Archive | September, 2013

In the West of Ireland

30 Sep

Day 1 Over the River Shannon

On Thursday, 19 September 2013, we departed the city of Dublin to the west coast of Ireland County Galway in the province of Connacht. As I looked out the window toward an ever-changing landscape, I watched as three hours transformed the charming Dublin cityscape to a lusher, greener panorama. The endless green cascading over the gentle hills seemed like that of a picture – the intense beauty blocked by a glass pane. The sunshine bathed each blade of grass in a glow that made me feel that the beautiful weather was truly due to the luck of the Irish. This was the vision of Ireland always swirled in my mind. This was it.

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When we arrived into Galway and settled into our hostel, “Snoozles,” the city felt quiet, deserted almost. It felt like that of a small town, smaller than Dublin. The city centre comprised of mainly a single street speckled sparsely with musicians. The nightlife was nothing of much excitement, but the sites we would see the following days would make up for the disappointment tenfold.

Day 2 County Galway

 

On Friday, first on our itinerary were the Aran Islands at Kilronan, Inis Mor. During the ferry ride to the island, I hadn’t known what to expect; I only knew that the islands were home of the infamous traditional Irish wool sweaters.

On the island, dividing up plots of green, little stone walls marked boundaries everywhere of varying sizes. These remains of a dark time during the 17th century established the dauntingly tangible reality of the Potato Famine. Due to the famine, the island, originally home to about three thousand people, had its population whittled down so severely, that still today, only nine hundred inhabitants live on the island.

Seacht Teampaill, or the Seven Churches dating back to 8th century. An astounding site, rich in history and religious significance, the site was transformed into cemetery over the years as an Irish token toward preserving their cultural heritage. (Our guide noted half-jokingly that the waitlist to have one’s children buried in these grounds are so competitive that it can be compared to how parents in the States strive to get their children into colleges.). Celtic crosses sprouted from each head of the graves, decorated with rose bushes and personal remembrances. The story behind the Celtic Cross especially piqued my interest as it revealed how closely religion and history are so intertwined in Irish culture.

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Dun Aengus, one of Ireland’s most infamous pre-historic forts brought us back in time to the period in which the people that came before the Celts were in existence. The structure of the stone fort set on the cliffs was truly stunning. As there were no railings or evidence of modern contamination, I felt so enclosed by the beauty of nature; I sat on the cliffs hanging over the edge overlooking the Atlantic Ocean hundreds of meters below.Image

Day 3 County Clare

As the sun set on Friday evening, it did not seem to rise in the morning as we embarked to the Cliffs of Moher.  A thick fog settled over the cliffs, and what was supposed to be a sight even more spectacular than that of Dun Aengus was instead suffocated by a blinding grey.

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At the Aillwee Caves, I was awestruck by stalagmites and stalactites, and water formations. We were beneath a large mass of land in a cave once completely flooded and kept secret for thirty years after its discovery.

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Day 4

Before we left the west of Ireland, I had the chance to view Ireland from above, walk clockwise around a Fairy Fort and make a wish and visit so many incredible historical sites that some only see in National Geographic.

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A Dolmen

– Julia Le

The Significance of the Gaelic Games

30 Sep

Despite being a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon or your free time afterschool, the Gaelic Games represent a national bond for the Irish people. Although it is only an amateur sport, the fact that it’s so popular speaks volumes. For one, it shows that Irish people are quite proud of their athletes and value them with high honors. Thus, the Gaelic Games represent more to the people than just a way to waste time; it’s the level of commitment that they put into the games which unifies the entire country. Because each county has its own team, these Gaelic sports act as a way to keep in contact with people from neighboring or even far away counties.

As a result, I believe these Gaelic sports might’ve been a great way to stay connected to people all over Ireland. Because of this, I think the Gaelic Games became a great way to spread culture and ideas from county to county. Although I cannot say this with certainty, I believe the Gaelic Games were a very important factor in unifying Ireland. Gaelic sports like hurling, for example, also seem to demonstrate a large amount of violence and speed to it.

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The fact that hurling predates Christianity in Ireland, having come to Ireland with the Celts, might also shed light on a reason for how Ireland was unified. Furthermore, I believe the show of violence, speed, and agility exhibited in a Gaelic Game like hurling suggests the nature of early Irish settlers. Because of how it’s played, I think a strong connection can be drawn between the sport today and what the Celts used to be like back 2000 years ago.

Lastly, the growing popularity of Gaelic Games like hurling and Gaelic football over national sports like Rugby is confusing to me. Although I would think a national team would unify Ireland in a better and faster way, it seems like friendly competition has in fact done this instead. Thus, I conclude that these games were extremely important in creating a relatable and strong foundation for which to build an early Irish society.

