WEEK 7: DUBLIN TRIP

February 27th, 2015

TODAY THE NEFCY FAMILY ARRIVES IN IRELAND. I sat by the window of my hostel like a puppy, anxiously looking up and down the street through the window for a glimpse of the Nefcy fam making their way. Not having cell phone service makes it difficult to be able to meet up with people (obviously) and my fingers were crossed that they were okay and on time. And they were!! I saw them come through the door and I burst into tears as I tackled them. Everyone was looking a little bleary eyed and exhausted, but we made a beeline for Starbucks and walked around Dublin to wake up a bit. We found a lovely place to eat lunch (it was called The Church, it was a refurbished cathedral turned into a bar/restaurant/night club) and the fam had a long needed dose of fish n’ chips with pints of Guinness.

After lunch we wandered around (taking the occasional break in a pub with pints of Guinness and Smithwicks, you know, for strength) and then made our way to the hotel. Watching my parents figure out the European GPS (we have called her Una, she’s a right piece of shite), drive on the left side of the road in a stick shift, AND figure out what street to turn on when there are no street names was immensely entertaining. We left Jared and Molly in the hotel to sleep (they were getting grumpy), and the rest of us went to the Guinness Storehouse. The Guinness Storehouse was AWESOME. The facility is stunning and it really is an amazing exhibit. My favorite part was the Gravity Bar at the top. It was a 360 room made entirely of glass and you were poured a complimentary (and perfect) pint of Guinness while you could look out at the entire city of Dublin.

Tonight also marks the last day all of the Aquinas students will be all together, so we all went on one last pub crawl togther before people left for spring break travels the next day. We even took AJ along (he’s legal here!) and had some good craic out on the town.
Cheers,
Taylor

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WEEK 7: DUBLIN TRIP

February 26th, 2015

The next morning, feeling much better about the pub crawl festivities after a hearty full Irish breakfast, we went on a bus tour of the whole city. The sun was out and we sat on the open top of the bus as we listened to our bus driver tell us about all the main stops, while everyone excitedly marked in their maps what they wanted to see later.

When we got off the bus, everyone was free to see whatever they wanted. My first stop was Kilmainham Jail, a historic site in which the1916 Easter Uprising leaders were executed. Before we left for Dublin, I had to give a summary of Kilmainham to the class, so to actually visit the jail after researching it was incredible. Right now, I was stepping into our history books, walking along the stone floors that Parnell, Clarke, Pearse, and Connolly walked on. The saddest part of the tour was when we passed the chapel inside the jail. Here, Joseph Plunkett married Grace Gifford two hours before he was executed.

My spirits were lifted after the tour because I would soon be meeting one of my old YMCA Camp Roger friends by the spire on O’Connell street. It still blows my mind that I was getting to meet up with Niall two years later after camp. He looked the same and hadn’t changed a bit, and we headed straight for the nearest pub to catch up over some pitchers of beer. Afterward, Niall took me on a tour of Trinity College (where he graduated from). The architecture of the buildings were stunning, and it was fascinating to be able to go inside all of the buildings. We then walked along Grafton Street and passed by various shopping malls, and then (INSERT MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE DAY) Niall took me to go get a margarita. A FROZEN MARGARITA. It was amazing. It was satisfying. I was happy happy. And everybody back at the hostel was extremely jealous.

In the evening, we went to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Abbey Theatre. As a theatre major, being able to step inside the Abbey Theatre founded by W.B.Yeats was absolutely amazing. It was a stunning space. The interpretation of the play, in my opinion, wasn’t quite what I was expecting and I don’t quite agree with it (ask me about it in person), but regardless it was a wonderful night out and a perfect way to end the day.

