I learn European Style

Hiya! I’ve been slacking terribly with this blog, but it has been a hell of a few weeks! With classes winding down next week, and leaving in two weeks from today (silent sobbing), I’ve been super busy getting my stuff organized.

Edinburgh was wonderful! Hopefully there will be pictures for you all to enjoy soon…

Anyway, today I had the opportunity to go horseback riding! It was sooooo fun! I haven’t gone riding in years so it was interesting to be back on a horse. I think I’ve only gone twice before this so I’m a totally newbie!

But, to make matters more interesting, they only ride European Style here! For those who are not equestrian masters (like I am now, clearly) a Western saddle has the pommel and back brace so you are very secure in your saddle and on the horse. European saddles are basically a bike seat on top of a horse! You really have to grip with your thighs to stay on the horse! And the reins and stirrups are different, so it was a whole new experience for all of us!

And for the record, I never fell off the horse! So I count today as a success!

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We rode at the Monatrea Equestrian Center and they were wonderful!

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I’m all fitted in my riding gear, and clearly loving the heavy helmet! 

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There were two adorable dogs that were running around the farm: Murphy and Teal! They also followed us the whole riding trip!

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All geared up and ready to go!

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This was my horse, Bing! Like Chandler Bing! He was a little bit chunky and kept trying to stop and eat as we went on our trek! But he was wonderfully docile which was perfect for me!

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The area we rode in was stunning! We had the most perfect weather ever! We got very lucky since Irish weather is temperamental!

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And we got to ride on the beach! I had never gone beach riding before so it was awesome!

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The four of us who rode today upon getting all four of us successfully (aka without anyone falling off and hurting themselves) back to the farm!

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Me and Bing!

Today was wonderful! And now I can say I rode horses in Ireland! How cool, right?!?

So, I’m signing off for the night. I have to finish packing! We leave for London for the weekend at 7:30 am tomorrow morning! Someone should probably warn Prince Harry I’ll be in the area…!

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I adulted today

So, I had a tour at UCC (University College Cork, for those who don’t know the acronym)! And, I loved it! It looks just like Hogwarts!!! That’s basically all you need to know (Sorry mom, looks like I’m leaving you again)! I won’t bore you with all the minute details but I will show you some pics of my pretty campus!

So, we got to UCC, went on a tour of the campus, swung over to the International Office to find out some of the logistics (totally doable, FYI), then, we were lucky enough to get a meeting with the director of the Creative Writing Program at UCC, which was totally intimidating!

He did tell me that they only accept about 22 students total for the program so it is VERY competitive. Luckily, I have a few more months before the applications are due to turn out some really impressive writing samples (eek!).

Anyway, that about covers it. Now, for pictures…

 

 

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Me and Naomi in the North Wing!

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See, Hogwarts!!!

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There’s even a river that goes through the middle of campus!

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This is the building where the English and Writing classes take place!

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Enjoying some sun by the river!

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So, that’s UCC! Logisitically, I think it makes a lot of sense for me to attend. It will be hella cheap, and I am thoroughly infatuated with Ireland. But besides all that, I just felt this vibe when I got on the campus. There was just something about it that made me want to pull out my notebook and plop down in the grass and start writing (which I’m taking as a good sign/omen!).

So, hopefully in a few months I will be lucky enough to tell you all that I’ll be attending UCC to get my Masters in Creative Writing. Pray for me and my nerves!

Galway this weekend! Megan, out!

My sissie comes to visit!!!

So, it’s been a hectic couple of days here in Ireland. I got home Sunday night from Edinburgh (It was amazing! Pictures coming soon, I promise!). I had classes on Monday, then at 7:30 am I was on a bus to Dublin to see my big sis and her friend who had flown in the week earlier while I was in Scotland (oops!). Anyway, they wandered around on their own and saw more of the west of Ireland than I have so far so it was really cool to catch up and hear about her adventures and see her pictures.

So, to continue the story, I got into Dublin at 11:30 at Heuston Station. See, here the Internet lied to me. I was told (by the Internet) that this bus stop was close to my hostel. It was not. So, Lauren (the sister) and Kevin (the friend) walk like 20 minutes to find me. Anyway, they find me and we hug and I squeal cause it was sooooo exciting to see her! She lives a few hours away from me so I don’t see her that often anymore, so it was absolutely wonderful to see her!!!!

