Thursday, May 20, 2010

A failed attempt to capsulize a feeling

Houses in Adare.
The Cliffs of Moher.

Some things just can't be retold, you just have to live them. Today was one of those days. We got up early this morning and boarded the bus for our last day in Ireland. We traveled for about an hour and a half before we came to Adare, our first stop.

Adare is said to be the most beautiful city in all of Ireland and it is truly gorgeous. The town features small houses with thatched roofs. We were given about an hour to explore the city before we got back on the bus and headed to our next location.

Next we headed to the Cliffs of Moher. This is truly the most remarkable thing I have ever seen. I don't even know how to begin to describe it. I can't do it justice, you just had to be there. It's a feeling. To stand there and feel so small next to something so large and magnificent really puts things into perspective. See, you think I'm crazy. I told you I couldn't explain. Nor will my photos even begin to show you but I will post them anyways.

After that we went to our hotel for a quick check in before heading to a medieval dinner and show. The food was amazing and it was a really fun and relaxing time for all of us. It was a nice chance to take a break and have fun before we undergo the stress of traveling tomorrow. As of now I must go prepare myself for my 4:30 am wake up call and a long flight.

This whole trip has been truly amazing. I feel I have gotten close to those I just met and even closer to those I already knew. It was a great two weeks and even though at times we were annoyingly cramped on space, I wouldn't have traded it for the world. What I learned in two weeks here is stuff I will forever carry with me. Goodbye Ireland, you have been life changing.



Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Free day in Killarney

Today was a beautiful day. We got to sleep in before heading downstairs for a full Irish breakfast. After that we were on our own to explore the town of Killarney. A group of us got together and headed out to do some shopping and site seeing.

Killarney is a really cute town which features a sort of town center with a ton of small shops and cafes. We walked around a lot and checked them out. Most of us were able to finish up our shopping.

After that we had a meeting with editor of The Kerryman newspaper Decoln Malone. He gave us some insight into how a weekly regional newspaper is run. One thing that I am finding really upsetting is the way in which photographers are thought of here. They seem so disposable according to the people we have talked to. Almost none of the papers we have had meetings with still have staff photographers.

On a lighter note, after the meeting we headed out to dinner in town. We found a cute little restaurant where we had our last meal on our own in Ireland. We went for classic fish and chips or burgers and chips. After that we came home and all just hung out in someones hotel room. I think we are all approaching the end of this trip with mixed feelings of sadness and excitement. Although we are all ready to go home we are not quite ready to leave this beautiful country. Tomorrow is our last day in Ireland and we will be traveling and doing some site seeings as well as seeing Ireland's most beautiful city, Adare.

Killarney

Today we left Cobh and headed for Killarney. Along the way we stopped at a few attractions including a museum which portrayed early Irish life. We also stopped to see a sheep dog demonstration. I was amazed at how smart those dogs are. The man trains them using a series of whistle which they then respond to. With a simple noise he can do everything from make them heard the sheep in to lay down.

The sheep respond to the dogs because they are descendants of predators. Because of their eyes and the way they walk, the sheep are scared of them and therefore try and run. This allows the dogs to direct the way in which the heard is heading.

After that we headed into the Ring of Kerry. I wish the weather had been better today because it would have been a fantastic place to take photos. We did stop a few times along the way but the constant rain limited where we went. Overall the majority of today was spent on the bus traveling from one location to another.

Tonight we had a group dinner which featured a live band and Irish dancing. I love going out here. The people are all so friendly and it basically turns into one large party. At one point the entire pub was singing along with the band. A little girl performed a traditional Irish dance to a few of the songs played by the band.

Tomorrow we have a partially free day to explore the town of Killarney. At 4 pm we will be meeting in the hotel with an editor from the local newspaper. After that we are once again free and responsible for getting our own dinner.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Looking down into the center of the Blarney Castle from the top ledge.
The view of St. Colman's Cathedral out of my bathroom window in Cobh.

Today we got to visit a local Cork radio station RedFM. I had no idea what all went into radio. I guess I really had never thought of it before either. I was really surprised by how similar radio here is to in the states. Much of the music they are listening to is stuff we are familiar with at home.

After the radio station we headed to the Blarney Castle. We got a chance to walk to the top and kiss the stone. The view from the top was amazing. You could see the whole way into the next town. We also got a chance to shop in some of the local stores near the castle. Unlike all of the other places we have been, these shops weren't as touristy. One of the shops was the Blarney Woolen Mills which had things such as sweaters and scarves.

