A group of nearly three dozen Eureka College faculty, staff, students and friends are currently on a 10-day tour of Ireland. We'll share their stories, experiences and reflections throughout the trip with occasional updates at eureka.edu and EurekaRedDevils.com.
Amos Arbogast (Aug. 13):
Sunday is the day of rest, so it was fitting that we started a little later than normal. It was a much needed chance to recharge the group's batteries.
We loaded up the vans and headed north toward Lahinch, but Steve had a surprise lunch planned for us. We ended up at Dromoland Castle which was an old castle that had been turned into a hotel and golf resort. When you talk about unique opportunities, eating lunch in a castle has to be up there. I also took the occasion to challenge Professor Lally to a very quick game of over-sized chess in a small courtyard within the castle. While we didn't actually play long enough to determine a winner, he was gracious enough to pretend I won for the photo op. Perhaps the next time we find ourselves in a castle courtyard with a giant chess set, we can hash out a true champion. Until then I suppose...
After lunch, we drove on and visited the famed Cliffs of Moher. The views of the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean were stunning, but the fear of plummeting off was constant. Abigail Hilton wins the bravery award for the day as she walked to a cliffs edge and sat down dangling her feet nearly 700 feet over the ocean below. I briefly feared I might need to find a new post player for the upcoming season.
We then headed to Lahinch to check into our hotel and went out for dinner while looking out into the ocean. We also got our first real bit of rain as we sat comfortably inside eating.
Ellie Broyles (Aug. 12):
Today was by far one of my top two days this whole trip because it was filled with the beautiful sceneries of Ireland including amazing views of the mountains, ocean and the land sides filled with goats, sheep, and cows.
We started the day off by going to the Puck festival which is one of Kerry's oldest traditions. It was basically a large county fair that had rides, vendors of all kinds and different foods and of course the goat, King. They choose a goat every year, name it king, and worship it for the day which was very unfamiliar but interesting to us. We didn't stay long but it was a lot of fun to just walk around and see the different things the vendors were selling such as different Irish knickknacks and shirts.
After we went to the puck festival we started on the Ring of Kerry which was basically a trail of different beautiful landmarks including us walking up on to a gated cliff to look out and see the ocean. We also looked at other various other landmarks but the view of the ocean was the highlight of my day. Although today was filled with a lot of driving and walking, it was a day to remember and I'm excited to see what tomorrow entails.
Abigail Hilton (Aug. 12):
Going on tours and listening to the history of Ireland has been great, but out of all the activities we've done so far todays was my favorite.
We began by traveling to the Puck Fair where we saw a goat raised on a platform. Normally this wouldn't make any sense, however, this is a tradition in which the Irish crown a goat as king for three days. Walking through the streets the town was alive as merchants were set up, rides were running, and bands were playing. After enjoying the music and food, we set out around the Ring of Kerry, a circle in Ireland with multiple tour stops.
Traveling around the ring is my absolute favorite memory thus far. We went to a castle, a fort, and towards the ocean. Everything was beautiful, especially as I climbed to get a better view. Each spot was absolutely breathtaking and it is amazing to see how all of the blues are clearer and the greens are brighter compared to those at home.
One of my favorite stops was at a fort. I climbed up to the top and just sitting there I could see miles and miles away. I could make out mountains far in the distance, the ocean seeming to touch the sky, and a castle sitting in the distance. I loved sitting, feeling a breeze and taking in the view. Yet, the stops along the way weren't the only breathtaking moments. The entire drive was over mountains and watching the shape of the land change from valleys to mountains to rivers and oceans was incredible. I can honestly say that if I were to come back I would immediately return to the Ring of Kerry just so I could take in the sights which surrounded me.
Today will be hard to compare to for the rest of the trip, but I am still excited for tomorrow as we get ready to go to the Cliffs of Moher.
Tomorrow we are back up at it early in the morning with a boat tour and a stop on a remote Irish island. Hopefully, the weather continues to hold up for another great day in Ireland!
Amos Arbogast (Aug. 12):
The weather was absolutely perfect in Ireland today. Whoever warned us that it would be rainy and cold couldn't have been more wrong so far.
We started our day by heading over to the Puck Fair in Killorglin. When we arrived we saw a sign declaring it to be "probably" the oldest fair in the world. We weren't exactly sure what the story was behind the "probably" but we did learn that the fair was at least 400 years old. Every year on Aug. 10-12, a mountain goat is captured and taken into the center of the village where it is crowned King Puck and raised up in a cage over the village. After the fair is over, they release the goat back into the mountains.
After the fair, we drove around the Ring of Kerry, which is a road that circles Kerry County. Along the road, there are many offshoots that lead to some of the most breathtaking sights you will ever see. Some of the highlights we saw were a small castle ruin that we climbed around in, a round stone fortress that provided unbelievable views in every direction, and the Kerry Cliffs which many of us thought were the best thing we've seen so far. There is no way to adequately describe how magnificent what we saw today.
