Category Archives: Ireland

Daytrip to Howth, Ireland

I know, I know, this isn’t very original material, but we spotted an awesome (double) rainbow by the ocean in Ireland!  No pot of gold or leprechaun though… Continue reading

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin

About a year ago, my brother Patrick and I entered a pact that if we were both in Europe this year we were going to Dublin for it to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.  This year finds me in Amsterdam and Patrick studying in Budapest so the long weekend with the Irish seemed inevitable, and we’re both very happy we did!

Man, it’s like we’re twins or something… Continue reading

2011: A Year in Review

When I think back on 2011 it will undoubtedly go down as the year where I did more in 12 months than most people do in a lifetime.  If I didn’t personally already defend a thesis, become a published author, move to a different country, and explore 20 countries on 4 continents along the way I would accuse myself of lying because I’m tired just thinking about it.  But I apparently did because I lived through all of it! Continue reading

I Visited the Blarney Castle (but didn’t kiss the stone!)

When I visited Ireland two years ago, I shocked and confused all idle questioners by not visiting Blarney Castle. As there are only so many things to do in Ireland I did finally visit the castle, but had no interest whatsoever in kissing the stone. Why? Well firstly I already talk too much if anything, secondly if there was a place where hundreds of tourists from around the entire world put their saliva to the point where there is a damp spot on the wall would you kiss it?  Exactly.

Continue reading

Kilkenny: The Perfect Irish Town

I spent an unexpected few days in Ireland on my way home to the United States from Europe, but as everyone knows this is no great hardship.  I’d visited the country two years ago so I was determined to explore a few places I missed the last time around, which is how I ended up spending a few days in Kilkenny, about 90 km southeast of Dublin.  And I am so glad I did because it turns out Kilkenny is the perfect Irish town! Continue reading

Summary of Ireland

Ireland is an interesting place because everyone thinks they know everything about it before even visiting.  It’s got to be the best-marketed country in the world- they even got all these people who aren’t even Irish to celebrate their holiday!- so it’s neat to show up and realize the actual place doesn’t follow your preconceived notions.  Which in hindsight you should have realized would happen but we all get caught off our guard on occasion.

Highlights-

- The pub life.  I list this first because back at home whenever I went to an Irish pub I’d find myself saying “you know, I really want to visit Ireland” and I am proud to report the stories live up to the expectations!  The Irish are remarkably friendly, and great musicians are a dime a dozen (they don’t play Irish trad normally though- it would be the same as us listening to She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain When She Comes or other folk songs in the bar).  I’ve always been a traitor to my generation in that I like to hear myself think when going out or at least having good music instead of base  pounding my head, so Ireland was great for this.

- Dublin was a bit meh, just another big city, but i met cool people there and got new pages for my passport.  I am including the above so you guys can see why I needed one- pretty much the whole old part looks like this by now!

- My favorite place in Ireland, though, has got to be Galway.  Seriously, go to Galway as you won’t regret it.

- Killarney I will write off as a necessary evil to go see the spectacular Ring of Kerry.  There’s nothing really wrong with Killarney, it’s just an incredibly touristy place that pales in comparison to the other fun towns Ireland has to offer.

- Learning Irish fiddling from Theresa and exploring the dime-a-dozen ruins in Loughmore.

- Another thing I liked after so many months on the road is how this was the first place I’d been where they spoke English!  I never realized just what a great asset it is to assume everyone can understand you until I came to Ireland and realized just how great I’d gotten at pantomiming these past few months.

Lowlights-

- This is the problem with Ireland- eventually you will come across a point in this nation where it is pouring rain and you just arrived in a strange place.  There’s a hostel, where’s the hostel?  The rain makes things seem longer than they are so maybe that guy you asked directions was just trying to mess with you.  Eventually you will come across the hostel but not before you are completely soaked despite umbrella and rainjacket, which sucks when you’re me and only have one pair of close-toed shoes.

To be fair about the Irish weather it’s not like you haven’t received enough warning about what you’re getting into (that’s one preconception that will remain firm!), and traveling to the U.K. afterwards will seem positively sunny in comparison.  Plus the Irish have long ago realized that all you want to do on a rainy day is disappear with a coffee or pint at a nice pub, and have accomodated accordingly.

- On the other side of the spectrum, I got sunburnt while reading in the park  in Limerick one afternoon.  I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing, though to explain there was a lovely five day stretch of perfect weather I will not complain about otherwise.

- The fact that my camera finally broke and I needed to shell out lots of Euro to get the replacement.  RIP camera…

- As a final note this is one thing I will never, ever get used to in Ireland- the pubs close early!  Really early, as in 11:30 on weeknights and an hour later  on weekends (clubs are until 2 and 3, respectively, but I’m not a fan of getting kicked out of the comfy pub!).  They have this curfew by law.  The only other country I have been to where there was a national law dictating a curfew was Laos, and I find it odd that Ireland is in the same boat as a communist country on this.

Anyway, that is Ireland.  What a great little place!  I think it gets the distinction of being the second country I’ve visited on this trip that I wouldn’t mind setting down in for a little while, so I hope to be back someday.

Killarney

I came to Killarney because even those from Ireland tell you it’s the place to go for pretty scenery.  I soon discovered that while it might be pretty it’s also one  of the most touristed places I’ve been to, which is saying something by this point.   Not to say it was all bad- I went to the movies for the first time in four months!- but not the lovely place to disappear to like Galway.

Anyway, when it comes to pretty scenery the popular thing to do is the Ring of Kerry, for which I got terrible weather but it’s not like the dazzling sunshine before was normal for this country.  Me on the bus-

And the person who stole my camera to take the picture, Gisela, a German working the year in Ireland-

In the spirit of Germans everywhere who can’t seem to survive if they’re not hiking or battling elements, she was forever walking about in gale-force winds with stinging rain with me wondering why we couldn’t go find a cafe to curl up in or something.
Anyway, the scenery!  Now it is an absolutely gorgeous route even in the rain, which is saying something.  Part of the ring is national park but the far majority is farmland, mainly horses and sheep that routinely escape their paddocks and cause traffic jams from all the tourists taking pictures of sheep on the road.  Yay!

Looks straight out of a fairy tale, doesn’t it?  If they put Cinderella’s castle up on the peak here it wouldn’t look out of place.

There’s an awful lot of ocean views on the route too, but this is the most spectacular lookout.  Interestingly this point is only a few kilometers from where the first trans-Atlantic cable came ashore from Newfoundland, 4200 miles away, which is significant because it marks the closest Ive gotten to back home since beginning this trip!  And the closest I will for some time actually…
A few brightly painted houses- it’s a rather normal thing in Ireland to paint your house a bright color different to that of your neighbor, probably because if they didn’t do it the world would look beyond dreary.  Kind of hard to think of the gray clouds when you have a pink house in your view.

In short, Kerry is lovely though I’m sure better weather would have been a nice thing.  And I’m stopping here because my laptop battery is about to die.  Cheers!