Lauren and Kevin decided that since we’re close to the Guinness Storehouse that that’s what they’re going to do. Since I already did the Storehouse, I plopped my butt in a Subway and got some lunch!

Once they were done at Guinness, we headed off to the Old Jameson Distillery! I hadn’t done this yet (and I like whiskey more than beer) so I was super excited to go!

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This is Bill, our tour guide!

So, the tour was at the old location for Jameson. They work up in Midleton now, but the building used to be the old distillery. You got to start in the grainroom and work up to the stills, going through the whole process of how Jameson Whiskey is made. The only thing I remember is that it’s triple distilled (that’s how it gets its smoothness) and that when its maturing in the barrels, the part that evaporates is the “angel’s share” since it evaporates and goes into Heaven for the angels to have a party!

After the main part of the tour, we were ushered into a room where we got to do a whiskey tasting, measuring Jameson against scotch whiskey and american whiskey. I’m partial to the Jameson but I have also been drinking it for basically three months now.

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Our whiskey samplings!

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And my favorite, Jameson!

After the sampling, you were ushered into the bar where you received a complimentary drink. We all got Jameson and Ginger, which have become my favorite drink since I got here!

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Me and my sis Lauren and our Jameson and Gingers!

After we were done at the Old Jameson Distillery, we headed up to Christ Church Cathedral and Dublinia, the viking museum! I was super excited to go to Dublinia since I missed it the last time I was in Dublin! And I love Vikings so it was a win-win!

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You were greeted at the door by this handsome fellow and his longship!

This museum was incredible! It was all models everywhere! It was like real Vikings! The first floor was all about the Vikings in Dublin, followed on the next floor about Viking life. You got to go into old houses, see old tools and clothes, then go over to the shipyards!

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The next floor was more medieval. It included diseases and a fair! It continued the history up to more modern times.

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The fair included games you could play so here we are playing ring toss with rings made out of rope!

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The next floor took us to modern times and showed how the old Viking ruins and objects were excavated. It also showed how the Vikings inspired modern day things, like movies and fashion.

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My favorite series, The Lord of the Rings, has some Viking inspiration!

Dublinia is connected to Christ Church Cathedral through a sky-bridge, so naturally we took the sky bridge into the cathedral! Dublinia was really fun for me to explore. I have Irish history eeking out of my pores and a lot of the people mentioned in the exhibits were people I’ve learned about since being here!

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Lauren and I on the sky-bridge!

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The cathedral was built in the 10th century by Sitric Silkbeard!

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The baptismal font

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Some old decorative stonework from the original exterior.

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After exploring the main floor of the cathedral, we realized you could go down into the crypts, so that’s where we headed next! There were tombs, graves, other macabre things, and some of the church’s old treasures!

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Apparently, one of my favorite shows “The Tudors” filmed several scenes in Christ Church Cathedral, so there was an exhibit with costumes from the show! I don’t think my behavior was befitting for being in a church when I noticed this was down there!

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(I’m not sure why it’s sideways or how to fix it, but that’s a close-up of one of the scenes they filmed in the church: Anne’s coronation!

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My favorite Natalie Dormer (Anne Bolyne) wore that blue dress, and there’s a painting of Jonathon Rhys-Myers (King Henry VIII) from the show!

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Kevin decided to lay down in one of the sarcophaguses that were open.

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This is one of the cathedral’s most famous exhibits: a mummified cat and mouse. Apparently, they fell down a sewage drain and were mummified and were later found when renovations were happening on the church!

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The Viking Strongbow is buried here, as in Strongbow Cider!

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The original structure of the cathedral! From the 10th century!

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So, after the cathedral, we wandered around to different pubs and bars before finding somewhere to get dinner. I tried lamb rogan josh for the first time! Or as Lauren likes to call it “Josh Groban.” It was a little but spicy but delicious!

After dinner, we went looking for another bar and I took them across the bridge to see the G.P.O where the 1916 Easter Rising happened. If you remember from my other post on Dublin, this is were the Irish made their last stand against the British before surrendering. The 12 leaders were later shot in cold-blood by the British. At the G.P.O you can still see bullet holes in the pillars and walls out front.

I then gave them a little lesson on Micheal Collins and Eamon de Velera, since they factor into the after-effects of the Rising (like I said, Irish history oozing out of me!).

