Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Pie Maker

By Grace Sundeen

The front entrance to The Pie Maker
“’Stranger here you’ll do well to tarry, for here our highest good is pleasure.’ ~ Epicurus” read the chalkboard. Despite the frequent rain showers, the inscription was in perfect condition. This inscription is what first caught my eye. Not the maroon store front, the green door, the window display or the name of the shop. Like many tourists wandering about Eyre Square and the surrounding streets full of shops in Galway, my interest soon shifted from the knickknacks and sweaters within these shops to locating a good restaurant to have lunch at. As a student studying abroad, I was looking for a restaurant which had decent food at a reasonable price. I found it: The Pie Maker; Producer of Sweet and Savory Pies.

Sonja behind her counter
The Pie Maker is run by Sonja, a bubbly Swede who is always smiling. I soon discovered that she fell in love with Ireland while on holiday. She fits the Swedish stereo type to a t with her blond haired and blue eyes. Sonja claims she is hesitant to commit to staying in Galway long term, but she has already been in Galway for almost eighteen months. It appears Sonja and her pie shop are quickly becoming permanent fixtures in Galway, even though she was a little scared by how quickly her time in Galway has passed. Sonja bakes all of the pies from scratch utilizing local ingredients.

The Pie Maker is a small, narrow restaurant located near the corner of Cross Street and Quay Street in Galway, Ireland. The colored store front and name helps the restaurant stand out from the other brightly colored shops on the street, but the inside blows the other shops out of the water. Four narrow booths sit along a wall papered with an old world map. Across from the entrance, a door is hidden by wooden rulers covering the wall. In the center of the ruler covered wall a mirror assists in enlarging the room.

The hat chandelier and copper ceiling
Hanging from the shiny copper ceiling is a very unique chandelier. The spout of a pewter teapot pours out a bright red cord ending in a caged light bulb and flowing out of the neck of the teapot are five more red cords and light bulbs. These light bulbs are shaded by: a gray top hat with a black hatband, a brown fedora, a light gray pith hat, a red top hat, and a black top hat. The red top hat is just two shades darker than the cord the light bulb hangs on. To keep the chandelier floating the hats are connected by golden chains to the ceiling. The copper ceiling reflects back perfect images of each bulb. The goose neck lamp on the counter is similarly shaded by a light tan hat.

The dining side of the counter and the stools
Opposite of the wall with the map was the counter. The counter is divided in two by an opening allowing for Sonja to move freely around the store. The counter half closest to the door contains a cash register, a hidden mini fridge, and work space for Sonja to roll out more crusts. The cash register is a queer rectangular device, definitely not a style I have ever seen before. Sonja adds ups your tab on a notepad she keeps next to the register. At the other half of the counter there was a darkly stained stool and four similarly stained wooden chairs. The backs of these chairs had been removed in order to make them into stools. Before the stools and the shelf in front of them was a glass cabinet displaying the pies of the day and another inscribed upon chalkboard. The quote upon this board was from Nelson Mandela, “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

Atop the glass cabinet Sonja keeps plates and silverware so dishing up the pies never takes more than a few moments. She serves eight savory pies, three sweet pies, pistachio chocolate fudge, and several different kinds of beverages. The savory pies are pot pies and the sweet pies are pies such as Irish Apple, Pumpkin, and Banoffee pies. The savory pies are served with mashed potatoes (mash), mushy peas, gravy, or salad. All of the pies are about four inches across, just big enough to have a good meal out of one pie but not so big that you do not have room for a pie for dessert.

The first night my friends and I found The Pie Maker, I ordered an apple pie with cream. The pie was served warm and the cream was homemade whipped cream. The apple slices were coated in sweet, cinnamony syrup which only comes from a perfect balance of apples, cinnamon, and sugar. The pie crusts were light, flakey, and complemented the apple filling within the pie; which was a refreshing change from pie crusts over powering the taste of the filling. I can honestly say that apple pie was better than any apple pie my grandmother has made.

Our professor Tom and his wife Cami
Our dessert pies were so good we decided to return to The Pie Maker for lunch the next day. We even talked one of our professors and his wife into trying The Pie Maker for their lunch. I ordered the roast beef pie and a ginger beer for my lunch. The tender roast beef was in thick gravy. There was just enough gravy to add flavor and keep the beef and carrots moist but not so much that it was an annoying mess of crust, gravy, meat, and vegetables once the pie was cut into. I had a fresh salad with sundried tomatoes and vinaigrette to go with the mashed potatoes and pie.

