By: Jackie James
Hi! My name is Jackie, and I am a junior at the University of South Carolina and studying Marketing and Management. Currently, I am abroad in Limerick, Ireland as an Exchange student. Throughout the semester I will be sharing my personal experiences with academics in a new setting, the amazing sights Ireland offers, cultural differences between Americans and the Irish, and my travels to other countries throughout Europe.
Last week, (March 30 – April 5) was Spring Break. What a CRAZY (but fun) week it was! My parents flew over from Maryland and met me in Dublin.
Sunday: My parents arrived and we made our way to the city to enjoy lunch. That night was a very important “football” (soccer) match between Ireland and Poland, so the streets were extremely crowded. Because the hotel was close to the stadium, the pub connected to the hotel was crowded and lively. Because they were still adjusting to the 5 hour difference, we didn’t do much the first day, but it was still nice to be reunited!
Monday: My Mom wanted to tour all of the cathedrals in the district, so we trekked across Dublin to the “Cathedral District.” We visited two major cathedrals in the area – St. Patrick’s Church and Christ Church. I guess my parents and I have different opinions about what was interesting because after a while, I got a bit bored with looking at religious relics (sorry mom!). We also visited Dublin Castle. The tour guides brought us underground to where the remaining walls and tower of the original castle stood. They also took us into the castle’s chapel where many important people from the UK attended mass. If a person was important enough, they would have their family’s crest put into the walls of the church. Eventually, the church ran out of wall space, so they got creative and started putting the crests on the organ, by the alter, and even in the stained glass windows. It was absolutely breathtaking.
Tuesday: Tuesday was the day that we walked around the city and toured the Guinness Storehouse. The museum was really cool – it walked you through how the beer is made, the ingredients, and the history of Mr. Guinness (he had 21 children!). At the end of the day, we made our way up to the 7th level of the building, where there were panoramic views of Dublin, and we enjoyed each other’s company with an Irish band playing in the background.
Wednesday: We had an awesome surprise when we visited the Kilmainham Gaol (Jail) and it turned out to be free that day! The jail is now a museum, and held some of the most famous Irish revolutionaries. It was a haunting yet sad place to explore. Touring where they kept the prisoner’s, seeing where they slept (some up to 6 in a room – which were originally built for 1), and hearing that there was a direct correlation between the poverty rate and the amount of people in the jail, was humbling. The youngest inmate ever recorded was a 5 year old boy – convicted for stealing a loaf of bread.
Thursday: Since we had been doing so much running around, we decided to take one day and just relax in Dublin. We shopped a bit, ate at some good restaurants, and didn’t have any plans. The only mission of the day was to find me some new shoes (because my old ones were falling apart).
Friday: Friday was the day we embarked on a “Paddywagon” tour. The first little stop we made was to some trees that apparently were used in the filming of “Game of Thrones.” Now I am not familiar with the TV show, and I guess it was a big deal … but they were cool looking trees. The second stop was my favorite of the day – the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. The bridge connects an island to the mainland, and it was an amazing hike. Breathtaking views everywhere you look. The bridge itself wasn’t very big, but it was an exhilarating experience to walk on something that could break any second. The third stop of the day was to Giant’s Causeway. Giant’s Causeway is a rock formation that was created by a volcanic explosion before the Ice Age. What was cool about it as that the rocks formed into hexagons, and it looked like someone individually placed each one. The gorgeous views of the ocean topped off the trip. The last stop of the day was quick. We stopped off in Belfast, in the north of Ireland. Belfast is part of the UK and uses pounds instead of euros (which was weird for me because I had just gotten used to using euros!).
Saturday: My parents left at 5 AM (yes, I was not a happy camper.) I stayed in the hotel until 11 am and then made my way back to the buses to go back to Limerick. Looking back at the week, we packed a lot of activities in such a short amount of time. It’s a wonder that we weren’t sleeping the whole time!
It was amazing to visit and see my parents. I miss them and I am excited to go home, but I’m not excited to leave Ireland! This experience has been the best experience of my life, and I could not be more grateful for the opportunity to be here.
Éirinn go Brach!
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