Thirteenth Email- Starting a new semester

Sent 13.2.06


That was a bit of a longer break than I intended to take from writing emails, so this one may be a bit long. Quite a bit has happened since the last time I wrote- my parents have been here, class is getting into full swing, I've been hiking, been back up to the north, and just finished up a short weekend in Galway. I could talk a lot about each, but I do want to keep this to email length and not that of a novel.

My first little day trip after returning to Dublin was down to Dun Laoghaire, which is located just south of where I live here in Dublin. It is a large harbour with two long piers extending out into the sea. I have now walked both of them end to end; one by myself and the other when my parents were here. The pictures I posted are from when I walked the pier on my own. The weather that day was not looking the greatest; however, it made for great views and pictures. The sun would come through the clouds every once in a while and light things up in weird ways. I even saw a group of kids in some sort of sailing club out in the harbour in their small boats. They were wearing wetsuits, which made them want to jump in the water fairly often while playing some sort of game resembling "capture the boat".

I continue to just take trips around the city exploring Dublin. I posted several photos of these trips, both general shots of Dublin and some of Phoenix Park, the large park just outside of the city centre. Class had just started, so I had a lot of time to wander the city. I decided to go out and take some pictures of places I hadn't been in a while, or in some cases had never been. There are still things in Dublin I have yet to see and do, but I don't feel as rushed about this since I can do many of these things on an afternoon off.

My parents arrived only a week into starting class, so I was just getting settled into second semester. They were a bit jet lagged the first day, but we still walked around a good bit of the city and saw some of the sights. We started by getting some food at a pub just north of the Liffey, then split up for a bit with my Mom looking around the shopping areas while my Dad and I did the Guinness Storehouse tour. It was actually my first time going to the Guinness factory, but I hadn't felt a need to go first semester as I knew I would have opportunities to visit later in the year. The view from the top was pretty impressive, and we picked a good day to go because you could see for miles. I let them get a relatively early bedtime that night as the lack of sleep was catching up to them, and we set a time the next day to meet up again. I think originally they were thinking 9 am, but I convinced them to do 10 am for all of our sakes. It ended up being a good decision as I found out the next day they didn't wake up until almost 9:30 am. I was up a lot earlier than that because I had to make my way into town, so I found that a bit humorous.

Their second day here we did the whirlwind tour of the south of Dublin. We first ventured down to my dorm in Blackrock. I showed them my room, which they thought was a bit small, but no worries. I then stashed all the food away that they got for me, and I showed them around the rest of the dorm a bit, including the kitchens and the dining room. After this, we continued down the coast to Dun Laoghaire, where we walked around the town a bit and then ventured out onto the east pier. The weather was very nice, so it was a nice walk. We then grabbed a bite to eat before heading north to the UCD campus, which we did a fairly quick tour of. This was for two reasons: first, it was getting dark, and second, there just really isn't a whole lot of impressive stuff to see. We then finished the day by heading back to the city.

I had one class on Monday, but I was still able to head out to Kilmainham Gaol (British spelling of 'jail') with my parents in the morning. This was very interesting to see, and it fit well with the Introduction to Ireland course I took in the fall. It is definitely a tour I recommend if you are interested at all in Irish history and you are in Dublin. I then headed off to class while my parents did some more sightseeing around Dublin. We then met back up at 'coffee hour' at the ND Keough Centre, which happens every Monday night. It is hard to pass up free food and coffee, even if your parents are in town. The next day I had quite a bit of class, so my parents headed off on a daytrip and we met in the city for dinner. It was a pretty quick visit, but it was nice for me to see them again and I'm sure they thought it was nice to see me. And it wasn't even that weird to order a Guinness sitting next to my parents in a restaurant.

I didn't sit around for long after my parents took off. I finished out the week of class then headed south to Glendalough. I wanted to get some hiking in sometime, and this was a good weekend and a great place to do it. The weather couldn't have been a whole lot better for us to go, either. I left on a Friday evening from Dublin with Josh (another ND kid) and Emily (from University of Toronto). Our plan was to spend Friday night in a hostel so we could get up early on Saturday and have a full day of hiking. We followed through with this idea, and got up around 8 am to head out to the mountains. Pictures have a hard time capturing the full extent of the beautiful view. At a few points we were just standing on the top of the mountains listening to the sound of nothing. For the first 2 hours of our hike, we only saw about 4 other people. It was a fun trip just south of Dublin, and well worth going.

The next week was relatively uneventful, leading up to our Belfast and Northern Ireland trip on Friday-Saturday. I was not required to go again as I did this same trip in the fall, but it was hard to pass up a free trip that included a few free meals. I also enjoyed hearing the politicians from the North talk again. We heard from all four major parties, and also heard from a few other smaller parties. The weather was also good the whole weekend, allowing us to walk around the murals in the neighbourhoods, looking at seemingly endless numbers of them. They are very interesting to see and really show you the trials and troubles people here have gone through.

I wanted to head somewhere this weekend before Dan Myers arrived to visit on Sunday, so I decided to do a two day trip to Galway. I left very early on Friday morning (I have no Friday class, making weekend trips very convenient) on a four hour bus ride to Galway. I had been through Galway before on our trip west to Connemara, but hadn't spent a whole lot of time in the city. I decided to go on my own, but I knew some other people from Blackrock were going to be there on this weekend as well. I spent most of the day walking around the area on my own, seeing the relatively small city and the coastline along the bay. I ended up running into the other people from Blackrock at a rather random location along the coast. We eventually went out for dinner and a drink at a nice pub. We stayed there for a while, listening to the live traditional music that started later in the night. I spent the next day seeing a bit more in Galway, and sitting watching some Gaelic Football practice for a while which was pretty interesting. I then headed back to Dublin in the afternoon.

That gets us caught up to today. I will likely have enough material to write another email soon, since I have a guest for the week. There are many photos to go along with all of this on my website, so take a look if you are interested.

Keep in touch,

Dan McGee
Mobile: +353 87 056 4163