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Archive for the ‘Ireland’ Category

Beginning on April 25th we took another Paddywagon tour through Southern Ireland. This was an amazing way to see the Southwest of Ireland and it quickly became my favorite part of Ireland because of its never ending emerald green grass that blankets the rolling hills of the area. Bordering those hills were limestone fences which rose and fell with hills. This area of the country is exquisite…I fell in love.

Our first day on this trip, we stopped in Connemara where there is a small tree there where people tie ribbons and various articles on it to fulfill their wish of true love.

Later, we moved onto what was once a prestigious school for extremely wealthy folks, but now it is an empty gorgeous castle.

Don’t believe me? I can’t believe this was once a school!

Check it out…

All I have to ask is…Can I teach here? That is, if they reopen.

Then, we were on to Galway. This city is known for its music and crafts. It is a beautiful town which contains the shortest and fastest flowing river in all of Ireland.

This was also the site of our first hostel experience of the week, this was my first hostel experience. Period.

This one wasn’t so bad! As you can see all the girls and I were able to be in a room together that night and all the following nights as well. My only complaint about this particular hostel was that the water in the showers was ice cold. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr…..

For dinner we went to a pub where all of the people on our tour met. It was a decent little place, but a bit on the pricy side so I only got bruschetta for dinner. I don’t think the server really liked that I got an appetizer for dinner. Whoops!

We were able to go and explore the town a little bit after dinner. The town itself was enchanting. Really, it was absolutely beautiful.

On the streets there were local vendors who were selling food, jewelry, candles, blown glass, etc. There was so much to see and do, I don’t think we even began to scratch the surface, but we were able to go out to the pub that night and listen to traditional Irish music.

This was the best place to hear the best music! Of course because Galway traditionally is known for music, it makes sense that the pubs have incredible traditional music. As you can see, there is a fiddle player, an accordion, and a guitar in this band. The prime instruments in a traditional Irish band are an accordion and a guitar. Most of the time, the fiddler is there as well, but not all the time.

All of the girls went, and we were even able to drag out some of our new friends with us!

Poor girls! They had to put up with the 5 of us all week long, but they were good sports and are incredibly sweet girls. The girl in the middle is from Australia and her name is Nikky. The other new face on the far left is Molly. She is from Virginia Beach. It was nice to hear another American accent for a week. You know, those American accents aren’t common here in Ireland.

We had so much fun out and about listening to music and enjoying each other’s company.

That was the end of Galway…next, we were on to a couple smaller towns and the Cliffs of Moher, but it is now my time to go to bed…you know, flying across the Atlantic an everything. I might need a little bit of sleep.

Time to dream!!

Until then!

The Dreamer

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6 1/2 weeks.

It seemed so long when we first began.

I really thought it would feel like forever, but here I am at the end of it all and I’m appalled to see that the days have passed so quickly.

Throughout this experience, I have gained knowledge and everlasting friends. These friends I have gained are ones who I have learned with, fought with, loved with, and who will be a part of my heart and who I am for the rest of my life.

And now, as I pack my bags, a bittersweet feeling fills my heart because I’m not so sure that I’m ready to come home, but there are so many people and things that I miss from home. There is so much at home that I love and I look forward to celebrating when I return home.

In just 3 days 11 hours and 7 minutes (and counting) I will be graduation from college.

Then, comes the real world.

If you had asked me, “Are you ready to graduate?” just 3 months ago, I would have shouted at the top of my lungs, “YES!! I’m ready for the real world!!” That was at the time where school was the hardest thing I have ever done.

Now, as I look to my future, it all seems so uncertain. I haven’t secured a job and because I don’t know where I will be working, I don’t know where I will need to live. At this time, my bank account it pitiful, at best, and bills must be payed.

I suppose my wish has now been granted.

This may be the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, and I have to say, I’m nervous, anxious, excited, intrigued, fascinated, and worried about the days that lay before me, BUT the days are passing by, wether I am ready or not.

