A few months ago, I was able to spend a weekend in county Sligo with a small group of friends from the NUin program. After a three hour bus ride from our home in Dublin, we arrived at our destination: Gyreum Ecolodge, located seemingly in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nothing but Ireland’s lush greens and tranquil countryside. As we entered the ecolodge, the aroma of a home-cooked meal and the comforting heat from the fireplace greeted us. We quickly claimed our beds and unpacked before eating the first home-cooked meal we’ve had since being home. Without the internet readily accessible as we had been accustomed to, we found other ways to entertain ourselves such as playing board games, braiding each others’ hair, and watching movies, which proved to be a pleasurable change from my normal routine.
On Saturday morning we woke up and started the day with yoga. It was the first time that I had ever done yoga and despite falling over countless times, it made for a pleasurable experience. After having breakfast, we headed out to explore Sligo and went on a hike, and were able to see a few Cairns including Queen Maeve’s Tomb! Following the hike, the group was split into two groups to go either kayaking or surfing. I had chosen to go surfing, and the small group of us headed to the beach to ‘catch some waves’. I had only been surfing once before, but was more than excited to experience it again in Ireland. After struggling to put on our wetsuits, we grabbed our boards and headed toward the water. We then met our surfing instructor, who taught us the basic techniques of how to surf; after that, we were out in the ocean attempting, and occasionally succeeding, to surf. Surfing was one of my favorite experiences that I’ve had in Ireland, even though I can count the number of times I succeeded in riding the waves on one hand. Later in the evening, we had the pleasure of having a traditional Irish folk band play live music for us after dinner. What I enjoyed most about this was how the band members made their performance interactive by allowing us to help them by playing along with extra instruments they had brought and by encouraging us to dance to the upbeat songs. Additionally, among the members of the band was a druid who told us stories of the ancient people of Ireland. Listening to the stories gave me an incite to the history and culture of Ireland that I had not yet encountered.
On our last day, before heading back to Dublin we went on a nature hike around where we had been staying and learned about the different types of plants. After the hike we packed our bags and headed back toward Dublin. Leaving Sligo was sad; the non-technological vacation had served as a peaceful retreat from our hectic lives back in Dublin and I definitely wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the wonderful home-cooked meals but I am glad that I was able to have taken part in such an amazing experience.