Kilkenny and Waterford: I float like a majestic princess

Hi everybody! Sorry for the delay. It was another crazy weekend here in Ireland, and I’m finally getting caught up on everything again.

So, this weekend we took a trip to Kilkenny and then on to Waterford! This involved spending several hours on a bus, with a man who liked to drive with the radio blaring what I can only imagine was the Irish version of a Country station. Now, I like to sleep on buses (otherwise I get motion sick). But with all his loud music, this lady didn’t get any sleep. So, not only was I cranky from no sleep the night before and on the bus, I was also crazy motion sick.

So, we drive for a while and we end up in Kilkenny to see the beautiful Kilkenny Castle. Now, you were not supposed to take pictures of the inside of the castle… but somehow my phone “accidentally” took some pictures (I’m not sure how they got on there! It’s a mystery!).

But before I start showing you all pictures… did you hear Leo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar! YAY! Anyway, here’s Kilkenny Castle:

A little history to get you started: The castle was originally a Viking castle. Some of the walls that remain are 1000 year old walls! After the Vikings, the castle was taken over by the Butler family, who added on. The middle section of the castle is done in the Norman style. AS the Butler family continued to thrive, another wing was added, this time in the Tudor style. Eventually, the family lost their fortunes, and the castle was sold to a restoration group for 50 Euro. The last of the Butlers died in 1997. Now, the castle has been restored back to its Victorian glory and serves as a museum to the Butler legacy.

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The foundation of the towers still hold the original Viking walls

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Here you can see how the middle section of the castle is Norman and the side to the right is Tudor. 

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A general layout of the areas of the castle that can be explored.

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And befores and afters of the restoration of the castle

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In the oldest part of the castle that still had the daub roof

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The dining room, complete with a portrait of the first Butler who’s name escapes me…

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The tapestries that were left are original to the castle, but damaged due to improper care.

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The library, which was my favorite room of course!

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The Blue Bedroom, where I believe it was King George V who spent the night in that bed

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And the Moorish Staircase. Our tour guide told us that the stairs had dips in the center so the ladies would be seen to float down the stairs. So, naturally I floated down like a majestic princess!

After we were done at the castle, we were packed back on the bus and drove to Waterford, where we got to tour the Waterford Crystal Factory!

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Now, if you’re a fan of the TV show, Vikings like I am, this tour will be very interesting. In the show, the main character is the very attractive Ragnar Lothbrok. Once he established a footing in Ireland, he built a tour.

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Over the years, the name Ragnar was bastardized to Reginald, so here we have an original Viking tower, made by Ragnar, but called Reginald’s Tower. Anyway, it was very cool to see since I know who Ragnar Lothbrok is!

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$100,000 crystal clock. I stayed on the other side of the room the whole time we were in the lobby.

After we arrived at Waterford Crystal, they give you a little talk in the lobby which features some of the more popular pieces, and a timeline of the establishment of Waterford Crystal…

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… but then the walls open and you walk into a room that is all mirrors and TV screens playing music and showing videos of fireworks. So, naturally there was a Mercyhurst dance party!

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And then the walls lit up revealing big crystal pieces behind them. Then, another set of doors open and you are right inside the factory! It was sooo cool! It was like a Disney attraction!012

So, you start the tour in the Molding Room, where the molds are made for the crystal pieces.

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After the Molding Room, we went to the Blowing Room, where guys were actually creating real pieces of Waterford Crystal (control yourself, mom! Please don’t pee!)!

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After, we went to the Inspections Room. They check the pieces, and if there is the tiniest deformity, they smash the piece and it gets recycled into the mix they make their glass from. They also cut off the bubble at the top and smooth any rough edges.

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After the Inspection Room, we went to the Marking Room, where they draw the pattern of the piece on it so the cutters know where to cut.

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It’s the Hershey Kiss!

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and the NBA trophy!

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And a vase they’re making for President Obama

After the Marking Room, you enter the Cutting Room, where the crystal pieces are cut following the patterns that are drawn on. This room was really cool because they guys would let you hold pieces after they did a few cuts so you could see them up close!

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They’re releasing Nutcrackers for Christmas this year!

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I got to hold a heavy-ass, three foot tall FINISHED piece! 

After the Cutting Room, you go into the Etching Room, where all the last minute, minute details of the pieces are etched on.

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This piece was called “Four Seasons” and it was beautiful!!!

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A People’s Choice Award

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Another vase for President Obama

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A tribute to 9/11

After the Etching Room, another set of doors open and you enter the Gift Shop. Mom, you would have had a field-day in there!

