Ireland Abroad: Exploring The Island

Ireland Abroad: Exploring The Island


At the beginning of last summer, both ETP and MIS majors had the opportunity of exploring Ireland. To avoid boring my readers to tears, I’ll be writing about the landmarks we traveled to – not the classes we took! A “Maymester” is an expedited, two-week abroad course that is shorter than a normal semester abroad. We all seemed very eager to go as each of us arrived at BNA early that morning. We killed time meeting everyone going on the trip and talking about the things we were most excited for. Most of us came prepared. Blankets, pillows, and PJs were the popular items that morning. With our layover in New York City, our total travel time to Dublin was about 15 hours.  At around noon, our flight to JFK was starting to board. The excitement among our group was tangible and we were reading to get the Ireland ball rolling!

We landed in The Big Apple around 4 that afternoon. Some of us ate at restaurants, while others simply bought a plethora of snacks. In this case, I did both. What can I say? I absolutely have to eat every 2 hours. I’m high-maintenance. Although I wasn’t making the most economic choice, I was making the right one. Personally, I don’t think the other students truly realized how long we were going to be stuck on the plane. Yea, Southwest Airlines offers full entrees on flights over 4 hours. Yea, we were promised 3 separate complimentary meals. Nonetheless, I am an eating machine. I need all the food, and then some.

Trouble Sleeping

Unfortunately, I can’t sleep on anything moving. You name it: a car, train, plane. In 2017, my family and I traveled to France. The travel time for such a trip is about 11 hours. I didn’t get a single second of shut-eye – both ways. If that doesn’t prove my point, this one. In 2015, my stepbrother, stepfather, and I took a train from Chicago, all the way to Glacier National Park in Montana. Even after 3 days of choo-chooing, I didn’t get more than 5 hours of sleep. Thus, my travel-time to Dublin consisted of me portioning my remaining snacks and watching (A LOT) of movies.

As dawn rolled around, we started to see landmasses appear in our peripherals. At this time, people began emerging from their slumber. I, however, was the real trooper. With 0 hours of sleep and a few pieces of caffeine gum, I was ready to conquer the day!


Our first night in Dublin, we were staying at the Jury Inn Hotel, Christchurch – right in the heart of Dublin’s downtown. Our class had a scheduled pub crawl for that day. Nonetheless, we had about 5 hours to kill before then. This gave all the students the opportunity to explore the city’s southside. Walking from store to store was intriguing. Due to the melting pot Ireland has created with its open-arms, each and every storefront is different. For instance, this might be your typical string of storefronts there: traditional Irish, Japanese cuisine, American Cajun, and basic American. It was amazing to see them so readily embrace other cultures. It was humbling.

After exploring the incredible city, most of us got some rest for a few hours. I woke up 4 hours later more tired than before. Knowing that a pub crawl was in our near future helped me to finally shrug off the sleepies. After the pub crawl, our class fragmented by either going to the pubs or going back to the Inn. It was really great taking in the immense culture the country has to offer from going to these pubs. Following that night of fun, I was ready to get some good sleep.


On the way to Cork, we passed through a small city in Cork city’s harbor.  Cobh is well-known for being the Titanic’s last port of call in 1912. “Titanic Experience Cobh” is an attraction the small, coastal city offers. This attraction is actually in the old ticket office that the harbor would use. It was an extremely informative stop. After Ben Sherill and I captured a few drone shots of the city, we all hopped back into the bus. We were no more than 20 minutes away from Cork. Although Cork was one of my favorite cities throughout the trip, I didn’t take any pictures. When arriving in Cork, I remember comparing the beautiful city to Nice, France. The food was excellent. The nature was absolutely beautiful. I didn’t want to leave!


With Ireland’s cities excluded, Doolin was my favorite stop in Ireland. Even though we visited some amazing natural structures, most of the exploring that went on during this trip, happened in Doolin. In Doolin, we arrived at the bed and breakfasts we were staying at. In each guesthouse, there were 3 guys and 3 girls. Once we settled in, Ben Sherill, Kameron Ziesig and I went out to explore. The coast to the Atlantic Ocean was no more than a quarter-mile away. Once arriving at the precipice before the beach, we noticed some ancient structures near the beach. To this day, we still have no idea what they were. It looked like the ancient ruins of a shrine. Nonetheless, we all continued towards the beach.