Cheers,
Taylor

WEEK 7: DUBLIN TRIP

February 25th, 2015

Today we made our way to Dublin, feeling excited (and sleep deprived) and anxious to be starting our spring break adventures. We also have been learning all about the famous historical sites in Dublin during our class lectures, and we couldn’t wait to see them in person. On the way to Dublin, we stopped at Clonmacnoise in County Offaly and Newgrange in County Meath. Clonmacnoise was founded in 544 and sits stragetically on the river Shannon. Over the years, it was a central location for religion, crafts, and trading purposes. Today we saw the ruins of the site, with century old Celtic crosses scattering the landscape. Newgrange, however, was my favorite stop. Newgrange is a megalithic passage tomb built around 3200 BC, where the only passageway leads to a chamber that can only be lit by the winter solstice sunrise.

After living in rural Tully Cross for the past two months, we were excited to experience the city life of Dublin. A few of us had been to the city of Galway for a weekend, but this was different. We were in the heart of Dublin and we had three full days to explore on our own. We also could not contain our excitement as we passed not one, but two Chinese buffets on the way to our hostel.

We unpacked our bags in our hostel (free wifi throughout the WHOLE building, what a luxury) and immediately set foot for the nearest Chinese buffet. It was fifteen euro for the whole meal (it was expensive, but we didn’t care) and I ate as many crab rangoons, teriyaki sticks, sweet and sour chicken, and strawberry jello cups as I possibly could. In all honesty, the buffet was probably really terrible, but we had been craving Chinese food for so long it tasted like the best thing in the world.

After dinner, we remembered that we had the whole night ahead of us and we were free to do whatever we wanted. When we got back to the hostel we asked a guy at the front desk where we should go for drinks and instead he gave us a brochure for a pub crawl that happened every night (awesome). So we went on the pub crawl and what happens in Dublin stays in Dublin. I’ll leave it at that. Be sure to ask Annie about the Dublin bridge, if you get a chance.

Cheers,
Taylor

WEEK 6: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CLAIRE!

February 18th, 2015 

Today Cottage 5 celebrated the 21st birthday of our beloved roommate, Claire O’Brien. Since she isn’t able to be with her close friends and family back home, we wanted to make her birthday extra special! Party hats, check. Balloons, check. Beads, check. Birthday banner, check. Chicken nuggets, check. We set up a drink scavenger hunt for Claire before we went to Veldon’s for open mic night to celebrate. Each cottage provided a different drink – and Sammon’s and Coyne’s even participated too!

Cheers to Claire and cheers to more Ireland adventures!

Taylor

WEEK 5: VALENTINE’S DAY

February 14th, 2015

In addition to the lectures we had up in Northern Ireland, we had a language lesson and learned some Gaelic phrases. In light of Valentine’s Day, here is a little Gaelic lesson for you!

So the Irish language does not use love as a verb, so instead of saying “I love you”, you say “I have love for you”, or “I’m in love with you.”

“Tá grá agam duit” (ta gra ag-um ditch) I have love for you.
“Tá mé I ngrá leat” (ta may ingra lyat) I’m in love with you.

And, (our personal favorite that made the whole room go “awwww”) if you want to ask someone for a hug, you can’t, because the Irish language does not have an actual word for hug. So instead, the literal translation is asking someone if you can place your heart on theirs (Tabhair croì isteach dom).

Sending love to our family and friends from Ireland!

Cheers,
Taylor

WEEK 5: GALENTINE’S DAY

February 13th, 2015

In light of Valentine’s Day, that 20 out of the 22 students here are girls, and that we are terribly missing our favorite show in the whole world Parks and Rec, we are celebrating lady friends today! All the girls got dressed up, brought a dish to share at cottage 7 and as our invitation said, “we will be having brinner (breakfast for dinner!! WOOP WOOP!!), mimosas, giggles, and girl talk!”

I went into Clifden yesterday to pick up some sharing dishes for Galentine’s Day. We decided to make puppy chow (it turned out AMAZINGLY, and it’s very addictive), even though we were a bit nervous that it wouldn’t work because the ingredients are slightly different. I spent a good chunk of time wandering through Aldi in search of powdered sugar, only to discover they call it “icing sugar” instead. We also had some Irish pork sausages that we grilled up to bring (and they too, were delicious).

