Second Email- All Settled In and a Trip to the West

Sent 30.9.05


It has been great here in Dublin since I last wrote to you. We have had more sun than usual, although the last few days are starting to make up for it bringing the quick half hour rain showers that Dublin is known for. It can be completely sunny, rains a half hour later, then clears up again. We have even had some rain when it appears to be sunny...I don't try to explain it, I just live with those. Although we don't get temperatures in the 70's like I would have at home, temperatures here in Dublin have been very pleasant in the 60 range.

Class officially started about 3 weeks ago, only a few days after I got here. The start was relatively uneventful. They are very similar to those that I would take back at Notre Dame, except for the way the final grade is determined. For most of my classes, 70% of the grade will be based on the final exam, with the remaining 30% consisting of labs, and a few homework assignments. This is a lot more weight on the final, but I should be plenty prepared by the time that rolls around. Classes tend to meet two days a week for an hour each, and an additional 1.5 to 2 hour lab time.

Besides class, I have been keeping pretty busy exploring Dublin by myself, with friends from ND, and with new friends I have met here. Most of these new friends are also international students from places like France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Australia, Singapore, and many other countries. Dublin is a very interesting town, but typical for Europe, in that you can get lost quite easily. The streets are laid out in very haphazard fashion, and the city in no way has any kind of grid system. Street names can change every time you get to an intersection to add to the confusion. Sometimes getting lost here is the best way to learn the city, and I have a better grasp on where I am going now than I did two weeks ago.

I promised pictures in the last email, and I am a bit slow on the sending of them, but here is the link: These will go well with the next paragraph. There are pictures of Dublin city centre, my dorm and room, the UCD campus, and Blackrock, the small town I live near. And some of the best pictures are those of the Connemara trip I took last weekend.

The Connemara region is located on the West coast of Ireland near Galway. This trip was with the other Notre Dame students also studying abroad here in Dublin, which all together number 39 including me. This was an absolutely beautiful trip, even with some rainy weather and very windy conditions all weekend. The pictures I have on the website don't give justice to how beautiful the area is, but I tried my best to get some good ones. Connemara is completely different than Dublin, and you almost wouldn't believe you are in the same country. The mountains, lakes, old ruins, islands, and ocean are all so beautiful.

It was raining most of the day Saturday and we got wet, but we got used to it. We went and looked at a bog, climbed a mountain and saw some old 'ruins' of a fort, and the views were absolutely beautiful. The tour guide we had for the trip is well-known as one of the best minds on the Connemara region and has done numerous archaeological digs out there, so it was really cool to hear him talk all weekend. Later that night, we went into the town of Clifden and went to a great restaurant and had a dinner paid for by Notre Dame. Apparently the pints of Guinness most of the guys ordered wouldn't be covered, but we all managed to pay for those on our own. We stayed in a hostel for the night in a small town called Letterfrack, which had a respectable 3 pubs for a town of 150 people. On Sunday, we took a ferry out to the island of Inishbofin, which is a little drive toward the coast from Clifden. It was very windy on the ferry ride out there, and most of the day was windy as well. However, the weather was relatively nice at times with the sun coming out, and the island was absolutely beautiful. The pictures I have of it don't really do justice as I've already said. We hiked around the island for most of the day, probably travelling 5 miles, going up and down mountains and through bogs. We saw numerous old buildings, forts, and grave sites. On the bus ride back that night, more people were asleep than awake, owing to the fact that it was a long day.

The rest of this past week was getting into the swing of classes, with labs starting up, and my courses at the Keough Notre Dame Centre starting as well. These courses meet once a week and count as necessary electives back at Notre Dame, and a course called "Introduction to Ireland" can only be taught best when you are on the second floor of a building overlooking Merrion Square in Dublin. Everything is going well with these though, and I may even have to start doing some reading for classes this weekend. I guess it can't be all fun and games, but it has been great so far. Even cooking for myself hasn't been too bad; I have yet to make something inedible, which I consider a success. I even impressed some of the Europeans by cooking burgers in a frying pan, which ended up tasting better than I thought for not being on the grill.

That was a long email, but I thought I'd let you all know what has been going on lately. I'm planning a weekend trip to London in 2 weeks, Paris in 3 weeks, and then another trip with ND kids to Belfast in 4 weeks. It should be busy, but fun, so I'm looking forward to it.

I'll leave you with some contact information in case you want to keep in touch. I welcome your emails at any time to, whether for questions about my stay here in Ireland or if you just want to talk about anything else. With that said, here is my address and mobile phone number (send me a text message sometime, I'll be sure to reply, but just make sure you tell me who you are):

Daniel McGee
Keough Notre Dame Centre
58 Merrion Square South
Dublin 2, Ireland

Mobile: +353 87 056 4163

Keep in touch,

Dan McGee