My lunch of ginger beer, roast beef pie, mashed potatoes, and salad.
Just before I settled up with Sonja I inquired about the Banoffee pie. It is a graham cracker crust with caramel, sliced bananas, whipped cream, and chocolate powder. Unable to resist such a delicious sounding dessert but also unable to consume another bite of pie, I ordered one to go. I was not disappointed when I finally dug into the Banoffee pie. The melding of the whipped cream, banana, chocolate, and caramel was just and explosion of sweetness and flavor on my taste buds. Now that I’ve had the pies from The Pie Maker I sorely miss them. I might even try to recreate a Banoffee pie despite the fact I doubt I will ever get it even close to Sonja’s.

The sign over the door
The Pie Maker not only exceeded my requirement for good food it also exceeded my expectations for how much I would have to pay for such good food. I thought it would cost significantly more than it did. It was about €5 for each of the sweet pies and €10 for the savory pie and side dishes. I look forward to the next time I can see Sonja and enjoy her culinary skills. Epicurus’s quote was certainly correct. Tarrying at The Pie Maker gave my friends and me great pleasure and a new friend.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Galway and The Cliffs of Moher Tour

By Laurel Anderson  
This weekend, our group took a three-day vacation to the energetic city of Galway and the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher. This was the perfect getaway with a mix of historical sites, mother nature, and of course a reminder of the ever exciting city life.

We started our tour on Friday morning at Ballintubber Abby, which is only about a half an hour from Louisburgh. This church was built in 1216 by the King of Connaught. What amazes me about this piece of history is that mass has kept going on for 800 years- even during the Penal Times when Ireland was not allowed to practice Catholicism. Our tour guide explained that they had an escape door for the priest in case British soldiers would invade. This abbey is also the starting place for the twenty-two mile pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick, which many complete throughout the year.

Next we went on to the village of Cong. This quaint little place, similar to Louisburgh, was the filming place of the John Wayne film “The Quiet Man”. I took advantage of the sun and got some great snapshots of the water, trees, and the abbey. This town is also the home of Ashford Castle. Unfortunately, the castle was under construction so I was not able to get a close up look. It was still a brilliant site to see. I love how much history has been preserved here in Ireland!

After a few more stops, we reached our destination of Galway. My first site from my bus window as I woke up from my nap was a McDonald’s. I knew this was going to be a good weekend :) Galway is about the population size of St. Cloud, and is located about an hour south of Louisburgh. It sits right on the coast of the Atlantic, and is part of the County Galway. The first thing that us girls did when we arrived was a shopping trip downtown-some retail therapy was definitely needed :) Shop Street was exactly how I imagined a European city to be like. Cobblestone streets, cute boutiques and gift shops, cafes, and of course there was no shortage of Irish pubs!

The highlight of my trip was the Cliffs of Moher. Located about a half an hour from Galway, this experience tops every sight I have ever seen in my life. I was amazed at how gigantic they were, and mind blown that mother nature could create such a spectacle. The climb was not difficult because stairs had been built to the lookout at the top. At the top looking down at the 700 feet between me and the ocean, all I could think about was the gorgeous views of the Arrin Islands and the sparkling sea green water below. I am so very excited to return to this place when my family comes in a few weeks. I was surprised to see a memorial for those who had lost their lives on the cliffs. Overall, this was an experience that I would recommend for anybody traveling to Ireland. At the end of the day after I had posted a few Facebook pictures, my friend Tommy, who is studying abroad in London right now texted me and said that he was also at the cliffs on Saturday! What are the odds? Honestly, I was so mesmerized by the view that I ignored all human existence for most of it. This weekend was the perfect getaway!





So many wonderful adventures this weekend. An unforgettable experience!





From Inishkea and Back

By Pam Jahnke

A few years ago I read the poem ‘To Inishkea’ by Katherine Tynon.

I read this poem while trying to find out more about the Inishkea Islands. Most people I know would never even bother to learn about the Inishkea Islands. After all, they are simply two tiny islands off the west coast of Ireland, hold nothing of importance, and have been abandoned since the 1930’s. I would never have cared about them either (or heard of them) except for the excitement that my Grandma had expressed when I told her that I was planning on studying abroad in Ireland during my senior year of college.