When we got to cottage 7, two dinner tables had been pushed together, candles were lit, flowers were on the table, and we had a Valentine’s Day playlist on Spotify playing. It was absolutely adorable (thank you cottage 7 for being lovely hosts!!) and everyone looked so beautiful and we feasted on french toast, sausage, eggs, fried potatoes, mimosas, and for dessert we had chocolate covered strawberries, puppy chow, and chocolate peanut butter bars. Happy Galentine’s day to you! A celebration of all things girly! It was SO much fun!

Cheers,
Taylor

WEEK 5: “HUNGER” PLAY

February 12th, 2015

Tonight we had a performance of Hunger: A Dramatic Recital for Two Voices written by Eamon Grennan and performed by Tegolin Knowland (Roz, my internship coordinator) and Sean Coyne (my other internship coordinator). They performed in the living room of cottage 4 (it had a bit more space than the study cottage) and needed only four stools and a blanket as props. The play brought to light the more human aspect of the potato famine – giving moving performances on the accounts of men and women, families, priests, landlords, and farmers – and focusing not so much on the statistics and numbers of the tragedy, but rather the religious, political, and social tensions that rocked the Irish people. One particular scene stood out to me when they were describing how there were so many bodies to be buried, that they couldn’t dig deep or wide enough graves and the bodies couldn’t be covered up all the way. And that coffins were reused over and recycled because there were so many deaths.

Roz and Sean have performed Hunger all over Europe and in the United States as well. They believe the piece to have significance because it can raise awareness of famine across the globe. Ireland received famine relief from other countries, and since then have made it a point to provide famine relief across the globe. You can see the passion behind the writing and acting of Hunger, that this isn’t just a play, it’s a call to action. We will be seeing more performances from Roz and Sean throughout the semester, and since I intern with them I will also be able to see behind the scenes a bit of their rehearsal process!

Cheers,
Taylor

WEEK 5: OPEN MIC NIGHT

February 11th, 2015

Tonight at Veldon’s Bar and Restaurant there was an Open Mic Night! And, they provided a free shuttle bus for all the American students there and back to Tully Cross when the bar closed, AND a free drink ticket, AND free food! (They had the most amazing wings, sausages, chicken nuggets and potato wedges). They had a live band playing some traditional Irish songs, and then as the night went on more and more people went up and started singing songs. There was one singer in particular who did a fantastic acoustic version of Pumped Up Kicks. I sang a song, so did darling Kristen, and so did Emily Ambs! It was really fun and we will definitely be going back again. Shout out to Anne who “lost” her phone when it was really in her back pocket the whole time. Thank you so much to Veldon’s for reaching out to us!! We had a blast!

This week has many festivities ahead! Open Mic Night was tonight, seeing a play tomorrow night, a dance party in Sammon’s tomorrow night (they call them ‘discos’), Galentine’s Day on Friday (to celebrate all gal things with gals – getting dressed up and making breakfast for dinner, complete with mimosas!), Valentine’s Day on Saturday and some 21st birthday celebrations as well!

Cheers,
Taylor

WEEK 5: INTERNSHIP

February 11th, 2015

While I am here in Ireland, I also have the incredible opportunity to have an internship. There is a wide variety of internships students here participate in, but mine specifically is with Curlew Theatre in Clifden. It took a while to get some of the paperwork sorted out, but I will be working in three different locations during the semester. I will be working at Aillebrack National School helping teach improv and drama games to students, as well as working at a disabled care facility – Ability West: Providing Services and Supports to People with an Intellectual Disability (www.abilitywest.ie) – for engagement and movement exercises. In addition to the work at the school and the care facility, I will also be working on social media for Curlew Theatre (it was very amusing trying to explain to my internship coordinators Roz and Sean what Instagram and Twitter was) as well as seeking out performance opportunities for Curlew Theatre across the country.

