Just Another Day

I took today as an opportunity to just kind of wander around Dublin on my own accord. Mo, Matt, and Rob took off for Cork, and with everyone else in Stockholm I went into town. I wanted to get my DART pass for March, but since it was Sunday the office was closed.

Denied.

I hung out on O’Connell for a little while to check out the new stuff at Penney’s, and then went down into Temple Bar. I wanted to find the hotel my parents will be staying at when they’re here next month, which I did. It was only about a five minute walk south of Temple Bar, and another five minutes from Grafton Street. It’s a nice area that they’ll hopefully enjoy. The worst part about the walk from the hotel to Grafton is the fact that it started pouring on me, and if that wasn’t bad enough it started hailing as well. I got to spend period of about ten minutes in the tiny stoop of some closed shop on Drury Street.

I wasn't afraid to leave, there were just giant hailstones.

After it finally stopped raining, I made my way to Grafton Street and checked out a couple of shops and markets that looked interesting. It was starting to get kind of late so I got a cup of coffee and a sandwich and ate in St. Stephen’s Green before walking around the rest of the park, and checking out the National Gallery.

I came back home to do laundry and homework, and hang out. Tomorrow will be yet another exciting day full of homework and cleaning, and maybe a trip to the National Library.

Uneventful

Most of this morning was spent hanging out and watching Kelsey pack. She, along with Anders, Ashley, Danielle, and Libby left for Stockholm this afternoon until Tuesday. They’re planning on doing a lot of different things, including ice skating, the Smirnoff Ice Bar, and perhaps some ice fishing.

Hopefully for these.

After they left I picked up the house and caught up on reading for one of my classes.  Tonight I’m going out with Mo, Matt, and Rob, which should hopefully be a good time!

Kilmainham Gaol

As promised, there was no class this morning, so not only did I get to sleep in past 6am, I got to go running for the first time since I was sick. It wasn’t pretty, but it felt good to hit the pavement again. I spent the rest of the morning doing nothing of any real interest, unless eating toast is considered interesting.

It is...the most interesting toast in the world.

In the early afternoon I went with Kelsey, Libby, and Danielle into Dublin where we met up with Anders (who had to go early to feed his Subway addiction) with the intent of going to Kilmainham Gaol. We boarded the 69A bus, which according to the website for Kilmainham would take us where we needed to go; however, it did not and we ended up in the middle of nowhere someplace south west of the Liffey. Luckily we had a very helpful bus driver who drove us out of his way back to the street we needed to get to (on an out of service bus, no less). Chalk up another point for the Dublin Public Transportation system.

Fleet of Angels

Once we finally got to Kilmainham, we got a chance to check out their museum before going on the tour. Kilmainham Gaol is a historical prison that opened in Dublin in 1796, and abandoned in 1924. In the 128 years it served as Dublin’s main prison it held many of the famous leaders in the various fights for Irish independence from the British, including the leaders of the 1916 Easter uprising, as well as thousands of men, women, and children who were incarcerated for various crimes.

Voted "Happiest Place in Ireland" during the 1860 potato famine.

By 1960 the building had been abandoned for nearly 40 years and had fallen to complete ruin. The Kilmainham Jail Restoration Society was formed in order to restore it as a memorial to the struggle for Irish independence. In order to raise money to restore it, the society allowed movie makers inside to film. There have been dozens of films and television shows shot inside Kilmainham, including The Face of Fu Manchu, The Italian Job (the original), In the Name of the Father, Michael Collins, and The Escapist. The East Victorian Wing has also been used as a venue for symphony orchestras performing in Dublin, and a set for a U2 music video.

Prison acoustics for the win!

After the tour, we rode the correct bus back into city center and walked to Grafton Street for dinner, where we decided to go to a place called Yo Sushi. Not surprisingly, they serve sushi. It was actually pretty decent, and very fairly priced, but the best part of the entire dining experience is that we were served via conveyor belt.

Sushi to go!

We just got back, and have decided to spend the evening in. Libby, Danielle, Ashley, and Anders are coming over and we’ll probably watch a movie or play extended Sporcle tournaments. After a long week, it’s a good way to start the weekend.

Malahide…Mullach Íde

In lieu of our normally scheduled 8am class with Hitchcock this morning in Dun Laoghaire, we met outside at 7:15 as usual and instead took the DART north into Dublin, where we congregated at the Irish Times office for a conference on upskilling for Ireland’s National Employment Week.