She enthusiastically told me that I MUST visit the place that my great-great grandmother was from; the Inishkea Islands. Unfortunately, she was unable to tell me anything more other than that my great-great grandmother was Sarah Minnehan and that she had come to America with her parents when she was four years old.

My great-great grandmother Sarah Minnehan and her husband Daniel Meade
Two days later, I found myself alone in my freshman dorm room, researching the Inishkea Islands on my laptop and signing up for an ancestry.com account in my enthusiasm to find out more.

What I found out that day is that the islands were abandoned in the 1930’s due to a storm on the night of October 28, 1927. Ten men from the islands perished in the storm, caught out at sea when the storm hit. The death of these ten men, was the final blow for many of the islanders. “Ten of the most experienced and able fishermen have been lost, and this will mean the end of the fishing industry here. In addition to losing their breadwinners, their families have lost curraghs and gear, they face starvation” Fr. Dodd, the parish priest of the Inishkeas said in an interview after the tragedy (Islands of Storm, James Charles Roy, p. 243).

The Inishkea islands were not the only islands to suffer this fate. Many other islands were abandoned over the last century, their populations decimated mainly by the emigration of their youth to the mainland. The most famous of these abandoned islands are the Blasket Islands off the coast of southern Ireland.

Despite the lack of history about the islands there have been a few lone souls interested in them. One of them is the archaeologist Francois Henry who did some archaeology work on them in the early 1930’s.The only thing of importance that she found was the remains of seashells from purpura lapillus permeating the area around Baile Mór. She concluded that there had been an early monastic workshop on the islands, producing a purple dye which was possibly used to create manuscripts at other monastic sites around Ireland.

In 1940 author T.H. White visited the islands and recorded the legend of the Godstone (also known as the naomhóg) in his book The Godstone and the Blackymor. The stone supposedly had the power to control the weather, preventing storms when the fishermen were out and creating one to bring in a wreck when a ship passed nearby to the island. At the end of the nineteenth century, Fr. O’Reilly, the local priest supposedly threw the stone into the sea. When he died a short time later, the islanders blamed his death on his destruction of the Naomhóg.

The information not so easily found out in a day was the information about my ancestors who came from this remote island. Over the last 4 years I have been able to find out a little bit more about my ancestors, with the help of some of my family. Sarah’s parents were Ellen Mary Lavelle and William Minnehan.

The old woman in this photo is Ellen.
While I haven’t found out more about Ellen, I did find out William is listed on the Griffith’s Valuation of 1858. I also found out that they immigrated in 1863. At first I thought it was kind of odd that they immigrated so many years after the potato famine. I would have thought that it would have been harder living on the islands during the potato famine (1845-1852) and that they would have immigrated during this time period. I was wrong. According to a few books that I have read about the islands, the population on the islands actually increased during the famine, quite the opposite of what was happening throughout the rest of Ireland.

And then, as often happens when studying genealogy, it seemed that I had hit my brick wall.

So today, when I got in John’s taxi and headed off to Blacksod and the Mullet Peninsula, I was not expecting much. I was hoping for a good picture of the islands at best, since I would not be able to actually visit the islands (boats only run in the summer). As it was raining when we left, I was praying pretty hard for some sunshine!

What I got was much more! Though by family history standards, it still isn’t much, but I will take what I can get. We arrived at the Ionad Deirbhile Visitor Center at about 10:30. Marina Monohan greeted me and asked me what I was interested in. She then proceeded to give me the index to 30 some different binders that they had full of historical information about the islands and the surrounding area!! I was overwhelmed! Certainly, this was more information than I had found on the internet!

The first thing that I noticed as I sat down to look through the binders was the large stained glass window at one end of the room.

Replica of window found at St. Deirbhile
It turns out the window is a replica of one found in the pre-Norman church at Fal Mor of St. Deirbhile. According to legend, St. Deirbhile arrived at Fal Mor after running from a prince who was interested in her. The prince caught up to her here and in asking him why he was interested in her, he told her it was her beautiful eyes. She plucked out her eyes and tossed them on the ground. The prince left, and where her eyes had fallen water sprung forth. She washed her eyes in the water, restoring her eyesight! Today, this spot is known as St. Deirbhile’s well and it is alleged that water from this site will cure eye complaints.

