Two Month Anniversary: Trip to Belfast

Last Friday was the two-month anniversary (and halfway point) of my time in Ireland.  Anyway, there was a provider-sponsored trip to Northern Ireland.  Cassidy and I both went.  That was my first time in a hostel.  It was interesting.  I can’t believe I actually ate a hard-boiled egg with breakfast.  The hostel was in Belfast, but on Saturday we went to Derry-Londonderry and walked the city walls, then crossed the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge (that place had amazing views.  We could see Scotland — look carefully past the islands in pictures 2 and 3.  The bridge was really high up and on the way over it was swaying badly and it was terrifying.  Cassidy had the guts to take a picture from the bridge down, so jealous).  Then we visited the Giant’s Causeway (there was so much foam it looked more like whipped cream.  The waves were gigantic and magnificent, and I’m so disappointed that I didn’t get any of the big ones in my pictures), and finally stopped for a quick look at the dark hedges (one of us was small enough to squeeze into a hollow tree.  She fit perfectly.  It looked like fun).  My camera batteries died at the Giant’s Causeway, but luckily my phone still had some battery power left, so I used that for a last couple of pictures.  The weather that day was excellent — clear skies, good temperature.  Only one dark cloud that day.  Sunday we went to the Titanic Museum in Belfast (where it was built) and wrote on the “peace wall” before coming back to Dublin.

So since we’re halfway through, here’s another list:

Favorite spreadable condiment — Nutella

Question: where’ve you been all my life? Answer: in the cabinet above the stove and to the left, on the lower shelf, with the peanut butter and the graham crackers and the salt and cinnamon sugar.

Favorite place visited — Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge

Giant’s Causeway was really cool, too, but talking to other people is nice.

Favorite pastime when not traveling — reading online novels

Confession time: I’m a binge reader.  There are worse things, I suppose; the worst thing is that I end up staying up until like three in the morning when I have class the next day.  But–but–but–must…find out…what happens next–  Don’t be like me, kids, sleep properly.

Favorite dessert — rice pudding

Okay, so it’s the only dessert I really eat here, so what?  It’s still good.

Most missed food — anything my parents make

Dumplings, meat pie, taco casserole, huo guo, grilled meat, oyster beef, pasta salad, soda bread, glass noodle soup, scones, pizzagian (okay, I don’t know how to spell that), knot cookies, pot roast, plus all those dishes that either don’t have names or whose names I don’t know…

Seems like this time is mostly about food, huh.  How many days of Lent are left?


In which we go to a gaol, I accomplish a daunting task, and we brave a mob of leprechauns


Kilmainham Gaol has been closed for many years, and is now a museum.  This week being reading week, and most classes being canceled, Cassidy and I (partners in crime) went to go see it.  The tour took us through the gaol (pronounced the same as “jail”) and we learned about some of the more famous Irish revolutionaries and political prisoners.  I don’t have many pictures.  Why?  It seemed disrespectful to take pictures of the old section, with its low, dark doors, its crumbling stonework, and the corridor windows (only recently glassed) that helped the air circulate and made it freezing in winter, where many, many people had suffered (and probably died).  The newer section was far easier to photograph.  It was far less creepy and solemn.  And also a lot lighter.  And was used as a filming location for some movies (don’t know why that makes it better but it does).  Still, I could only stand to be in a jail cell (door open) for maybe half a minute (a.k.a. thirty seconds) before I had to get out.  It was brightly lit, clean, and empty, but still.

The Madonna and Child is by Grace Gifford Plunkett, one of the political prisoners during the Irish Civil War, arrested for something she put in her cartoons.  Or something like that.  She painted it on the back wall of her cell and they kept it.


Tuesday we went down to the city center and walked around, exploring the area around the River Liffy, mostly South Side.



Wednesday, we stayed in, and I worked on finishing writing up my practicals for Motor Control and Learning.  That was part one of the Daunting Task: the easy part.  The hard part (part two) was on Thursday: printing them out and handing them in.


It was a Process.


Thursday night we went to the Leprechaun Museum.  There were no leprechauns there, but we did hear some bloody stories of Irish folklore.  That is, they had blood in them: an old king, cursed to live in the woods like a bird, stabbed through the heart; a guy (accidentally) ripped out of his skin by his friend because he won’t leave a feast that also happens to be a death trap (he gets a new skin from a sheep instead); and so on.  It was interesting, but rather short.