They did have a pretty dynamite video.

We listened to several lecturers from the Irish Times, Trinity College, the American Chamber of Commerce, and other businesses speak about the benefits and advancements made by technology, and what it means for education, the job market, and society as a whole. Obviously technology can run things more efficiently and make life easier for people, so long as proper training is employed. Additionally, with the rise of technology and the digitalization of businesses, jobs that didn’t exist ten years ago are now in high demand.

Responsible for creating 14,000 new jobs, including Steve Jobs’ monkey butler.

After the conference we returned to Sandymount. It was a beautiful day (sunny, a very slight breeze, about 54°) and somewhere along the ride home Ashley, Danielle, and Mo decided it would be a great day to catch a few rays outside in our backyard. Unfortunately, due to the time of day our backyard was completely cast in shadow, which led to the three of them trying to tan through the kitchen window in the boys apartment.

It didn’t go very well.

Not being all that keen on sunless and heatless tanning, Kelsey and I decided to take the train all the way north to Malahide to walk around a park near the train station. We wandered around the paths in the woods for a couple hours, dodging the many children running around the playground equipment scattered in various locations, and finding yet another castle.

They really just give them away here.

It started getting dark and the temperature finally started to return to a state more fitting for February, so we came back home for dinner, then headed to Ryan’s with Anders, Libby, Ashley, Danielle, and Pat to grab a pint and chill out. Hitchcock cancelled our 8am for tomorrow (because he’s such a great guy!!!), so I’m definitely looking forward to sleeping in.

The 50th Post

In this, my 50th post, I would like to thank all of my loyal readers for following my neurotic day-to-day episodes here in Ireland. I would also like to thank my casual readers who think of me from time to time and take a meander through my adventures. Most of all I would like to take this opportunity to nod to one particular reader for thinking I attend Trinity College in Dublin despite my vast references to IADT in Dun Laoghaire.

My biggest fan.

Yes. Happy 50th Post everyone.

Today continued the trend of the lone 8am class which we spent discussing current events in Ireland and the rest of the world, including the risings in Egypt and Libya, the earthquake in New Zealand, and how much Justin Bieber’s hair will be auctioned off for. Despite the alarmingly high rate the teen singer/songwriter/weasel shows up in newspapers and current event discussions here, I’m surprised and a little disappointed that there’s been absolutely zero talk on how to solve the problem that is the Bieber Fever.

I have a few ideas.

After our decidedly mauling-free class we trudged to the canteen for some cheap and delicious ARAMARK breakfast, and then I returned home to write a few articles and reorganize the endless flow of political fliers and restaurant menus that keep appearing in our mail slot. At some point Libby and Danielle went into Dublin to do some shopping, so after we’d had lunch, Kelsey and I met them on O’Connell Street, and we ended up wandering for a little bit before enjoying a cup of coffee at the Costa in Jervis.

They're good.

Once back home, we discussed upcoming projects, homework, and speakers, as well as our plans for tomorrow and Friday. I also Skyped my parents and discussed some of their plans for when they come to visit, which was quite exciting.

That’s all for tonight, catch you in the next 50.

Tuesday Afternoon

Today kicked off a rather unique week at IADT. I guess it’s customary for professors to take a week off every so often, and both of my Irish professors picked this week, so I don’t have either of my lectures or seminars. Granted, I still have my 8am class with Hitchcock every day, so I still get to have my exciting commute every morning.

Better than sleep!

After class I came home and got laundry and a lot of homework done, and then spent the afternoon on roommate bonding — which is basically just Mo, Kelsey, and I being ridiculous.

For dinner we went next door and took a gamble on Wong’s Kitchen Chinese delivery with Libby and Danielle. There were mixed reviews with some of the dishes but I was happy with my Bangkok Chicken (it’s the first thing I’ve had to eat in Ireland that was spicier than horseradish).

"...and a side of matches"

We spent the rest of the night making fun of show bands like Jedward and watching Jersey Shore because, well, we’re still Americans.

Back From Bleargh!

After several days of absence from blogging, I’m making a triumphant (or at least a basic) return to my platform of heralding. Be prepared for a super-sized edition.