The site of St. Deirbhile's Well
Nearby is St. Deirbhile's Church and Bed -- apparently, if you can pass through the window, you will be protected from drowning
After learning about St. Deirbhile, I began to look for references to my ancestors, and while I did not find any, I did find out why they perhaps chose to settle in Erin Prairie, Wisconsin when they first arrived from Ireland. It turns out that Erin Prairie was mainly an Irish immigrant settlement. There was also a binder that supposedly contained information about the history of the Minehans’ and the Lavelle geneology, but unfortunately it was not available as the center is currently working on creating electronic files of everything. Marina was nice enough to let me write down my e-mail address and the information I was looking for, so hopefully I get an e-mail from the historian there in the next couple of weeks!

After enjoying the complementary tea and going through the binders, John and I headed off to find a good view of the Islands, which it turns out isn’t very hard when you are on a peninsula.


Though it does not look like it in this picture, the Islands looked like they were actually pretty close. You could actually make out the beaches on them.


It felt so strange to stand there looking at the place that my ancestors had left behind forever. They had left Ireland, never expecting to return, and here I was, in Ireland, standing on the shoreline of the Mullet Peninsula and getting my first glimpse of the Inishkea Islands! In the exact same spot that they perhaps had their last glimpse.


I can only hope that someday I can afford to come back in the summer and be able to not just see the Inishkeas but will get to “rise and go 'To Inishkea.'”

I’ll rise and go to Inishkea,
Where many a one will weep with me–
The bravest boy that sailed the sea
From Blacksod Bay to Killery.

I’ll dress my boat in sails of black,
The widow’s cloak I shall not lack,
I’ll set my face and ne’er turn back
Upon the way to Inishkea.

In Aran Island, cold as stone,
I wring my hands and weep my lone
Where never my true love’s name was known:
It were not so in Inishkea.

The friends that knew him there will come
And kiss my cheek so cold and numb.
O comfort is not troublesome
To kindly friends in Inishkea!

‘Tis there the children call your name,
The old men sigh, and sigh the same;
‘Tis all your praise, and none your blame,
Your love will hear in Inishkea.

But you were dear to beast and bird,
The dogs once followed at your word,
Your feet once pressed the sand and sward–
My heart is sore for Inishkea.

I’ll rise and go to Inishkea
O’er many a mile of tossing sea
That hides your darling face from me.
I’ll live and die in Iniskea!

-poem by Katherine Tynan

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Backpacking in Europe







Backpacking in Europe
For spring break this year I decided to go backpacking in Europe with a really good group of three friends. We started our journey from Dublin, Ireland from there we continued on to Bratislava, Slovakia, Vienna, Austria, and finally London, England before returning back to Dublin. All in all we took five different buses, four trains, three airplanes, two subway systems, and a whole lot of walking.
For anyone who has never traveled abroad, or have never backpacked in Europe I strongly encourage you to do so. It was some of the most fun that I have ever had, and I feel as if it will be some of my best memories while studying abroad. In our eight days of traveling we spent over 24 hours in airports or in the air.
Did we have a lot of money to spend? No, absolutely not, but who else can brag about eating peanut butter and jellies in London’s famous Tate modern art museum, one of the largest modern art museums in the world. This trip wasn’t about who can spend the most money nor seeing most things. Our trip was all about traveling and seeing the world as cheap as we could with a few close friends. Would I do it again? Yes, absolutely in a heartbeat. I don’t have a ton of money, and by that I actually mean I really don’t have any money but I am already ready to pack a backpack in leave in an instant for my next journey.
By Emilee Franklin 