We then boarded the bus and headed home. After a short meeting discussing the past weeks events we were turned loose and allowed to head off on our own to find dinner. We decided on a small basement restaurant in Cobh. I ate the most amazing cheeseburger of my life. I'm still thinking about it hours later. The rest of the evening was just spent hanging around our room and resting up for tomorrow. We check out of the hotel at 8:30 and head for the Ring of Kerry.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Forever Young...

Yesterday was our last day in Dublin. We had the entire day to roam about and do as we please. Abby and I got up early and decided to go shopping. We got all of our gifts and headed to the Guinness factory for a tour. After that we stopped by a small pub where we ate our lunch before heading back to our apartment before we went out for the night.

Whiskey, Coke and classic rock. If you know me, you know these are three of my favorite things. Last night was a combination of those things and more. A group of us attended a performance of The Last Waltz live at The Olympia. The show featured a cover band performing songs by Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and many more. It was amazing! At one point there was a full out group sing along to Forever Young.

Today we headed to Cobh where we will be staying for the next two days. The bus trip took about 4 hours total but was filled with gorgeous scenery. We drove up the long mountain and saw the green rolling hills and a lot of sheep.


Houses along the street in Cobh.
Catholic Church in Cobh.
Mountains during the drive to Cobh.

My free pint at the Guinness Storehouse.
A small baby sheep running in a field.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Belfast

Yesterday we left the city of Dublin to travel north to Belfast. We took a scenic two hour train ride and arrived around 10:30 am. We were met at the train station by a tour guide and bus where we loaded up and started our tour.

Stepping outside the train station felt like stepping into an entirely new country. I was amazed at how different Belfast feels from Dublin. Dublin feels very modern and Americanized whereas Belfast had a very old, industrial feel to it. Because of the past religious problems which have taken place there, the city features high walls separating the Protestant and Catholic sides.

My favorite part of the city was getting to see all the murals. Belfast is covered in colorful murals which feature political statements and tell of their history. They reminded me a lot of the the Berlin Wall at times.

While we were in Belfast we got to visit the shipyard where the Titanic was built. We were given a chance to get off the bus and walk around a little and take photos. This is also where we ate lunch. After we were done eating we got back on the bus and continued to explore Belfast.

The tour guide took us up to a mansion located on a hill. The view on the way up was gorgeous. From the mansion grounds you could see the water in the distance as well as a little of the city. Located on the grounds where beautiful gardens.

Our media lecture for the day was given by Gerry at the Belfast Telegraph. Gerry is in charge of changing the newspaper's content over onto the website. He gave us some very interesting insight into how Ireland feels about the internet and their newspapers. I found it interesting that the majority of traffic on the Belfast Telegraph is being pulled in by viewers of their online photo galleries.

Although Belfast is in many ways more internet savvy than the rest of Ireland, they have yet to embrace it the way we have in America. It feels very strange to know and understand the full potential of the internet then visit places such as this where it just hasn't caught on yet.

We finished our day in Belfast with a group dinner at The Morning Star. The food was amazing and it's really nice sometimes to get to eat all together and discuss the things we visited during the day. We then headed to the train station where we caught the last train back to Dublin.




The back gardens of the mansion.


The Shipyard where the Titanic was built.

The Morning Star where we ate dinner.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Photo Day

We got the morning to sleep in which we were all very thankful for after our night of pub hopping. We started our day with another lecture at DCU. This lecture, once again given by Roddy Flynn, concerned the internet and its effects on journalism. I am constantly amazed at how little of an impact the internet has on Irish media and culture. At home we are used to getting everything online. Any question we have, we Google it. In Ireland, the number one usage of the internet is to look up travel information.

After this lecture we headed to Photocall where we were able to talk to one of the owners and two of the photographers. It was very interesting to compare the photography world in Ireland to in the United States. Eamon, the owner, said that there were approximately 80 photographers in Dublin. I find this to be amazing. At home we are used to everyone being a photographer and the competition to be hard.

After the meeting we headed to the pub where we met with local photographer, Paul Kelly. Only the photo students attended this meeting so it was very intimately set in the back room of the bar. It was a fantastic opportunity to not only view his work but get a chance to discuss things such as how he shows clients his portfolio. He gave some great advice to aspiring photographers and gave insight on a lot of tips of the business.

I think the last few days are finally catching up to us. We all seem a little tired and are planning to stay pretty close to home tonight. Tomorrow we have to be up and out the door by 6:30 to catch the high speed train to Belfast.