I went to Ireland the very first weekend of February with Cris, Ashley Stewart, Ashley Coke, Nate, and Taylor. The first night we got to the hostel around midnight so we pretty much just crashed. But as this was my first experience with a hostel I feel I should explain. There were 6 of us, but all the 6 person rooms were taken so we had a 10 person room, so in a nut shell we were sharing with 4 random people. They seemed nice enough, but they were sleeping. So to be safe, I slept with all of my belongings.
We woke up super early the next morning so that we could go on a bus tour to the Cliffs of Mohr, only there was a wee misunderstanding about who had booked and whatnot so Ashley Stewart and I ended up not being able to get on the bus. So we decided to make the best of it and headed to Cork. We knew nothing of Cork of the stops there and back. We only knew we were in Ireland and needed to make the most of it. After all it was 6 am and we were up and actually functioning.
Our guide, Rus, was sweet as could be, and he played some Irish music and chatted up the group of about 10 of us. There was a couple from New Zealand, London, Boston, and then Ashley and I. The thing that surprised me the most was how flat Ireland was. It was beautiful yes, but pretty flat.
On our way to Cork, (otherwise known as “we have no idea where or why that is important”), we stopped at the Rock of Cashel, which is this castle-like thing on top of this mound of rock. It was quite beautiful (without the scaffolding). The significance of this place is that it is said to be where St. Patrick (Patron saint of Ireland) taught the King of Cashel about the holy trinity using a 3 leaf clover.
***Side note: St. Patrick is credited with chasing away the shakes from Ireland, only there is no evidence of snakes ever being in Ireland (doesn’t that sound nice?). So apparently, scholars have decided that it is referring to the pagans symbol which was a snake. Because St. Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland. Oddly, enough after he was kidnaped from Whales as a young boy and forced to work as a slave in Ireland until he managed to escape, swearing he would never return. After training and education with the church, God spoke to him and told him that Ireland needed Christianity and Patrick to bring it to them. (Thought that was interesting.)***
Wandering around the Rock of Cashel I took a ton of pictures of the wonderful gravestones and all of the birds, it was so, Ireland. It was such a beautiful day, chilly, but bright. We had a little time to kill before we headed back to the bus so we took a little walk. And Ashley and I happened upon this creature. With the shape of a cow, but the fur of a sheep, it was unlike anything I had seen before. Ashley aptly dubbed it a “Sheep Cow”. After taking tons of pictures of the Sheep Cow we continued on our little walk with this cool rock wall beside us and a wonderful view of the Rock of Cashel. When Ashley and I returned to the bus grinning with our discovery, the couple from Boston quickly tells the bus driver about their encounter with the “Sheep Cow”. Having had no interaction with these people, this pushed Ashley and I into a fit of historical fit of laughter.
Our next stop was for Blarney Castle, home of the famous Blarney stone! And before you ask, of course I kissed it! But I’m not really sure if I needed “the gift of the gab” as our tour guide called it, but I did it. It was insane because you had to lay on your back and then lean down in order to kiss the stone, it was kinda insane, but worth it.
One thing no one has ever told me though is how beautiful Blarney Castle itself is. There was so much green and wildflowers and amazing trees and caves. Ashley and I spent some time in the poison garden reading about ailments these plants can give you. They had a marjuana plant apparently, but it had been confiscated by the Irish Police! My favorite though was the Mandrake plant! (Yes Harry Potter fans, it actually exists!)After Blarney I reluctantly got back on the bus, this place reminded me of Ijams, and therefore–home. But we headed to our final destination–Cork. Knowing nothing about Cork, Ashley and I had no idea what to expect but it was very nice. Very metropolitan which was kinda a shocker after being in 2 tiny little town-like things.
We ate at this pub our tour guide recommended, they only had sandwiches, but it was a very yummy ham and cheese. Then Ashley and I went out to find the market. Our tour guide was talking about this food market that Cork is known for. Located inside a city block, it literally has everything, even the queen went there when she visited Ireland (the first monarch to do so in hundreds of years). Ashley and I got some wonderful sweets from this little baker in the market–VERY yummy!
After Cork, it was just a very long ride home. I slept most the way while listening to Traditional Irish music/some random stuff that came on after he ran out of that. Once we got back to Dublin we met up with the rest of the group and went back to the hostel to freshen up and back out for some dinner. Ashley and split this chicken thing, I don’t even remember all that was on it, but it was SOOO good! With roasted potatoes, some veggies (for Ashley) and some coscos salad (actually kinda yummy). The others stayed out but Ashley and I headed back to the Hostel to get some more sleep before we checked out in the morning/out of Dublin.
Since we had spent the day around Ireland, we really wanted to spend the next day in just Dublin. But Dublin is a lot like London, very metropolitan, but very lovely. The maintence man who works for my building said that Dublin isn’t a good representation, of Ireland anymore. To get a real Irish feel you have to go out in the country. Never the less there is a lot to see in Dublin (and I’m not talking about brewery’s/distillery’s). Ashley and I accidently overslept (aka, I slept through my alarm), but there were some things we wanted to see that the others didn’t so we quickly got ready and headed out. We went to go see the Oscar Wilde memorial and his birthplace then headed to meet the rest of our group. Ashley and I were headed toward the Kilmainhaim jail, afraid we were lost when we ran into the rest of our Motley crew (or rather Taylor tried to scare us by popping out of a corner). Together we all set off toward the jail (or where we thought the jail was).
Thank god it was that direction, but it was an insanely long walk, the map made it look short, but we were all pretty miserable once we got there. We signed up for our tour and had to wait for it to start so the girls and I grabbed something to eat at a local tea place and the boys looked around the museum. I honestly learned more about Ireland and it’s entire history and beginnings from this tour then I did anywhere else. And it was so neat to be in the cells that these famous rebels were jailed fighting for Ireland’s freedom and it was only 2 euro. But it was super cold, and it started to rain (of course as we just walked outside). Taylor was made fun of by our guide for being American/just being Taylor ;). We then began walking to market in Dublin (I’m obsessed with food markets) again… A very long walk, but we got some cheap-ish food that was pretty yummy and then hopped on a bus to the airport to get back home.
Home. It’s funny because London is in so many ways, my home. I love it here. Sure, I really miss my family and friends, but being in such a busy, crazy, amazing city like London and being able to call it home. That’s insane to me.
Once we got back to Gatwick, I was separated from the rest of the group because they had bought tickets together in advance. So I ended up riding back on the train to Victoria by myself. Where there was a power outage or some sort of problem so my supposedly 30 min ride took closer to an hour and a half. Which, of course, is past the time the Tube is open, So it was the perfect opportunity to figure out the bus system.
Oh! And this was also the weekend it snowed everywhere. So I’m by myself (This seems to happen a lot…) in the cold, snow, trying to figure out what which bus/bus stop I need to on/at. Needless to say, I didn’t get to home until rather late. But the important thing is… I GOT HOME!