ITALY


ITALY <3
By Megan Marolt
I cannot believe it is already over but we most definitely had the time of our live! 
Traveling on our own was so much fun and a huge learning experience for the both of us. 
After staying one more night in Dublin at a really cool hostel we headed to the airport around noon. A fare of 7 Euros brought us from downtown Dublin to the airport. I grabbed some lunch at McDonald’s in the airport and then we continued to wait around for a couple hours until we boarded our plane at 3pm. 
This flight was different than any other flight I had been on before because we were the minority on this flight. Everyone else was Italian or Irish. Yeah we got several looks and it actually made me kind of nervous. In my mind I did not think I was so anxious but soon my body began to respond. While wait in line I felt nauseous and a few times thought I was going to pass out. Once we were on the plane my nerves calmed and I was beginning to feel more excited. 
By the time we got to Rome it was dark and from a birds eye view we got to see the city and surrounding areas lit up. I had never scene so many soccer fields illuminated at once! We were truly there and my excited butterflies were fluttering, I couldn’t wait to get to be on the ground and check in to our hostel. 
We took the bus from the airport to the train station and from there our hostel was only a 10-minute walk. It was actually a really nice place! We had our own room and there was a bar/lounge/ nightclub downstairs. The had a full menu for breakfast and lunch as well as a happy hour which we took full advantage of.
Our full day in Rome was jam packed with sights to see. We had gotten a map from our hostel that highlighted the top 10 monuments. So with no time to spare we took of at about 8am to begin our day. The Coliseum, the Vatican Museum, St. Peter’s Cathedral were just some of the places we stopped. Those were the three that was spent the most time at. 
Needless to say it was an exhausting day and we were ready to say chao, Rome! Our train left at 11:45am the next morning for Florence and we were thankful to get out of that crazy city fairly early and get headed for Florence. 
Florence was amazing as well but we were sure glad to only spend one day there. We had dinner and hung out with some people from the hostel because included in our stay was complimentary wine and caprese salad at 6:30pm. After we were done conversing we went to see the monuments at night around the area. Oh and we definitely had been enjoying our fair share of gelato this whole time. The next morning we adventured up to a few gardens and to see David. The views of the city were amazing, lots of panoramic views and photo opts. Our train for Levanto left around 2pm and once again we were excited to get out of the big city. 
The train ride to Levanto was amazing. Just like in the movies. The Tuscan architecture, vineyards, snowcapped mountains, and green planes. The ride in total was about 3 1/2 hours after our transfer. We got to Levanto just in time to watch the sunset. Soon after we checked into our hostel, which slept 6 and went to dinner at a quaint spot just down the road. After dinner we decided to save out energy for the next day and hit the hay fairly early. One of the girls in our hostel told us about a hiking trail she adventured on that day which took about 4 1/2 hours but brought you to the neighboring town where you could stop and hang out for a while. Since we were there for 2 full day and 3 nights we decided this sounded like something fun to do! It was about a two-hour hike there, and was quite rigorous. But let me tell you the view was worth to extra work! We were climbing cliff side the whole time with a view of the beautiful Mediterranean Sea on our right side. After two hours of hiking we came to the town Monterosso. We decided to hang on the beach there and soak up the sun. Enjoying some gelato and fresh fruit. After a few hours we decided we had been restored enough to take the trek back up the hillside to and head back to Levanto. We were so wiped that we watched the sunset over some drinks, grabbed some dinner and were in bed by 8:30pm. That night we were the only ones in our room until 12:30am and three boys came stumbling in. The next day we decided to take it easy and chill on the beach 9-4 like it was our job. The sun was beaming down on us with no clouds in the sky, a warm breeze, and 66-degree weather. We were not the only crazy ones, there were others basking in the sun as well! With our headphones in we were in complete trance the whole day soaking up all the rays we could. We were completely roasted by the end of the day and were ready for a good meal and rest. I made friends with some the guys who were staying in our room who were apart of a 20-person group from America. They were studying in another part of Italy but were all from the states. We hung out on the beach under the moonlight and shared some drinks at the cabana across from the hostel. Here we were able to talk with some of the locals. This was a great way to end my Italian adventure. :) 
Sunday was Kelly’s birthday and I felt so bad we were just going to be traveling the whole day so there weren’t a whole lot of opportunities for a celebration. However, we did have a really fun week, so I hope that made up for a busy day of just traveling and staying in the airport overnight in Dublin. 
From now on I will always remember to print my boarding pass when flying Ryanair before I get to the airport so that I am not charged an extra 70 euros to board the plane. Geez! I was more than upset. But I couldn’t let it ruin my perspective on the whole trip. Once we were back in Louisburgh it was nice to come and unwind, actually take a shower! 