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They even have a jewelry line!

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We were not classy enough to shop in there…

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so naturally, I take a selfie in a very large crystal mirror!

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As we were leaving there was the cutest little dog outside…

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so I made friends with her (assuming it was a her because she had a sparkly leash)…

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and named her Kinsale! She almost got smuggled onto the bus in my jacket!

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Looking into the Gift Shop from outside

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After we got back to Dungarvan, we had some time to clean up, then went down to Merry’s, where our “Nanny” Gerty and Joe had thrown a little reception for us. They spent a ton of money on food and drinks for us. We all really appreciated it.

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Some days we get cleaned up!

 

Anyway, that about sums up my weekend. I’ve got an essay to write tonight still. Wish me luck!

 

Dublin Part 3: We look for the pot of gold

Hi! So, illness has descended upon the house. Naomi has become an “incubus of viral plague” to quote my favorite Meryl Streep. I’ve been avoiding her. I don’t have the time or the mental capacity to be sick right now. Once she feels better, we’ll be friends again!

So, on a happier note, this is the last post in my Dublin series! And thanks for sticking with me! I had a lot to cover and I figured breaking it up would be best!

So, one of our lovely professors decided that he wanted to see the Martello Tower where James Joyce stayed, and got the idea for the first chapter of his novel Ulysses. And we decided to go with him!

To get there, we had to take the train! It was very exciting to ride the Dublin train. We took it to the adorable seaside village of Sandycove. When we got to Sandycove, we were greeted with a very beautiful sight!

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Waiting for our train! Our Mama Cat was very excited!

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And once we got to Sandycove, there was the prettiest rainbow ever!

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After admiring the rainbow, we hiked through the adorable town of Sandycove to the James Joyce museum which attaches to the tower.

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Then, we got to climb up inside the tower! Since this is a very old guard tower, the stairs were very steep and narrow spiral staircases. Going up was fine, coming down was a whole nother ball game.

When we got to the next landing, the room was set up as they believed it looked the nights that Joyce stayed there, and got the inspiration for Ulysses.

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They even had a replica black panther, like from the dream sequence in the first chapter of Ulysses. 

After, we got to climb to the very top of the tower. This involved another flight of terrifying stairs, but the view from the top was so very worth it!

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It was real windy up there!

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We climbed down the tower (again, terrifying!), and hiked through the town to a pub where Joyce used to go to write. We ate lunch there, and were drinking at noon, like the Irish do.

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After lunch, we caught the bus back to Dublin. We headed back up Grafton Street to where the best ice cream in all of Ireland was said to reside. And they didn’t lie! It was amazing!

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If you’re ever in Dublin, go to Murphy’s. You’ll thank me later!

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I got some type of decadent brownie concoction! It was soooo good!

When we were done with our ice cream, we shopped a little on Grafton Street and the streets leading back to the hostel. We gathered our things and waited patiently for the bus to pick us up and bring us back to Dungarvan!

Well, that was my time in Dublin! Stay tuned for my trip to Kilkenny and Waterford! Gotta run! The girls and I are to our favorite pub, Merry’s! Salante!

Dublin Part 2: We’re in a rally

Hi all! So, when I left off with our Dublin adventure we had just gotten pizza (and met Naomi’s future husband) and went to bed. We woke up the next morning at the butt crack of dawn to make sure we would have enough time to see all the things we wanted too while we were in Dublin. We started off looking for the Art Museum but ended up stumbling across this little museum, ironically called The Little Museum of Dublin. Now, this museum I highly recomend seeing if you are ever in the Dublin area. It does the more modern history of Dublin and was very interactive (However, we aren’t sure if it was really interactive or we just made it so).

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The museum had a U2 exhibit!

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#muggin’

After The Little Dublin Museum, we kept trying to find out way to the Art Museum. Getting lost, we stumbled upon the National Archaeology Museum and the National Library. Unfortunately, you aren’t allowed to take pictures in the actual library, but they were doing an exhibit on William Butler Yeats and you were able to take photos in there.

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At the Archaeology Museum they had a really cool exhibit on the Bog People, who were basically tied up and drowned in the bogs as sacrifices to their gods. In the bogs, there bodies were really well preserved, so warning you now – they’re a little graphic!

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His hair is still preserved!

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Anyway, after that we went to the Library and saw the William Butler Yeats exhibit!

