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

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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

WEEK 4: NORTHERN IRELAND (DAY 6)

February 2nd, 2015

I went for an 8 mile run this morning before our second day trip into Derry and I was stopped by several people who were horrified I was running in the snow. On the way to Derry we stopped at St. Aengus Church on the way there; it was modeled after a ring fort up the hill. The whole structure is a circle, with stunning stained glass lining the entire thing. When we walked inside, Tony started to sing Amazing Grace and we all joined in. The acoustics were awesome and rang throughout the whole church. At the center of the ceiling above the altar, the ceiling had curved up into a tunnel that let in natural light. After everyone had left to head back for the bus, I stayed behind and sang Amazing Grace by myself. I felt at peace and I felt like crying. I could feel my Grandma Theresa with me.

We then went into a fancy hotel and Tony bought us all fresh tea and scones before the long day in Derry. The scones were hot and fresh, and came with homemade whipped cream, butter, and strawberry jam. I was feeling really tired from my run this morning, and this was a perfect pick-me-up.

When we arrived in Derry we were given some free time before we met up with John Guthrey. Anne, Claire and I found an adorable cafe called The Scullery and we bought a soup and salad combo for six pounds. I had a delicious potato soup paired with a toasted BLT (HEAVEN). We wandered around Waterloo street and looked in all the consignment shops (I found a cute cocktail dress for four pounds!)

We then went as a group to the Playhouse Theatre to meet Pauline Ross, the Director of Operations. We watched a short film documenting their most recent project (Theatre Witness), where people from all sides of the Northern Ireland conflict come together to share their story on a theatrical stage. For some of these people, they had never shared their story before, so Pauline talked about how this project was a healing process for them.

We were then given a tour of the facility, and I got the chance to speak to Pauline on my own. As a theatre and business major, this was particularly interesting for me. We talked for a while about how theatre can make an impact on society, and how it is important to use theatre as a means of communicating important perspectives. It was truly inspiring visiting the theatre; talking with Pauline about her story of bringing the Playhouse Theatre to be successful made me feel like I am on the right path with what I want to do after graduation.

We headed back to the Inch House for our final night in the North. We were treated to a performance by a darling girl named Molly, who played the harp for us, sang some Irish songs in Gaelic, and taught us some basic Irish dance steps (it was hilarious to watch). When we walked into the kitchen for dinner, the table had been covered with a white table-cloth, lit candles, and bottles of wine. We were served Guinness stew with mashed potatoes and homemade apple pie for dessert (I was very happy).

We all went around the table and each said our “thorn and rose of the week”, getting teary eyed and sentimental as we shared what impacted us the most on this trip. Darling Courtney sadly lost her grandfather a few days ago (and his funeral was today), and she held back her tears as she talked about how she has been struggling for the past few days. We all raised our glasses to her grandfather, we could feel him with us. Another student, Josh, had a sister who passed away before semester started and she had requested her ashes be spread at Dunluce castle. We raised our glasses again, and she was with us too.

Tomorrow we head back to Tully Cross, and strangely, we miss so much about it. We didn’t think we would miss it, but we did. This was our first trip away from Tully Cross and we can’t wait to be back home.

Cheers,
Taylor

WEEK 4: NORTHERN IRELAND (DAY 5)

February 1st, 2015

Today we were supposed to go to Belfast, but there was some snow and ice on the roads, so Tony said we shouldn’t take the bus up because it was too dangerous. To us Michiganders, the “ice and snow” that was on the road was barely anything, but Tony was in charge and said that we couldn’t go.

It was a little disappointing because we were all excited to go to Belfast, but it was also nice to have a day to relax at the Inch House. Some of us went to the local church down the road, some went to explore the beach, and after lunch Tara and I brought our comforters and pillows into the living room and found Dead Poet’s Society on VHS.

When people got back from the beach (everyone was soaking wet up to their knees because the tide came in too quickly and they had to do a surprise swim back to shore) Tony drove us into town to give us a tour of a local fort. It was beautiful weather and the sun was setting over the ocean, it was a lovely way to end the day.

Cheers,
Taylor

WEEK 3: NORTHERN IRELAND (DAY 4)

January 31st, 2015

Today we went to Dunluce Castle and Giant’s Causeway. As we drove along the coast, the wind was so strong that it shook the bus and the spray from the waves hit the windows. We stopped at Portrush Golf Course (one of the oldest courses in Ireland) for our professor Dan because he is a big golfer. I think this trip has been difficult for him because since he broke his leg (literally the first week he arrived in Ireland) he hasn’t been able to do the things he wanted to, like play golf. He looked like a kid on Christmas – he was grinning from ear to ear as he hobbled onto the course to take a few pictures. (I secretly scooped up a handful of sand in a bag and I’ll give it to Dan later as a present).

When we reached the castle, the wind was so strong it was actually knocking people over. There were definitely some hilarious videos and pictures taken. The wind made my face completely numb – pretty sure I was drooling at one point and couldn’t feel it. There was a narrow stairway that went around the castle, which led to a cave and the ocean. It gave us a bit of a break from the wind, and it felt like a marathon trying to climb the stairs against the wind.

Giant’s Causeway was absolutely stunning – John Guthrey walked with us and when we arrived we were hit by the most painful hailstorm (again, it’s becoming a normal occurrence). The ocean foam was built up along the shoreline and the gusts of wind would blow the pieces of foam in the air and it looked like pillow feathers. I wish that the weather wasn’t so bad, I wanted to stay and climb the rocks more. It felt like the scene from Family Vacation when they arrive at the Grand Canyon. I saw the rocks, the hail was incredibly painful, and I went back on the bus almost immediately. It was stunning though, and my family will go later in March, so hopefully the weather is better! Treated myself to some cheese and onion crisps (I’m addicted) and some tea to warm up.

Cheers,
Taylor