I’m looking at the future as another adventure.

Something that will teach me, harm me, stress me out, and will reward me beyond my wildest dreams. You see, God is good like that. He puts mountains in front of you just to show you that with his help, you are able to climb. It is one foot in front of the other from here on out, and if my foot slips from the edge into the unknown, God will be there with His mighty hand to pull me right back up.

So, as I sit on my bed in Ireland, looking out the window for my final times. I pray that I will remember always that God will be there for me through the good times and the bad.

Learning to trust,

The Dreamer

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10K Race

So, as many of you know, I ran in a 10K in Pheonix Park in Dublin, Ireland on Sunday. I still can’t believe that I decided to run in a race that is so popular and widely known in Ireland. This race is known as the Great Ireland Run and there were around 15,000 people who ran in this race.

I ran in it too.

It was soooo much fun and I truly felt like I accomplished something when I finished the race.

Before the race, Ashley and I hung out on the green and soaked up some sun. Look at my pale face! I really need some sun!

We were waiting for our friends to get there, and obviously we were early birds because there is practically no one behind us, and we are good like that.

This is my race number. I saved it because I’m a bit sentimental about my first competitive run. I’m so impressed with myself and I feel like I need to keep this forever and ever! Silly…I know.

Kristen showed up and started waiting with us.

And before we knew it…we were done!!

We all got medals, t-shirts, powerade, gummies, and powerbars. YUMMY!!! Believe me, when I opened the bag and found the goodies, I dove right into the snacks and the powerade super quickly. After that run I was starving and extremely thirsty.

All-in-all I we all had an amazing time and enjoyed every moment of the experience, and it makes me even more pumped to do the 5K in late May for the Watauga Swim Team.

Lots of Love from Ireland!!

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Dun Drum

On Friday afternoon, the girls and I went to what I’m told is the largest shopping mall in Europe. It was pretty darn big and I can’t say that we saw the whole thing. First of all, I’m not a huge in-person shopper. I prefer to shop online. I know…horrible isn’t it!

Anyway, we basically went to say that we went AND to go to the best milkshake shop around. Juliette, my little host sister who is 13, told Whitney and me about the “Shake Shop.”This shop is located at Dun Drum, and they make shakes from any candy bar you can imagine.

It looks like a 50s shake shop with the bright colors, neon lights, and incredible music!

It. was. AWESOME!!! Everyone loved their shakes!

I made the best shake EVER. It was a Nutella and Oreo shake with marshmallows on top. It was phenomenal!! Everyone tried mine, and it was unanimous…my shake was the BEST!! 🙂

Of course, you know me…I’m all about the food!

Then we had a fun bus ride home, where I rode in my first double decker bus! Of course we went up to the second floor and sat in the front.

I have to say, I felt like I was going to fly out the window or fall over the edge, one way or another.

We were having so much fun…

…that I think we annoyed the guy behind us. Oh well!! Haha…we had a great time on our 20 minute (or more) bus ride back to the DART, and he was just grouchy.

We went back home and rented a movie off of the TV and had a good time simply hanging out with each other. We watched “Unstoppable,” which was an incredible movie that kept us on the edge of our seats the whole night!!

Keep me in your thoughts on Sunday, I am running my 10K in Phoenix Park at approximately 1.30pm.

Much Love,

Ireland Lover

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I have a lot to get you caught up on from this week. However, I know that I am extremely behind getting y’all caught up on the past week. I’ll start at the beginning of the week and go from there.

On Tuesday we went to Dalkey after school. Of course we found a bakery with all sorts of goodies from fresh baked breads to cakes and cupcakes. It was called Country Bakery.

I fell in love. We each got a slice of cake and shared them among all of us so we could taste them all. Each piece of cake was amazing in its own right. Delicious! 🙂

Then we visited Dalkey Castle and Heritage Center. We were going to go inside, but when we arrived, we realized that Tuesday is the only afternoon they are closed. Haha…only our luck!