We decided we needed one more drink before bed, and settle on a super cute little pub called Poet’s Corner! It was right up my alley!

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And then at the table we sat at was a picture of Micheal Collins, which was super ironic!

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After our drink, they dropped me at my hostel and we said our goodbyes. I shared a room with a lovely bunch of Swedish women, and was up at 6 am to catch my bus back to Dungarvan. Now, let me tell you, I had no luck with the bus system today. I missed the 7:30 bus because I was on the wrong side of the street. So  caught the 9:30 one, no big deal. It’s a three hour drive to Waterford where I had to change buses. Well, my next bus never showed up so I was stuck in Waterford until 3 pm when another bus finally showed up. I finally ended up getting back to Dungarvan at 4, but what should ave taken 4 hours took 8 hours. I am not a happy camper, but I captured some pretty pictures on my way back!

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Anyway, that’s enough from me tonight! I have some adulting to do tomorrow (a.k.a touring a potential grad school!!!!) so I’m signing off!

My New Secret Talent

So, while I’ve been here, I’ve had our wonderful Momma Cat Kelsey teach me some of the basics of photography. As it turns out, I have quite a knack for it (and by that I mean that 1 out of 10 pictures I take are good, mostly by happy accidents!)

Anyway, I thought it would be cool to share with you guys some of the pictures I’ve taken since I started getting those little mini photography lessons.

I hope you like them…

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So, I think that’s enough photo overload for one day!!! I hope you liked at least some of them! I know that was an extensive amount! But, I’ve really started to like photography, which is something I never thought I’d get really into so it’s been exciting to learn and discover!

And, I had an interview today! I think it went well! I had good WiFi so I think all your prayers worked! I should know next week and then I get to decide what I want to do with my summer which will be a really hard decision!

We head off to Edinburgh, Scotland in the morning! More pics to follow!

 

 

 

Amsterdam Day 2: We meet Van Gogh

I’m coming home in exactly one month from today. (Stop celebrating, mom!) And I’m gonna be real sad to leave Dungarvan, and Ireland. It’s crazy to me how quickly this place became home to me. I remember getting home from Amsterdam and thinking, thank God, I’m home. It seems crazy to me that this place has become what I associate with home after only two months.

But, I suppose it helps when the people are so welcoming and helpful. I have nothing bad to say about Dungarvan (probably because I love it!) because everyone is wonderful! Anyway, I’ll do a whole post ranting about my love of Ireland at a later date. you joined us today to hear about my time in Amsterdam, so let’s dive in!

So, Day Two started real early. We got dressed and headed out looking for the flower market, which is very iconically Amsterdam. We wandered in the direction that we thought was right (I was navigating. Not sure why they all thought this was a good idea!) and we got very lost!

But, before getting lost, we stopped at the most delicious pancake house for breakfast!

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I mean, where else can you get ice cream, and a crap ton of chocolate on a pancake!?!

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So, after breakfast, we set out and I got us lost…

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As luck would have it, we stumbled across the Rembrandt Monument!

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After the Rembrandt Monument, we set off again, still looking for the Flower Market. Since Amsterdam is basically all water, canals, and bikes, it was a pretty walk.

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See what I mean about the bikes! They were everywhere! And if you weren’t careful crossing the street, the bikers would take you out with no remorse!

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Since I can’t ever take a serious picture on the first try…

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Eventually, we did find the Flower Market. Unfortunately, we were a little out of season, but the places that were open and did have flowers were gorgeous!

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And they sold everything: seeds, flowers, bulbs, plant care stuff. Basically everything needed for growing a garden!

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The museum that houses “The Girl with the Pearl Earring” is in Amsterdam, but far away from the area we were trying to stay in, so I wasn’t going to be able to see her in person. So, I couldn’t resist snapping a pic when I saw her on a mug. In a way, I did see her!

Since the Flower Market was near the road where they filmed the bench scene from “The Fault in Our Stars” we decided to try and find it.

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We never did find the bench. So, we posed with a random one. We were later told that the bench had been stolen!

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After our bench failure, we set off for The Van Gogh Museum! It was a very long walk, but I got us there without getting us lost, so I call it a win!

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I call this one “Delivery Man on Bike with Red Satchel.” It’s a profound statement!

