Greetings friends! (And happy Unofficial eve to my U of I readers! YAY!)

This blog post I’ll be telling you all about the Kelleher family experiencing their homeland! My dad works in Limerick a few times a year, so I was fortunate enough to have them visit me in Dublin for a long weekend, then spend a night with them in Limerick. Great craic (Gaelic for fun) was had by all…

The Kilmainham jail (you would laugh if you saw how I spelled that before Googling it to double check) was our first stop on Friday. This former jail (now a museum open to the public) is mainly famous because of who it imprisoned during the Irish rebellions and struggle for independence. It was cool to see some of what I’ve learned in my Irish history class come to life.

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The jail from the outside

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And the inside

After that, we went to my parents’ hotel to drop their stuff off, then kept moving to get dinner and drinks in the Temple Bar area. Let me tell you, it’s awesome going out on your parents’ dime! 😉 And I’d also like to applaud them for handling the jet lag WAY better than I did. Seems like the trick really is to keep moving. Rookie mistake, Caitlyn…

Saturday was a painfully early morning getting up for a day trip to Newgrange. Seriously, I don’t know how I got up at 6:30 for high school every morning because when my alarm went off at 6:45 I just wanted to cry. However, the early wake-up call was well worth it to see this place! Newgrange is a bit north of Dublin in the Boyne Valley. It’s a 5000 year old passage tomb of great astrological and religious importance. It was constructed so that during the winter solstice, the sunrise would flood the tomb and fill it with an amber, glowing light, which was meant to be a very spiritual experience for those inside the tomb. We were able to go inside and they had a large lightbulb that could stimulate the experience. As it’s so old, it’s really hard to say exactly what the solstice’s light meant to these people, but we learned it may have been a symbol of victory of life over death, or a way for them to ring in the new year. It’s amazing the precision that was needed to build the passageway and tomb so that the light would shine at exactly the right place. Also, the rocks and stones used to build it are HUGE and were dragged in from miles and miles away… before the invention of the wheel. Whaat?!

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The Newgrange tomb

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The entryway!

Its location near the Boyne Valley is also significant. The Battle of the Boyne was a huge bloodfest in 1690, William of Orange vs James II. James’s ultimate defeat resulted in Protestantism reigning in England, and thus, Ireland, which spawned a solid three centuries of further distress and warfare in Ireland, but that’s beside the point.

That night, we went on a literary pub crawl! The night paid homage to the famous writers who call Dublin their home- James Joyce, Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, and W.B. Yeats to name a few. I knew virtually nothing about Irish literature before the night began, but the tour was led by two actors who would act out scenes and teach us about the authors and the significance of the pubs as the night went on. We had a lot of fun!

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Keepin’ it classy

Sunday we visited Malahide Castle (why am I always in castles?!), which was cool because it was inhabited by its family members, the Talbots, up until the 1970s. It’s still furnished and had a lot of historical connections to the Battle of the Boyne, Cromwell’s takeover, the Tudors and the Stuarts, etc. After we went to Howth, a fish town north of Dublin, for lunch. I loved Howth the first time I went so I was happy to go back!

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Parentals and me by the water

Monday I had to do that whole school thing… gross… but after I met my parents to continue my dad’s quest of going to all the top pubs in Dublin. He succeeded. We called it a pretty early night because the next morning we left bright and early for Limerick! Limerick is the fourth largest city in the Republic of Ireland. It is not like Dublin City in the slightest. It definitely feels much smaller and doesn’t have nearly as much to do. However, my main motivation for going (besides spending more time with my lovely parents, of course) was an Angela’s Ashes walking tour! For those who aren’t aware, Angela’s Ashes is the first in a series of memoirs by Frank McCourt. It depicts his thoroughly depressing Irish Catholic childhood in the slums of the city. They had no money, the dad was an alcoholic, he lost three siblings to illnesses, they moved all the time to avoid eviction, he dropped out of school at 13, he was full of Catholic guilt… any depressing Irish stereotype you can think of, this family had it. But the books really are worth reading; I read them my freshman year of high school and will definitely read them again after this tour. Our tour guide was fantastic, full of knowledge because he had suffered a similar type of childhood in Limerick (without an alcoholic dad, which appears to be the difference between having just a difficult time and being completely miserable like the McCourts). It was great to see the sights of the book and learn more about the family! Definitely worth reading if you have the time!

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The River Shannon

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Frank McCourt’s previous schoolhouse, now renovated into a museum

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Frank and me just chillin’

Then yesterday I had to come back to Dublin for class. The “study” part of studying abroad is cramping my style. Now I’m getting ready for a very Irish Unofficial weekend! Four friends from school are in town, along with lots of other abroad students from U of I, so it’s sure to be a fun weekend! Though I really do miss my friends at school and wish we could be together for what is some of their last Unofficial celebrations 😦 Thank goodness for Skype!

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Gonna miss this!

With that, I’m off to go buy some green to wear! To those celebrating, have fun and be safe! Thanks for reading 🙂

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