Ireland Excursion 2022
Céad míle fáilte...
The Ireland excursion 2022 concluded two linguistics seminars: Language in Irish Society (SuSe 2021) and Languages in Ireland (SuSe 2022). The week on the Emerald Isle included several days in the capital Dublin as well as a trip to the Gaeltacht in the west of the island, an area where the Celtic language is still spoken today. The excursion was partially funded by the University's QVM scheme, the Department for Anglophone Studies and the Faculty of Humanities. Seven students embarked on the Irish adventure with excursion leader Frauke Milne (née Griese) and excursion companion Stuart Milne. You can read more about their experiences below and scroll all the way down for some visual impressions.
Our travel journal
Monday, 22 Aug Arriving in Dublin
After arriving in Dublin, we put the baggage in our shared room and went out to get to know the city. We found some snacks and sat down on a bench next to the Liffey – lunch with a view. We then met Ms Griese, Mr Milne and Aiofe, an Irish student from Mullingar, for a first guided walking tour of Dublin, including the famous Molly Malone statue. One example of a stop that excited us all and therefore took us a couple of minutes was the statue of Oscar Wilde in Merrion Square Park. The columns in front of his statue, which also feature his wife Constance Lloyd and Dionysus, allowed for passing people to put down quotes of their own. We finished our tour at O’Neill’s Pub and after a hearty meal and some insider tips from Aoife, we headed off to our last event of the day: a visit at the Comedy Crunch in the Stag’s Head. The first few jokes obviously had to be at our expense (German, Anglophone studies students and a few of us looking too young to be in a pub…) but we all settled in really quickly. I was astonished by how many different countries were represented in the audience but in the end we all laughed at the same jokes. (Karoline)
Tuesday, 23 Aug Trinity College and Book of Kells
Tuesday started at the famous Trinity College of Dublin. We met at 9 o´clock on campus in front of the Bell Tower. As the buildings already looked very impressive from the outside, we were curious about what the oldest university in Ireland looked like from the inside. But first we got a guided tour of the campus before being led to the highlight of the tour: the Book of Kells, a 1,200-year-old book with beautiful illustrations. Finally, we went into the huge and venerable library. It is definitely worth a visit: the architecture is quite impressive with its high vaulted ceiling, galleries, a filigree iron spiral staircase and of course high shelves with uncountable old and valuable books.
After our visit we took a little break in the courtyard and Ms Griese took the opportunity to teach us some Irish expressions like “Dia dhuit!” for “Hello!” or “Sláinte!” for “Cheers” – essential linguistic knowledge for any Ireland-bound tourist…
Our next stop was the National Gallery of Ireland with art from Claude Monet, Rembrandt and other famous artists. During our visit, the group split up and while some of us looked at more works of art in the gallery, the others tackled some souvenir shopping and afterwards visited the National Library of Ireland.
After a short break at our hostel, we were prepared for our last point that day: the literary pub crawl. The two guides told us many interesting and funny anecdotes about the pubs and other famous places in Dublin like Trinity College. Overall, a very entertaining tour through Dublin’s literary pub culture which covered four pubs: meaning twenty minutes’ time at each pub to have a drink. Including the time for placing the order, that leaves ten minutes’ time to drink a pint – ambitious but possible. After the pub crawl, we finished off the nice evening in a fifth pub chatting to an Indian-American couple and then called it a night. (Fiona)
Wednesday, 24 Aug Literary and Linguistic Sightseeing Tour
Our last day in Dublin started very early, since we had to check out and prepare our luggage for the transit to Galway in the evening. After having some breakfast on the way, we went on our self-guided tour throughout Dublin. Everyone had prepared one stop and contributed some unique facts to the group, which was a very fun experience.
Our first stop was St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which is the biggest and probably most famous church in Ireland. We learned a lot about its history and the people who had strong ties to it, like the Boyle family. Afterwards, we went back to the heart of the city and visited the famous Shelbourne Hotel, the national wax museum, and of course Hodges Figgis, which is supposed to be the oldest bookstore in Ireland.
Another very humbling sight that we were able to learn more about was the Famine Memorial. The statues are located in the Dublin City Docklands and stand as a reminder of one of the greatest disasters in Irish history, which sadly claimed over a million victims.
After a quick break on the bus, we went on with our tour right to the outskirts of town and to the Guinness Storehouse, where we gathered an insight into the native Irish brewery and the history of the whole brewery district in Dublin. Our last stop before we took the evening bus to Galway was one of the oldest pubs in Dublin. It is called the Brazen Head and dates back to 1198.
After a day like this, it probably comes as no surprise that most of us slept right through the bus ride to Galway. And that we were even happier after we learned that our new accommodations were just a one-minute walk away from the bus station. (Chantal)
Thursday, 25 Aug Connemara National Park and Kylemore Abbey
On Thursday, we all met up early at the Kinlay hostel for our tour to Connemara. While on the bus, we were able to see the incredible Irish scenery, as our tour guide entertained us with stories and interesting facts. We were lucky enough to experience an Irish traffic jam when two sheep blocked the road, making the bus driver unable to continue the journey for a few moments. I think it is safe to say that this was a little highlight of the day for most of us.