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After the Yeats exhibit, there was some debate about what to go and see next. As I said before, Dublin is a huge city with so much to see, and one member of our group decided to pout and throw a hissy fit until we agreed to do what she wanted to do, resulting in me screaming at her in the middle of the street to stop pouting (I have since apologized to her, yet she never apologized to us for acting like a child. Yes, this is still a sore spot.) Due to this, we never got to three of the things the rest of the group wanted to see. Anyway, we hiked out of the city for like a half an hour to get the Guinness Storehouse to take the Guinness tour. I actually had fun going on the tour, and learning the correct way to pour a Guinness!

But, on our way to the Guinness Storehouse, we accidentally stumbled into the middle of a political rally, and proceeded to stand there unsure of the decorum for leaving, and/or staying. There was a huge line of people stretching back blocks, and loud speakers everywhere, and cops everywhere. While it was a very peaceful protest, it was still intense to be in the middle of.

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We also got to see the jail where they took the 12 leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising and executed them.

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Me learning how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness…

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and I have the paperwork to prove it!

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All our perfect pints!

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We took our pints up to the sky bar and got to look out over the city of Dublin with all the lights on! It was beautiful up there!

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After Guinness, we began the long trek back to the hostel to get cleaned up for going out! But, on our way we walked back past Christ Church Cathedral and it was all lit up! It was so pretty, and a little haunted looking!

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After we got back to the hostel, Heather, Naomi and I decided to try our luck down in the Temple Bar area of Dublin. Since it was a Saturday night all the pubs were packed! We ended up finding space at the actual Temple Bar and got the most expensive Jamesons and Gingers ever!

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The three drinks total cost 29 euro. So we left after that.

After our very expensive drinks, we decided to try the pub next door to the hostel called Doyle’s. I really liked it there. It had more of a homey atmosphere. Now, me and the girls are all done up since the only way we can afford to drink is if we convince people to buy us drinks (I got three free shots the other day! I behaved myself though, mom! I can sense your panic through the computer!). So, we’re standing at the bar looking all good, flirting with some boys, and in walks two of our professors. Who proceed to buy us drinks. So, in a way our plan worked. We got some free drinks – just not in the way we expected!

That’s all for my tonight! I have to catch an 8:15am bus to Waterford (and yes, mom, I’m buying you something crystal!).

 

Dublin Part 1: I got tatted

So, I’m finally getting around to posting about our trip to Dublin! Let me just say that I really loved Dublin! Little more metropolitan than Dungarvan, but I am still happy to be back! There is just soooo much to do in Dublin! Only having three days to explore the entire city was not enough time. We only got to about half the things we wanted to do, but the things we did get to were incredible! So, sit back, relax and enjoy this three part special on my time in Dublin!

So, the night before we left was our Mama Cat’s 21st birthday! She was sensible and behaved herself (as a mama cat should!), but the rest of us, not so much. Getting up to catch the 8am bus the next morning sucked so much! But, it made us behave in Dublin, so you know, I guess it all worked out. It’s about a three hour bus ride from Dungarvan to Dublin, and I can honestly say I slept the entire way there! I guess I missed seeing a lot of cute sheep (I’m sure I’ll see more so I wasn’t particularly devastated!)! So, we get into Dublin and our driver John, the same driver as before, serenaded us as he drove us around the city! He sang the song “Molly Malone” a lot, and I’ll circle back to it since it now has some significance to me. We get to out hostel and drop all our luggage off since we couldn’t check-in yet.

Now, this was my first time staying in a hostel, and I have to say it was surprisingly nice! We stayed at the Times Hostel, which is like a 5 minute walk to Grafton Street and Trinity College (where I think I’m going to grad school now! Sorry, mom!). Now, this particular hostel spans across like four different buildings, so to get to the room I was staying in you had to go in the side door, up two flights of stairs, down a hallway, up two more, down another hallway, down two flights and then there was this little bitty landing where our door was. Now, these were not normal people stairs! These were crooked and really steep, and they went around a lot of corners so they were weird half stairs at times! And they painted them black so it was so dark in the stairwells! It looked like something from a horror movie! I kept expecting Freddie Kruger to pop out! Luckily he didn’t. And our room was really nice with it’s own bathroom and all.

Anyway, after we dropped off our bags, the one and only Heidi Hosey took us for a brisk tour of the city. And I say brisk because the lady walks really fast! I’m long-legged. I like to think I can keep up with anyone, but she was too speedy even for me! So, she showed us around, let us get out bearings, learn where the hostel was, all that good stuff.

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The doors of Trinity College!

