Cultural Ecology of Ireland 2016 Ariel Moniz

On our way to the city of my dreams-- Dublin!


After some hours of sleeplessness, turbulence, and premature homesickness, we arrived! Sometimes fantasies can blind us to the reality of a place, but I am pleased to report that Dublin was everything to me that I had imagined it would be.

Our first taste of city life came with a stunning view of just what I had hoped to see, beautiful old buildings that have managed to stand proud and tall for generations.

Everywhere there were reminders of Ireland's turbulent history.

One way to describe Dublin: Grungy mysticism with a punch of pop culture.

I was enthralled by the endless supplies of street art that graced walls and sidewalks.

Even though we were in a city, we never felt too far from the natural beauty of the land of the green.

Among the life changing facets of this trip was the delicious cream, which I feel is underrated!



Just when I thought that Dublin had captured my heart, we arrived in Bundoran. I do not have the proper words to describe its beauty-- how much it reminded me of home while also being everything that I had always dreamed of in a home.

The view from our room on the third floor of our hotel truly woke my spirit every morning.

Some of the things that reminded me the most of Hilo was the surf culture-- particularly the street art!

The sea is beautiful everwhere, but Bundoran stole my breath away, and my heart.

Everyday and everywhere that we visited was a life changing experience, but there were certain facets of our trip that really stuck out to me. I learned so much about this world that I had always only imagined, and over the course of the trip it became real to me. While turning from a fantasy into a memory, I had moments of surprise, validation, and utter fascination, some of which will stay with me until the end of my days...


I got to see so many new types of plants and animals that I could never witness back home! I was particularly drawn to all of the beautiful flowers that graced parks and roadsides.

There is a spirituality tied to the land through the ancient Celtic culture that reminded me a lot of the Hawaiian culture.

Hawaii is so well-known for its glorious beaches, but I found my heart reaching out more towards the stunning coastlines-- rocky or sandy-- of Ireland.

The Sliabh Liag Cliffs reminded me very much of some of the cliff-sides of Kaua'i. It was also difficult not to notice the close ties that both the Hawaiians and the Irish share with the sea. They base much of their lives around it, and the many aspects of an island culture-- such as surfing, fishing, and so on-- that we are s accustomed to back home were vibrantly present in Ireland.

Surf culture was very visible in Bundoran, an irony not lost on those of us from Hawaii.

Hawaii is also so greatly known for its natural beauty, particularly waterfalls. We visited Glencar Waterfall, which Yeats deemed to be the home of the fairies, and one look can tell you that he was surely right.

Like Hawaii, Ireland still has a lot of political unrest. Both islands have faced oppression by outside political, religious, and cultural forces for hundreds of years.

Of course, money was different! This was also a sign of the current ways in which England's reign affects Ireland. (In Northern Ireland, they used pounds and euros.)

I do love Hawaii. It is my home, my birthplace, the only place I have truly known-- but Ireland has won my heart. I will never again stand on a white sand beach in the heat of a Hawaiian summer and not long for the cool winds off the coast of Bundoran. My heart has molded to it's chilly, mystical embrace.


Ireland was simply full of sights so stunning that they nearly brought me to tears. From rivers, to flowers, to wildlife, to the sea, it was impossible not to be awe-struck by the natural beauty of the island.

Green hillsides covered in sheep were a common sight.

Endless flowers!

Rivers, bogs, and marshes are a large part of Ireland's landscape.

Clovers abound!

The most stunning coastlines I have ever seen!

A snail! One of the many mystical inhabitants of Glencar Waterfall!

Giant's Causeway! I could not have imagined something so massively perfect.

This is my kind of beach!


My true passion in this life is to learn about other cultures; how they are formed, how they mold people's lives, and what role they play in this collective that we call humanity. Ireland has a long and rich culture, from rock formations to castles, carvings to modern literature, and so on. I was enthralled by everything that Ireland's culture had to offer.

Some of the oldest things that we saw were the burial mounds at Knowth, which have been re-purposed for thousands of years and yet still stand.

How languages change!

We later also visited Cavan Burren, where some of the oldest man-altered rock formations in Ireland have been found!

We also visited Drumcliff, which had some ancient rock formations right off the side of the road! It seems that Ireland has so much ancient culture that it almost doesn't know what to do with it all!

The Wishing Tree in front of St. Patrick's Well was a humbling place. People leave items on the tree in exchange for a wish or a prayer. I left some of my hair, and made a wish.

St.Patrick's Well! A man who changed the face of Ireland forever!

Catsby Caves-- Where Catholics had to practice their religion in secret as not to be eradicated by the incoming Protestants.

Donegal Castle! My first castle! A dream come true!

Donegal Abbey!

We visited a mock village in Glencolmcille which truly made us feel as though we had stepped back in time.

The fisherman's cottage was my favorite part of the village. It felt so genuine and intimate.

Street art in Derry was full of culture and political unrest.

There were many politically charged murals gracing the walls of buildings throughout Derry.

The Irish are known for their creativity and pride in their culture.

The Guilded Hall in Derry was a perfect example of the glory of mankind's architectural accomplishments.

Trinity College in Dublin taught the minds of many inspiring figures of history.

I am a lover of writing and reading, so of course the aspects of this course that struck me most were those having to do with language an literature.

It was an honor to meet Yeats...
And Oscar Wilde!


The food in Ireland was the best that I have ever had. It is often fresh and local, and GMOs are illegal, meaning that the chemicals and processed garbage of America is far less easy to come across. My stomach was in heaven.

Full Irish Breakfast!

Bangers and Mash!

Ice cream with lime sauce and sprinkles!



I have not spent my life as an adventurer. I am a dreamer, a writer, a lover. This trip forced me to step outside of what I have known about myself and how I have lived my life, and I am so thankful for that.

We went surfing, thousands of miles from home, in the Atlantic!

I also went to a concert! I'm not fond of crowds, I don't drink, and I'm always sleepy, but I laughed, danced, and sang the night away.


I had the opportunity to meet and learn so much about all sorts of people on this trip. I'm an introvert, so it is hard for me to make friends, but this trip broke down the walls of silence and shyness and allowed me to be someone I wasn't sure I could be.

Thank you for this beautiful, life changing, awe-inspiring opportunity. I will never forget my days in Eire for as long as I live.

Created By
Ariel Moniz

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