this trip), a few of us happened to find a local pub with
some good music and decided to walk in. Little did we know we would hear some
of the best acoustic music. The Merchant’s Arch was a smaller pub with two
levels and although crowded, there was a sense of community as the entire pub
enjoyed the band playing. They performed covers of many different songs,
including both American and Irish music, such as Someone Like You (my personal
favorite) by Adele, Jason Mraz, Train, and many more. We enjoyed them so much that
we even followed them to their next performance and came back on Sunday for
some more. I still do not know what it was that drew us in but for those few
minutes you got lost in the melody and forgot where you were and any troubles
you may have had. I think that is something magical you can’t find anywhere
else.

Dublin

Our First Week – by Kelly O’Keefe

It’s hard to believe that our first week in Dublin is coming to a close! After our tour in the Wicklow Mountains on Friday, we took advantage of the chance to sleep in on Saturday morning.  We left campus later in the afternoon to go see a hurling match between Dublin and Wexford. We took the bus to the stadium and started to see people dressed in hurling jerseys on the street.  On our walk to the stadium we received free flags to cheer for Dublin.  Once we arrived at the stadium, we bought our tickets for only five euro and made our way to stand where we had a great view of the field.  Hurling is unlike any sport I have ever seen before.  It is kind of like a combination of field hockey, lacrosse, handball, and maybe rugby.  The players use a flat club to pass a ball to each other and score either in a soccer goal or make a field goal.  It is very violent and the only protection the hurlers wear is a helmet!  Many of them got hit during the match and had to lie on the ground and wait for a trainer while the rest continued to play.  The most entertaining part of the game for me was listening to the local fans cheer for Dublin.  They were very passionate!  It started raining duringthe match and there was a beautiful rainbow. At the end of the game all of the fans walk on the field for autographs and pictures with the players.

The next day we went to church at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  We saw the outside of the
building during the Viking Splash tour and wanted to come back to see the inside.  The high ceilings and stained glass were so beautiful to look at during mass.  The choir of young boys and men was amazing!  We were hungry for lunch after church and went to a café called Lemon Co. that advertised for crepes and coffee.  This café is right next the bus stop we had been getting off at the past few days.  We were excited to finally go inside and eat!  I got a crepe with strawberries and cream.  It was hard to decide what to get because
everything on the menu sounded so good.  Other people tried the Nutella waffle, apple cinnamon crepe, and cheesy steak sandwich.  Dublin seems full of little cafes like this one serving quick and delicious food.

After lunch, we walked up the street toward St. Stephen’s Green.  A few of us walked through this park on Thursday before the Viking Splash tour and wanted everyone else to come see how beautiful it is.  It’s difficult to put into words how picturesque Stephen’s Green is.  Walking through on a sunny day and seeing ducks swimming in the fountains, a stone bridge over a small pond, and colorful flowers in bloom felt surreal.  Despite the number of people in the park that day, it seemed relatively quiet.  Most people sat on benches or walked around to see the different flowers and historical monuments.  We learned on Thursday that public executions used to occur in Stephen’s Green.  It’s crazy to think that such a peaceful and beautiful place has a violent history!

I stayed in Dublin with half of the group while the other half went back to UCD.  We shopped around the famous Grafton Street area.  There was a street performer juggling fire torches and we watched him climb on a unicycle at least six feet tall.  Further down the
street there was a group of break-dancers performing for a large crowd.  After popping in and out of a few stores and stopping for gelato it was getting close to five o’clock.  We had already planned to meet the rest of the group at Merchant’s Arch Pub to see a band play there.  I enjoyed some soup and Irish soda bread while listening to the live music.  It
was a full weekend in Dublin and I enjoyed every minute of it! We are looking forward to the weeks ahead and exploring more of the city.