We also found out that Bono from U2 lives in Dalkey so on our walk, I took pictures of various extravagant houses that I thought might be his. Who knows if they are but it was interesting to see how massive and beautiful some of the houses are in Dalkey.

Aren’t they amazing? I love the architecture here because it is so old world. I am told that much of the architecture in Ireland is of the Georgian era.

Then we went to a famous harbor where seals have been known to live year round. We didn’t see any seals, but we were there and of course took pictures of the Irish Sea.

I am in love with the water and the rocky beaches here. I know, it is weird to love the beach when you can’t even go down and lay on it, but there is something beautiful and unfamiliar about rocky beaches that I have fallen deeply in love with.

Also, for those of you who are wondering where I have been living for the past 3 weeks, I have finally taken a picture of the house that I have been calling my “home away from home.”

My host dad, Stuart, loves his motorbike and rides every Sunday morning. You could say that it is his meditation. Whitney’s and my bedroom is on the back side of the house so we can have our windows open any time without anyone knowing that they are open. It is cozy and comfortable. I love my family here and I can see myself coming back to visit in the future. They are absolutely wonderful!

On Thursday, I spent time in multiple classrooms. In the KG3s (Senior Infants or Kindergarteners) we did a couple art projects, then a couple science experiments. The girls in this classroom are incredible and I absolutely LOVE that age.

Our first art project was a washcloth bunny rabbit. I’m in love with this craft. So much so that I made one for myself to bring home!

The girls really enjoyed making them, and they all look so cute!

Then we made a nest for our chicks with paper, feathers, and garland.

Our science projects included making a volcano and putting pepper in a water basin then sticking your dishwashing soap covered finger into the water. You should try it and see what happens!! 🙂

On to our next experiment!

After being in KG3s, I went with P4s (4th grade) to their keyboarding class and I watched them learn how to play the chorus of “Sway.” The girls had loads of fun, and I truly enjoyed watching them take the beginning steps to learning a new instrument.

This is Mrs. Stamper.

She is the teacher from the Senior school who comes over to teach the girls groups music lessons. She has soooo much energy and she is truly inspiring to me because she loves what she is doing and it shows through her enthusiasm and her commitment to what she is teaching the students. It is wonderful. I hope that one day, I am half as good of a teacher as what she is now.

That is my week in a nutshell. It was awesome, and I can’t believe that I have already been here for 3 weeks, and I  only have one week to go. It is bittersweet feeling. I’m not sure exactly how to express how I feel right now. It has been amazing so far. I have learned a lot and I have enjoyed every moment. God has been so good to me throughout this entire experience and I know he has so much more in store for me.

Miss y’all!

Much love!

~Ireland Lover

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Northern Ireland

On Saturday we took a trip to Northern Ireland with the Paddywagon tour company where we visited three places along the way. It was only a day trip, but we had TONS of stuff packed into the day and we had an absolutely amazing time!

Our first stop was the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. This bridge has changed drastically over the years in the way that it has been build as well as its purpose. At this time the bridge is only a tourist stop and a place of history for Northern Ireland, but when the bridge was first built, it was a fisherman’s bridge. The fishermen built this bridge to hang their nets from for the salmon that were moving locations. They would hang a net from the bridge into the water below for 6 to 8 hours to catch the fish and there were so many salmon swimming in this area that it would take 10 to 12 men to hoist it from the sea below.

The bridge itself was originally just a rope for their feet and a rope to lean on, but over time, the gauge of the rope has been “beefed up,” wooden planks have been added to walk on, and safety netting has been added to prevent people from falling off and through the floor of the bridge. The water is an approximated 100 feet below where there are rock jutting from under the sea’s surface.

And guess what…I walked across it!