I am so thankful for the opportunity to go to Italy and everything that I experienced there. Kelly is a great travel companion and a great friend. We definitely had a trip of a lifetime!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

St. Patrick's Day

By Tanya LaFavor

It was quite the experience to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day in Ireland. We started the morning off with preparing to be in a parade with the Louisburgh HQ Street Art. In the parade I was what they called a beautiful person who wore bright colors. I was going to originally carry a rain stick object around, but plans changed and I ended up caring a heavy banner around instead. It was challenge to carry the heavy banner around the block due to the wind. Other people in my group, that were not apart of the beautiful people, were known as the enemy, and wore black and red clothes with war type face paint with huge shields and drums to carry around. That part of the group was probably the loudest of the whole parade. After the parade, our group headed back to hang around and play some games outside. But due to the cold weather we decided on inside games were more favorable. We finished up the day by going to the local pubs, and enjoying the busy atmosphere. I could of not ask for a better group to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day with, and I hope one day to make it back to Ireland again on March 17th.


Saturday Night Mass

By Katie Steffl

I love being in Louisburgh on the weekends for the simple fact that I get to go to church. Every Saturday night we are in town, a group of us go to 7:30 mass. From the outside, St. Patrick’s Church is quite majestic but when you step inside, you are taken aback by how simple it is. Some would think that describing a church as simple has a negative connotation but I mean that in the best way. In this case, the simplicity of this church makes it beautiful.

From the first mass I attended in town to tonight, I have not been able to describe the feeling I get when I leave church. I am in awe at how the priest can take the readings from the week and so perfectly apply them to everyday life. Not only that, but he relates it to a current event that everyone in attendance can relate to. For the first time in my life, I can walk away from church and, when asked later what was talked about in church, I can tell you what was said! Although the homilies may be shorter than those that are given in the United States, there is a true message that comes across that stays with you.

There is a bulletin that can be picked up before you find your seat for mass. It includes the readings for the week and announcements from the parish office. On the front cover, there is a theme that is chosen for each week that comes from the readings that will be read during church. This weeks theme was “Don’t Worry, Be Happy, a person cannot be the slave of two masters. The one who claims our allegiance as our creator is God”. This is a theme that I hope to carry with me for the rest of my trip in Ireland.

"In God alone is my soul at rest"

Friday, May 2, 2014

Long Trip Part 2-AN ACTUAL MONKEY ON MY LITERAL BACK


By Luke Johannessen

The next day of the trip was one of my favorites of the week, as we visited Cahir Castle and Fota Wildlife Park, and drove to stay in Blarney for the night. Located on a small island, surrounded by a strong and deep running river, Cahir was the epitome of defense. The upper battlements had arrow and musket slots to return fire, multiple cannons, and the more Murder Holes than really seemed necessary. The staircase inside the castle itself, like many others was built with careful strategy in mind. Each step was a different height, width, and length and twisted extremely tightly up in a clockwise fashion. From this clockwise position knights would be forced to carry their swords in their left hands giving the defending army coming down the stairs the advantage as it was believed that being left-handed was against nature and religion. From the battlements you could see a thick forest and the river to one side, with a bustling Irish town on the other. Cahir castle has been the sight for the taping of several different movies and television shows as well, including Braveheart, Excalibur, and the Tudors. As much as I enjoyed the castle, it would have been much more fun if they had kept all the doors unlocked and let you really get to all the nooks and crannies of the place. Everywhere I turned there was a chain across the stairwell, or a locked door. What’s the point of finding a secret trapdoor if you can’t go through it?! Even at the top of the chained off stairs there was a locked door (not that I’d know that for sure...) and the dungeons were locked, it was quite disappointing indeed.

The Wildlife Park is definitely one of the highlights of my trip so far. The park was designed as not to have any “obvious barriers” between the visitors and the animals so they would be more easily visible and to allow us to get closer to many of the animals. I was completely unprepared for the animals that I’d be seeing while there, because I didn’t think that the Irish cold would allow for so many exotic animals to live outside in one area. Zebras, Bison, Kangaroos, an incredible variety of species of monkey, giraffes, ducks, cheetahs, you name it they had it! I had never seen most of these animals before and hadn’t ever dreamed that I’d see them in Ireland. I’m still vexed by how they survive in this climate, terribly vexed. One of the first animals we saw were emus, and they are uniquely unsettling birds. Towering above us stepping right up to the electric wire separating us from them, the emus followed us as we walked along the path. Being terrified of birds, I was very nervous to have this large, fast, aggressive one following us. After awhile though it got bored and we continued down the path to the cheetah exhibit, where it was feeding time.