Dublin

Taking my Breath Away – By Kyle Dolan

Being the only male on this trip so far has led to many high fives and many smiles accompanied by a thumbs up from a list of people we have encountered here in Dublin so far. Coming into this program I really only knew three of these beautiful ladies well enough to call them my friends. But less than a week here I feel as though we have all created a family with one another. Of course there is still much for all of us to learn from and about each other, but so far I foresee an amazing trip with many laughs and even more stories.

Anyways, on June 13. we started our morning off bright and early at an Elderly Abuse awareness conference. Here we learned about how much abuse is happening to our elder population, not only physical but emotional and finical as well. We also learned about what is being done to stop this abuse and what the future looks like in stopping said abuse. After this very informational conference we all headed back to our rooms for some rest. Around 4 o’ clock we all headed to the bus stop to catch a bus into Dublin. There we meet up with the other students taking the same class for a, “Experience Dublin” tour, on which we become Vikings riding around in a WW2 amphibious vehicle. Now I can fill ten pages about everything we saw and learned, as well as all the fun we had but I only have four weeks in Ireland, and I am trying to make this quick so that I can go enjoy this amazing country. Here is the website if you want to know more about that tour: http://www.vikingsplash.com/ . After our tour around Dublin we all headed back to our apartments for the night. I know, I know pretty lame right? Well we had to be up very early for the conference and the tour took a lot out of us. Plus we had to be awake and at the bus stop early the next day to catch a bus for another tour.

Like I said, on June 14 (which is the day I am writing this), we all woke up early to get a bus which would cart us around Ireland for the day. Specifically, we went to Wicklow hills and path, which if anyone did not know was where they filmed both Braveheart and PS I love you. Now this was where my breath was taken away. The scenery is indescribable and even the best pictures do not do it justice.  Sure the city of Dublin is also a great place with beautiful and one of a kind artwork and stone work but the Wicklow hills and valleys  are a spectacular Irish sight. Again I could go on, but we are all getting ready to head into the city and see what the night life has to offer us. Hoping the rain does not come back and we get to see some street performers. If you want to know more about the tour we took here is the website: http://www.wildwicklow.ie/

Cheers!

Dublin
A rowdy group of vikings!

Getting Started in Ireland, by Emily Bak

To be completely honest, I was reluctant about coming to Dublin. Of course I was excited to see a new country and spend time with my friends while abroad, but I was worried about going out of the country without my mom, who has accompanied me on all my trips overseas. I knew it was going to be hard to leave my family, and ESPECIALLY hard to leave my boyfriend! I’m definitely the type to become homesick, but so far so good. I have formed a new family with my nursing friends here, and Heather is our mother duck! I’m really appreciative to have been chosen for this amazing experience and I’ve had a lot of fun so far.

Kelly covered Monday very sufficiently and I don’t want to repeat anything she’s already blogged about…hmmm so where do I start! Tuesday morning, we all woke up and went to class. Our lecturer taught about research methodologies and was extremely knowledgeable. We found out that our final will be a literature review about a health topic that interests us. I have already begun to brainstorm about mine, and I think I’m going to write about the effect of faith-based education on health outcomes for diabetics.

After class, a large group of us walked to Tesco, the biggest supermarket in Dublin. It was about a mile and a half from campus and walking with friends made it seem even shorter. It’s interesting to see all the same types of foods we have in America, but with different brand names (like “Mini Max” instead of “Frosted Mini Wheats,” and “Frosties” instead of “Frosted Flakes.”) We got everything we needed and headed home to get ready for another night in the city.

It was Elizabeth Marshall’s birthday, so everyone came to apartment 6 for a little get together! The 6 of us in apartment 6 ate a small chocolate cake together before the others showed up (nom nom nom) but then of course the others brought 24 cupcakes! Great minds think alike! I think I ate 14 cupcakes, which must be some sort of record.