Since our journey was quite long, we had two stops to walk around for a bit and get some fresh air. First, we had a break at the Peacockes Hotel, where we had some time to look around in the gift shop, get some coffee if needed and look at the cottage featured in the film “The Quiet Man”. Our journey took us further to our second stop: a lake with a small island that can actually be explored. We only had 15 minutes there, so some of us quickly crossed the small pathway that connected the island to take in the incredible view (and of course to take some pictures as well). In the end, we had to hurry back but we made it in time, thankfully.
Our group split up when we arrived at Connemara National Park, as some wanted to trek through the park, while others preferred to visit Kylemore Abbey. On the way, the weather got gloomy and by the time we arrived, there was a drizzle that didn’t stop for the rest of the day. We hiked up the hills of the National Park for an hour and went back down, since we only had had three hours until the bus took us back. Some of us were drenched by the end and it was foggy, but the hike was definitely worth it. The sight was amazing and we all felt quite accomplished by the end. We still had some time left when we returned from the hike and decided to have some soup at the visitor centre to warm back up, which Mr Milne kindly offered to pay for all of us as a reward.
On the way back, we were all exhausted and I think most of us slept through most of the drive back to Galway. Back at the hostel, a couple of us took showers and changed into dry clothes to get some dinner. In the evening, we didn’t really do anything other than eating our food as the fatigue really got to us. The day ended when we all went to bed rather early, making sure to be rested well for our next trip. (Regina)
Friday, 26 Aug Aran Islands and Cliffs of Moher
The second-to-last day of our adventures in Ireland brought us to Inis Oírr, the smallest of the Aran Islands. Our trusty bus driver and guide for the day, John, provided us with interesting facts and entertaining tales for the duration of the drive. It took over an hour to reach the ferry harbour, but John smoothly navigated us through the winding roads of the Burren. When he was not pointing out landmarks worth photographing he played Irish tunes on the local radio. We even caught a glimpse of two ponies grazing on the Burren, which, according to our guide, had to be leprechauns in disguise. As opposed to Dublin, the rural area with its natural beauty really highlights Ireland’s reputation as the 'Emerald in the Sea'.
Once we arrived at the harbour, it was time to board the ferry. The upcoming crossing of the Atlantic Ocean and the size of the ferry made some of us question the whole activity. Luckily, the ocean was calm and we arrived without major complications. Inis Oírr was lovely, equipped with a sandy beach and stunning scenery. The water was clear, the sun hot, and my sunscreen not as strong as I would have liked. Now I know to expect the unexpected, such as getting sunburned in Ireland. On the island we decided to take a guided tour on a horse carriage. Kevin (the guide) and Rosie (the horse) did their best to tell and show us everything remarkable within 45 minutes.
The second part of the tour included the famous Cliffs of Moher. On the way back, the ferry took a small detour which allowed us to view the cliffs from sea level. There, we were able to have a look at the cave where 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' was filmed - a truly magnificent experience. The view from above the cliffs was just as stunning, with the clear blue sky allowing for a wonderful sight. We even spotted a whale - what kind is still open to discussion - relaxing at the bottom of the cliffs, the warm sunlight glittering on its fins.
After coming back to Galway, we sat down at 'Handsome Burgers' to enjoy the supposedly best burgers in the city. Finally, the oftentimes awe-evoking day found its finale at the famous pub 'The King's Head' which, according to legend, played its part in the execution of King Charles I. (Svenja)
Saturday, 27 Aug Galway
After experiencing the Irish pub culture first hand, the next morning was a rather slow one for some of us. Equipped with a coffee, we were treated to our own little city tour by Ms Griese. Starting at the coast, we learned about the trading that Galway did with Spain, which was also the cause of the appearance of the famous, beautiful, dark-haired and blue-eyed “Galway Girl”. Our walk through the city offered us tons of opportunities to contribute to our Linguistic Landscape project. We ultimately got to learn something about 'The King’s Head', which we already knew from the night before, and about the etymology of the verb to lynch. We discovered the creative street-art of Galway and walked along the river, where we met some friendly ferrets. The tour ended at the city museum, which offered an insight into Galway’s history and Celtic society. Having explored the museum, we had some time to discover Galway on our own. Some of us went to the market, some decided to go on a shopping tour and others just needed some time to relax in the park.
For our evening plans we went to see traditional Irish music in the Crane Bar. Because it was our last evening, we brought a little gift for our excursion leader and companion to express our gratitude for the interesting and well-organized trip. All together on one table right next to the musicians and with Irish tunes in our ears, it was the perfect end to an amazing trip.
We all headed home and the late night walk through the city set the scene for one last song. All together, we sang 'The Parting Glass', a traditional song that is oftentimes sung at the end of a gathering, so a perfect fit for us. (Antonia)
Sunday, 28 Aug Final Goodbyes
Sunday is not only the last day of the week, but it was also our last day in Ireland. Once we successfully packed up all of our belongings and newly acquired books, souvenirs, wool clothing, presents and more books, we got on the coach bringing us back to Dublin airport. For a few hours we had the chance to take in our last impressions of the Irish landscapes: green fields enclosed by hand-built stone walls and with cattle and sheep roaming through them.
The scenic bus ride offered us time to reflect upon our adventures and our international encounters on the island. The Irish population is very sociable and welcoming. Additionally, we had various discussions with British, North American, Brazilian, (of course) German people and many more. With each conversation we realised just how exciting and worthwhile it is to meet new people and explore new cultures. This excursion was truly an eye-opening experience, which underlines the relevance of interculturality, open-mindedness and curiosity. This fulfilling trip shall remain in our memories for eternity. (Julia)