Saturday, January 29, 2011


At the end of my first week, everybody in Irish Studies (which is basically all the students at the school) went on an all-day field trip as part of the class. We went to the region called Connemara, an area northwest across the bay from Ballyvaughan. There are a lot of hills and mountains, and Ireland's only fjord. It was very beautiful and otherworldly at times.

One place we stopped at was Kylemore Abbey, an amazingly cool-looking castle by a lakeside. We didn't get to go inside, however, or stay very long, which was disappointing.

We stopped in a town called Clifden, and got a bite to eat at a cafe as well as walked around a little bit. As we were leaving the town, our guide told us some interesting trivia: The first nonstop transatlantic flight in the world landed right outside of Clifden. It was also the site of the first (quoting from Wikipedia) "point-to-point fixed wireless service connecting Europe with North America" (the station they connected with was in Nova Scotia, Canada). The radio operator on the Titanic worked at the wireless station in Clifden at one time, apparently, too.

On the way back, we stopped at two beaches; I don't think the first one had a name, but it had interesting sand that was made up of many, many tiny bits of coral remains. That was my first time being near an ocean and beach, and it was awesome. Then we kept driving for a while longer and got to a beach called Dog's Bay, where everybody walked around for a while. It was very beautiful, and some of the "otherworldly" moments were especially strong here.

Now, for pictures. Pictures taken last are at the top, and ones taken first start at the bottom. Also, I apologize for the extreme blueness of some photos.

Dog's Bay

The picture on the right shows the former site of a prehistoric settlement.

All of the pictures above are at Dog's Bay (or approaching Dog's Bay).

The first beach we stopped at.

Kylemore Abbey

A "rag tree" - I think it's a fairy tree that people have decided to tie bits of cloth to, for remembering friends/family.

Awesome fjord we stopped at (next to the rag tree).

The photos above are all from the bus ride in.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Climbing a Castle Tower, Climbing a Hill

In the last post I summarized a lot of the first week (except for the third day, which I described a little bit, and posted photos from. I should also mention that when I say "third day", I mean the third day since arriving in Ireland (I first arrived on Friday, January 7th). I'm basically calling Friday the 7th through Saturday the 15th the "first week". During the first week I got to see the school campus for the first time. At 9:00 AM every weekday the maintenance/driver guy Robert provides a van ride to the school. Some people walk to the school instead (I have done that a few times now). Anyway, it was nice to get familiar with the (very small) campus. Cafeteria food is very good, there's a campus cat, and a nice little library. One downside is the coldness of most studio areas.

On Thursday the 13th, my brother and I climbed the school's castle tower for the first time. It felt like stepping back in time to go inside it (feels like stepping back in time at a lot of places in the Burren). I was reminded so much of a medieval fantasy video game. Not long after the tower climb, my brother and some other friends climbed the hill next to the school for the first time. Calling it a "hill" gives the impression that it's not that big... but it's quite a hike up to the top, at least 40 minutes of mostly rocky terrain. Even after only 10 or 15 minutes the view is great, and it just gets better as you go up. We saw a small group of feral goats on that first climb, as well as a pile of bones and a lot of interesting vegetation.

(PHOTOS FROM THE CAMPUS - last one is just a shot outside my window in Ballyvaughan one morning, there was a cloud sitting over the hill in the distance)