Tomorrow, we leave Killarney and head to Lahinch with many more stops along the way. If we could just get them to widen their roads over here, everything would be perfect!
Ellie Broyles (Aug. 11):
Today was a very busy and eventful day. We departed from Dublin around 7:45 a.m. and immediately drove to the Powerscourt Gardens which is an area where you can look at a castle, many different types of flowers, a Japanese Garden, and many other things. It was so beautiful due to the different colored flowers scattered across the whole area. I think my favorite part was the different scents from the flowers. The air was so fresh from all of the trees and I couldn't imagine waking up to the scenery of the mountains in the background every day.
After the gardens, we when to the Glendalough Monastic Site which was a Catholic burial site where priest and other religious leaders were buried. There were tombstones everywhere and we got to go on a tour where they explained who was buried there and how the family name of either priest originally buried there was passed down the family line so all the family following were also buried there and the whole area should be filled up in the next fifty years.
Lastly, we went to the Rock of Cashel which was an old time castle that was inside of a church and the view around it was breathtaking. There were mountains and farm land in the background of the castle and I think that was my favorite part of the whole place by far. We didn't spend too much time there but it was interesting to look inside of the castle because they actually had tombstones in the walls of the castle where important people were buried.
Today was long, but interesting and we're all excited for tomorrow.
Hayley Reneau (Aug. 11):
Alarm clock went off at 6:45 this morning. We all got packed up and made our way to Killarney.
On our way we stopped at three different places. One of the places we stopped was the Powerscourt Estates, which is located on a 1,000-acre lot. Forty-seven acres are different types of gardens. All the gardens I saw were absolutely gorgeous! I could have stay there all day long just staring at the beautiful views. We also went up into the tower that is there and while you're up there you can see everything in a 360-degree view. If you are afraid of heights I still recommend you go up there because the view is gorgeous!
After the Powerscourt Garden we made our way Glebdalough Monastic site that had a lot of religion behind its history. My favorite part was visiting the upper lake and the waterfall. They both were absolutely breathtaking. Walking up to the waterfall made me very out of breath. It was a very long, steep walk up the side of the mountain. But I believe it was worth it because the waterfall is not like any other water fall. It is very small and petite but still absolutely beautiful.
Our third and final stop was to Rock of Cashel. It's a beautiful castle that has a gorgeous view of the country side. We didn't get to stay long and enjoy the view because we were running late. But that was most definitely my favorite place because of the view.
At the end of the day we finished by eating dinner and finding our way to the hotel and settled in for the night.
Amos Arbogast (Aug. 11):
What a busy day in Ireland! We traveled across the country by rental van and made three major stops along the way. But before we could get anywhere, we had to first get out of bustling Dublin -- by caravan -- on the wrong side of the road. Let's just say there was a learning curve to all of it and we eventually figured it out.
The first place we stopped along the way was the Powerscourt Estate and Gardens. We were able to see some beautiful gardens, a magnificent guard tower, and even a pet cemetery. The grounds were immaculate and the estate had amazing views everywhere we turned.
Our next stop was at the Glendalough Monastic Site. The site was once used as a monastery, but when it was moved away, the grounds became prominently a cemetery. It's odd to describe a cemetery as beautiful, but it certainly was. Some of the structures we saw were believed to be at least 1,000 years old, and we learned that parts of the grounds were still used to this day as a cemetery. We also drove up the wrote and witnessed a beautiful lake and made a brief hike to see a waterfall while in the area.
Our last visit was to the Rock of Cashel. As we approached the historic site, an audible gasp could be heard as we turned around a bend and the entire structure suddenly came into view. We were pressed for time but we were able to sneak in before they closed for the evening. We ended up having just under an hour to take it this enormous castle turned cathedral. The views were incredible. We could see far into the countryside and really take in the natural beauty of Ireland.
Unfortunately, words really can't do the things way saw today justice. Even pictures fail to truly capture the experience. It really is something you have to see with your own eyes to fully appreciate. We then drove two more hours through the countryside and arrived at our hotel in Killarney. Tomorrow expects to be another great day!
Hayley Reneau (Aug. 10):
This morning we woke up bright and early to catch the train to Belfast. This was my first ever train ride and I slept through the whole thing.
Once we got to Belfast we walked to City Hall and started our very long three-hour tour around the city. It was very interesting learning about the diversity between Protestants and Catholics. The tour guide was an older Irish man that talked about anything and everything. Our tour guide actually got into a verbal fight with a citizen of Belfast. I'm pretty sure that our tour went over the time about 30 minutes. After the tour we were in our own until our departing time to get back to Dublin. So we got some lunch and relaxed on the City Hall Lawn and we actually ended up falling asleep for a little bit.
Once we got back to Dublin we ordered a couple of pizzas and just ended up relaxing in our rooms for the rest of the night so we can get a good night of sleep for our departure to Killarney in the early morning.