I apologize in advanced for the sound. We're getting the leftover rains/winds from Hurricane Irene. (Didn't think we were effected by those things, now did ya?)
This is mostly reference so you know where I'm blogging this from. I am nice and cozy under my new Glee duvet! (And before you start worrying, Mom, I only bought the cover. The duvet itself is courtesy of 7 North Mall.) As you can see, I am very excited about this recent development. I'm falling into my terrible habit of going shopping when I'm bored. I mean, I needed the duvet cover and groceries, but I could have definitely skipped the shirt and the pyjama pants. Can I defend myself by saying they were on sale?
It's funny to think about how many of these people here, both American and Irish, are still getting to know each other. For those of you back home who are reading this, many of you know I have a terrible shopping habit from my dad. We shop when we're bored or when we need Retail Therapy. It's usually books since I still have significantly low self-esteem about my appearance and shoes are just stupid. Yet, I was talking with some new friends here and they were surprised to hear that I love shopping. Guess it doesn't seem like a trait I would possess. Huh.
Anyway: Inis Oirr! Pronounced Inisheer, this is the smallest of the Aran Islands. Our class was lucky enough to spend two nights on the island for a field trip.
Despite being told the Aran Islands were a little dull, I absolutely loved Inis Oirr. Well, when we got there. The trip there was not as much fun. We left UCC at 10:30a on the bus only to stop at Bunratty for lunch at 1p. This was a major disappointment as we had literally been there the week prior. The selection of food is atrocious, and it's not the best either. Alas, that's where Margaret brought us. We then drove a bit further for a bathroom break, then a short shopping break, then finally to the ferry outside of Galway. We were all sick and tired of the bus and thrilled to be taking a different mode of transportation. The ferry was fun as half of us were up on the top deck, being blustered around by the wind and mist. So much fun. We landed at Inis Oirr an hour later. Total travel time: 9 hours.
We were exhausted at this point. I'm certain that everyone felt similarly that when we saw the beds, we just wanted to sleep and never wake up. However, we did have a dinner to attend where they called turkey chicken and they ran out of chocolate cake. Going to the bar afterward with the rest of the class definitely made up for it. We drank and sang along to songs Sean, our bus driver, was playing on guitar. Occasionally, Charlie or Scott would play a song and we sang "500 Miles" loud enough that they could hear it in Cork.
The next morning we woke up to go explore the island. First stop was Cnoc Raithni, a burial site located on the island. I have such an odd fascination with burial sites. I thought it was lovely. It's related to the mythological race Fir Bolg, the people who inhabited Ireland before the Tuatha De Danann invaded. Very, very cool.
Of course, we amused our childlike sides by playing on the AWESOME playground they have. A zipline and a basket swing? WIN.
After the playground, we headed up to the O'Brien Castle ruins. Margaret had specifically told us not to climb it, so we climbed it. As much as I tried to be a good kid, I couldn't resist. (I really love climbing on things.) It was incredibly cool to see Inis Oirr from that view. You can see Inis Meain and the Cliffs of Moher from the island, but to be able to see them from way up high was something else.
We had spotted a graveyard prior to the castle, so we went there next. Little did we know, there was actually a temple built in the 10th century in the centre of the graveyard. We were able to get down in it and check out the ruins. The ability to explore ruins is something I've definitely come to appreciate in Ireland. The United States has a hard-on for telling people to not touch things or climb on things while in Ireland you're really getting a feel for history. We haven't been to many places where they've had areas roped off or huge 'DO NOT TOUCH' signs. Then again, maybe we've just been going to the right places.
We thought to find the holy well before lunch, but thankfully we didn't since we never actually found the holy well. Sarah went back to go search for it on her own, only to report it was just a small pile of rocks. How unfortunate. Meanwhile, Ashley and I followed a dog to Cill Ghobnait, a small temple located on the island. Story has it that St. Ghobnait fled the mainland to Inis Oirr for safety.
When we returned to the hostel, a bunch of our classmates were playing games in the living room. I didn't necessarily want to play, so I watched for a bit, just resting my feet. When I had thought to find Ashley to go out to the Plessey shipwreck, she had already left. So, I grabbed my headphones and left for the shipwreck. On the way, I ran into Charlie, another classmate, who decided to walk with me out to the shipwreck, despite having ridden out there earlier in the day (he rented a bike). It was awfully nice of him since I'm not really one who likes long walks by myself (or on the beach, for that matter). We arrived at the shipwreck to find Ashley already there and soon Sarah joined us as she had been searching for the holy well all this time. Charlie left since he had to return his bike, so Sarah, Ashley, and I walked back to the pub for dinner.
Finally! Cajun Chicken! Dinner was delicious and was nearly immediately followed by a trip to the pub next to our hostel for drinks. Margaret joined us this time and got to experience Lynda and I in full force. I played the spoons while Sean sang and we all had a grand time. The boys at one point decided to buy Margaret a drink and, naturally, we started calling them kiss-asses and brownnosers. So funny. Eventually, a violinist and banjoist from the local areas joined us in the corner for some more songs and eventually I headed to bed for our early wake up call.
In the morning, we woke up at 7:45a to catch the ferry at 8:15a. Early, early, early. I'm not a morning person. I slept part of the way on the ferry, then on the bus when we got to shore. We ate a traditional Irish breakfast (gross) at a hotel somewhere we don't know. The whole class fell asleep on the next leg of the journey until we hit another rest stop. Finally, we ended up in Cork, 7 hours later. Margaret and Sean always make it a point to drop us off near our homes, so naturally Leeside and 7 North Mall were last. I just wanted to get off that damn bus. Got home in the sheets of rain and promptly decided not to move.
Oh, did I mention there was a water shortage on the island? No drinkable water as well as limited shower times. In order to fit in as much island time as possible, I decided to forgo the shower. I got home and did not care if I smelled till Sunday.
Then I get a phone call! It's Lorrie Brenneman from back home! She, her husband John, and his mother were in Cork that night and were wondering if I wanted to get dinner with them. I said, of course, but I desperately need to shower. An hour or so later, I was meeting them for a pint. We listened to traditional Irish music at a local pub where John asked the musicians to sing a song to his mom. She had always been promised to be brought to Ireland, and finally at 85 years old, her dream was coming true.
Our pint led us to The Cornstore, a wonderful restaurant on Corn Market Street. I was nervous because I thought it was going to be, well, all corn. Turns out, it's mostly steak and seafood. Lorrie and John encouraged me to be adventurous, so I got the Surf 'n' Turf and tried lobster for the first time! You know what? It was really good!
After saying our goodbyes and passing the 8 boxes of Kraft Mac 'n' Cheese to me, I walked home to sleep.
Sunday was lazy, so there's no need to hear about that.
Today was shopping with Lynda and I may be going to a pub tonight! Who knows.
Well, this has been a massively long update.