– Philip Sypolt

My first impressions of Ireland

30 Sep

Before I came to Ireland I had many doubts about how I would fit in. I didn’t think I would like Dublin as much as home. I didn’t think I would want to learn Irish and definitely didn’t think I would love Dublin so much. When I landed at the airport, I could not believe how cold it was. I knew Ireland would be colder than New York in the fall and winter, but I was thinking it would be just as warm in the summer. When I stepped outside, I was freezing. I felt like I needed  a winter coat. I have got to say that the weather at first did not make a good impression on me. As my friends and I were driving to our new home, I first thought I was living in the countryside. I was totally unfamiliar with my surroundings. I am used to busier streets and more people walking around. Dublin felt empty. There are also a lot more churches here which I expected, but not one at every other corner. I have never seen so many churches in just one area. When I first started shopping at the grocery stores it was bit of a culture shock because I am used to these huge supermarkets and I felt that places such as “Centra” did not make the cut. When I did finally find a supermarket, I  still thought it wasn’t enough. Though I have learned to cope, I still miss the huge supermarkets that have every kind of food one can imagine back home. After a week or two, I really started to love Dubin. I love the city and how easy it is to get around. My first impression was that I would always get lost and never know where to go. Now, I feel that Dublin is like a second home and I will be very sad when the time comes to return to New York. 

Galway Trip

30 Sep

Last weekend, the NUin program took us on a trip to the west of Ireland, specifically a city named Galway. It was a long and tiresome bus ride but when we arrived it was worth it. I really liked the city of Galway, it was a small city with a fun and adventurous atmosphere to it. We stayed at a Hostel called Snoozles for the duration of the trip. The first morning in Galway, we were split up into two groups, Group A and Group B. I was placed in Group B, where they took us to the Aran Islands the first day. I really liked the islands, although it was a hassle to get to the islands, the scenery that the Aran Islands presented was breath taking. We visited an ancient church, now made into a cemetery, we saw some seals, and the best part of the trip was when we got the opportunity to sit on the edge of a cliff. We also visited an old fortress that the people in ancient Ireland would use to protect themselves from any invasions.

The second day, we went to the “beautiful” Cliffs of Moher. It was a disappointment when we got there because we weren’t able to see the scenery that it was famous for due to the intense fog that covered it. However, our day wasn’t ruined, we were able to visit an very old cave in the mountains that was spectacular.

Overall, this trip was amazing. We experienced life in the city of Galway, we went on a ferry to the Aran Islands, and we took a bus to the Cliffs of Moher. It was a successful trip and I learned a lot from it. We learned about Irish History and how people lived back then. The most interesting thing I experienced was talking to an irish person who speaks irish as his first language and that lived his entire life on the Aran Islands.

Faisal Barakat

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Trip to Galway.

30 Sep

My trip to Gulway was one of the most memorable experiences in my life. One of my favorite parts of the trip was when we went to the Cliffs of moher. There we went for a long walk between the cliffs, which were very high, and we also enjoyed the breathtaking scenery in this area. Another thing I liked about the trip was when I joined the zombie walk in the streets in Dublin. The zombie walk is basically made to collect donations for the underprivileged and to celebrate this event; people in Galway tend to walk in the streets dressed up like zombies. During this walk, you can see the harmony between people and how happy they are for what they did (donating.) Finally, the trip to the Island was very interesting. We went in tour around the island and there, we saw some ancient houses and churches that have been existing in the area for hundreds of years and we also took a walked through some high cliffs and enjoyed the beautiful views. 

 

Zaid Tahabsem

The Trip to Galway.

30 Sep

Last week we went to a small city in west Ireland named Galway.  It is on the coast fo Ireland so that means it near the ocean. I love ocean when I was young. The bus ride took us about 3 hours and I was windy outside. Although the bus ride was boring but it worth, because the view there was amazing.

When we arrived we got in a hostel named Snoozies. And there was a small town near the hostel, people went to there to have fun every night. That was interesting.  The first morning we took a bus to the Cliffs of moher, we saw a smallcastle and large cliffs. The most interesting thing to me was watching the ocean and felt it. But the view was not great as the second day.

The next day we went to the Aran Islands. There was a small town and we took two buses to travel around the town. We went to a ancient church but now it was used as a cemetery. This place was nothing special but I can feel the nature when I stood front of the church, I can feel the great of nature. Then we walked to a cliff here. I mean I love the cliff the most because I can actually feel the ocean and see the ocean, I can feel the wind and I can do nothing here but just listen. The view here was also amazing. I can feel how great the nature is.

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The cliff is already 2500 years old. When I sat on the cliff, I love that feeling of history flowing through me. But our time was limited, we had to go back to blackhall on Sunday.

Galway proved a different city from Dublin, it is far away from the busy city, people here can truly feel the nature. I love this place, I will remember it for years and visit here again!

By Min Luo.

Galway

30 Sep

Last week, we spent the weekend in the west of Ireland in Galway. The bus ride was hectic and long. The bus ride took around three and a half hours. The day after we arrived in Galway, we went to The Aran Island, which was around an hour away from the hostel by bus then like forty minutes by ferry. In that Island we visited a castle and had a chance to look at the beautiful scenery.

The day after we went to the Cliffs of Mohr. It was amazing. The view was unreal. I had the chance to capture the moment with some great photos of me and my friends. It was a great experience that I will probably remember for years to come.