Reading Week Part Two

After a good night sleep, some coffee, and a scarce amount of food, we all hopped on the bus to our next destination: Liscannor, Co. Clare. The bus took us through narrow ways lined with green and brown hedges. It took us through vast emerald fields, tilled or unkept, usually occupied by roaming sheep, horses, and cows. It brought us through the rocky and rugged land that  contrasted beautifully with the blue sea nearby. Giant grey boulders  everywhere stuck out from underneath like icebergs. It was mythical and violent, yet also authentic and peaceful.IMG_0908

After a well spent two hours of looking out the bus window, we arrived to the place we would call home for the next three days: Liscannor. We grabbed our luggage and plugged in our Airbnb into google maps. It was a little walk away, but in return we got our bearings of the seaside town.

Our cottage was snug and comfortable. It lay on the edge of a cliff, which offered not only a great view for an early morning tea, but also a good backdrop for group pictures! It was a classic Irish home.

The cliff
Me and the ocean

The next three days, we spent our time relaxing in the small living room reading or talking, walking around town or nearby villages, and just simply enjoying our little time away from Dublin.

Our friends

One day, we went to Lahinch, the town over, and walked along the boardwalk, looking outward into the ocean filled with surfing students being instructed by their teachers. It was a rainy day, but the weather in this part of Ireland usually changed every other hour, so it was bearable. We went into a local pub and I had an Irish beef stew. It was warm and inviting and exactly what I needed after the cold rain outside.

Lahinch

Another day, I went on a walk around Liscannor. The town center is really only four shops next to each other ( 3 of which are pubs! haha!), so it was a short walk. However, one of the shops was an art gallery and being a theater major, I had to show some appreciation to the local art. I walk into the shop and was struck with beautiful post-impressionistic paintings of the West of Ireland. I immediately got chatty with the owner there too. She was also the same person that painted the beautiful pictures on the walls. She had brunette hair and blue eyes with a little black paint smudged on her cheek. Her name was Ann Daly if you want to buy any of her art. We talked for 30 minutes, I bought some postcards to mail to my grandparents, then I just went on my way. One of my favorite parts of Ireland is the intimacy of the country and the hospitality of the people.

After 3 days, it was time to leave. We headed on bus back to Galway to catch the train to Dublin. It was a holiday spent well with friends.

Reading Week Part One

Reading Week was a sophisticated way of telling us Trinity students that we had a break from classes in late October.  A few friends and I thought it grand to trip to the West of Ireland in hope of some relaxation.

At 7am on a Monday, we boarded the Eireann train at Heuston Station en route to Galway. The night had yet to transfer its duty, and in passing time, we read and talked quietly and sipped on our coffees in our cart as we trekked through the Irish countryside. It was beautiful. IMG_0887

We arrived in Galway and dropped our stuff at the hostel we were to stay at for the night and began our walk around the seaside city. Beside the River Corrib, which cuts through the city, is Galway Cathedral. It is designed with local grey limestone and the interior ceiling is lined with what resembles stained Irish oak. It is not a church to the likes of those in Italy that have elaborate molding and designs with famous paintings, rather, it is a simple and relatively bare church. It has a medieval look to it, which perfectly fits Irish history. In addition, there is a mosaic of John F. Kennedy engraved into one of the walls within the church, providing us all with a little chuckle.

A look inside
A view from the river
Another view

After a brief walk, we headed to Mcdonagh’s, a local fish and chips restaurant, to grab lunch. It is the best fish and chips I’ve eaten since my time here and I would recommend it to those traveling to Galway in the future. We walked some more around Galway and then returned to the hostel for a brief nap before we went out for the night. We ended up in the Front Door, a pub in town, and indulged ourselves with a few drinks. We laughed and talked about our bus we had booked for the morning to a seaside cottage in the nearby county of Clare. It was a class night filled with excited anticipation for the trip ahead.

Waterford

My great uncle, a lifelong Dubliner himself, graciously took Jacob and me down to Waterford. We sat low through the Irish countryside in one of those classic black  European Audis that you see in films. The ride down was lovely and was filled with vast pastoral fields of emerald green occupied by horses, sheep, and cattle roaming mindlessly. We arrived into the river city and went straight to the the grave sight of Blessed Edmund Rice at Mount Sion. Before Holy Cross, both Jacob and I went to Catholic Memorial, which is a Christian Brother’s school in Boston, so it was humbling and wonderful to visit the place where it all started. Edmund Rice’s coffin was placed in the chapel, so we conveniently said a prayer and headed to lunch.