The last any of you heard I wasn’t feeling very well, which unfortunately spread itself out into a nasty virus that I won’t go into too much detail with. Obviously I didn’t accomplish much in those couple of days other than to find how accommodating and convenient the Park Avenue Medical Centre of Sandymount is, though I did end up missing our ninth and tenth group tours of Dublin (Anders’ of the North Georgian Area and Rob’s of the Four Courts District), as well as two days of classes, Kelsey’s wallet getting stolen by gypsies, and of course the Starliners placing third at the MSHSL State Dance Team Tournament.

Card-Carrying Cult Member since 2005.

By this point I had finally started to feel better and was able to get up and around. This was lucky given the fact that Hitchcock had gotten all of us tickets to a GAA double-header at Croke Park. The GAA is the Gaelic Athletic Association, and is a 32 county organization that promotes indigenous games like hurling and Gaelic football, both of which we got to see. The two matches were separated by a performance by Jedward — an Irish pop duo made up of two twin brothers (John and Edward). The pair originally competed on the television talent show The X Factor, and they’re currently one of the five acts from Ireland that will compete at the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest. To recap, these two are meant to represent all of Ireland to the rest of Europe in the medium of musical performance.

Yeah. These guys.

Despite the hair, their lip-syncing antics weren’t all bad, especially their cover of Blink-182’s All the Small Things, which we enjoyed much more than any of the Europeans surrounding us.

The first match was hurling, Dublin vs. Tipperary, which Dublin won. Hurling is believed to be the world’s oldest field game, and seems to be a mixture of baseball, lacrosse, and hockey. The players have sticks (called hurleys) that they use to hit and carry the ball back and forth across the pitch. They can also catch the ball, but they can’t run with it for more than four steps, and can’t bounce it to themselves more than twice. To score, the players could either hit the ball through the crossbars above the goal for one point, or into the net for three points.

Did I mention the hurleys can also be used on opponents?

The second match was Gaelic football, Dublin vs. Cork. Dublin also won this game which was a very exciting match. Gaelic football is extremely fast-paced and entertaining, and as far as I could tell is a combination of soccer and rugby. Similar to hurling, the ball can be carried for up to four steps before being bounced no more than twice in a row, or kicked or served to another player. The scoring is the same as hurling with one point for over the crossbar, and three points for into the net.

It's soccer's cooler, older cousin.

After both matches (and Jedward!) I was getting pretty tired, so I headed home and called it a night instead of going out to celebrate Dublin’s wins with the rest of the group.

The next day, Kelsey, Anders, Libby, Danielle, and I finally sat down and figured out our spring break plans for the unstructured block of raw time we’ll have during the last two weeks of April and the first two weeks of May before coming home. More details on this as it gets closer, but I can promise it’s going to be exciting.

And very well planned.

We also went to see Never Let Me Go with Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightly (not to be confused with Never Say Never with Justin Bieber). I had finished reading the book while I was sick and enjoyed it, but I think I might have liked the movie more. I don’t think anyone else really liked it though — it was quite a bit of a downer.

That finally brings us up to today. Kelsey and I went into Dublin in the morning to work on replacing the various cards and IDs she had had in her wallet. We took care of pretty much everything without any real problems, though we agreed that the wallet itself was the biggest loss from the entire fiasco.

Missing.

Once we were done with errands we met up with Libby and Anders, and we headed to the biggest tourist attraction in Dublin that we hadn’t been to yet: the Guinness Storehouse. The self-guided tour is based in one of the historical buildings of the Guinness factory (which was leased out by Arthur Guinness in 1770 for 9,000 years) that’s had major renovations and additions. There are six floors of exhibits and displays, the best of which were the Ingredients and Crafts of Brewing level (which goes step-by-step through the brewing process and includes a taste-test half-pint), and the Advertising Exhibit (which had the development of Guinness icons like the toucan, and the evolution of the labels, glasses, and other merchandise). Of course no trip to the Guinness Storehouse would be complete without a complimentary pint in the Gravity Bar, sitting on top of the building with a 360° view of Dublin.

The best pint you will ever have the privilege of enjoying.

The whole thing was a really fun and interesting experience, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone visiting Ireland. After we pried ourselves out of St. James’s Gate, the four of us enjoyed dinner at Bewley’s and returned home where I now sit recounting the events of the last few days, and thinking longingly of my bed upstairs.

With that, I might just call it a day.