Dingle and Blarney: Fun Irish Day Trips

It’s  been a while since my last update, which is mostly because after eight whirlwind weeks of grad school, I can’t write anymore. Never thought I’d say that as a creative writer, but there it is.

First of all, I’ve had a lot of people asking me how I fared during Hurricane Ophelia. I’m good, don’t worry. We even got a “hurricane day” off from school. It knocked down a few trees here, but it’s nothing a girl raised in Idaho, Gale-Force Winds Capital of the World, can’t handle. It hit Cork and Galway pretty good, apparently – but still nothing compared to what the people in Puerto Rico were (and still are) going through after the hurricane over there.

Since Ophelia passed over, I have traveled to three more places – Dingle, Cork, and Killarney National Park – all of which I plan to revisit, for various reasons. Right now, though, I think I’m done with my gallivanting – at least until I go to Dublin in December and then fly home for the holidays.

 

blarney castle
Blarney Castle.

My second trip started off with a little more facepalming. We had a couple days off from classes, so a friend and I had decided to go to the Rock of Cashel for the day. I had planned the whole thing, knew all the scheduled bus times, and where to change buses. So you can imagine my surprise when we got to the bus station a little late for the 9:25 bus and were told the next one didn’t come until “half eleven” (Irish for eleven-thirty).

My friend, Katie, who is more spontaneous than me, said, “Why don’t we just go to Cork? The bus is right here.” So that’s exactly what we did. If you choose not to rent a car in Ireland, you can still get to the major cities hassle-free using Bus Eireann. Once we got there, however, we didn’t really explore the city. Instead, we just did Blarney Castle, poked around the Woolen Mills, and had lunch, all of which was very relaxing to a normally anal-retentive traveler like me. The castle gardens had been damaged by Hurricane Ophelia, and the surrounding river was swollen with rain.

blarney castle river
Anybody care for a swim?

This made a lot of areas off-limits, and it was raining hard, but exploring the castle (best one I’ve seen in Ireland so far) and kissing the Blarney Stone were pretty cool.

kissing the blarney stone
In case you’re worried about my oral hygiene, I’d like to direct your attention to the bottle of antibacterial surface cleaner in the top-right corner.

Apparently, we’re supposed to possess the gift of eloquence now. I’m waiting to get last week’s papers back to confirm this theory. But hey, Winston Churchill kissed it before becoming, well, Winston Churchill. So that’s something.

My third, and final, trip was a bus tour to the little seaside town of Dingle, and it also included a mishap, in the form of Halloween fog about three days too early. This meant that Inch Beach and Coumeenole Beach, two popular stops along the Slea Head Drive, were misty and gray instead of welcoming and turquoise. Slea Head is a popular spot for photos, and definitely worth the trip, but the ones I got that day only show a bit of the famous coast.

inch beach ireland
Inch Beach, before the fog set in really badly.

 

After our drive, we went into Dingle, which is a bit overpriced, but very cute. It was there that I ate a disgusting amount of mussels at Paudie’s (which were amazing, of course) and felt immediately sick afterward. I spent the next day in bed, but don’t worry. I would never swear off seafood – maybe just mussels for a while.

It was a little disappointing, but overall a great day. And don’t worry, I eventually went back to Dingle on a clearer day and got some better shots.

In the meantime, I do actually have studies to attend to, despite all the evidence on this blog to the contrary. When I’m not breaking my brain writing papers, I’m on campus, hanging out with my friends in the master’s program. Through several (sometimes heated) discussions about politics, we’ve discovered that we have a lot of differences. We come from so many different countries: Palestine, Malawi, Turkey, Sweden. And you know what? That’s okay. It’s kind of everybody’s instinct to stay away from people who come from other cultures and countries, because we may think their customs and habits are weird, or even rude. But once you actually sit down and talk to them, you find out that they like the exact same things you do. They want to be liked and respected. They’re worried about term papers, too. And sometimes they get lost on buses.

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