Jacob ’23 and I at Mount Sion

We went for a bite and a pint at Granville Hotel, which was situated on the edge of the River Suir. It was an old-fashioned pub with dark mahogany walls filled with paintings of horses and past soldiers. We had roast beef and mashed potatoes with butter-glazed green beans. After lunch, we walked around the narrow streets of Waterford and stumbled upon the original glass factory that is famously known for its crystal.

Another street
A street

Although the factory was closed, the shop wasn’t, so we went inside and checked out the fancy glass. It was a little above our price range so we just peered around. Once we had finished admiring the crystal, we continued our walk around the medieval city until we arrived back at the car. It was a simple and relaxed day, but one well spent away from the bustling city of Dublin. Thanks, Uncle David!

Uncle David!

 

A Trip To Bray

After some texting and planning, a few of us international students headed off to Tara Station to catch the Dublin Area Rapid Transit or as a Dubliner would call it, the DART. The train ride from the city to Bray was roughly 40 minutes, so we spent our time chatting with each other about the previous week’s

Tara Train Station

adventures and looking out into that constant mist that surrounds Ireland. “Rapid” might not be the most accurate word to describe the DART, nonetheless, I grew up in Boston and we, unfortunately, have the T. When it was our turn to get off, we gathered our belongings and made our way down to the main road, which is horizontal to the Irish Sea. Downtown Bray is a lovely strip consisting of various restaurants, spots for children to play, and a few shops. It’s modest, but a beautiful beach town to the likes of Gloucester or really any north shore town in Massachusetts.

We wandered our way to the boardwalk and breathed in the sea air, while looking up to Brayhead, the seaside town’s hill that serves more like a cliff on the portion facing the ocean. A stone crucifix placed on the apex of Brayhead towers over the town, reminding us of Ireland’s strong Christian connection.

Bray Boardwalk

My mind reflects back to the purple-outlined crucifix on the Luth Center, which crowns Mount St. James. The beach is covered with stones of blue and gray hues. We take turns throwing them into the rough water, hoping for at least one or two skips. A few succeed, but not most. A fish and chips shack in the distance catches our eyes and we make a decisive turn towards it like the hundreds of seagulls preying on the leftovers scattered on the coastline. The fish: mediocre, perhaps a 6/10. The chips: better, more like an 8/10. A dab of salt, vinegar, and lemon goes a long way, however, not as far as a sitting-view of the Irish coast and encompassing fog.

Another View of Bray

After a few minutes of eating and letting the lunch time snack digest, we decided to make our way towards Brayhead for the climb. It’s a relatively quick climb, but it is steep, so bring good shoes if you ever get the opportunity to go! After hiking through the woods for a bit, we breached the tree line and traversed

Jacob Azzi ’23 and Me

our way up to the rock-face at the top with the stone cross there. Away from the seagulls’ screams and the ocean’s violent roar,  a peaceful whistle of wind against the curvature of the austere mountain-tops can be heard at the summit of Brayhead. Purple flowers called Heather flowers, also referred scientifically as Calluna, are brilliantly dispersed along the mountain top creating a sort of impressionist painting.

Purple Heathers

Another daily reference (the color purple) that I go to a school… on a hill… in Worcester :)! The view down to Bray gave an entirely new perspective to the beach where we skipped rocks. The folks skipping rocks, now, looked like little ants. I suppose everything is small when given a new perch. We lay on the cold stone beside the cross for

awhile taking in as much as we could and trying to find some solitude away from the bustling city of Dublin.

A View Down on Bray
On Top of Brayhead

Once we satisfied our need to relax and enjoy Brayhead, we agreed to hike to the next town over called, Greystones, to catch the train back to Dublin. We made our way through beautiful pastoral fields of haystacks and sheep to the outer narrow streets of Greystones. Some of us got gelato at the local shop in town, then we all caught the DART back to Dublin. A wonderfully spent day in Bray.

A Field Down to Greystones
Another Field