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Grafton Street!

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We did find a Disney store!

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and I got a picture with Belle!

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Grafton Street reminded me a little of Diagon Alley from Harry Potter!

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We also got some of the best gelato ever!

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The entrance to St. Stephen’s Green!

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The inside of the St. Stephen Shopping Center!

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This is apparently the greatest pub in Dublin! We did go here for drinks one night, but that is a story for a different post!

Then, we got taken over to see Dublin Castle! Getting to tour one of the castles was one of things we wanted to get to but just didn’t have time for. In the castle itself, you can see 5 different styles of building just on the outside! When you take the tour, they show you the original Viking foundation, which would have been awesome! So, here’s a look at the outside, anyway!

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Then we were taken to see the statue of Molly Malone (see, I told you she’d be back!). Now, Molly is known as the Keeper of the Cups. The Cups being her rather large breasts. Below, Dr. Hosey poses with our lovely friend Molly and her Cups.

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After Molly, we hiked over to Christ Church Cathedral, which is stunning! Now, again, we didn’t get to take the tour to go inside, but we got to walk around outside and admire how stunning the outside is!

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After the Cathedral, we hiked back over to Trinity College for what was ultimately my favorite thing: The Long Hall Library and Book of Kells! But, on our way, we saw the bank where the rebels of the 1916 Easter Rising held out against the British! We are here for the 100 anniversary, so it was a very auspicious moment. Now, the Long Hall smelled like old musty books, and it was beautiful with all these marble busts of authors! It was the motherland! Now, The Book of Kells is so beautiful! But, you aren’t allowed to take pictures in there so you’ll just have to take my word for it!

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You can still see the bullet marks on the front of the bank from the 1916 Rising!

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Trinity College campus

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The Long Hall!

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After Trinity, we were allowed to check into our rooms (re-paste that rant about getting to our room here). After that, Mama Cat Kelsey and I went and got tattooed while Naomi and Heather went for coffee. Kelsey got a beautiful mandala on her shoulder (I can get one of those too right, mom? I won’t be disowned for coming home with a fifth tattoo?). I got a little four leaf clover on my back as a little remembrance of the time I’m spending here.

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After our tattoos, we met up with Naomi and Heather, and got Papa John’s pizza for dinner (How American of us, I know. Nothing else was open at like 8:30 at night!), and Naomi got hit on by a really old guy. We know joke that he’s her boyfriend!

More to come on my trip to Dublin! We may or may not have been involved in a protest… I guess you’ll just have to read on to see!

Abbeyside continued

Hi all! We have all survived our trip to Dublin(more or less) with our sanity intact. There was some conflict in the house this weekend, but I think it was handled maturely and I think things are better now. I think that little spat has really brought us closer as a house. Since we are all super passive people, indecision was a real killer in Dublin. But, more on that later! I still have my post on Abbeyside to finish. So sit back and look at the pretty pictures of the Abbeyside Cathedral!

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Duke of Devonshire bridge again!

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Abbesyside

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Part of the foundation of the original church remains

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I collected seashells on the beach!

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Naomi, Heather and I!

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My Julie Andrew’s moment!

Now that we’re back, classes have started up again. But, the even better news is that we have planned our first trip to Europe! In two weeks, we will be tearing up Amsterdam!

Stay tuned for my Dublin posts! Salante!

 

Ah, that fishy smell

Well, the past few days have been sooooo rainy and cold. We really got to bond as a house since we were all stuck inside. We watched some Netflix and chilled (but not like that) around the house.

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I wasn’t enjoying the cold and rainy weather…

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but apparently Naomi was (she’s a weird kid). 

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But the bay was still gorgeous, even in the cold!

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Even the Duke of Devonshire Bridge was pretty in the rain. I think that’s just one of the characteristics of Ireland. Everything is always pretty regardless of the weather. 

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Here is my super cool new phone. As one of the student ambassadors, the townspeople need to be able to get in touch with me, so I was gifted this stunning piece of technology for the duration of our trip.

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This is also the first injury of the trip. My shoes gave me some killer blisters (surprise, surprise). 

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This is my Park Club sandwich…

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and cheesecake.

We had a rude wake up call yesterday when one of the boys on our trip decided to drunkenly barge in at 7 am. Now, I don’t like waking up period, so this really pissed me off. Luckily, he was only a little bit of a prick about it. But, whatever, forgive and forget, right?

The weather let us get outside for a little bit, so we explored “downtown” Dungarvan.