I had my first day of my internship last week at the disabled care center, and it was an absolutely incredible experience. We met some wonderful people (Kitty, Mary, Patrick, John, Anne, Sally Anne, and Julie) and they made me feel like I could never stop smiling and that my heart could burst. We did some movement games with them (my favorite being: “I have a present”, where you mime opening a present, acting out what is inside, and everyone has to guess) as well as I got to listen to a lovely poem about spring that they wrote themselves and made sound effects with instruments. I will get to see them all once a week, and when we left I got the biggest hugs and kisses I have ever received.

Today, I went to the schools for the first time and we drove past Clifden down a long winding road along the coast to an area called Aillebrack. We pulled up to the school – a tiny yellow building not much bigger than one of our cottages – and went into the “junior” room, where we were greeted by adorable four and five-year olds in tiny maroon sweaters (jumpers) who were so excited for drama class they couldn’t even stay in their seats. (While we were getting set up, a young boy turned to the girl next to him and said very seriously “Hey. Are we dreaming right now?” and she replied with a pondering look on her face, “Hmm. I don’t know. Are we?” I can’t wait to hear what more wacky things these kids will say!). For the first activity, we all stood in a circle and sang a song “Hello, hello, sing hello, hello, sing hello, hello, sing hello”, and then Roz would sing “Hello, Sean” and tiny Sean would squeak “Hello!!” and so on with all of the students. We also acted out a story book about a farmer trying to pull up a giant turnip, and then later we went around the room saying what we were most looking forward to for spring. My heart melted as they all exclaimed with excitement “primroses!” “little sheep baaing for their mummies!!” “cows!!” “cycling with my daddy on the beach!” “snow drops!!” “Gaelic football!!” “going to the beach!!” “puppies!!” “horsies!!”. It was adorable and I was practically a puddle on the floor. Next week I get to teach the little ones some camp songs and I am SO excited! (Boom Chicka Boom, anyone?)

We then went to another classroom with some older students (I think they were 11 and 12 year olds) and they performed a skit for us about what they were learning in their history lesson. A particularly bright group of girls had gone above and beyond expectations with lines and the props they brought in (they even had a fresh-baked loaf of brown bread with jam and butter to put in the fake oven) and I had to stifle my laughter as they casually exclaimed “Oh, Christ!” and “Jaysis!! (Jesus)” in some of their lines. It was really amazing to see all of these students, both the junior students and the older ones, jump wholeheartedly into these activities Roz asks them to do. Next week, I will get to lead them in some improv games, and I can’t wait for that!

Since our internship is in Clifden, we get picked up by Roz or Sean and get a lift into town (this is nice because normally people have to walk to their internships, AND Clifden has better and bigger grocery stores, so I won’t ever have to worry about shopping!). My internship is on Wednesdays and Thursdays only for an hour or so each day, but it has now become the thing I am most looking forward to.

Seriously guys, these kids are the cutest little nuggets of the world you’ll ever see. I’m in love.

Cheers,
Taylor

WEEK 4: GLASSILAUN BEACH

February 4th, 2015

This morning I woke up early, made a fire, and sat in the living room drinking tea and reading. Our professor Dan came and knocked on the door, asking if our cottage wanted to go on a hike to the beach. I was the only one up (we celebrated a little too hard for our first night back in Tully Cross), the sun was out, and it would be a perfect beach day.

As we pulled up to Glassilaun Beach, a hush went over everyone in the car as we took in the stunning view. Words cannot capture how it looked and how we felt. We walked along the beach, slowly breaking away from each other and exploring on our own.

I picked up shell after shell and rocks I thought looked interesting (my backpack and pockets are full of sand now), taking picture after picture trying to capture the incredible view. We were surrounded by sand, by rocks, by the mountains and hills, and I could have stayed forever. The wind was cold but the sun was warm and I felt perfectly happy.

I cannot explain how I felt – I wanted to cry, I wanted to sing, I wanted to laugh – all at the same time. The view was too beautiful to be true, and once again I was reminded that I am supposed to be here. That coming here was the right decision. That coming here was the right path.

Cheers,
Taylor