Irish Heritage Tour As Seen Through the Eyes of a Student: Day 5

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 Megan Alfieri, a freshman majoring in Forensic Chemistry.  We hope you enjoy reading about our journey!

Cappuccino to start the morning off on the right foot!
Day 5: Friday, May 12th

9:28 am
We have just left the hotel and we are on our way to Kinsale. Rikke, our fearless leader and in-country guide throughout the trip, is giving us a little history lecture of Ireland from the beginning of human presence on the island. The history includes things from as far back as the Vikings invading, an explanation of how "Dublin" actually translates to "Black Pool" in Irish because Dublin castle was originally located where the River Liffey connects to the pool of the River Poddle, and a tidal pool was created. She also talked about Oliver Cromwell destroying churches and melting down the Crown Jewels to pay his men. The landscape on this bus ride is just absolutely beautiful. It is exactly what you would expect when you think of Ireland. There are the rolling green fields speckled with farm houses and various livestock, especially sheep. In Ireland, there are no natural predators like wolves or coyotes, so sheep here roam free and farmers don't use fences--they just spray paint a spot on their sheep a certain color so they can tell their sheep from their neighbor's sheep! We just passed a little road construction that has been paused for about a year so far because they found bones while digging up the road--whenever anything is built in this area, ancient artifacts are found, whether it be from Viking settlements or ancient civilizations.

Irish Countryside
1:08 pm
We just loaded the bus to leave Kinsale. Kinsale is a very small, picturesque town. The shops were quaint and varied in their contents. We went to The Milk Market Café for lunch. It was a small café that had a variety of foods. I enjoyed another meal of fish and chips. We truly enjoyed the small shops and seeing the locally created items. Some of our group had a wonderful conversation with a local gallery owner, who talked about the rising of Gaelic schools in Ireland and the importance of the Gaelic language to the native Irish in the Republic. This was a great tie-in to what we've been studying this semester! Now we are loading the bus for the two-hour bus ride to Killarney.

The colorful town of Kinsale.

11:30 pm

So, we arrived in Killarney at around 3:30 pm and went off exploring after we got settled in our hotel rooms. The hotel was really a cross between an inn and a house, and each of the rooms were totally unique. While exploring, we stopped in the Killarney Brewing Company not far from our hotel and we stopped there and we sampled some of the local beers. After tasting, we went back to the hotel and had dinner there, which consisted on an Irish stew and ice cream. I had never had a beef stew before and I was really surprised at how smooth and flavorful it was. I would definitely eat it again. After dinner, a group of us went to a local pub after exploring the town a bit.  There was live music at the pub that we went to and they played some of the songs that we learned at the Belvedere Irish Nights event. That was really cool because we could sing along and it felt like we belonged. 

Delicious Irish stew for dinner.
Killarney is really a beautiful town. As you're walking, you can see the mountains quite close in the background, and that is a view that is tough to pass up! We enjoyed a slower-pace this afternoon/evening after the busy days we've been having, and overall, today was pretty great. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow is going to bring.

Streets of Killarney with mountains in the distance.

Another beautiful church with painted wrought iron gates.


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