Summer of Legend

I’ve been procrastinating writing this post, probably because I wasn’t ready to let go, but indeed we did finally have to leave Ireland a few weeks ago. It was a remarkable year, and something we’ll treasure for a long time to come. When I say we’re going to miss Cork, I mean that we’re trying not to think about it, and thinking instead of when we can go back.

This summer though, this summer was amazing. Hot and dry for stretches, perfect and dry for others, it’s been a summer to remember. A summer that will go down in legend. I’m pretty sure that years from now we’ll there will be songs like “I met my bonnie in the summer of ’13”, and that when we return it will be an instant point of conversation. “Oh you were here in ’13 – that’s the best summer we ever had”. There’s also a special pleasure that the Irish take in complaining that it’s too hot. You have to understand that complaining about the weather is ingrained in the culture—it’s just what you do. At first the complaints went something like “well, enjoy today – it’s all of summer we’ll see.”. , but then as the weather didn’t turn, people ventured a little further. “Oh, it’s a hot one like”. , “The Irish weren’t made for this heat”. But to see the look on their faces told a different story…

And while part of it was that Cork is coming off of one of its wettest and coldest summers in recent memory, there’s no denying that this year was something special. Something to treasure in our memories for those windy, cold, umbrella-breaking underwear-soaking days.

During the peak of the nice weather we took a roadtrip around the North, to celebrate Beth finishing her thesis (and Adobe US being on their July shutdown). We started by booking it to Castlebar on a Saturday, and then leisurely making our way around the north, going to Achill Island, Glenveagh National Park in the Northwest. In Northern Ireland we saw the Giant’s Causeway, the Bushmills Distillery, some lovely coast in the Northeast, and spent a short time in Belfast. We also stopped in at the passage tombs at Knoth, and Kilkenny before making our way back to lovely Cork. Our favorite B&B was in Castlebar, possibly because of the fresh baked scones and wonderful conversation when we arrived. If you’re ever in the area: http://drumshinnaghhouse.com/.

I’ll leave a few photos below, but we also picked out some favorites here for those that want more: Our roadtrip favorites

Achill Island was pretty amazing

Glenveagh National Park, also amazing

Giant's Causeway. Pretty sure this proves magic exists

Tors Head, the closest point to Scotland in Northern Ireland

A small passage tomb at Knoth, which also has some huge ones

My folks came to visit a short time later, and while they were out we took a short trip out to the Beara Peninsula and back over a few scorching days.

The folks at Drombeg Stone Circle

View from the top of the Healy pass on the Beara Peninsula

(more here): Beara Peninsula trip

We might have also snuck over to Scotland, and been to a Corkesota wedding, but you’ll have to buy us a couple pints of Murphy’s to get that story. Oh, and if anyone in Cork could tell Heineken to freaking import Beamish to Minnesota already, that would be swell.

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Ah G’wan – we’ll be back to Cork in no time!

Alex
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Thesis Is Done, Visitors Came

Since my thesis is written, it’s time for another blog post.

We’ve had so many visitors! It’s been wonderful. After Tommy was my friend Erin from college, in late March. We got all caught up on our lives since we last saw each other. I took her to Blarney and then we three went to Kinsale. Here’s a picture she took of us at Blarney Castle.

Erin and Beth

Then in April my parents came. They stayed with us for a weekend, then drove around the island for 10 days and came back for another weekend, during which we all went to Dublin. Again, I almost completely forgot to take pictures.

Here's Mom and Dad on the train to Cobh. Then my camera died.

From Cork, we did Kinsale, and Cobh. We would have gone to the Fota Wildlife Park too, but it was raining so we went to the Butter Museum instead. The information was a little dated, but they had cool old tools for making butter and stuff on the history of butter in Ireland. In Dublin we went to Trinity College and the Book of Kells. The tour done by a student was as funny as we remembered it being and the Book is beautiful, but much smaller than I expected after all the blown up pictures of it in the history and making of sections of the display. Mom went shopping for socks since she said Dunnes had great socks, while Alex, Dad and I went to the Guinness storehouse. That was super expensive, but really well done and includes a stout taste halfway through and a full pint at the end. Unsurprisingly, we also ate ourselves silly, since my family does that.

In May friends from the Twin Cities came to Cork. Matt and Megan came with Riley, and Jason and Sarah and Mike and Courtney were here too. Matt and Megan were in town for a whole week so we saw them a couple times. We walked all over Cork their first day, then Killarney National Park with Megan and Riley. Alex and I had never been so that was really nice. There’s a walk between two rows of cherry trees from the town to the park entrance, and they were in bloom, so that was really cool. Friday night Jason and Sarah and Mike and Courtney came to town so we all had dinner together. Then most of us went to the pub for Traditional Irish music and pints, but it was too crowded and everybody was tired, so we didn’t stay long. On Saturday Matt, Megan and Riley headed home, and the rest of us went to Kinsale, again. We like Kinsale. And eating at Fishy Fishy.

Matt, Megan and Riley arrive!

Cherry tree walk in Killarney

Courtney took this of the boys at Charles Fort.

More fun at Charles Fort.

At the end of May, my brother Jon and his girlfriend Tessa visited too. They got in on Wednesday, and Alex took them around Cork while I did rheology research in the basement of the Food Science Building. They did all come and take me out to lunch though. On Thursday, we sent them to Blarney Castle while we worked. On Friday, I skipped school and Alex took paid time off and we rented a car and drove up to Doolin, Co. Clare. We saw the Cliffs of Moher, which are amazing.

We dropped off our stuff at the B&B and the owner (Sinead O’Connor, but not THE Sinead O’Connor) gave us a plan of attack for four pubs, dinner and Trad music (she did not suggest the number of pints, we did that ourselves). We went to the furthest pub and had two pints and some crab claws. Then the second furthest and had two pints and huge delicious dinner. Second nearest pub; two more pints and some whiskey. Nearest pub; two more pints, some more whiskey, oh boy did we do it up. In the morning some of us felt the effects. But that did not deter us from the boat ride to Inisheer, the closest of the Aran islands.

Jon and Tessa on Inisheer. also a cow.

We walked the whole thing, pretty much. Then we got a boat back which went past the Cliffs of Moher. The seas were calm for seas, but rough for me, and I thought the ferry was about to tip over at any moment and we were all going to die. Other than that it was fun.

Since then I have done my thesis defense and then written the rest of my thesis (yes, in that order, I have no idea why, except that that’s when they were due).

It’s just over 19,000 words on 96 pages. 37 of the pages include color (or colour) pictures. I’m so glad it’s done. Now I just need to study for and take 8 exams and I’m done! I’ll be finished by the 23rd of August, and we’ll be going back to Minnesota the week of September 8th.

I’m very conflicted about moving back. On the one hand, I miss it, it’s home and I miss all the people there. But on the other hand, Ireland has become home and I will miss it and all of the lovely friends we have made here. It’s hard, but it must be done. Visas and stuff.

Next visitors come July 11th. Yay Mom and Dad Dixon!

Beth
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