Hilo Bay May 17th 2018
5 Hours from Hilo to LA
May 18th 2018
13 Hour Layover in Los Angeles
Visited "LACMA" and "The Broad" Art Museums to kill time.
May 19th 2018
12 Hour Flight from LA to Reykjavik, Iceland
Tip: get up and walk around whenever you get the chance especially if your in an inside seat.
May 19th 2018
3 Hour Flight from Reykjavik to Stratford, London
Note: I only got an hour in Iceland and it was raining. Like Hilo except it was walk in freezer cold
May 19th 2018
1 hour flight from Stratford to Dublin, Ireland
The busiest airport with the biggest airport mall that I have ever been in.
Dublin International Airport
Legroom. My kingdom for legroom.
Pre Program Fun: May 20th 2018
Went for a fun walking tour of Dublin at 8 AM before the city woke up while on my way to meet up with the rest of my group. The program actually starts on the 22nd but I came in two days early. It was either come in super early of rush like a mad man day of. I elected to do the former.
after meeting up with the rest of my group we then visited Dublin Castle had lunch at a pub called O'Donoghue's and then finished the day at the National Museum of Ireland: Archeology.
Dublin - Loughcrew Cairns, Boyne Valley
First good look at Donegal and it is a beautiful quiet costal town. We stayed at the Atlantic Apartotel (Apartment Hotel) which is on the main strip of town and not joking a 3 minute walk away from the beach. Again the mountain ranges remind me of Hawaii. Which shouldn't surprise me because Ireland is also a volcanic island.
This is the beach that is 3 minutes from where we were staying. Niamh told us that Donegal is apparently a big summer spot especially for surfers. There is also a small carnival kind of like Pier 39 in San Francisco just to the left of where this picture was taken. We were 1 week early for the carnival, it wasn't open while we were there. That or it opened the night we left.
Every morning we would meet at the dinning room of the Atlantic and would have "class". Our guide Niamh (standing at the front) would give us a little bit of context and history for the places we were going to see.
Niamh is an amazing individual, period. She has the most sarcastic, blunt and sardonic personality. She has the most sarcastic sense of humor I have ever seen and the single greatest individual I have ever had the privilege to spend time with.
These are the amazing folks from Wisconsin who were here on a business program. They were fantastic and I would totally visit Wisconsin just to hang out with them. I also offered them my couch if they ever decide to visit Hawai`i and the offer still stands.
The big site we visited was Cavan Burran. Which is a Neolithic preservation site. Here there are preserved early Celtic settlement and farm sites.
Here we also get our first look at glacial erratic's. Which are huge sandstone boulders that were deposited in the last Ice Age.
Doesn't that just look magical?
Fairy Portals. Which are not just man made tunnels but any kind of depression or hole that reaches into the ground. Which are horrifying. Fairy can pull you into them and you are never seen again … I think.
The floor of the forest was littered with patches of clovers. I was never able to find a 4 leaf one no matter how hard I looked and believe me I did.
This is a great example of a stacked stone wall. Neolithic peoples used them as paddocks for cattle and sheep. Along with leaving a place to plant crops.
This site is interesting because the Irish government actually planted trees here meant to be harvested and turned into lumber for commercial use. But then it was turned into a historical site and now it's just there. But still a fun story.
We then finished the day with a trip to the Fairy Bridge back in Donegal and the most breath taking sunset that I have ever seen. Which lasted a really long time. Which was a first for me living in the tropics where sunsets last like maybe half an hour.
Day 3: May 23rd 2018
We visited the Assaroc Abby to see a memorial to St. Patrick. The greatest marketer in history, a man who successfully converted the Irish to Catholicism. St. Patrick like the missionaries that came to Hawaii who first converted the Ali`i and once it was adopted by the ruling class the religion trickled down to the commoner and then the society as a whole.
So the moral of this story is to always convince people form the top down for maximum effect and minimal blood shed and revolt.
Another one of those great top off the world moments. From high up we had the opportunity to look out and really see the layout of the country. This whole area is the view from just below Queen Maeve's Cairn.
To the left is another of those pine forest planted by the government for the lumber industry.
Notice also the extensive matrix of stone walls that zig zag across the land scape. It is something you see all over Ireland. Apparently the reason that they cover the entire country was the result of an old English work program. During the famine in order to get food you had to build bridges to no where.
Queen Maeve's Cairn
Legends say that she is buried Standing up instead of lying down. This of course can't be confirmed because it would require digging up the site. Personally I find it more romantic if she is the warrior princess described in myth and legend.
