Ireland Travels!

Molly Ballenger
April 21, 2022
Giant's Causeway

Traveling all over Europe this semester has been a blast, but some of my favorite memories have come from my adventures within Ireland. Don’t miss out on the opportunities you have to explore your host country! I guarantee you won’t regret it. 

Our first trip out of Dublin was to Cork City, in the south of Ireland. It’s the second largest city in the country, and we had fun exploring. My favorite part by far was touring Blarney Castle, just a thirty-minute bus ride out of the city. The castle is surrounded by beautiful gardens to walk through, and the actual tour was so cool! You get to walk through the entire castle: up winding stone staircases, peeking out of the tiny windows, and learning about life in the castle. The whole tour leads to the Blarney stone, an ancient building block at the top of the castle whose legend says that whoever kisses the stone will gain the gift of eloquence! So, the big thing is to line up to kiss the stone. You have to lie down on your back as the tour guide basically dangles you headfirst over the side of the castle and you lean as far as you can to reach it! It was crazy. (They do thankfully sanitize the stone between each visitor.)

Another weekend, I decided to take a bus tour by myself to Glendalough, an ancient monastery in ruins in the Wicklow Mountains National Park, just south of Dublin. It was so beautiful, and really cool to get to travel a bit by myself. 

There was another weekend later in the semester when my roommate and I had nothing else planned, so we decided to visit Limerick! It’s a small town on the west coast of Ireland, and we had a great time enjoying the change of pace from Dublin. There wasn’t a whole lot to do, but we really liked the restful weekend and getting to see and experience a new place. 

Later in the semester, after all of my international travels, my friends and I were itching to get out of the city again, so we had a beach weekend in west Cork county! It was so ideal; we had a rare weekend of amazing weather (meaning 55 degrees and sunny), so we did almost nothing but lay in the sun, eat good food, and spend good time with each other. We watched the sunrise, went stargazing, and even ended the trip with a dip in the (freezing) Atlantic ocean! We felt so alive! It was honestly one of my favorite weekends of the whole semester. 

The next weekend, my parents came into town! I spent a couple days showing them around Dublin, then we drove south to spend a night in Kilkenny! It’s a small town that’s super charming and the natural beauty around it is breathtaking. The best part was the hotel we stayed in: a renovated old country chateau made into a hotel, with extensive grounds, a lake, and walking trails we got to explore. Then, we headed to the west coast to stay in Killarney! It was pretty kitschy, but fun! While we stayed there, we took a day to drive around the Ring of Kerry! It’s a peninsula in Kerry county that juts out into the Atlantic, and the views are stunning. 

Finally, my last adventure in Ireland was a day trip with a friend up to Northern Ireland! We first went to the Giant’s Causeway, a really unique shore below the cliffs made up of hexagonal rocks! Scientists think that an ancient volcanic explosion made the rocks into crystals as the lava met the ocean, but Celtic mythology has a story about two giants, one on the shore of Northern Ireland and the other on the shore of Scotland (only 12 miles away; we got to see the highlands!) fighting a mighty battle until Finn, the Irish giant, decided to make a bridge to Scotland to finish his enemy, and the ruins of that bridge are what we see today. However it got there, it was beautiful to see, and the rest of the Northern Irish countryside was so beautiful! Belfast was fun, too; we didn’t spend too much time there, but it was a fun little city and we got to enjoy one of their famous sausage rolls - SO good. 

Out of all my travels this semester, I’m most thankful for the time I spent right here in Ireland. I’ve fallen in love with this country and its culture, and I’m going to miss it so much! My bucket list for the next time I’m here is even longer than when I arrived; Ireland, it’s not goodbye, but see you soon!

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Molly Ballenger

<p>I'm an English and Religion major at Furman University from Lookout Mountain, Georgia. At school, I'm on the leadership team for several campus ministries, I work at my school's farm, and I play club ultimate frisbee! In my free time, I enjoy being outside, climbing, and playing guitar, as well as spending time with friends.</p>

2022 Spring
Home University:
Furman University
Lookout Mountain, GA
Religious Studies
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