We headed off to the bus stop where we met some kids who go to school in Tennessee and Alabama. Many people study abroad at UCD! We eventually reached our destination, Everleigh Garden. We sat at a table where four Irish boys joined us. It was interesting to converse with them and hear about their school system in Ireland. We all stayed out pretty late but I think it’s safe to say we all had a great night .

Today we had class again in the morning. We had two speakers from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organization. It was interesting to hear about how different health care is from country to country. After they left, we had a heated discussion in class. What I got out of it was that it is important for nurses to become politically involved and make sure they know their senators; this is one of many ways to be sure our perspectives and views are considered in legislative decisions.

We took a group trip to the Guinness factory in the afternoon and learned all about how Ireland’s number 1 beer is made! The tour was self-guided, and our group had an awesome time traveling all over the building. When we reached the top floor (the Gravity Bar,) we were able to look out and see all of Dublin and surrounding areas. It was raining but that didn’t mar the breath-taking view from the top.

We’re all back at UCD now! I’m not sure who is still awake besides Kyle and me. It’s almost 11PM here, and we should probably be heading off to bed soon so we can wake up for an important conference on reducing elder abuse in the morning. We can’t wait to see what tomorrow has in store!

Dublin

Arrival, by Kimberly Gaertner

The first couple of days here have been very exciting! The flight went very smoothly, the group met at JFK, and although we were delayed about an hour, we made up the time in the air. When we landed we hopped on a local bus from the airport to get to UCD. The bus ride was our first sites of the city, and even though at this point many of us were very jet lagged, we were thrilled to be here.

Now the next part, as the Irish say, I’m not going to be backwards about coming forwards (or in others words, being frank, blunt, speaking the truth). We got VERY lost when first arriving on campus. We got off the city bus at the gates of UCD, and it took about an hour to find our way to the residence hall. There were many onward glances from local drivers and people walking by. It’s not every day that you see 16 Americans dragging large amounts of luggage through a college. But needless to say we found our dorms with the help of many friendly students and employees on campus, and have been enjoying every minute of the trip since! Enjoy the picture we captured from the luggage incident; you can see Kyle being a great sport carrying luggage on his back after one of the wheels broke on a bag half way through!

Dublin

First Day, By Kelly Lucas

Yesterday was out first full day in Dublin and we have already made so many memories. First we had a welcome breakfast with all of the other students as well as some of the professors from the Health and Sciences School of UCD. It was a great experience to meet and talk to other nursing majors from all around the country! After having some delicious Irish pastries, tea, and coffee, we began our first class where we learned all about the

history and geography of Dublin. This made me realize I have so much more to learn about this country and can’t wait to be more knowledgeable about the history of Ireland.

Next was our research class where we dove into learning about Evidence Based Practice and literature reviews. Both of the speakers on these two topics had a lot of new information to teach us and were able to keep us listening by keeping it interesting! Following this class, we all rushed to our apartments to get ready for a night out on the town in the heart of the city.

After a quick ride on the double-decker bus we arrived at the best part of our day, which

was the welcome dinner with all of the abroad students in the city part of Dublin at Chatham Brassiere restaurant. The food was absolutely incredible (especially the goat cheese appetizer – YUM!) and we all got to interact with students from other schools as well for the second time that day.

Following that delicious meal, some of the students and I took a walk around the city to look around at all of the beautifully structured buildings and listen to people on the sidewalks singing and playing guitar. This was especially such a nice surprise because you don’t normally see musicians playing on the street in American cities. We ended up walking all the way to the infamous Temple Bar that all tourist websites had told us to visit. Although it was very crowded, I think it was definitely a great pub to visit and get a little taste of the Dublin nightlife. One of the UConn students asked a bartender at Temple Bar

and he recommended a different pub to go to a little bit down the street called Porterhouse. This place was very much less crowded and has a live band playing modern, popular songs all of us knew. After sitting and listening for a little while, we were all pretty tired and took a taxi home to sleep after a wonderful and memorable night. Yesterday has made all of us even more excited for the experiences to come!

Dublin