Watching a cheetah eat was equal parts terrifying, marvelous, and disgusting. There was a motorized yellow wire suspended across the length of the pen, from which they hung dead birds and rabbits from and zip them from one end to the other so the cheetahs would run for their dinner. After a short chase, the leader of the pack jumped high into the air and ripped a small bird off the line and trundled off to sit and eat in peace. The second feeding pitted the beta male against the baby of the family, and it was the single largest dead bird I’ve ever seen dangling from that wire. It looked like the turkey the pilgrims ate on the first Thanksgiving. The little guy had a chance to eat a rabbit, but it got stuck on the wire, and the leader stole it from him. But it ended okay, mostly. He got to eat but never got the thing off the wire, but it sounded like the bird was satisfyingly crunchy so there’s that.

After that awful and amazing experience we continued down the path to the other exhibits. While most of the class had quite a pleasant walk mine was horrifying. Birds. Everywhere. I hate birds. Particularly the ravens that covered the path in black and purple feathers, the a literal murder of them. The fact that they’re called a murder definitely plays into my being scared of them as well. It wasn’t just ravens either. Ducks, pigeons, peacocks, pelicans, just walking around the path! It was madness! Pure lunacy! The worst part was that they weren’t scared of us. They ignored us even. It was awful. I had to put my head down and aggressively charged through the path saying to myself “I’m a big strong man and I’m not afraid of birds! I’m a big strong man and I’m not afraid of birds!!”

That walk was more than worth it though, because the monkeys were on the other side of....murderers row! A classmate and I saw a group of small black-furred monkeys in a little tree house at about eye level and they were playfully wrestling. The larger monkey threw the smaller one against the wall and bit his neck, and my classmate shouted “oh man he just bit that guy! that’s what’s up!!” and I swear the monkey looked right at us, and smiled. The unquestioned high point of the day was when we passed the lemur fence though. There was roughly 15 lemurs just hanging out right on the side of the path on a wooden fence and they were watching us coming for a long time. Luckily I had a banana in my pocket and I thought I’d see if they were hungry, and they were! I can’t even begin to explain through words how excited I was, THE LEMUS ACTUALLY CLIMBED ME TO GET THE BANANA. I HAD A LITERAL MONKEY ON MY ACTUAL BACK! At one point there were three monkeys climbing my legs and reaching for pieces of the banana and I was just so happy.

Springtime in Ireland

By Regan Holmes Katz

Think of the most perfect day (weather wise) during a Minnesota summer. That’s what we had for the past few days over here in Ireland. The sun has been shining, winds were calm and it was right around 60 degrees. Absolutely beautiful weather. For our second class on Tuesday, we decided to have class outside the cottages at picnic tables. After class we had an impromptu review session for a midterm test we had in a different class. For the review session we drew on the side of a cottage with sidewalk chalk. It worked out surprisingly well.

A few of us students went out to a local beach and took pictures of the sunset over the ocean. As you can see it was absolutely beautiful.


Spring is definitely here in Ireland! The fields look a little bit greener, the leaves on trees are starting to come out, and flowers are blooming. Another big hint that spring is in the air; all you need to do is look in any sheep field. You will see so many baby lambs! I can’t believe how fast they grow! Just last week there was only a handful. Now there are three times as many! The early lambs are so big compared to the new baby ones! They have the cutest pink little ears and their wool is snow white! So adorable! In case you don’t believe me that spring has arrived, here are a few pictures of some flowers and little lambs.



Thursday, May 1, 2014

Dublin

Sunday, March 30, 2014


By Josh Zinmer

Dublin was such an awesome town with many museums and other wonderful places to visit! My roommate Max and I stayed there a few extra days before we left for Oslo. Being able to see where the start of the Easter Rising was at the Post Office, and being able to still see bullet marks still in the pillars was amazing. Dublin is a wonderful town and I am very happy that I have been able to see many historical sites!

This is Trinity Library which was absolutely amazing. There were so many first editions and rare books it would be awesome to be able to spend a day there reading!


The Guinness Storehouse! The tour was amazing and at the end we were able to enjoy a Guinness at the top with one of the best views of Dublin!


Some funny posters at the Guinness factory during our tour!


Here is Newgrange it is amazing to see what people have built centuries ago



Max and I went to the Wax Museum which was awesome. It had exhibits from everything covering history to horror movies.


