Let me just start off by saying if you are ever considering going to Ireland then the information and experiences described in this blog post are very important to know (actually, all my blog posts are important, but this one in particular…). Today was such an awesome day spent doing some very traditional “Irish” things! We met up at 10am with Sean Finnegan (the infamous Irish tour guide who seems to accompany us on many of our excursions) and made our way by bus through Phoenix Park, which measures 9 miles in circumference. Sean pointed out many of the landmarks, including the American embassy and the Irish President’s house. We then stopped to tour Trim Castle, where part of the movie Braveheart was filmed! It was so awesome to be inside an actual castle, not to mention the largest and most complete castle in Ireland! Our tour guide there told us many stories about the de Laceys who built and inhabited the castle. One such story described the families ritual of only bathing 3 times a year in order to create a layer of dirt and grime on their skin to keep away any diseases or infections. This would cause lice and bugs to nestle on their clothes, in which case they would fumigate their clothes every once in a while to kill any insects by hanging them up above their chamber pots. Pretty sh***y if you ask me. This is how the other half lived… Needless to say, it was a great time. We were then treated to lunch by Dr. Powell, the president of our school who also treated us to a big pig roast the night before and the excursions all day today! How awesome to be at a University where the President not only knows your names and families, but also takes time out of his busy schedule to come visit us abroad! (Side note, it was also pretty cool getting cocktails and toasting the infamous “To the Mount!” with him and everyone from our group!)
After lunch, we proceeded to Causey Farms. Future Ireland travelers, pay attention. The castle was awesome and a must-see for your visit, but this place was awesome! We got to engage in all of the traditional Irish countryside things. Our first task was to pair up and make our own real Irish brown bread (I feel like both my grandmothers would appreciate this! Hopefully they see this post). Suited up in our own aprons, we were provided all the ingredients, and even had to catch the eggs to be used! While the bread was cooking in the oven, we went over to the barn to learn some Irish step dancing (also known as a 4 part Irish victory dance). Who knew we had so much rhythm. Some of us anyway…
Then it was time for the bog jumping. Oh man. I about peed myself with excitement. Not really but I was stoked considering some of my favorite pastimes include mudsliding on Echo field and caving (if you know me, you’d understand!). We all changed into our “bog gear” which for me included my under armor running leggings and a 1 Euro shirt from a thrift shop and boarded a tractor trailer and made our way to the bogs. Now for those of you who are not familiar with bogs, they are areas of thick mud. Kinda like a swamp and quicksand combined in one. Around 500 BC, people would throw their most prized possessions into these to preserve them because of how rich the soil is. There are even cases of people finding bodies within the bogs that have been preserved over time! (don’t worry, we did not find any bodies or gold artifacts this trip…maybe next time). Our tour guide first took us to an obstacle course in which we had to go across a stream on a rope and climb up and over a rope wall. Then it was time for the bog diving. Imagine walking into a heaping pile of spongy, squishy, mushy, gooey, mud. Barefoot. In Ireland. In the middle of October. Ya know what they say – YOLO (“You Only Live Once” for all those who are not up in the times). The tour guide warned us of the depth that the bogs could suck you in because of the recent rain (surprise, it’s Ireland) so we should land on our “bums” if we jumped in. Naturally, I jumped right in without hesitation. It was slightly difficult trying to wiggle and worm your way out of the thick suction of mud but so worth it. To top it off, a bright full rainbow appeared over our heads while bog diving. (No, Dr. Powell did not partake in it but he was there to spectate and take tons of pictures for us!) We then rode back and “washed off” using a spicket and buckets and changed into some dryer, less smelly clothes.
As if that wasn’t enough, we were then led through their famous haunted house “Zombie Morgue” that they put on every year around Halloween. Even though it was broad daylight outside, I haven’t had that good of a scare in a really long time. You’d have to experience it for yourself…but I’ll just say it involved men jumping out at you, car horns, and lots of mattresses. It was a quality scare. We then went back to the main house to enjoy some of our freshly baked brown bread. I don’t wanna be partial but the batch Charles, Dr. Powell, and I whipped up was pretty much the best thing ever. Quality.
We then made our way back to the City Centre and eventually our home away from home in Killester. Ann was a little concerned about us coming back so late (7pm) but whipped up some fish and chips for us! (my first time having it!!) I’m ready for sleep. And a shower possibly.
Shout outs to Pat Decker, Mrs. Theresa, Aunt Mary, Grandparents Venanzi, Mom and Dad, and Sean for my letters. They made me smile so much when I saw them in the door after coming in from a run one morning! Ann thought it was my birthday because I got so many letters. I feel so loved.