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Meade’s Cafe is my new favorite place to go. It’s so quaint and the food was delicious! 

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I tried the teriyaki wrap!

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And had a pork and apple chutney paganini 

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and strawberry mousse! 

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And I got to Skype with literally the whole family: my parents and younger sister in Erie, where they also FaceTimed my older sister in D.C. and held the phone up to the computer. Gotta love technology!

And, today, is our beloved Mama Cat, a.k.a., my roomie Kelsey’s 21st birthday! And she/we have been promised free drinks just about everywhere! But, to commemorate this special day, we got her a pastry and put a candle in it and sang to her, which she loved. We also have a light-up princess crown, 21st birthday shot necklace, and 21st birthday sash for her when we go out tonight. Yes, we will be those tacky Americans but it’s going to be a damn good time!

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She was really surprised by our slightly tacky birthday cake! But, I think she was really touched!

Today, we planned our trip to Dublin. We set off on a 3-hour long bus ride at 8 am. Hopefully we aren’t too hung-over…

So, since today was the first nice day in a really long time, we trekked across the bridge out of Dungarvan and into Abbeyside. We explored the church and the beach before hiking back home. The weather today was gorgeous! (How’s the snow again? Heehee!) It was incredible to be down on the beach and play in the sand. We all collected seashells, and breathed in the fishy smell of the ocean. It was so nice being outside after being cooped up for days.

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Abbeyside is right on the beach! And has the most stunning old church (which I think will have to be a separate post).

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Naomi and I with the one and only Heidi Hosey, the professor who is leading our study abroad. 

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And my home sweet home: the Park Hotel.

I think that’s enough photo overload for right now. I’ll upload the photos from Abbeyside later, since I took so many!

I’ll be posting again on Monday probably since we are spending the weekend in Dublin. We’ll see how many of my roomies I convince to get tattoos with me…

 

 

Classes have begun

Classes have started and the party has officially ended. Well, maybe not so much. But now I have to be all responsible because I do have class at 8:15 am (and I was not a happy camper this morning, let me tell you!)

Nothing too major has happened. At orientation Sunday afternoon, she asked for volunteers to be the pint-of-contact people between the town and the school. Your’s truly volunteered. I get to help plan events, meet with locals, and make sure everyone on the trip is doing okay. I figured this was a good way for me to meet the other people on this adventure with me (and if you really know me, you know I just like to be in charge of things!).
Last night our wonderful professor took us all to the pub Merry’s and proceeded to buy everyone there first round. I tried a Jameson and Ginger, and it was really good. We spent the night sampling all other types of delicious Irish drinks, and still managed to wake up at the ass-crack of dawn for class.

My classes should be good. Lot of Irish history, which I ‘m super excited about. My first class is Lifespan Development, followed by The Great War, followed by Modern Irish Literature and Film. On Tuesday/Thursday, I have my Ethics class. It’s not a heavy course load by any stretch of the imagination for which I am very grateful.

And now, since I have nothing else to report, prepare yourselves for photo overload. You were warned…

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We look like a hot mess due to no sleep and 6 hours on an airplane, but this is on the bus to Dungarvan.

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Lucky Townhouse Number 3, where I will be residing for the next 3 months.

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The townhouses overlook the bay, and a lovely turn around.

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The freakiest attempt at a panoramic picture

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The main square 

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Beautiful Dungarvan Bay!

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Sending love on Valentines Day!

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My lovely roomie, Naomi and I.

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Jameson and Ginger

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Bulmers (one of my new fav drinks!)

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Naomi and Kelsey (our “mama cat”) trying real Irish Guinness 

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Me drinking Guinness. It’s sooo much better here than in the States!

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The ladies of Townhouse 3

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And the best salad I’ve ever eaten!

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The start of classes : (

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The delicious Aromatic Duck Wrap from Jitterbeans! Normally not a duck person, but this was soo tasty!

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The most delicious pastry ever: fondant!

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And the half masticated remains of my fondant! The filling was incredible!

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We found a cute lil wine shop (and FYI, Ireland doesn’t do sweet wines. Who knew?) so we bought a bottle and day drank and did homework.

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My super good salmon dinner at the Park Hotel. They like their veggies here. Everything comes with a side of “veg.”

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One very large drink

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Our favorite pub, Merry’s

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The boats are starting to arrive again. They had been gone for the winter since the water in the bay drops too low.

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Dungarvan Bay by night

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Naomi and I

 

 

And with that, I will bid you folks all a good night.

I warned you about all the pictures!