Yesterday was Saint Patrick’s day; we went into the city for the parade.  The bus was so crowded it could not have fit any more people and the bus roots were all changed for the parade.  In the city, there were so many people: people wearing leprechaun hats, people wearing leprechaun hats with beards, people wearing headbands with twirly antennae with shamrocks at the ends, people wearing green shamrock printed suits, people with Irish stickers or face paint on their faces, people wearing Irish flags, people wearing green-and-white scarves, people with Irish-flag-colored air horns, and more.  We both both got our faces painted, and Cassidy bought an Irish flag and wore it like a scarf.  In O’Connell Street, the mob was huge, people had climbed as high as they could up onto statues and window ledges and stood around the barricades in crowds more than five people thick in some places.  Children sat on top of trash cans and wooden constructions and temporary fences and adults’ shoulders.  Some people had brought stools, stepladders, or even full-sized ladders.  Being a short person, and somewhat late to the crowd, I had to watch the first half of the parade on other people’s phones as they recorded it or stand on tiptoe to sneak glimpses through the crowd.  But then it started to rain and people started to leave, and eventually Cassidy and I both found ourselves near the front, although in different places.  I had my camera but did not take any pictures because I wanted to concentrate on the parade and was afraid of missing something while fidgeting with my camera.  So all I have for you is words; if you want to see pictures go visit Cassidy’s blog.

There were at least five different bands, all playing different tunes.  In between bands, there were floats, each with its own entourage.  The Giant tailor (I think he was a tailor) had people before him holding up his piece of cloth and one guy wrapped in a tape measure playing some musical instrument dancing on his table.  The fishman (Neptune??) had different sea creatures dancing before and behind him.  There was a giant fish, turtle, whale, and shark.  People in feathery costumes with spears shaped like swan heads danced in front of a giant swan with a flautist playing from a cutout in its back.  Utensil people followed behind the float of a huge dining table at which sat three “people”, which came behind the cook’s float.  There were a lot of different floats  At the end of the parade came the bicycles.  There were so many different kinds of bicycles (and riders): old-fashioned bicycles, modern bicycles, trick bicycles, adult’s bicycles, children’s bicycles, bicycles with baskets in front, bicycles with seats in the back (sometimes filled by a kid), bicycles with wagon-like boxy parts in front of the handlebars (or even full-out seats) sometimes with passengers, one of those bicycles with the enormous front wheel and the tiny back wheel, red bicycles, green bicycles, even a very strange one ridden upright and sideways between two handlebars.

I’m probably forgetting a lot of things, or remembering things wrongly, or just plain not understanding some of it.  But at any rate I thought it was a fine parade.

Here We Go A-Wandering Upon the Fields of Green…

…or not so green. Kilkenny (County Kilkenny) was not so green, but it was a city, so that’s to be expected.  Last weekend my program sponsored a trip there.  It seemed like a nice little city, smaller than Dublin.  The riverwalk thing was nice and green but it was raining when we went down it.  Saw Kilkenny castle, which was interesting, especially the portrait gallery and the medieval foundations part.  That was the same trip we went to the Emo Court House.

The Emo Court House (County Laois) was green.  Our huge bus had to squeeze through this really narrow gate and then we rode through a forest and up to this long drive to the House.  Apparently it’s a big thing to see deer there or something but we didn’t see any.  In front of the House was an avenue with big trees on either side (sequoias I think our Leader said) and wide lawns.  It was pretty there but I didn’t take any pictures because I was a stupid idiot and forgot my camera.  Also my phone was dead or dying.  So no pictures of Emo Court House or Kilkenny.  Oh, well.

Howth (County Dublin) was green.  Cassidy and I went there yesterday (after a small adventure with the bus stops) and climbed the cliffs.  It was really cold on the strip of rocky beach near where we got off the bus but it got warmer as we walked up the long road to the paths on the cliffs.  Then we went up.  And down.  And got a little muddy, where the trail was seriously wet.  And then up again.  Until we got to the highest point.  Then we sat on the rocks for a while.  There were horses grazing in the field behind us.  I wish I brought something to draw on.  It was quiet and peaceful.

We left just before the rain started.  Lucky.