Following the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, we went to the Giant’s Causeway. The Giant’s Causeway has a legend of a giant named Finn MacCoul who was lonely and was searching high and low to find a woman to make a life with. He heard of a beautiful woman in a neighboring country so he threw rocks out into the sea until he built a bridge in the water so he could cross to find his true love. He traveled across the sea, met the woman, fell madly in love with her immediately, and brought her back to Ireland to settle down. Well, there was an ogre who fancied Finn’s wife and he came across the sea to steal her away, but Finn knew he was a giant ogre. But Finn and his wife had devised a plan to ward the ogre off. So, Finn dressed as if he were an infant with a bonnet on sucking on a wooden spoon with honey on it. The ogre caught sight of the “infant” and thought that if the babe was that large at such a young age, then his father must be massive. So, the ogre got incredibly scared and ran back home, never to be heard from again.

Well, of course the story is fiction, but what was left in the water was actually rocks that have been pushed through the earth’s surface and through the water by volcanic activity. It is a sight for sore eyes. I was amazed at it’s beauty.

The rocks are actually octagonal in shape and jut out of the ground at all different levels and have created cliffs and formations all along this beach. It is an amazing sight to see from the top of this natural formation. Wow! God does some amazing things!
We finally got one decent group picture of the whole gang for the books! It is so hard to get a picture of everyone without asking all sorts of people take pictures of you. Oh man!
(People from the left: Kerry, Whitney, me, Cassie, Caitlyn (our adopted student teacher from Indiana), Kristen, Calah, and Ashley)
Finally, we stopped in Derry for a quick walk around to see the murals that have been painted on the walls during the time of religious conflict. Though the vast majority of the lives have been lost in the past, tensions still are evident between the Catholics and the Protestants. This is a tension that runs deeps and has been in existence for many, many years, and will most likely continue for years to come.
The pictures I am posting are of murals to show civil rights activists across the world, civil rights marches that took place, and they show the emotion of the people who were fighting to have an equal society.
They gave me goosebumps…very emotional.
The eeriest part about this journey was that just after this final picture was taken, the heavens opened up and a torrential downpour took over the city. We were soaked to the bone and had just experienced spine tingling experiences where so much pain, heartache, and turmoil took place. To be standing in an area where people were mass murdered made me want to cry. I can only imagine what it would have been like to be standing where I was on Bloody Sunday or during any of the strikes against these people. Brutal. Absolutely brutal.

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A night in Dublin

On Friday, we were preparing for our busy day on Saturday…check it out!

We stayed there in Dublin for the night where three of us slept in a double bed, one on the floor, and one in a single bed. Yep, five women in ONE room! We had a blast though and we were all so tired we didn’t even realize that we were piled in on top of each other. Check out our hotel room!

After getting settled in at the hotel, we went walking around Dublin for a bit to figure out where the restaurant was. Kristen had found an Italian restaurant that she was raving about eating at, and of course, we were more than happy to test it out! For dinner I had traditional bruschetta that all of the girls shared and the tomatoes were heavenly to say the least.

For my main dinner  I had smoked salmon with goat cheese, which was also heavenly.

Later that evening we went to Bewley’s where the coffee is to die for and the desserts are mouthwatering. Kristen and I shared this chocolate upon chocolate cake that was three layers of delicious, chocolatey goodness. At this time, I was definitely in heaven!

…and there was even latte art on the mocha!

Later that night, we made it to an Irish pub where there was live music and we clapped an sang along to Galway Girl, a famous song originally written by Steve Earl. Which at one point topped the charts in Ireland. So popular that it was used in one of my favorite movies…P.S. I Love You.

Great band! These three are parts of different bands, but the love playing so much that they simply get together from time to time to enjoy each other’s talents.

We had an incredible time walking about on Grafton Street in downtown Dublin, but we finally had to call it a night because it was so late and the early morning was coming so quickly.

Stay tuned for my Northern Ireland adventure!

Much Love,

Ireland Dreamer

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