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That’s the Rijks Museum. To get to the Van Gogh Museum, you had to pass through it which lead to a huge grassy park with more sculptures and the Amsterdam sign!

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Not sure what’s happening here..

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but we got it this time!

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So, you had to wait in a huge line outside to be able to even get in the line to buy a ticket to get into the museum. And now it was freezing cold and windy so the wait was miserable! But, once we got inside, totally worth it.

The museum was set up to show the progression of his work, with the first floor being his earliest stuff and each floor after being later in his career. The top floor housed his last works and other artists who had been inspired by Van Gogh.

You weren’t supposed to take pictures, so, naturally, I took some anyway!     : )

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My long-awaited ticket!

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And then I got this one because “Irises” are some of my favorite Van Gogh painting’s and this one was at the museum!

After the museum, we found some dinner and called it a night since we had walked a really long way and were exhausted.

We caught out very early flight back to Ireland, and that’s the end of the story. Thanks for your patience in getting here!

Amsterdam was incredible, and there was sooooo much I wanted to do that, oh darn, I’ll just have to go back one day!

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post about a new secret talent of mine…

Amsterdam Day 1: They make me ride on a boat

It is still so surreal to me that I got to spend a couple days in Amsterdam! How crazy is that?!?

So, I’ve been home a few weeks now, so bare with me as I try to cover a lot of time in a few short posts.

So, we left on a Wednesday for Amsterdam. After getting on the wrong bus, and almost missing our flight, we landed safety in Amsterdam once it was already dark. After a short train ride we were in the actual city. Then, it was up to me to successfully navigate us to our hostel. Luckily, I found it!

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We went to bed, (after I exploded lemonade all over the room! Just a heads up, they carbonate their lemonade in Amsterdam! It doesn’t work well in a contained bottle that got slightly shaken in your backpack!) only to find out at about 2 am, that our two other roommates were guys (very cute guys, I might add!).

So, we woke the next morning and had a delicious breakfast and headed off to take a canal tour!

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Proof I was on the boat!

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After our canal tour (yes, I survived!), we decided to go and see the Royal Palace. So, we hiked over to where we thought it was and couldn’t find it anywhere. One of us must have said something because a very nice Dutch woman told us it was the building we were standing next too (go figure!).

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Not this building. This is the mall!

Then, she told us we were in luck because the Royal Family just got back. We were like there’s a royal family? We figured she was messing with the dumb Americans, but it turns out there really is a royal family, and we saw their cars leaving the palace!

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This one is the palace!

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That white pillar is the Amsterdam Monument!

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I kept trying to hold one of the pigeons and Naomi kept stopping me!

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So, we finally make it inside and it is giant and gorgeous and probably my future home!

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This main room is where people would originally come to petition the king, but later became the setting for royal balls!

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In case you needed further proof that I’m a princess, I’m practicing my princess wave!

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After the main room, it lead you around in a circle around this main floor of the castle! I can’t remember what each room’s function is (but they’re pretty so does their function really matter?!?), but if I do remember I will be sure to share what I remember.

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Any time I see a picture with three girls in it, I always snap a pic because it reminds me of myself and my two sisters! This one is actually pretty accurate, with my older sister being the brunette one, me in the center, and my younger sister in the red dress. It works!

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This is the Blue Bedroom.

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I loved the ceiling in this room!

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That guy is totally judging me!!!

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Down below is where they would carry out executions. 

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This was the Queen’s Sitting Room.

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And that’s the Queen!

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This was the King’s Office.

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The Family Tree.

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The King’s desk.

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The Red Bedroom (I picked this one out for myself).

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The Red Bedroom’s Sitting Room.

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The Yellow Bedroom.

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The Dining Room.

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This is the sculpture that’s on the wall of the room where they carried out the executions. 

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Like, seriously, most glamorous execution room ever! I’d be happy to die in there!

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After we were done at the Palace, we tracked down a place for food…

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and I got Carbonara! My favorite Italian dish!

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And then I got a Nutella macaroon that was delicious! 

After we got food, we headed off looking for the Anne Frank House.

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(Yes, that is my finger in front of the lense. Oops!)

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A really gorgeous church that we heard about (and saw from the water) on our canal tour. 

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So, we finally find the house, and I thought this sign was hilarious! It was a 30 minute wait from this point, so they gave us free WiFi!

