ireland

County Clare

Camp week has finished.  A wonderful time, and stories for another day.

Sunday, I found myself back in Galway with the American camp counselors and Darren the Dubliner.  The afternoon was spent mostly wandering looking for somewhere to eat, and then an adventure at a castle near Oughterard before a very late dinner at the excellent Powers Thatched Pub. Eat here.  The food is incredible.

Monday, we awoke and headed into Galway town.  The other Americans had not seen it, so a tour of the Latin Quarter, Eyre Square, and the Claddagh commenced.

Never a lack of amazing street entertainment!

Never a lack of amazing street entertainment!

A road trip next, through County Clare.  Narrow country roads fenced by hedges and stone walls, stretching on for miles as the landscape bends with the Atlantic ocean.  Laughter as the other Americans decide Darren and I should star in a bank heist movie together.  Then, we pass an alpaca farm, and Darren slams on the brakes. "Alpacas!  I've never seen them in real life!"  We stop and spend twenty minutes with the herd.  A Frenchman and his two children, Charles and Marguerite, join us.  Little Marguerite, undaunted, runs to the alpacas and attempts to feed them.  They remain cautiously curious.

Alpacas do not like oat cakes, it would seem.

Alpacas do not like oat cakes, it would seem.

Onwards we go, to the Cliffs of Moher.  Our resident Dubliner chides us for incorrectly pronouncing the Cliffs as More.  "It's Mo-HER, lads!"

An unusually sunny yet predictably windy day greets us at the top of the cliffs.  Grateful for the sunshine and powerful winds, we wander slowly along the cliffs, stopping to lay in the grass or photograph another amazing perspective, different enough from the one provided just a few hundred feet before.

Too soon, we must be on our way.  Our journey ends at the bus station in Ennis, from which I head south to begin my next journey in County Kerry.  A heartfelt farewell, complete with car horn honking and excited waving out passenger windows, pushes my fellow travelers back to Galway and then to Dublin for their final two days in this wonderful country.

The adventure continues, and God gives abundant gifts.

All Creation shall sing

All Creation shall sing

Eire Calling

I grew up being told I would study abroad in college.  There wasn't any choice in the matter.  It was going to happen.

Somehow, it was the music of Ireland that called me to that country.  I remember watching the VHS tapes of Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance in elementary school.  I chose the Chieftains for my seventh grade music class project.  My aunt kept buying me tin whistles and such for Christmas.

It made sense, then, to study there in the fall of 2009.  After fighting my college for the chance to go (mechanical engineers at Virginia Tech rarely go to Ireland to study), I made it to the National University of Ireland, Galway.

A wonderful four months of learning, friendships, and travel. 

Now I go again, invited by one of those friends I made nearly seven years ago. 

Torc Waterfall, Killarney

Torc Waterfall, Killarney

The first week will be an adventure as a camp counselor, walking through the Parables of Jesus with a large group of middle school-aged youngins.  Having spent hardly any time with twelve-year-olds in the past decade, this will be a bit of a jump into some sort of deep end.  Bring it.  I'll be with Nathan and Jenna again, as well as a whole mess of people that will be my friends in just a few days time.

After that, a photography tour.  Hire a car, they say.  Find a hostel, find a pub, find the craic, go on lad, get on with it.  Yes, cheers, thanks a million.  The Ring of Kerry beckons and, should some miracle occur, so do the winding steps of Skellig Michael (book your tour three months in advance, not three weeks, because Star Wars).

A retreat as well.  For the busyness here at home can eat up one's soul, even begin to suffocate it without one knowing.  Step away and breathe again.  Listen to the quiet voice in the wind who has much to say to you, dear child, if you would only pause from your striving and worrying and

simply

listen.

Inishmore, September 2009

Inishmore, September 2009