Fourteenth Email- February Happenings

Sent 27.2.06


Wanted to stay on top of things, so figured now was as good of time as any to write another email. Jumping right in, I did leave one event out of the last email. The president of the University of Notre Dame, along with several other people high up in the administration, paid a visit to our program on 8th February. The Board of Trustees held a meeting in Rome earlier in the month (I'm still not completely sure why), so this was used as an opportunity to visit some of the study abroad locations, including the Rome, London, and Dublin programs. We had a mass said by Father John Jenkins, our president, and then had dinner at the O'Connell House where we were able to talk in a more informal setting with the visiting group from the university. It is always good to get a nice catered meal, so this was no exception.

The following weekend was my trip to Galway, which I described in the last email. After returning on Saturday, I woke up on Sunday morning to head into the city where I was going to meet up with Dan. Before going, I checked my email, which was a smart thing, as I found out he had changed flights and would be arriving around two hours later then planned. We eventually met up, but his luggage wasn't so fortunate, so he didn't have that for the first day. It did make a flight the next day, however, and the airline delivered it down here to Blackrock, so we didn't have to go all the way back to the airport to get it. We spent the first day walking around the city, checking out a lot of the typical sights, including the Guinness Storehouse. I figured I would be a nice guy and let him get to sleep a little early that first night, so we didn't stay out too late.

The next day (Monday) we headed into the city to do a little more typical sightseeing, and seeing some stuff on the north side of the river. We eventually ended up at the Old Jameson Distillery. This was my first time doing the distillery tour, and it was worth it as I am now a "Certified Whiskey Taste Tester". As a tester, you get to compare three different Irish Whiskeys against a Scotch and an American Bourbon. I posted several pictures of both the Jameson and Guinness tours on my website, so be sure to look at some of those.

Tuesday is a class day for me, so I headed off to my 9 am and let Dan sleep in a bit. I told him when and where to catch the bus that would take him to campus to meet up with me an hour later. I then showed him around campus a bit once he arrived, giving him the grand tour in about 20 minutes as our campus is not all that exciting. We then headed into the city where I pointed out some of the national museums, and I headed back to campus for class while he explored those. Wednesday I had a pretty full day of class, so I arranged for Dan to spend the day touring the city with one of my friends who didn't have class that day. I took Dan into the city to meet up with her, then headed off to class while she took him around the city for a bit, heading out to Dublin Castle.

Thursday I had a quick day of class in the morning, and then we headed down to Cork, in south-eastern Ireland. It is actually the second biggest city in Ireland only to Dublin, but that isn't saying much. It was a five hour bus ride, but the scenery and landscape along the way is what most people would picture as Ireland- green fields, older farmhouses, and a mix of hills and mountains. Once we arrived in Cork, we found a hostel to stay at for two nights, went out to eat, and both fell asleep quite quickly that night. The next morning, we headed out to Blarney Castle, which is a short distance outside of Cork city. Although most people have heard of it, and the stone that goes along with the name, the castle was not as touristy as I had pictured. It was actually quite cool in both its original design and its now preserved state. We did both kiss the Blarney Stone. We then walked around the grounds of the castle, which also hold an old 'rock garden' having quite a few crazy rock creations.

In the afternoon, we headed back to Cork and walked around the city trying to take it in. We eventually got a little disoriented, but found our way to the city gaol (jail). It was quite interesting to see, and supplemented my earlier tour of Kilmainham Gaol quite well. I do think knowing the history of Ireland helps one appreciate sites like this more, but we both enjoyed it. It is also set up on a hill, so we found some places on the walk back to the city to enjoy the view. Later that night, we went out to a what I would call a "typical" Irish pub and enjoyed a few pints, before heading to bed at a relatively early time as we had both walked quite a bit that day.

We headed back to Dublin the next day (Saturday) as it was Dan's last full day in Ireland, and he wanted to spend his last night in Ireland out in Dublin. We went out to a "not typical" bar for a while that night. Overall I'd say it was a pretty successful week in showing him what Ireland is all about. Ironic way to end his trip though: his luggage got delayed again on the way back, so once again it was a day late in getting to him.

This past week was much more laid back. I pretty much just attended my classes and caught up on some work that needed to be done, and I spent my day off on Friday seeing a few museums and going to Dublin Castle, where I had not been yet. Next weekend, I'm doing something a few people might consider weird or crazy- heading to London by bus. I wanted to get back to London sometime this semester to see some of the kids that arrived there this semester to study, including my former roommate. At €34 ($40) for a return trip, it is a hard price to beat. The trip is a little over 10 hours each way, with a ferry journey on the end closest to Dublin that takes you across the Irish Sea. These ferries are used to get cars and trucks across, so the bus that I'll take will go right on the ferry and go all the way to London. It is an overnight journey, so I will get into London relatively early and hopefully will have gotten enough sleep to see and do what I want to.

Spring break is coming up soon as well, and at the moment the plan is to start in Rome, and head north through Florence and Venice. From there, I'm not sure, as the trip is still in the planning stages. More to come though. Until my next email, enjoy the rest of February and hopefully the better weather that should be on its way.

Keep in touch,

Dan McGee
Mobile: +353 87 056 4163