Irish Heritage Tour As Seen Through the Eyes of a Student: Day 3

The Honors Program just completed its Irish Heritage Tour, where twenty-one students and two staff members traveled to the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Scotland from May 8th through the 19th. We have asked a number of students to blog about the journey, so each day is written from the perspective of a different student or staff member.  Today's post was written by Grace McCourt, a double major in Mathematics and Integrated Mathematics Education who graduated this spring.  We hope you enjoy reading about our journey!

St. Patrick's Cathedral
Day 3: Wednesday, May 10th

This morning, after we all caught up on some sleep, we had a full Irish breakfast at our hotel, The Belvedere. Then, we boarded the bus to be directed on a tour of Dublin. Our local tour guide, James, pointed out all the landmarks and points of interest. He also told stories as we drove. Leaving from our hotel, we passed the Garden of Remembrance first. We then drove down O’Connell Street and past the General Post Office. We also passed Christ Church, the oldest building in Ireland, and The Brazen Head, the oldest pub in Ireland.

Inside of St. Patrick's Cathedral
On our tour, we stopped at King Edward’s Door to take pictures of the Georgian architecture. We learned that Georgian architecture has front doors with ornate cut glass overhead, and that the windows on the upper floors get smaller with each row. We also spent a bit of time in Phoenix Park, which is an absolutely sprawling, almost 2,000 acre park in Dublin! At the park, we saw the Papal Cross, which was erected for the visit of Pope John Paul II, the president’s house, and a few herds of deer that roam the grounds. Another stop that morning was at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which was absolutely breathtaking. In the Cathedral, we took a guided tour and saw the gorgeous stained glass and learned about the history of the building. We ended our tour near Trinity College and had free time for the rest of the day.

Georgian architecture was found everywhere.
We all got off the bus and split into smaller groups for the rest of the afternoon and evening. Some groups went to museums, parks, or shopping. Quite a few people went to Irish Nights, the Irish dancing show at our hotel, where Irish musicians played a variety of instruments and taught our group a number of traditional Irish pub songs. The group thoroughly enjoyed this program!

My small group decided to take a tour of the Guinness Storehouse, which is across the city from Trinity College, and we decided to walk there and explore Dublin along the way. We walked past Christ Church, picked up a quick lunch at Saburrito, and stopped whenever someone in the group saw something interesting. Then, one member of our group decided to stop for a haircut. While waiting, the rest of the group wandered around the surrounding blocks, seeing churches, graffiti, and a bar fight that turned into a street fight. After that colorful stop, we continued on to the Storehouse.

Papal Cross at Phoenix Park
During our tour of the building, we learned how Guinness is made, the history of the company, the advertising used over the years, and how to properly taste the drink. We also spent some time in their Gravity Bar, a circular room with glass walls that allowed us to look out over Dublin.

Floor tile in St. Patrick's church.
For dinner, we went to The Brazen Head, where I had delicious fish and chips. We all recounted our favorite and least favorite parts of the trip so far, and everyone noted that we enjoyed having free time to explore the city on our own.

Fish and chips with traditional pea puree.
After dinner, we made our way back to the hotel, walking along the river Liffey, Grafton Street, and O’Connell Street. We rested briefly at the hotel. Then, we went back out into the city. Spending time at Parnell’s rooftop bar and listening to some live Irish music at Murray’s. We then returned to the hotel, heading towards bed but already starting to get excited for the next day.

We learned that human faces were added into churches to ward off evil, just like gargoyles.


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