Tomorrow, I leave for three weeks in Ireland. I’ll be traveling with three students from the Study Abroad consortium at Maryville University. We’ll make our home base at University of Limerick and spend more than half of the twenty-one days in Ireland on excursions.
We arrive on Wednesday and on Thursday we’re treated to the annual Party on the Plaza at UL. Under a white circus-sized tent they raise a stage and dance floor. Traditional Irish musicians, folk and roots musicians, and contemporary bands will play there and on both sides of the Abbey River. There’s a pig roast near the Music Department building and across the Living Bridge, on the main campus is barbeque. The UL Drum Corps will lead the procession across the bridge. There’ll be jugglers, unicyclists, and stilt-walkers. Beer and hard cider are generously poured all afternoon.
On Saturday is our first excursion to St. John’s Castle and St. Mary’s Cathedral in Limerick, and then on to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, just a few kilometers outside Limerick. The next day, we’ll take a bus trip to Adare, the loveliest village in Ireland peppered with thatched-roofed cottages and colorful gardens. My camera is ready.
Monday is a bank holiday and we’re traveling west, to the Cliffs of Moher on a PaddyWagon tour. We’ll travel through the Burren and see ancient ruins, testament to the timelessness so common in rural Ireland.
Friday, June 7, is our first trip to Dublin to see Trinity College and the Book of Kells. We’ll be treated to a living history walk through the city center. We’ll spend time in Temple Bar and visit the Guinness brewery, returning that evening to Limerick where Hermitage Green is gigging at Dolan’s.
Sataurday, June 8, is a chill day at the Milk Market in Limerick. Booths laden with handmade pastries and chocolates are plentiful, along with fresh farm produce and locally cured meats and cheeses. There’s a fish stall where mongers toss local catch from the Abbey and Shannon Rivers. Musicians play throughout the day and the flea market stalls just outside the tent can be a treasure trove of books, jewelry and other trinkets.
My students will travel to the Ring of Kerry on Sunday while I’ll join my friend Mary, an American who lives and works in Ennis, for a trip to the Dingle Peninsula. We’ve booked a B&B on the coast. I’ll return to Limerick on Tuesday, June 11, and the next day I’ll travel with the international students to Ennistymon and the Falls Hotel. This was Dylan Thomas’ favorite haunt when he was in Ireland. We’ll see LaHinch beach on the Atlantic coast during this excursion, too.
Friday and Saturday, June 14 and 15, is my trip with Mary to the Wicklow Mountains. Another B&B; more amazing photos. Then, on Sunday, my students will join us in Dublin for Bloomsday where everything Joyce is celebrated. Look for us in St. Stephen’s Green and Merrion Square. I’ll say goodbye to Dublin on Monday, June 17, and return to Limerick where, on Tuesday, UL hosts a farewell luncheon for all of the international students. More great food. Tearful goodbyes. This will be our last full day in Limerick. We’ll hit the pubs for one last hurrah.
Wednesday, June 19, we fly out of Shannon Airport leaving as most visitors do a little piece of ourselves in the auld sod, which makes us ever eager to return.