At the Edge of the World

So the first week of classes are over. I’ve chosen my modules (not courses), and I’m doing all my reading, even though I forgot how boring academic writing can be (antecedent variables, anyone?).

On the plus side, there are a bunch of cool people in my program, which should make our discussions interesting. We have students from Ireland, Germany, Belgium, France, Malawi, England, and Russia, in addition to the States. One thing about Europe is that they really encourage students to learn new languages and experience other cultures, which I think is important.

There are still a few things I don’t think I’ll ever get used to, and most of them have to do with driving on the left side of the road. I keep freaking out because I think there’s no one driving cars or that the drivers are texting their way to a six-car pileup. Sometimes I try to get in on the right side of the bus, which might as well be a neon sign that says, “I don’t know what’s going on. Definitely take my wallet.” So far that hasn’t happened, because Irish people are nice.

This past weekend, a friend and I decided to take a tour to the Cliffs of Moher. Along the way, we stopped by the Burren, Ireland’s natural karst landscape, and took in sites like Poulnabrone, a dolmen tomb whose name translates to “hole of sorrow.”

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All I can hear when I look at this is Eowyn belting out a funeral song.

After we skirted Galway Bay, I got my first view of the Atlantic. The only way I can describe it is…cold.

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So cold.

The cliffs were the single most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. The greenery even manages to grow on the rocks, and the sea around the rock is a beautiful turquoise. I felt like I was at the edge of the world, because the cliffs drop straight down and there’s nothing on the horizon.

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This is my favorite view. On top of the cliff, you can see O’Brien’s Tower, which was built by the landlord, Cornelius O’Brien, so that his guests could enjoy the view wind-free. I wasn’t so lucky.

Today, I didn’t have class, so I thought I’d continue the adventures. I’d heard that Adare is Ireland’s prettiest village, and it’s only 12 kilometers from Limerick.

First up was a tour of Desmond Castle, built by the invading Normans in 1202.

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I learned a lot:

  • There was a guy who was actually paid to clean castle cesspools. He sold the urine to tanners and the poop as fertilizer, so he was actually pretty rich and respected.
  • The Normans were only about five feet tall on average. And I thought it was hard finding tall guys in 2017.
  • The reason toilets used to be called garderobes is because people used to hang their clothes in there. The natural ammonia wafting over from people’s…deposits…killed the lice and bugs. This is why ammonia is used in dry-cleaning today.

You’re welcome.

Adare has three old friaries. The first is the Trinitarian, which is the only Trinitarian building in Ireland, built in 1230.

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The Augustinian friary, St. Nicholas’, is now a boys’ primary school, and has a beautiful cloister walk:

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I didn’t make it out to the Franciscan ruins, because they’re on the golf course, and I didn’t want to tramp through it in the rain. I did see the original thatched cottages that give the village its moniker as prettiest, though.

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I was eating lunch in Aunty Lena’s pub with some other Americans from my tour group who’d just arrived last night. They said they were only here for a week. I can’t imagine having so little time here. I’m so grateful for the opportunity I have to experience the culture and people fully.

Well, I’ve procrastinated as long as I could. Got to go read a book chapter about neorealism.

 

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