Kerry, Kilkenny, Kentucky (pick two)

UPDATE: New photos from Kilkenny Castle!

Hey lads. Sorry for the delay – I try not to delude myself into thinking that lots of people are sitting around waiting for another post, but I know my family at least likes to know I’m still alive. It’s become increasingly hard not to feel like I’m living for the weekend, in writing more than in reality – I enjoy the little moments of dinners with my flatmates and reading folktales and practicing Irish and meeting up with friends on campus, but they’re not great blog material. I promise I don’t just sit around and vegetate Monday through Friday!

That said, here’s last weekend! Went to County Kerry with the UCD Mountaineering Club, hiked in the Gap of Dunloe and met some great horses (and people). Cue EPIC PHOTO SEQUENCE…!!!!

We left Dublin at 7pm Friday, and our first stop was naturally at the Barack Obama Plaza in Moneygall.

Yes, it’s a real thing.

It’s literally a service plaza with a Barack Obama museum in it.

That’s debatableIMG_20151002_204910503


Dunno what this guy was doing there
Dunno what this guy was doing there

You could even get a commemorative Irish Obama coin.

in this convenient machine!
in this convenient machine!

Apparently the story is that Barack’s great-great-grandfather or somebody was from Moneygall and the prez came to visit one time so it’s a big deal. Anyway, they had real nice bathrooms, so five stars, would recommend, would visit again (and indeed we did, on the way back).

Round about midnight (12:30?) we arrived at a little restaurant/pub/gift shop called Kate Kearney’s Cottage in the Gap of Dunloe, and were told that our coach bus couldn’t make it any farther up the road, although our hostel was still 9 km away. After our fearless leaders decided that walking 9 km in the dark and fog and cold was a bad idea, we all piled inside and sat next to this authentic peat fireIMG_20151003_241733109

and also this candle


while two cars shuttled people to the hostel. I spent a couple hours making friends with some other international girls, and we finally got to the hostel at 2:30 after a truly exhilarating 9-km ride down a hilly, windy, bouldery one-lane road in the fog with a driver named James who assured us that even though it had only been 10 minutes since his last drink, it’s okay because it was just whiskey. Happy to be alive and in the same building as all the food I packed, I managed to stake a claim on a bed (a real feat in a 35-bed hostel booked for nearly 70 people), eat an ungodly amount of pasta, and stay awake until 4:30 playing silly games and going for nighttime strolls. Awakened at 9am by a bugle three feet from my head, I was initiated into the Breakfast Society of Weetabix (they’re so weird but so delicious) and then the hiking group set off for another day of things like this foggy morning:IMG_20151003_122358303 (1) IMG_20151003_115113731 IMG_20151003_114830482 IMG_20151003_122510553IMG_20151003_111429168_HDRIMG_20151003_133126811

breathtaking when the sun started burning off the fog!
IMG_20151003_133640531_HDR (1)
Can you believe that this place is real?

And this decent view of Killarney:


And this old house:


And sitting on a squishy hill with new friends!

IMG_20151003_154256367 IMG_20151003_154329917IMG_20151003_160319645

This is a good point to mention that clicking on the photo shows it full-size

Here’s a map if you’re interested. We climbed Purple Mountain and the other one whose name I can’t read on this map, and I think we were in MacGillycuddy’s Reeks for a bit too, just for the name. Also I caught a frog but it jumped out of my hand right before we were going to photograph it. It was red and had gold eyes and was stickier than American frogs. We were buddies. It was a great three minutes of friendship. Really.

The next day we walked the 9 km up the road out of the valley, which looked like this:

Had to stop to scramble up some hills, of course!
Molly and I approach a sheep
The sheep retreats

IMG_20151004_125957877_HDR IMG_20151004_130045219_HDR IMG_20151004_132543116

Horse friend!
oh hi sir
ooh apple plz can i have

And finally we reached Kate Kearney’s for soup (I’ll let you in on a secret – the soup of the day in Ireland is always “vegetable,” meaning “a creamy yellow puree of tasty goodness”) and Baileys hot chocolate. My new buddy Aoife and I were offered a lift from two guys on motorcycles, which we reflexively declined and then immediately regretted, because it would have been so cool to come roaring up to Kate Kearney’s on motorcycles. But there was some satisfaction in reaching the place under our own power and filling ourselves with hot liquids anyway.IMG_20151004_152501112_HDR (1)

Then, I actually did a thing or two this week! Besides going to the climbing gym three days in a row, failing my belay test, and looking at pollen through a microscope, I also had dinner with the other Cru Abroad girls at a staff member’s house, and saw this rather menacing chapel on the way:


And I ate this terrible candy

It tastes like fake rose perfume

And one day the sky on campus looked like this

IMG_20151005_163815262 (1)
But it didn’t rain!

And on Friday I went to the Science Gallery at Trinity College with a friend. The most (or least) photogenic part of their exhibit called “SECRET” was this jacket that refracts camera flashes away from you:

promise that’s me


So everything except the jacket is just black. Kind of creepy, but so cool – if I ever become famous I want one of these. There was a scarf that did the same thing too.

Also this giant paper pixel screen was fun – you could go behind it and it pixelated your shadow.received_10153671532972277

Saturday (yesterday) I did a day trip to the medieval city of Kilkenny with the UCD study abroad office. We saw a cathedral with one of only two round towers in Ireland:
IMG_20151010_121207522_HDR IMG_20151010_121215075_HDR

Which was full and then CLOSED FOR LUNCH so I couldn’t climb it. So bummed. But the cathedral was pretty nice inside too.

IMG_20151010_121827454 (1)


Google Photos made me this nice artsy thing.

Thanks, Google.

We also saw the Black Abbey, a 12th century building:


Arguably more impressive from the inside – Mom, this was a real deal with individual leaded (and painted) pieces instead of your usual big painted rectangles!

And here’s a tiny model of Kilkenny in case you were curious.


We also went to Kilkenny Castle, which you’re not allowed to take photos inside of, but I let a new friend with a real camera do the outdoor pics.

Me and Val the camera gal
what castle?
my new glamour shot
actually a decent castle though


That’s all for the moment. This blog thing is a lot of work, and I have an essay due next weekend (Assignment No. 2 of the whole semester – Yalies, you’ve got it rough!). Enjoyed a slow day today – church, lunch at Queen of Tarts in Temple Bar with a Cru Abroad sister, city centre sightseeing and grocery shopping. Ready to jump full-speed into another week of doing things, with a trip to London at the end!

If you made it this far, here’s a question: is it terrible and annoying for the photos to be so small? Bonus tiny food photos:

Sometimes you’re just too hungry to photograph your mushroom-dill avocado toast before you start eating it
Did homemade alfredo sauce that Kim said was “better than Olive Garden”
Classic veg soup at The Marble City Tea Rooms in Kilkenny, but with three kinds of bread!
Fruit tart at KC Peaches on Nassau St
Smoked bacon and potato things with eggs and relish and tomato at Queen of Tarts in Temple Bar

2 thoughts on “Kerry, Kilkenny, Kentucky (pick two)

  1. Another wonderful blog post! So sorry you couldn’t climb the round tower – I know how you like high places.
    The small pics are fine, since most (why not all?) can be enlarged by clicking on them (but not the map and a few others). BTW, when you click on some, the previous pic is enlarged instead (click on the ominous sky and get a big candy bar!?).
    Keep exploring and posting so we can vicariously enjoy the wonders of Ireland!


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