This is the first Harley I have seen in Ireland, it makes me wish I could rent a bike to ride for a couple days.

Here is the Post Office a lot of the marks along its side are from bullets during the Easter Rising.



Max and I found this Badger on the side of the road while walking from the Airport to our hotel. Even though it was dead it still looked pretty fearsome.

Whale Ho!

By Steph Koehnen

Saturday 1 March 2014


We set sail around 11 a.m. with Captain Tom steering us toward the day’s treasure. Okay, well treasure might be a little too exaggerated. For all I knew it was a wild goose chase—wild dead whale chase would be a little more accurate. But in any case, our captain had done some research to pinpoint where the whale was supposed to be. During the hour long voyage through the greenery of County Mayo, First Mate Cami supplied us with the day’s rations of snickerdoodle cookies, which the two other deckhands and I devoured immediately. We would need the sustenance for the impending hunt.

Once we got to the town of Ballycroy we docked for directions and further sustenance. The port was a small supermarket set up like a general store of old with the majority of merchandise on shelves behind the counter. Tending the store was a lovely maiden in a neon pink shirt. She knew precisely where we meant to go and gave us landmarks to steer by. We bought some candies and drinks before reboarding the SS Ford Focus.

It was a treacherous journey from there. We nearly capsized when trying to pass another ship in a narrow strait, but Captain Tom got us out of that sticky wicket. Then we realized that the maiden from the supermarket must not have taken into account the wind speed and direction, so we turned about and set a new course. A few kilometers into the new route we saw another port with a lass standing on the docks. She rattled off directions without even consulting her compass, and they were spot on. The worthy lass deserved a pint, but she wasn’t to be found at the port on our return journey.

Finally we docked at a rocky beach. There was so little sand I had a hard time calling it a beach, but perhaps it was a real beach before the storms of the last few months. Alas there is no way for me to tell. Captain Tom and First Mate Cami allowed us deckhands to wander at will rather than give us direct orders. Claire and Willie generally stayed ahead, keeping a watchful eye out for the treasure, but I tended to lag behind as I observed the rocks and plant matter of the strand.


I was beginning to doubt our directions since we had walked nearly a half hour without any hint of a whale, dead or otherwise. But then the cry of “Whale!” from Willie stopped us all in our tracks. We strained our eyes to find what he saw and continued moving once we had satisfactorily spotted its location. I had steeled myself for the wretched stench, ready for the repugnance of 50-some tons of rotting whale carcass, but it didn’t come. The only place I smelled anything was directly in front of the whale’s head. Even standing downwind of the actual wounds produced no offending stench.


The whale’s skin was dry and cracked; it had been stranded on the beach nearly two weeks by the time we got there. All the ships seeking the thing had signed a no-poaching treaty. It was to be left alone, nothing taken, nothing added. Many ships came to see how they might bring down other whales, to learn their weak spots, but our purpose was merely curiosity. Our whole crew had never seen a whale before—dead or alive—so it was almost necessary to make the voyage.


It rained during the trek back to the ship so our entire backsides were soaked. Despite this, it was a productive journey for all parties—unless you count the whale. His journey was undeniably unsuccessful. Tomorrow we start another new mission, but the Captain still hasn’t let on what it is.

The Little Things

By Elise Wolner

I realized today that my stay in Ireland is about half over. It was a very bittersweet realization because I have been so incredibly happy here but at the same time I am looking forward to being home again. I am amazed at how easy it is to be joyful here. Even on the mornings where waking up for class is a struggle, I still find myself so grateful that I took this opportunity. Louisburgh isn’t seen as anything exciting to the locals, but I think that’s what makes it so appreciated by me. I’ve never lived in a city with a population less than 40,000 but I don’t feel deprived being here. Sure, at home I can shop on Sundays and order late night pizza whenever I want, but here I’m five minutes from the ocean. I’m invited over for dinner by my professor. I’m watching herds of sheep raise their lambs.

I’m appreciating the little things that make me smile.

Because honestly there’s so many of them here! I’m starting to believe that the less a person has, the happier they are because they don’t take anything for granted. Sure I miss being able to play piano and driving, but that will make me love every second of those things once I’m able to do them again. Even writing about these little things is making me smile! It’s amazing how much your attitude affects your life. Smile on smilers.