Student Travels: Four Places to Visit in Ireland

written by Nicholas Cohn

During my trip to Europe with People to People, one of the countries I traveled to was Ireland.  Ireland, with its unique northern and southern areas, was one of the places I was most looking forward to visiting.  My grandmother was Irish and had a true admiration for the country of her ancestors. I know that she always wanted to go, but now that she is gone, I looked forward to going in her place. The “Emerald Isle” as it is often called was a refreshing change of pace from Arizona’s dry heat, and I looked forward to see the rolling hills of grass. The history of Ireland is also quite fascinating, especially its more recent history with the “Troubles”, and I enjoyed visiting many of the historical sites.  Here is a quick peek at Four Places to Visit in Ireland.

Four Places to Visit in Ireland

 

Belfast

Ireland struck me the most emotionally, beginning in Northern Ireland’s Belfast. The weather, surprisingly dry for this time of year, filled the streets with a certain warmth that, combined with the sights, made me overall anxious. I could not help but feel somewhat bewildered and saddened inside of the city, as the divisions between Catholics and Protestants, Separatists and Unionists, while improving, could still be felt and witnessed in the disturbing murals and bonfire piles on either side of the looming “peace” wall standing between neighborhoods.  Nonetheless, going to the Belfast Royal Academy proved a comfort, seeing the students there interact and joke around, despite the tragic history that no doubt still stands within their minds.

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My words on the peace wall…

 

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Daniel O’Connell Memorial Church, Cahersiveen

 

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Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland

Giants Causeway

Giant’s Causeway, a hexagonal-stepped heap seemingly overturned and alien in origin, was masqueraded by the thick mist which rolled in from the ocean, only adding to the mystery of the strange place. It was fascinating walking among the stones, perplexed at how something so intricate could be made by chance.

Lakes of Killarney & Gap of Dunloe

Meanwhile, in Southern Ireland, the Lakes of Killarney and the Gap of Dunloe, both locations left to nature’s own devices, may be the most spectacularly, unimaginably beautiful places I have ever had the good fortune to see with my own eyes. The flowing water, the layers of trees interlaced with golden light, the rocks strewn across the valley to the highest peaks all seemed to belong to some fantastical story, or painting only derived from the imagination.

Dublin

Moving on to Dublin in the Republic of Ireland, a very festive and bustling city with cobbled streets, pubs all about, and crowds surrounding the street performers, I instantly was filled with joy and energy, as everything seemed to pulse with a certain vibrant energy.

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Pub in Dublin

Ireland, truly an incredible country, stirred me greatly, filling my heart with both profound sadness at its troubled history and unfathomable awe for its natural beauty.  Beyond the city life, both north and south contained their own natural wonders, some of the most beautiful sights I ever have seen, with friendly people willing to share what they have.

Have you been to Ireland?  Which of these four places is your favorite?

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