Monday, June 29, 2015

Destination: Ireland (Part 2 - the roadtrip concludes)

Blarney Castle

The remainder of our Irish adventure took us to the southern and western coasts, as well as a return back to Dublin. It was mostly off of the tourist trail, and more of a re-tracing of our ancestors' lives in various towns and ports.

Mallow 

Main St., Mallow

Continuing the drive south, we spent one morning in Mallow, a tiny little town in County Cork. My mom had done her research and traced her dad's (my grandpa's) lineage back here. After visiting with the Heritage office so compare notes with the local record-keepers, we stumbled upon Carmichael Lane, where the Collins lineage once called home. Pictured below, one could easily imagine what life was like here generations ago, with many of the buildings still in working condition. 


A local grocer on Carmichael Lane, Mallow

Carmichael Lane. Maybe our family's neighbors lived here?

Blarney 


Blarney Castle

Last pitstop before we made it to the coast was Blarney. Widely known for the Blarney Stone and Castle, it was an absolutely picturesque small town. I wasn't thrilled to be joining the throng of tourists, but it exceeded all of my expectations. This was a marvelously preserved castle with history, food, and nature all wrapped into a few kilometres.

About to kiss the Blarney Stone. It's the smooth rock just behind his head

The yard within the castle. Aka, watch your step

The grounds of Blarney Castle

Cork and Cobh 


St. Colman's Cathedral, Cobh

Cobh was perhaps my favorite city throughout the trip. Located on the southern coast, it was (and to some extent still is) a huge port, with the majority of immigrants to the US departing from Cobh. Among famous departures, it was the Titanic's last stop before hitting the Atlantic.

The streets steeply sloped down until they hit the water, evoking images of San Francisco's famously hilly streets.

Downtown Cobh

Annie Moore Statue. She was the first immigrant to ever pass through Ellis Island, completing her immigration journey to the States
Cobh, with slanting streets and fanciful facades

We spent the night in Cork, the largest city in southwest Ireland. In fact, the hotel we stayed at was the place where Michael Collins spent his final night before being tragically killed the next day amid questionable circumstances. We didn't have too much time to walk about, but the evening we did spend in a pub resulted in us experiencing the best trad music of the trip. The three people on their flute, fiddle, and guitar blew us away with their incredible skills.


Cork


Trad music in a Cork pub. We had front row seats

Wexford  
  



On the way to Dublin, we took a quick detour to southwestern Ireland and the coastal town of Wexford. I had a Notre Dame grad friend who moved here last year, so we met up with Laura for lunch and she took us on a stroll through town. Working at a Catholic parish in a nearby suburb, she gave a fascinating view on the challenging realities facing the Church in a rapidly secularizing Irish society. Earlier that week, the country had voted to legalize gay marriage by a fairly wide margin; the Catholic Church had been the most prominent opponent to this act. Nevertheless, she felt reinvigorated by her challenge to connect with the Irish people, especially the youth and young adult populations. 

After lunch, we said beannacht and hit the highway to our final destination.

Dublin

Trinity College Dublin

Finally arriving in Dublin, we were a bit wiped from the constant driving from the week. The capital still provided a fascinating mix of the olde pub scene with modern architecture and business. We spend an evening doing a music/pub crawl, where local musicians took us around to various bars around the Temple Bar area while explaining the history and reasoning behind the songs that they play.

The other very cool thing that we got to experience was a program called the Gaelic games. At a local athletic field, we were taught how to play Gaelic football, hurling, and handball. All were incredibly fun to experience, although the hurling stick was tougher to swing than I had imagined.

And with that our trip was done. 

Downtown Dublin

Perhaps my favorite clock of all time. It was on a building to the right of the one in the first Dublin photo


Great Hall, Trinity College Dublin

Hexameron, Trinity College Dublin

Department of Finance, Dublin

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