Day 4 May 24th 2018
Devenish Island in Enniskillen and down the Lower Lough Erne. Here there is a site of a large monetary or self sufficient community of monks. Those missionaries that came to convert the Celts congregated in communities like this all over Ireland. Can you imagine how long this site must have taken to be built. Especially since this is an Island and all of these buildings are predominantly made of stone.
As a group we often did this. Sometimes it was planned sometimes it wasn't but picnicking like this for lunch was always a joy. The best part was that behind our hotel was a grocery store so we could buy fresh fruits, vegies, cheese's, bread, and meats for our afternoon lunch.
Also apparently in Europe they require that the produce be labeled with it's country of origin so we always knew where our food was coming from. Grapes from Spain, locally made goat cheese it was glorious. If only it was that easy to picnic in Hilo.
Day 5 May 25th 2018
An ancient castle precariously placed on the edge of a crumbling cliff over a tumultuous sea.
According to Niamh this was also a big tourist spot for young English people on holiday. Dunluce castle was a major stop on the "Western Way". The "Western Way" is a trail following the western part of the country beginning in Oughterard, County Galway and then ending in Ballycastle, County Mayo. It is supposed to take about 7 days to hike it.
We picnicked here again. It was especially nice since the sun had been out for a few days in a row and the grass was dry so you could sprawl out on it.
The castle itself is also really interesting because all of the outer walls are made of stone and are still standing so you can see how the building was laid out. There is also a mix of roughly stacked stones and smooth formed window, archways, and stairs.
Because of Irelands origin as a volcanic island it has a lot of interesting geological anomalies and one of them is a major tourist spot. It was explained that the natural hexagonal shape of the rock was formed by a rapidly cooled lava lake. What's even crazier is that this hexagonal rock formation is all over the area. Even the cliffs behind where this picture was taken. Should you decide to visit this area take a close look at the cliffs you will actually see hexagonal columns that run put the side of it or run across it.
Day 6 May 26th 2018
Saturday was a relaxing "cheat" day. It was supper chill, we didn't go on any crazy hikes. We spent the day riding horses, building peat teepee's and surfing.
By the way this is Sunny, my new best friend. We went for a morning horse back riding in the dunes outside of Donegal. Also horse riding boots are not meant for those with wide feet like me. And yes I used a step stool to climb onto Sunny he's as tall as I am at the shoulder.
Locals actually till the bog and use the peat as a fuel source during the winter. We helped out a local famer stack the peat he had tilled. We arrange them churned "bog logs" into teepee's so they could dry. we were also again reminded that sunny days like the ones we experienced are few and far between. It was basically a miracle that we got 10 days in a row of sun shine.
We also meat the happiest dog know to man kind. This little guy was so happy bounding around getting anyone and everyone to give him a good scratch.
Day 7 May 27th 2018
Glean Cholm Cille
Also in Glean Cholm Cille was a small folk village with a couple of recreated historically accurate Irish buildings like this pub. That is also a 100% authentic thatched roof like it was originally done. There was also a school and fishermen's hut along with a typical house. All of the building are also completely furnished with period accurate furniture, utensils, clothing etc.
They also have a really great local craft store here as well it's where I bought most if not all of the souvenirs that I brought back. some really nice woolen ware.
This would also be a really great idea here in Hawaii. Someone should really try creating something like this here.
Sliabh Liag Cliffs
I don't know what to tell you the view is absolutely breath taking. It is stark and beautiful at the same time. There us also a great ice cream truck that parks up here. I suggest the honey comb flavor it is mind blowing and even has an actual honey comb in it.
Day 8 May 28th 2018
St. Columba's Church
In Drumcliffe at St. Columba's Church is the grave of William Butler Yeats. As an English Major and as a writer this is the kind of stuff that interests me. Seminal dead authors.
I am not going to lie to you. I don't actually know that much about William Butler Yeats or his work. I know that he is one of Irelands most celebrated authors right up there with Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, and Samuel Beckett. I may not know much but after this trip I intend to dive into his work along with the work of his contemporaries. So if I ever come again I can make a proper pilgrimage to Yeats grave.
One of the big experiences for me on this trip has been going into authentic European castles. As a young boy I grew up on fantasy stories and movies with castles and knight in shining armor. Let me tell you that real life is a little disappointing. I don't know if it's the style of castle in Ireland but they are on the small side. The foot thick stone walls really cut into the interior space it's actually really cozy on the inside.
This is just a cool little model of the castle as it was being restored. Unfortunately they were renovating/ repairing the inner courtyard so we could only tour the main building by the entrance.