Once reaching the water, we were in amazement. When the ocean attacked the shoreline, the mist from it jumped 20 feet, easily. Without fail, the waves would reach this vertical each time. I had never seen such ferociousness from the ocean. This battle between the boulders and the ocean went on all year, endlessly. Kameron captured a shot (pictured below) from afar of Ben recording me in front of the waves. After eating supper and listening to traditional music at Mc Ganns, we all got some good rest. Tomorrow, we would be visiting the Cliffs of Moher!

Doolin, Ireland

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

I remember seeing documentaries of this amazing place when I was a child. The towering cliffs, coupled with the ocean crashing into the shoreline, certainly made this spot a bucket-list item. These cliffs remind me of my travels on the Pacific Coast Highway. Coincidentally, I had no clue this was on our itinerary. After leaving Cork, a student on the bus was showing everyone pictures of what the cliffs looked like. At that moment, I finally realized where we were heading and it had me excited as ever.

Once arriving, we had the choice of riding the coast north (the easier path) or south. Our travel guide informed us that the “real eye-catchers” were on the southern route. Seconds after starting the trek, we were already in amazement. At the base of the cliffs near the water were thousands of birds riding the updraft created by the mountains. Every few seconds, mist and suds traveling from the water would kiss us in the face. This was quite the feat considering the cliffs were no less than 500 feet. Before turning around and heading back to the bus, our group found a nice place to relax. I really loved the photo I captured here. We were all simply in a state of bliss.

Aran Islands

I’ll have you know, this trip was way more enjoyable by not paying attention to the itinerary. This results in constant surprises. Following the Cliffs of Moher, we headed to Galway. From Galway, we met up with a ferry in Rossaveal. The plan was to take the ferry to the Aran Islands. These islands are actually the home of the original Aran Sweater. More specifically, we were visiting the island of Inisheer. Inisheer is the closer of 3 coastal islands. These three masses are, together, known as Inishmore. We had the whole afternoon to explore the city on the island. Most of us rented bikes to explore all the scenery.

One of the coolest spots on the island is a crashed cargo ship – known as the MV Plassy. On 8 March 1960, while sailing through Galway Bay carrying a cargo of whiskey, stained glass, and yarn. it was caught in a severe storm and ran onto Finnis Rock on Inisheer. A few weeks later, another storm crashed the ship further onto the shoreline. Today, the crashed Plassy remains in the same spot as a tourist attraction for the island. It certainly attracted us!

Aran Islands

Aran Islands

Giant’s Causeway

This one is for all of you Game of Thrones fans. The last leg of the trip was Giant’s Causeway. For any GOT fanatic, the importance of this location is a no-brainer. This is where they filmed most of the show. If you are like me and have never watched Game of Thrones, then you probably don’t care…until you get there. After arriving, it was very clear as to why they chose this spot. It was the perfect location for the ancient and cinematic setting HBO was looking for. It was similar to the Cliffs of Moher; yet way cooler. The millions of dandelions that were scattered across the Causeway absolutely lit up the shoreline. The dandelions, coupled with the burst of sunshine that day, really made for a spectacular picture. I had never seen GOT before; but hell, I never wanted to leave.

Giant's Causeway, Ireland

Reflecting on Our Travels in Ireland

This trip to Ireland was truly a trip of a lifetime. I never imagined I’d see so much, in such a small window of time. Furthermore, I became extremely close to most of the students and are still great friends with them. A trip such as this one usually does a good job of doing that. Considering Ireland is ALWAYS rainy (much like Oregon), we were extremely grateful that we never had any rain during our two weeks there. We really should be grateful – such stagnation in precipitation is essentially an anomaly for Ireland. Ireland is definitely somewhere I plan on revisiting in the near future.


5 Responses

  1. Maria Allen says:

    These pictures are so obsessed.

  2. […] Ireland Abroad: Exploring The Island […]

  3. Marianne Bell says:

    What a great experience! The pictures are beautiful and I know that it was a trip of a lifetime! You are blessed and talented!

Comments are closed.