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You obviously aren’t allowed to take pictures in the House itself. It was one of the most incredible things I’ve done on this trip. You get a little history before you enter the actual house. Then it takes you through all the rooms, leading up to the top floors where they used to live. As you travel through the rooms, they had artifacts from the families and videos playing from Otto Frank and other people who knew the family. Then, you get to climb through the doorway hidden by the bookshelf and go into the rooms they actually lived in for years. And they’re tiny! I can’t imagine living for years in there. And, for the record, it looks nothing like the house they show in “The Fault in Our Stars.” In one room, they had the wallpaper covered behind glass because it still had the pencil markings measuring how tall Margot and Anne were. I got really teary-eyed there. In the next room, the pictures Anne pasted onto the walls to make it more homey, are still there protected under glass. After you finish the tour, you go into another room where a film plays where people talk about the impact Anne, and all the Franks, had on the world. If you hadn’t cried before, that video got you for sure. We went through the gift shop, and I bought myself a copy of her diary because I didn’t have a copy of it and it is a souvenir that I will cherish forever.

Now, on a happier note, we made it back to the hostel, after getting some dinner, and got all dolled up to go out.

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This was the street across from our hostel and I loved the crooked buildings. it reminded me of Diagon Alley from Harry Potter!

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This is my 80’s movie star photo!

So, we decided we were going to go out and go to a jazz bar that was close to the hostel. we wandered around for a while looking for it, and eventually we wandered down a street that I thought was the right one. Up ahead we saw a building that was covered in red lights, and I’m like that’s the right building! And then a basically naked lady steps into the window, and we were like, nope, not the right place, so we turned around and went to an English Bar, called The London Bridge, we had passed earlier.

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and I tried my first Heineken. They actually aren’t bad for a beer.

After our few drinks, we headed back to the hostel to get a good night’s sleep since we had an even busier day waiting for us in the morning!

So, that was Day One in Amsterdam! Stay tuned for Day Two!

 

Lismore and Ardmore and Youghal! Oh my!

So, yesterday the wonderful Tom Keith took a group of us on a day trip to Lismore, Ardmore, and Youghal (pronounced Y’all). It was freezing cold and miserably rainy but I got to see some new parts of Ireland and get drinks in a new bar, so, all in all, I consider the day a success!

The day started off bright and early (except it wasn’t bright because the sun refused to shine all day). We packed onto the bus and headed off for Lismore. For those of you who remember, I’ve been to Lismore before. It’s where my future house (castle) and husband (a duke) live. For those who need a refresher, or joined this adventure late, read all about my first trip to Lismore here: I’m a (self-proclaimed) duchess.

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While the rest of the group went to watch the video with Father Declan, me and Naomi sat in a cafe and got coffees.

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Or a mint hot chocolate in my case.

After the group watched the video, we went up to Saint Carthage’s Cathedral. Last time I was in Lismore I didn’t get to see the cathedral so it was cool to have the chance to explore it!

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St. Carthage’s is really old (I forget the exact number) and was founded by the same sect of monks as Father Declan.

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This cathedral had some gorgeous stained glass! And I’m sure I’ll say that about every one so be prepared!

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The very back wall is part of the original foundations of the cathedral.

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The ceiling in the main part of the cathedral was so beautiful! I had never seen another roof done like this before!

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These are some of the original decorations from the original cathedral.

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The cemetery around the cathedral looked like something from a scary movie! The graves are so old you can’t read what was written on them anymore. I kept expecting zombies to pop out!

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After we were done in Lismore, we hopped back on the bus and headed off for Youghal (again, pronounced Y’all).

Once we got to Youghal, the bus driver dropped us off on top of a huge hill where the original walls that used to protect the city still stand. Usually, the gates are open so you can walk through the wall and then up onto the top to see the whole city, but they were locked so we had to get back onto the bus and drive into the city itself.

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Once we started on our way to the cathedral, we stopped to hear about one of the large houses in the center of town that got turned into a poor house where the impoverished could come and stay back when Ireland was having difficulties.

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featuring the one and only Tom Keith

We continued on our way and came to the Collegiate Church of Saint Mary. This church was gorgeous and used to be attended by Sir Walter Raleigh!

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That’s the original 800 year old wooden roof. They’ve slated over the outside but haven’t done any changes to the inside so the wood we’re looking at is the same as when they put it up. When they built the roof, they measured the ceiling area, built the roof on the ground, took it apart, then rebuilt up above on the actual ceiling!

