Let me start from yesterday.
Yesterday, we got the opportunity to go into the city centre of Limerick so that we could see it and begin to explore. On Saturday mornings, they have what they call the Milk Market, which is basically a farmers’ market. It was so cool! There were people playing music, selling cheese, fresh sausages, wool products, hats, pottery, you name it. I loved it. And yes, while we Americans all stuck out like sore thumbs, the Irish still treated us so well.
It was cold, and it was a dreary day, but it was still cool to see Limerick.
To be honest, going into Limerick and seeing the sites was the first time I really felt like I was in Ireland. Of course the university is Irish and I’ve been meeting and seeing many Irish people, but it’s still very modern. I mean, it’s a university after all!
But Limerick… I felt the Irish magic there. There’s really something about being in a real Irish city, exploring the cobblestone streets, and seeing the castle and old churches just really makes you feel Ireland.
And now, we get to today. Talk about Irish magic.
Today, we went on a bus tour to the Irish coast. Along the way, we saw farms on farms on farms on farms. In Garth Brooks’ song about Ireland, one I’ve quoted on this blog several times, he sings about the rolling fields of green and fences made of stone. I never thought I’d get to see those in person, but today, I did. And boy, was Garth right. Ireland is all patchwork green, cows and sheep grazing, and fences stacked in stone. It’s just beautiful.
Primarily, we spent time at the Cliffs of Moher. If you don’t know what these cliffs are, look them up, but don’t trust the photos you see on Google, because nothing does them justice. Nothing but standing on the muddy grass above them, staring down at the waves crashing against the rock. Nothing but feeling the ocean breeze hit your skin, wondering what these cliffs must have seen, what they must think of Earth now. Nothing but being there and seeing them with your own eyes.
It’s hard to describe these cliffs. They are majestic and huge and go on for miles. They stand, unashamed, staring at the water. They feel majestic, dangerous, protective, and completely and utterly wild. While there, I kept thinking of a Wallace Stevens poem about them:
THE IRISH CLIFFS OF MOHER
Who is my father in this world, in this house,
At the spirit’s base?
My father’s father, his father’s father, his –
Shadows like winds
Go back to a parent before thought, before speech,
At the head of the past.
They go to the cliffs of Moher rising out the mist,
Above the real
Rising out of present time and place, above
The wet, green grass.
This is not landscape, full of the somnambulations
And the sea. This is my father or, maybe,
It is as he was,
A likeness, one of the race of fathers: earth
And sea and air.
Yes, it’s nerdy, I know. But these cliffs are amazing. I could not believe it. I want to go back – spend more time there, maybe sit down and write there, and just enjoy the view for a bit longer than today. Just…wow.
After the Cliffs of Moher, we made our way to Burren, a very karst landscape (a landscape full of sedentary rock that has settled in such a way that allows life to grow through the cracks in the rock). While this view didn’t astound me or make me tear up the way the cliffs did, it was still beautiful.
Navigating these rocks are easy – Kim and I climbed them with no problem – but you constantly want to stop, bend down, and see the life from below. The title is a direct quote from Kim (an environmental studies major from Rhode Island) that was just too funny and good to pass up. And really, it just sums up Ireland. Every inch of this country is just teeming with life. I don’t have too many pictures from Burren, because all the pictures really just looked like rocks, and no one really wants to see that.
When we returned to campus, we had dinner, and then we all (Kim, Kaitlin, Guy, Ian, and me) all headed to Stables, a pub on campus, to watch football. Little did I know that I was going to watch the slaughter of the Packers. Oh well, boys, there’s always next year. Maybe use your time off to work on your defense.
Anyway, classes start tomorrow and I just can’t wait.
I’ve decided to begin including a quote or two that really stand out, make me laugh, or just remind me of some of that Irish magic. Today, the quote (besides the title) is: “You can tell how old we Irishmen are by the shape of us. The rounder we are, the older we are.” -Some Irish guy telling me about beer bellies.
Until next time!