what a week

Tomorrow my sister leaves for a mission trip in South America, and the day after that, I leave for Ireland. Kevin has been very patient while I rearrange my piles of clothes.

Right now, we’re both out on the patio, enjoying an unusually lovely Pacific Northwest evening. No breeze, clear skies, cool but not cold. He’s reading and I’m going through my Lonely Planet guidebook, finding more fun things to do on the weekends. My first weekend abroad will be spent navigating Cork and preparing for (gulp) work, but after that, I’ll have nine weekends, which will hopefully allow for a dozen or so excursions. I’m looking at the Bus Eirann site right now to try to figure out exactly how far I can get in a day.

So far, I’ve found some pretty cool things to try:

-Blarney Castle, although I won’t be trying to kiss the Blarney Stone. Apparently you have to perform some sort of very perilous backwards-bend over a bar, and then attempt to kiss a rock that’s been kissed by millions of visitors. Not worth it.

-Youghal, a beach town less than an hour from Cork, which has two beaches, a defensive riverfront castle, and a 12th-century church.

-Clonakilty, which has a Saturday farmer’s market and an ancient ring fort.

-Clear Island will be a challenge for me, because it’s one of the few places in Ireland that still speaks Gaelic (or Gaeltacht, according to Lonely Planet). It’s wild and full of birds and oh yes, it has a castle.

Has anyone been to Ireland before? Do you have tips for using public transportation? Recommendations of places I should try to visit? Shady streets I ought to avoid (very important, especially since I just watched “Taken” today)? Let me know!

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8 thoughts on “what a week

  1. Hey! I was talking to a girl who went to Ireland with Britney, and she was in Cork for a bit and would be more than happy to share her restaurant knowledge of the city, as well as favorite places elsewhere in the country. I’m going to email you her name so it’s not all creepy on the internet. Ah! I’m excited for you 🙂

  2. Man, I am so jealous of all the rockin’ opportunities in front of you. I don’t have any knowledge whatsoever of Ireland to impart, but I hope you have the time of your life over there.

    Also, wasn’t Taken awesome? It was scary in a real-world sense, but Liam Neeson kicked ass!

  3. Good choice on the Blarney Stone. The tourist tradition is to kiss it, the locals claim their tradition is to pee on it.

    The Irish language has really made a come back. All the kids are taught in schools these days and will likely be more than happy to teach you a bit. That said, you’re right, there’s not many places that use it as a primary language, although we dropped into a small-town pub on the Dingle peninsula one sunday arvo and a bunch of locals were sitting around having a pint and a lively conversation in Irish at the bar. It made me smile.

    The Dingle Peninsula and the Aran Islands were by far my favourite Irish locales (Dingle is a town of ~1000 people and has sixty pubs within the city limits). You’ll be pretty close to the Rock of Cashel, which is worth a look. I don’t know if you’re as much of an archaeology nerd as I am (if so, you are going to be in heaven), but the Neolithic passage tomb, Newgrange (north of Dublin), was absolutely incredible and remains high on my ‘most sacred places in the world’ list.

    You’re going to have an amazing time, don’t worry. And hell, certainly don’t worry about ‘Taken’ – in 2007 the WHO ranked Ireland as the safest country in all of Europe, you have a much higher risk of getting kidnapped, shot, etc in the US. That said, always use your common sense, and always leave your passport locked up somewhere (do NOT take it out to the bars as ID).

    Love ya, Little, have a fantastic trip! I can’t wait to hear all about it.

    • Ew, good to know about the Blarney Stone. Seeing the castle alone should be worth it.

      There’s a pretty good pronunciation guide in the back of this Lonely Planet book, and I’m hoping just being around it will help me pick up a few phrases. I have no idea how much it’ll be spoken in the city, though.

      I would love to get up to the Aran Islands and all those great sights by Galway, but I may have to plan an overnight for it. I need to figure out the buses or maybe the trains for those.

      Yup, the passport will stay safe, and I will be pretty paranoid for the first couple weeks. 🙂 I even have one of those foxy money belts!

  4. personally, I kissed the Blarney stone. The acrobatic are not that intense. However, I was unaware of the peeing on it thing. THat may have deterred me. If you choose to risk it just remember that if I was able to with my abject terror of heights, you, the mountain goat, will be fine,

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