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When Walter Raleigh used to come to church, he would ceremoniously hang his sword upside down in this contraption.

 

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That’s William Boyle, who had a chapel named after him in the church.

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I took like a hundred pictures of this window because I fell seriously in love with it!

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Told ya!

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See the chest in the corner. When Cromwell was invading Ireland, one of his men died on his way through Dungarvan, and was buried outside of this church. Apparently, Cromwell stood on that chest to give an oration at his burial!

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There is a set of stairs that go nowhere; their purpose is unknown, but believed to connect the church to the college.

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Some bits from the original exterior of the church.

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Yep, that’s a dead guy from the 13th century!

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While it was pouring, a group of us took refuge under this tree, only to realize we were standing/leaning on graves.

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Right next to the church, (if you’re willing to scale a small wall) you can see Walter Raleigh’s house! We didn’t get to go and explore around the house since it’s owned by an old woman who apparently has over 16 dogs.

Once we were done seeing the cathedral, we were put back on the bus and traveled to Ardmore. Once we got to Ardmore, the bus drove up a huge hill where the original church of St. Declan used to be.

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That tower was part of the original protection of the city. All the people would climb up to the door that was 12 feet above the ground and hold out any attackers.

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That ruined structure in the background was the original church. It’s from the 10th century! I don’t think I’ve ever been a structure that old before in my life! It was a little bit surreal.

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Those pictures depict bible scenes.

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By this point, we were quite soaked and frozen!

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After we were done here, we went to an area called Declan’s Walk or Declan’s Hermitage. It’s where he went to escape the pressures of the church. To get there, we basically scaled the side of a mountain in a tour bus. I was sure we were gonna die, but our bus driver, John, was a champ!

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It went right along the coast, and if it had been sunny, it would have been an amazing place. Not saying that is wasn’t in the rain, there is something really tranquil about the place.

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Part of the original structure is still standing. Passing under the arch, into what remains of the building, was a really surreal moment. There’s a feeling to this place that’s hard to describe.

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That’s Declan’s Well. Fresh water still flows through it.

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I duck-walked through that little archway!

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People still come and pray here to St. Declan.

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The original altar is still standing.

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When people come, you are supposed to bring a stone and mark  a cross on the altar. People have been doing that for so long there are groves dug into the altar!

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My rock

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On a trip a few years back, a girl asked why there wasn’t a Mercyhurst rock, so the group picked one at Declan’s Hermitage, and it’s still there. We made a cross on it with our rocks as well before we left.

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The Mercyhurst Rock.

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After we left the Hermitage, we went to a college that teaches only in Gaelic for tea and to meet the director who took us on a tour of the tow and gave us a little history lesson. The town speaks predominately Gaelic. Road signs, building signs, everything was in Gaelic because the community speaks Gaelic!

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And for the record, the word “fork” is still pronounced fork in Gaelic. They spell is with a “c” at the end (forc) but the pronunciation is the same. So, now you can speak a bit of Gaelic. You’re welcome!

After our tour of the town was done, we headed over to The Marine Bar for food, drinks, and live music!

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We had real good food. There was a variety of sandwiches, onion rings, chicken fingers, egg rolls, and baby sausages. It was good!

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This is the brand of the local cider mill! It was delicious. It wasn’t as sweet as normal ciders.

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I also tried a Smithwick’s. It’s a beer and I didn’t hate it since I’m not a beer drinker at all!

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The music was provided by the talented Christy Moore, who is pretty big musician. He knew the Clancy Brother’s! (I did not buy one of his c.d.’s and get him to autograph it!)

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At one point, he asked for volunteers to come up and sing as well, so one of our professor’s daughters who is here visiting got up and sang.

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And then the wonderful Dr. Tobin got up and snag for us!

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At the end, one of our Irish caretakers, Joe, got up and said he wanted to sing the American National Anthem in our honor. So we all stood up and put our hands on our hearts… and Joe starts belting out “Livin’ On a Prayer!” I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard, or sang that loud!

To close the show, Christy sang “Dungravan, My Hometown.” I got really nostalgic and teary-eyed. It seems crazy to me that I’m coming home in about a month. Where did the time go?

So, with the time I have left, I’m gonna cherish every little bit of Ireland!