Our first stop in Ireland was a tour of one of country’s most significant national monuments, Kilmainham Gaol. Prior to Kilmainham, Ireland’s jails held all prisoners in a single, large room. Men, women, and children stayed together. Over time, government officials learned that this incarceration system turned petty offenders into hardened criminals. A new “panoptic” prison design eliminated the architectural barriers to surveillance and allowed prison guards to better monitor the jail’s inmates.
Today was our second day working with our Irish counterparts. We are able to work diligently in completing our presentation. It was very easy to work with my teammates due to our great dynamic. We were really comfortable working with each other and continue to provide feedback while working on the presentation. I really enjoyed getting to know my teammates, so saying bye was rather difficult. However, we planned to keep in touch through the various social networks. Also, since we also share the similar interests in traveling we may end up seeing them again.
Today, was a very insightful day visiting London Derry or Derry as some would call it. Learning about the Irish history was truly an exceptional experience. The most interesting part of the day to me was learning about what occurred on Bloody Sunday through the eyes of John McCourt. Walking on the same pavement that the event occurred was rather eye opening. With the pictures and the vivid description of the event, it was easy to connect and be in the moment. The silence was intriguing after the experience. Not a word was uttered for about the first minute after the experience was over. The most memorable quote that stood out to me during the talk was “This is where it happened.”
The Ireland trip was not only the best spring break I have ever done, but the best trip of my life overall. There is so much to talk about – but many of my fellow classmates blogs have covered most of the events we participated in and lessons we learned. For that reason, I would like to talk about something different. I would like to expand on the development of relationships with classmates on the trip.
I wanted to wait until St Patricks Day to write my final blog. Most of the students left on Saturday, but several of us stayed to enjoy the festivities. Before I left for Ireland, someone told me that St. Patricks Day wasn’t that big of a deal in Ireland. But I had to see for myself. To my delight, that someone was wrong, St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland is the biggest celebration I’ve ever seen in my life. I almost did not make it to the parades and daytime activities because I was a bit exhausted from the night before and the trip overall. I’m so glad that I pushed myself to go though. All my fellow UVA students getting ready and excited created enough energy inside me as well. When we headed towards the city centre, the streets were a sea of green. Both the Irish and people from all over the world joined together to watch the parades. Being very short as I am, I wasn’t able to see much except by watching the jumbo screen. I loved all the creative costumes and the atmosphere. After the parades we were pleased to find the celebrations continued and the streets were filled with live music on every corner turn.
After a four-hour bus ride, two international flights, a whirlwind 18-hour stop in London, and a snowy drive back to Charlottesville, I’m happy to say I’m finally back home! Though it’s nice to be back at school, I’m already having Ireland-withdrawals. The last half of our trip to Donegal and our stay at Inch House was easily my favorite part of the trip because we were able to see what my UCD classmates referred to as “the real Ireland.” The combination of fascinating speakers and incredible sightseeing trips to places like Giant’s Causeway were an exciting way to top off our week in Ireland. Here is a list of some of my favorite moments from the entire trip:
With a jam-packed schedule for our last day in Ireland, there was no time left to reflect. First stop was a ring fort aging over 4000 years old, purpose- unknown. After a brief exploration of the fort, we were off to our next stop- a classy lunch at 55 Degrees North. However, with some time to spare, we were able to wander about the small town and the Antrim Coast. The locals were extremely friendly and greeted us as we explored the small shops and arcades. I even made a new friend.
After leaving Inch Island at 3:30am on Saturday morning to get to Dublin airport, four of us went to London for a day. So after being out of the U.S. for 10 days, I have made it back home in one piece. Spring break came and went so quickly that it is nice now to have a moment to reflect. This was by far one of the best trips I have gone on. So great, in fact, that I can’t even pick out a favorite part of the trip because I enjoyed all of it so much and it was all so different. On the first day we saw the Book of Kales in Dublin and on the last day we saw Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. And somewhere in between we did a case competition, did a walking tour of Derry, went to the Guinness factory, and so much more.
We stayed at Inch House at Inch Island. On March 13th, we visited Derry, the second-largest city in Northern Ireland. Conflicts have long existed in the history of Derry because of historical, political and religion issues. After a walk on the Peace Bridge across the River Foyle, we started exploring the history of the city by visiting Derry City Walls. From there, we saw the Protestant areas and the Catholic Bogside.
What a day.
The final full day of the trip was by far the best. We began the day by exploring a 4,000 year old ring-fort that offered up some amazing views, despite the cold and high winds. However, this was just the beginning. After lunch overlooking the sea, we headed to Giant’s Causeway. This is a rock formation that legend says was formed by the giant Finn McCool as a means of reaching Scotland. Whether this is true or not does not matter: the place is absolutely amazing. The formation consists of thousands of hexagonal shaped pillars that spread out towards the sea. Combine these with some spectacular views of cliffs and you have a naturally beautiful scene that has to be seen in person to be truly appreciated.