Saturday, August 8, 2015

Great Craic Was Had, Ireland 2015

Celtic Crosses at Kilmacduagh Monastery just outside Gort, County Clare
 A couple of you were kind enough to ask about my recent trip to Ireland so  I'll take a little break from Poor Farm activity and share my adventures at NUIG (National University Ireland, Galway)

Welcoming statue at NUIG

If you have followed me over here from my old blog, The Midlife Farmwife, you know this was not my first visit to the beautiful island of Eire. When I lived in corporate nurse management world and later when Keith and I had our much larger organic beef/pork/dairy business there were more funds to gad about, so I've done the tourist thing in Ireland many times in the past 15 years; this year however was very different.

I went as a gawky, doe-eyed, innocent student.

Ok, ok, I went as a grey haired, cynical, wind-whipped, and wrinkled around the edges student. Same difference but less likely to run off with an Italian Study Abroad student; who has the energy for that anyway? I was part of Irish Studies Program at NUIG a four week session hosting students from all over the world. I focused on a Creative Writing course taught by super author Mike McCormack and Gaelic Culture and Literature taught by the dynamic Kicki Ingridsdotter and Liam O'hAisibe'il master of placenames, surnames and all other Irish names only he could pronounce. I also squeezed in an Irish Language class, a Sean Nos Dance class, a Sean Nos singing class and invited myself to a couple extra field trips I wasn't scheduled to attend. I certainly got my tuitions worth.

Like I said, grey-haired, cynical, wind-whipped etc...
In years past I would rent a car , rent a cottage and bury myself in the isolated countryside somewhere in the Burren, but this year being on a students budget, there was no car and I needed to stay in the city. This was no problem. Galway is reported to be the fastest growing city in Europe (pop. 74,000) and with an average age of  34, it was alive with music, dance, great pubs (is any pub in Ireland not great? Of course not.) and restaurants. City Centre is fantastic for walking and gawking as it is blocked to traffic and full of activities.

I especially enjoyed the "buskers" those who perform in the streets for money. Glen Hansard is one of the most famous Irish buskers, a very personal favorite of mine, who has gone on to great acclaim . I would often grab a cup of tea to go and wonder Galway streets after class just for the fun of people watching and short story material gathering.

Galway City Centre

Buskers include all types of entertainers

View over Dingle Bay

Belted Galloway cows seen from our bus ride down into Dingle
Green, so wonderfully green.
One of our field trips was to the Dingle Pennisula where we viewed the film sights for Far and Away (our tour guide said the locals voted Tom Cruise with The Worst Irish Accent ) and Ryans Daughter with Sarah Miles and the ever handsome Robert Mitchum, who by the way used to keep quarter horses years ago in the Frankfort, Ill area; a ranch I worked on as a teenager. This means that my arse and Mitchum's arse have shared the same ride. Yeah, I knew you'd be impressed. Good thing. No one in my family is, no matter how many times I tell the story.

Film sight from the beginning of the 1992 film, Far and Away.

Film sight of beach scenes of the 1970 film Ryans Daughter
Field trips were always on the weekends and involved bus rides, ferry trips (to the Aran Islands) and while in Dingle; a two night stay in a hostel. The excursion I loved the most was the one nearest the school, a short trip to the home of author/poet William Butler Yeats, Thoor Ballylee.

Thoor Ballylee, home of William Butler Yeats near Gort
County Galway, Ireland. This bridge was also used in the 1952 film
Quiet Man with John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara
To walk across the bridge where he once walked, to sit in his home in the room where he once wrote, to look out over the same Streamstown River he viewed was a moving experience for this writer.

That evening after making it back to my little rental studio in Galway I found an email from the iYeats Poetry Contest folk informing me that a poem I entered back in May, While Waiting for the Coroner, was being recognized as "highly commended." This is my first published poem and I am thrilled and once again a big believer in The Luck of The Irish. My poem was inspired by the families I cared for while a hospice nurse. If interested in giving it a read just click Here.

So there you have it, How I spent My Summer, more or less. Next post...back to life on The Poor Farm and more GBH updates.

View from inside Yeats home, Thoor Ballylea






  1. Thanks for the "ride". Beautiful country, glad you could go again. By chance, did you get to visit the paintbrush or didn't you go back that way?

    1. Oh Carolyn what a memory. No, that was in Doolin and didn't have a field trip there. Next time when I'm rich from...what? selling poems? about 2080? I
      I'll go back and check on me da's paintbrush buried in the fence gate.

  2. I adore your poem, well done. I love how Irish pubs are meeting places rather than just drinking holes (though im sure plenty of that goes on). Poetry, singing, games, and im sure, plenty of gossip.

  3. Thank you so much for this post. I hadn't asked yet but I've been so curious as to how your trip went! Wonderful photos and descriptions. What a treat for you.

    1. It was a huge treat and the contacts I made for future writing projects was perhaps the best treat of all.

  4. Such pretty photos! I'd love to go here again. I went as a teenager but didn't appreciate it.

  5. So glad that you left a message on my post because now I'm back in touch and having such a catch-up on all that you've been doing. First of all, your poem - it had me in tears. So... there's a LOT of Irish in you... a big-hearted woman who's great with words. (This message coming from a Murphy!) (:-)-X


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