Trip to Sligo by Maire-Kate McGlynn
On September 12, at 7:45 am, I joined forty-nine other bright-eyed Notre Dame students on a bus in Dublin, headed toward the west coast city of Sligo. We had only been in Dublin for a week and were looking forward to spending a weekend with fellow Notre Dame students – some we knew well from campus and others we would get to know well during our semester abroad together.
The first part of the trip was silent as 8am is quite early for us college students! We stopped at Tyrrellspass Castle for coffee and scones. The scones were delicious! The second half of the bus ride was much more lively as the caffeine consumption kicked in.
As the bus pulled into Sligo, we were able to see some of the town. We were on our own for lunch but Louisa pointed out a cute, little pub that everyone gravitated towards. This was the first meal of many that we would share together. Upon returning to the bus (which we were all on time for), we headed to our first stop, W.B. Yeat’s grave.
Since Kevin was absent for our Sligo trip, Jonathan, Ciaran, and Louise were our more than capable leaders. When we arrived at the grave, we gathered around and listened intently as Jonathan read a couple of stanzas from Yeats’ work. We explored the graveyard and accompanying church before heading back to the bus.
Our next stop was the Streedagh Strand beach walk. The weather was not cooperating with us at this point. We ended up walking down the path to the beach in the pouring rain. But once we stepped onto the sand, the rain stopped and the sun came out. It was the perfect moment to take in the beauty of Ireland. I was amazed that there were surfers in the water because when I put my hand in the water, I thought I would get hypothermia! In true Notre Dame fashion and in the spirit of leaving our mark everywhere we go, someone drew a large “ND” in the sand. It happened to be game day back in South Bend, so we all stood around the “ND” and sang and swayed to the alma mater and fight song.
The drive to our different destinations on the bus was very enjoyable. The views were incredible. This was my first week in Ireland and my first time in Europe. The mountains and sky melted into one with white pecks (better known as sheep), scattered up and down. The drive to our next stop was almost as beautiful as the waterfall that we pulled up to later that day. We started walking up a path and all of a sudden the wondrous Glencar Waterfall was in front of us. The waterfall was extremely strong and we could feel the mist coming off the bottom of it when we got close.
After stopping at the waterfall, we filed back on the bus and headed toward Sligo Park Hotel where we would stay for the night. Once we were settled into our rooms, we met in a larger room for dinner. The food did not disappoint! Following dinner, we watched Notre Dame fight for a 34-27 victory over Virginia before turning in for the night.
Everyone was up bright and early the next day for breakfast and Mass with Fr. Steve Gibson, CSC, who once lived in Carroll Hall at Notre Dame! Following Mass, we set off to hike at Knocknarea. The hike took almost 20 minutes to get to the top. While many of us were tired from the workout, once we arrived the top and looked out, the view was worth it all. The scenery in Ireland is beautiful no matter where you are, but at the top of a mountain, nothing else compares.
Once again, the weather stopped cooperating as we made our way to Eagles Flying, which is the Irish Raptor Research Center. For someone who is not very fond of birds, I was a little nervous about this part. But the man putting on the demonstration was extremely well versed and knowledgeable in all the raptors he brought out. He had them landing on arms and heads! After an adventure in the petting zoo, we were scheduled to hike to the Caves of Kesh. Unfortunately, the weather prevented us from hiking to the caves but we were able to view them from the bus!
A couple of hours later we were back in Dublin. The weekend in Sligo was our first trip together as a program. I believe it started off the semester in a perfect way! Exploring Ireland with each other is going to create a bond that we will always hold when we think about our semester abroad.