Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Okay, I've decided it's time to get back to the blogging world. These last couple of weeks have been hectic and there's a lot to tell, but I do intend to get to all in good time.
Earlier this evening I had my first final exam. It was quite easy as far as college exams go; 60 multiple choice questions for the class Ireland it is sufficient to say that I have learned enough about Ireland, and especially its history, to have it at least partially 'uncovered.'
My subsequent finals will not begin for another two weeks. In the meantime though, I have a couple of essays needing written to keep me busy. 

So...I believe I left off last the day before David arrived (12 March).
David was scheduled to arrive on Friday (the 13th!) at 6:45am, and did so safely, thankfully. It was an early morning for me as I'd been at the airport since 5:45, but for David it felt like nearly 2:00am with the five hour time difference, so we were both tired upon his arrival. However, I was quite impressed the moment I saw him walk through the gate, he must have put some thought into his entrance...

Complete with a purple plaid tie.

On the aircoach on our way back to UCD Campus

After taking a mid-morning nap, we headed into Dublin City Center just to see what we could find. This included...

...well, that's obvious

Dublin Castle

St Patrick's Cathedral

David's first pint in Ireland at the Auld Dubliner's Pub

For Saturday, I had booked tickets on a train to Belfast City which is, if you remember, part of Northern Ireland and therefore the U.K. We stayed at Parkview Lodge a couple of kilometers outside of the city center which had a view of, you guessed it, a park.

Waterworks Park

 So...after getting a map and finding our way by foot to our accommodation, we bussed into the city for some food and entertainment.

Side view of City Hall

The Grand Opera House

Across the River Lagan

The Titanic Museum

River view

The next day, we took another train to the town of Portrush, along the north coast. 
 Part of the town sort of protrudes out into the sea, and has a fair amount of land dedicated to hill walking, sort of like Howth. We probably spent around two hours exploring the cliff-like coast.

He seemed to be enjoying himself, anyways. :)
Heading back towards town, it was time for dinner. We found the fish-and-chips joint that we'd seen from the taxi on our way into town. It was called Chequers and it was so perfectly worth whatever amount of calories it contained. It also wasn't outrageously expensive, so that was an added bonus.

Portrush has a kid's amusement park open year-round, I presume. It felt summer-like to see all the bright lights and especially because of its placement just a few yards back from the shore.

On the morning of the 16th (Monday), we took a bus from Portrush to Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge near Ballintoy, Co. Antrim. I was here once previously with UCD's International Student Society. The bridge is 100 feet above the water.

In case you start to wonder, David was trooping with Flat Stanley, for my mom's classroom kids back home.

Made it!

These sure look like penguins to me!

The sun started to come out on the walk back

The bus we took also stopped 15 minutes 'up the road' at Giant's Causeway, our main destination. I was just as excited to see it again as the first time, and I'm sure I'll never come across anything quite like it again.

This guy's crazy

He just had to put his coin in the 'wall' where no one else had...

On the other side of the wall, across the water, this cliff also has some unique formations

Like I said, nothing quite like it...

That evening, we returned to Dublin because Tuesday was...SAINT PATRICK'S DAY!
For those who don't know, March 17th is actually the recorded date of St. Patrick's death, and it is celebrated as his rebirth into the kingdom of heaven. His birth date is actually unrecorded... coincidentally along with several other important details surrounding the history of St. Patrick and Ireland.

Even though I was unprepared for the crowd on Tuesday and we did not get a great spot to see the parade, my one St. Patrick's Day in Dublin will not be forgotten. The mass of people alone was incredible, and the city was a sea of green.

O'Connell Street at the Spire

David caught on quickly and found a solution to getting a view of the layout

Ha'Penny Bridge in the background

Lanigan's Pub

We did not stay out all day, as we'd gotten back late from Portrush the previous evening. Once we had a few pints and had gotten our fair share of the crowd, we decided to call it a day.

I had a busy schedule planned for us during that week. Maybe now I'd have taken a bit more time to relax, but at the moment I had just wanted David to have the opportunity to see as much as possible in the small amount of time we had. On Wednesday the 18th, we took a bus to Galway City on Ireland's west coast.  That evening, we decided to have a nice dinner date and sat down for a cocktail and Chinese food.


On to Thursday, we took a bus from Galway to the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare.

It was a gorgeous day and we were optimistic because we'd been having fantastic weather all week, but once we reached the cliffs it became clear that partly cloudy days there might be different from what you'd expect. With the height of the cliffs, the clouds became fog working its way over the cliff edge and for the most part blocking our view from what was around us. It was altogether a different experience than the one I had when first visiting the cliffs only ten days prior.

About an hour into our walk, the clouds parted at intervals and I was able to capture some decent photos.

David looked over the edge and spotted two wild mountain goats!

The one instance where the end of the cliffs became visible, but we hadn't enough time to work our way out to the edge. I'll never know what it is that is constructed on the last cliff...

I love seeing O'Brien's Tower become a speck in the distance as we walked

So glad I was able to see the Cliffs of Moher once more during this trip, and so thankful that David could see them with me

On our way back to Dublin, we got great views of the west coast and countryside.

16th century Dunguaire Castle

We got back really late that night, so on Friday the 20th, for the first time since our trip began, we slept in. When we woke up we spent our last afternoon together in Dublin, taking a tour of Kilmainham Gaol, where executions took place of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising and where famous political leaders died during the 1981 IRA Hunger Strikes.

Prisoners of the jail were not allowed shoes, wearing only the clothes they had at the time of their arrest. There was no glass in the windows because at the time of the jail's construction, it was believed that sickness could be prevented by allowing open air to circulate between the walls of the prison. They knew nothing of airborne pathogens or that by having no windows, rainwater collected and promoted a cold, dark, damp environment, and therefore promoting much more sickness than ever would be prevented.

View of the jail from the street

Bullet holes in the wall where executions took place

We had one more dinner in Dublin for our last evening. David's flight was scheduled for 8:00am the following morning, meaning another early morning for us. It was one amazing week. It was refreshing for me to have a piece of home here with me, and to be able to share the adventure and awe of this country with someone I'm close to. It was lovely just to be able to hold hands with David after so many weeks apart, and even though I'm nowhere near ready to leave Ireland, I am counting down the days until I get to see this guy again.

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