Busy Week – Part 2

THURSDAY:
We woke up early to catch our morning ferry and went downstairs for breakfast in the hostel. If you ever happen to travel to Inis Mor, make sure you stay for at least a night in Kilronan hostel. It was wonderful! We booked our own room (two bunk beds) for only 20 euros a night, the staff was very friendly, and the kitchen is great! There’s a whole cabinet full of free food for anyone staying there; there’s tea, milk, and sugar that you can use anytime; and breakfast was delicious! The woman running the hostel was French, and she made us AMAZING crepes. All in all, our visit to the islands was perfect.

When we got back to Galway, we spent a couple hours shopping so Wayne could pick up souveniers for everyone back home. It was at this point that I finally stumbled upon my tea set. I decided a while ago that one of my big souveniers for this trip would be a tea set because tea is very important here… It’s almost a ritual that if anyone comes over, you offer them tea, and if they stay long enough, you’ll offer tea again. If you stay with an Irish family for any length of time, you realize that “tea time” is something that occurs many times throughout the day. I plan on continuing this tradition when I go home and making a point to offer tea to anyone who comes over to visit, so I thought I would get myself an Irish tea set that I’ll be able to use.

After our shopping, we went back to Limerick and dropped off our purchases at my apartment. Then I took Wayne to King John’s Castle (the one in Limerick that I visited my first week here). He really enjoyed it, and we had a great time.

All in all, the week was wonderful, and I consider it a success because he went back to America saying “grand” and buying tea to satisfy his new addiction 🙂

BELFAST:
After Wayne left early Friday morning, I met up with the rest of the UL Arcadia students and we were bussed to Belfast in Northern Ireland for the weekend.

Highlights of the trip:
1) Giant’s Causeway: As our tour guide explained, the strange rock formations making up the Giant’s Causeway can be explained in two ways. Either they were formed by slow-cooling lava in a river bed, or they were sculpted by the giant Finn MacCool when he built a causeway to Scotland in order to fight a giant there. Personally, I find Finn MacCool’s story much more interesting.

2) Dunlace Castle: On our way back to Belfast from the Causeway, we made a brief stop at Dunlace Castle. We didn’t go inside, but we walked around and took some pictures. Underneath the castle there’s a cave that runs all the way through the rock it stands on to the ocean on the other side. That was fun to explore!

3) Murals: Belfast has a very political history with a lot of conflict between those who are loyal to the Queen of England and those who want to separate from England and be part of a unified Ireland. There’s also a rich mural tradition in Belfast, and consequently much of the conflict has been represented on murals. We had a professor from Ulster University talk to us about the murals of Belfast and what they represent and then we took a bus tour to look at some of them.

Commemorates Bobby Sands, who led Irish Republican prisoners in a hunger strike in 1981.

King William's victory at the Battle of the Boyne was a turning point for Protestant control in Ireland.

4) Peace Wall: Nationalist/Republican and Loyalist/Unionist settlements in Belfast are literally a “stone’s throw” away from one another. For years, stones have quite literally been thrown by each group at the others’ homes. Gates still close between the two housing areas every night to keep people from crossing over. Also, a “peace wall” has been erected, dividing the two sides, to prevent stones, bombs, or anything else from being thrown into anyone’s homes. The peace wall is decorated with graffiti, and people have written messages of peace all over it (we made our own contributions while we were there).

Well, now you’re pretty much caught up. So far this week, I’ve been going to classes and trying to get ahead on schoolwork. I have 4 papers to write!

Until next time,
~Kathryn

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