Upcoming Website Maintenance

Early this Wednesday morning U.S. Central Time the IES Abroad website will undergo scheduled maintenance. During this time some or all features of the site - like login and account creation - will be unavailable, but we expect this disruption to be brief. Thank you for your patience.

Howth and Dingle and Galway (Oh My!)

Caroline Norton
October 30, 2019
Checking out the sheep in Dingle

Oh, blog. I’ve been neglecting you.

But I have a good reason, I promise! Over the last few weeks, I started classes at the Gaiety School of Acting, and while things there have been pretty intense, it has also been one of the most rewardingly challenging experiences of my life so far, but more on that later. Over the last few weeks, I have also had the opportunity to get to know more of Ireland, which just begins to feel more and more like home the more I explore. I thought I would take this opportunity to share a few of my experiences with all of you, starting with the place where I began writing my last post, Dingle!

When my friend Bridget suggested to me that we explore a small town on the west coast called Dingle, I had no idea what she was talking about, but I thought I’d trust her judgment and go along for the ride. I am so glad I did because the weekend we spent in this little town with a funny name turned out to be one of the most lovely weekends I could have imagined. Dingle is a quaint town settled in Kerry, south of Galway. It is surrounded by gorgeous green and expansive mountains and deep valleys with more fields of sheep and cows than you can even imagine. While we were there, we hiked a bit, took in some incredible views of the sound, ate some amazing ice cream and seafood, and went on a little pub crawl. The thing I’ll remember most about Dingle is how quiet it is. When we hiked above the town, and it seemed like the whole valley was still sleeping, we could hear each car passing below us. This quiet persisted even as we roamed through the town at night, but soon we realized where all the people were; huddling together in the pubs. At the end of our night in Dingle, we wound up in one of the coziest and Irish-feeling pubs I’ve seen since arriving in this country. This place was called O’Sullivan’s, and it was low-ceilinged, loud, and lit almost entirely by candles. My friends and I sat in the corner, sipped Irish whiskey, and listened to two older men play some of the best trad music I’ve ever heard. It felt like a little Irish fairytale, and the entire trip to Dingle was such a welcome retreat from the busyness of Dublin.

Another weekend, some friends and I journeyed about 20 minutes by train outside of Dublin to a fishing town called Howth. There, we took in some incredible views from a cliff walk, and some of my friends even splashed around in the freezing Irish Sea. (I elected to stay on the shore and collect seashells instead.) The hike in Howth was one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever been on. When we stood on the cliffs, we looked out into the fog, and the sea and the sky were almost completely indistinguishable from one another. It was like staring into a misty, blue-gray abyss, but it felt calming rather than scary. At the very top of the hike, we came to a clearing that one of my roommates accurately compared to the setting for the play Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett. It was utterly silent, dark, and bare but for a few small shrubs, patches of wildflowers, and a single little bench that faced out to the ocean/sky. It was so hard to leave that peaceful place, but we felt a little famished and eventually began our descent into town to try some of Howth’s famous fish and chips before catching our train home.

Finally, the most recent Irish excursion I went on was an IES Abroad-sponsored trip to Galway, and it was magnificent. Galway feels like a cozier, almost kinder version of Dublin. The city is absolutely alive with shops, student life, pubs and restaurants, and of course the famous buskers serenading passersby on the street. We were actually quite impressed to hear so many very talented musicians serenading us as we strolled along. It was easy to see how Ed Sheeran got his start there, singing on those streets. Since this particular getaway was three days long, we got to do much more sightseeing than I typically would, and I was so grateful. On our first day, we took a walking tour of the city lead by a dry but sufficiently entertaining tour guide before enjoying some free time taking in Galway’s vibrant nightlife. The following day we visited Kylemore Abbey, which is a gorgeous historic structure structured into the side of a lush and beautiful hill overlooking a sparkling lake. Kylemore is home to a palace, an abbey, and a medieval-style chapel. It has hosted many influential guests throughout the years, including the family of Oscar Wilde and Ronald and Nancy Reagan. After exploring this stunning place, we enjoyed a lunchtime cruise through the amazing Killary fjord. I’m not a huge fan of boats, but this little trip was one I’ll never forget. In typical Irish fashion, it started out a little too foggy for us to fully appreciate the mountains and waterfalls on either side of the expanse of the water, but by the end of the trip, the view was unbelievable. On our last day in Galway, we took a long bus ride to the magnificent Cliffs of Moher. To say the experience was humbling would be an understatement. There was just something so powerful, terrifying, and mesmerizing about standing just above something so old and mighty, literally on the edge between life and death. It sounds morbid, but overall the experience was incredibly beautiful.

To be completely honest, I never understood the appeal of traveling around Ireland before I came here. I knew so little about this country, and I had no idea how much there is to see here. After taking so much time to explore the Emerald Isle, I’ve realized not only how welcoming and stunning of a place it is, but also how much I’m going to miss it. December is approaching quickly, so I’ll just have to keep soaking in as much as I can while I’m here.

More Blogs From This Author

View All Blogs

Caroline Norton

<p>Hey there! My name is Caroline Norton, and I am a junior at Texas Christian University with a huge passion for theatre! My favorite sweet snack is frosted circus animal cookies, I have never been to Ireland before, and I kind of believe I am a 40-year-old woman trapped inside a 19-year-old's body. I love to bring stories to life whenever I can whether it be through acting, writing, singing, or any other form of artistic expression, and nothing gives me a greater sense of fulfillment than creating something artistic for others to enjoy.</p>

Home University:
Texas Christian University
Hometown:
Fort Worth, TX
Major:
Drama
Explore Blogs