Saturday, November 14, 2015

Top O’ The Mornin’ To Ya -- Dublin Trip

My Dublin trip was amazing! My study abroad coordinators from CIEE decided to take us on a historical, academic learning adventure to Dublin!

Before this trip, I had a preconceived notion of Ireland. When I thought of Ireland, I thought of the Potato Famine, clovers, luck of the Irish and other stereotypical symbols. In high school, I stage managed Juno and the Paycock, a show set during the Irish civil war about a struggling Irish family that inherits a large sum of money from a dead family member. Then spoiler alert (!), drama ensues and the son gets drafted into the IRA, the daughter gets pregnant, the money isn’t coming to them anymore, the father won’t stop drinking, and the entire family falls apart. Juno and the Paycock provided me with all of my information about Ireland before this trip.

We arrived on Friday around noon and they drove us to our hostel. They rented this huge bus to transport all of us, it was pretty comical. We checked into the 4 courts hostel, it was pretty nice. It's one of the best hostels I've stayed in during my time in Europe so I definitely recommend it. Then we went to lunch at the Hairy Lemon, sounds appetizing huh?? Well they didn't have hair or lemons or lemons with hair on them so...I don't know where the name came from. I had an amazing traditional Beef and Guinness Stew with potatoes and vegetables. It was perfect, everything a stew should be: creamy, thick, savory, and diverse in texture. Then I ordered the Chocolate and Guinness Mousse with a layer of "breadcrumbs" meaning like a layer of crushed graham cracker. The dessert was a piece of a heaven on earth, it was like the first smell of spring, it was like the taste of victory, it tasted how I imagine happiness would taste.

My friend Sarah and I drinking our
 perfectly poured pint of Guinness! 
Then we went to the Guinness factory!

Do you notice a trend here? I...think...the Irish like their Guinness. That, friends, is an understatement. Guinness is about as important to Irish people as is water!

The Guinness factory was amazing! We learned about Andrew Guinness developing his business and the different plants used to make Guinness --barley, hops, and other grains. We learned how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness. The certificate exclaiming I poured the perfect pint is now hanging on my wall. The best part was we got to drink the pint we poured!

Then my friend Sarah found a friend she goes to school with back in America and her incredibly nice friend invited us out to a pub crawl. We went to 5 pubs and got a free drink at each of them. It was so much fun! They would often sing American songs but with an Irish jig! It was so different hearing “Hey there Delilah” sung by an Irish man with an Irish beat. Additionally, we made a stop at Wheelans, the pub where P.S - I love you, the movie, was filmed. We ended the night with horrible Chinese fried rice, yum!

Newgrange from the outside.
The next morning we woke up pretty early to go to Country Meath, about 50 minutes away from Dublin. It was beautiful! First we went to Newgrange, a prehistoric monument built during the neolithic period. This monument is older than Stonehenge, super old, and it has a beautiful view! Every year, on the winter solstice, the sun shines in the perfect spot so that the light comes through the entrance, fills the dome, and the peak of the light touches the door to the tomb. This happens just once a year and this is meant to signify the beginning of a new year.
View from the path to Newgrange

Then we got back on the bus and went to visit the Battle of the Boyne site. This was a really informative tour!
Basically in 1689, Catholic King James II was the head of England, Scotland, and Ireland. People were worried because he was too overly Catholic and the government wanted to keep a Protestant lineage to the throne. William of Orange, a Dutch Protestant, married his cousin, King James II’s daughter. King James II was both father-in-law and uncle to William of Orange. Protestant nobles then invited William of Orange to steal his father-in-law’s and uncle’s throne. How’s that for family problems?? Anyways, then King James II runs away to France, to be with his best friend, Catholic King Louis XIV. That same year King Louis XIV of France gives King James II the men and the ships to sail back to Ireland to regain the throne. It benefited France to have a Catholic King on the throne of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Plus, William of Orange hated King Louis XIV, rivals!
Chilling at the river
King James II believed Ireland was the first step in regaining his throne. He also thought it would be easy since Ireland was Catholic. William of Orange, the very asthmatic man that he was, decided that he needed to squash King James II and King Louis XIV of France early on. He assembled the largest force he could and took them all across the Irish Sea. The monarchs and their armies met at the Boyne River, a little north of Dublin. Funny enough, William of Orange was exploring the river Boyne a day or two before real battle started and one of King James II’s men shot at him! Rumour went around that he died, but the bullet only grazed his shoulder. What a badass William of Orange, huh? William of Orange won the battle by deceiving King James II. William of Orange moved men to the south bank of the river, tricking King James II into sending most of his men there. When the tide was low, William of Orange crossed the river on the north side and made it all the way to Dublin, capturing Dublin. William of Orange won a grand victory. This meant that the throne was back in Protestant hands. Everyone now loves William of Orange!

Walking up to Hill of Slane!
After that, we went to the Hill of Slane!
Hill of Slane!
Hill of Slane had tombstones. 

Here St. Patrick not only ran away all of the snakes, but he also prepared and held a grand Easter feast in an effort to convert Ireland’s Celtic pagans to Catholicism. St. Patrick lit his fire on the Hill of Slane. The Celtics thought that if the fire was not put out right away, it would burn forever. It did burn forever, St. Patrick succeeded at converting them to Catholicism. Hill of Slane was really cool and beautiful.

That night, several of us went out to a dinner that served American breakfast. I had scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, and pancakes for dinner that night.

The next morning, we woke up and went looking for Oscar Wilde. His statue, I mean. We found both Mary Malone and Oscar Wilde.

The brothers of the sheep used to make my sweater
Finally, the last thing we did before I got on the bus to the airport was buy an authentic, hand made, purple sweater made from sheep’s wool. It’s incredibly soft and amazing!

It was a fantastic trip! Dublin is one of my favorite cities in the world. The Country Meathe sites were absolutely beautiful and rich with history; the people were funny, kind, and drink a lot of beer; and it felt so good to just walk around and exist there!

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