They also hire local artisans that are familiar/ trained in the classic fields they need to restore these castles. So like people that can traditionally thatch a roof or construct/ repair stone walls etc.
This is simply here for how cool it looks. Lough Gill was so still that it reflected the landscape like a mirror.
Day 9 May 29th 2018
We went up and visited Northern Ireland specifically Derry which was the heart of the civil rights movement in Ireland during "The Troubles". What was fascinating to me was that here the civil rights movement wasn't specifically about race but religion. It was for equality between the Catholics and the Protestants.
A few of us meet two gentleman, traveling musicians, in the Pub of the Atlantic one night. The two of them were very young during the troubles and they shared a bit of their experiences. It was really impactful hearing from two random people it really drove the sentiment of it. This scary time that didn't make any sense. Where people would just up and disappear for no good reason.
In there their are a bunch of these huge murals painted on the sides of buildings in Derry. This one here is the most recent. They were done by three local guys who where never trained artists they just didn't out of the kindness of their own heart. There is actually a book about the murals if your interested. All the proceeds go to the artists that painted these murals. I highly suggest you pick up a copy.
Day 10 May 30th 2018
EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum is exactly what it sounds like. It chronical everywhere the Irish emigrated to and what there contributions to history were. Believe me there where a lot. Also the single greatest museum that I have ever been to. All the exhibits have these cool interactable digital displays that with blow your mind. 10/10 visit it if you get the chance.
Day 11 May 31st 2018
Four of us decided to stay an extra 4 days in Ireland. Valentine, Rosannah, Alana and myself. We are on our way to the fairy that will take us to Inismore one of the Aran Islands.
Dun Duchathair (Black Fort)
Dun Duchathair is a pre historic ring fort. You can kind of see it in this picture but the fort is built on the edge of a cliff along the sea. This huge outer wall is like 4 or more feet wide and like 10 feet tall in some places. On top of that it's all just stacked stone. There is no mortar or glue holding this mammoth thing together. There is also a good amount of space behind it enough for a few families to comfortably live in.
This was a beautiful spot I think if we knew what we were getting into we might have ate dinner and camped out there.
Day 12 June 1st 2018
This was a random monument that we stumbled on biking around the Island. It was erected in the memory of Liam O'Flaherty 1896-1984. He was an Irish Novelist. There was even a quote from him that I really liked. "I was born on a storm-swept rock and hate the soft growth of sun-baked lands where there is no frost in men's bones. swift thoughts, and the swift flight of ravenous birds, and the squeal of terror of hunted animals are to me reality".
It's a super dark quote but I like how vivid and dramatic it is. My hope is that one day I can pen something as vivid and dramatic.
Is believed to be a religious ring fort. Due to the huge stone platform in the middle of the fort. This was also the most touristy spot we visited in Inismore. But we got lucky we arrived in between tours so we had a few minutes where it was basically just us in the fort.
Alana sitting on the huge stone platform in the middle of the fort wistfully looking out into the abyss hoping it looks back. She also about a foot from a hundred foot drop to the rocky ocean.
I could not come close to doing this, I have a fear of heights and that platform goes right up to the edge.
Na Seacht Teampall (Seven Temples)
So named because on this site there are, in various states of ruin and size, seven temples. It was a surprisingly happy little graveyard. You could see that many of the graves are regularly tended to which is always good to see god knows I don't visit my dead relatives as often as I should. We also had a fun time trying to see which graves was the oldest. I can't remember the exact date but I think it was in the late 1800's.
Finished the day off with a dip in the bay. It had thankfully been sunny all day so the water was above freezing enough where we could swim a little.
Also there seems to be a lot of dead and decomposing crustaceans under the sand 1. because we found a lot of shells and 2. because when ever we would take a step weed sink 6 inches and warm bubbles would come up out of the sand.
A strange yet exciting experience none the less.
I think this is the Island mascot/ town dog cus he didn't have a collar everyone played with him and he seemed to be just wandering around.
Day 13 June 2nd 2018
The worlds smallest church. It's like 4ft by 6ft on the inside. You can maybe fit 5 people in there comfortably. Any more that that and whoever is in the front will be face to face with the priest.
It may be the smallest church but hey it has one hell of a view of the bay.
Day 14 June 3rd 2018
Every student experience something like this during their academic career. Be that good or bad.
This university has class in a castle that looks like Hogwarts. I mean look at it.
I also have this weird habit when taking selfies. I give the camera this weird inquisitive look with one raised eyebrow which something I only just noticed after going through all these pictures.