Welcome to my blog about my trip to Ireland with the Greeley Chorale in May/June 2013.  This site will consist of blog entries for each day of the trip and contain pictures (that I took while on the trip), excerpts from the blog I kept while we were in Ireland (which will be placed in quotes and italicized), and just some various other bits of information or my thoughts/feelings about the trip now that we are back and I've had a chance to soak in and process the journey we took.

The Chorale left in two separate groups for this trip.  I was a part of the first group to leave but the second group to arrive.  The group I was in was made up of all the people who were staying an extra 4 days for the extension portion of the tour.  This group included my parents who were excited for the trip as well.  My dad is a part of the Chorale which is why we were getting to take such an amazing adventure.

Ireland is a place I have always wanted to go.  Anytime someone would ask me, if you could go anywhere in the world where would you like to visit most, I could quickly and without any hesitation say Ireland.  Usually before they even could complete the question.  :)  That made this trip a dream come true for me.  We were going to visit many of the places I wanted to go (Ring of Kerry, Cliffs of Moher, Blarney Castle) as well as a few areas I had never had a specific desire to go (Belfast, Dublin). However, even those places I hadn't had a specific desire to go to were exciting prospects, mostly because, I was going to be in IRELAND!

I hope you can enjoy the journey with me as I walk back through my trip and share the experiences that make me still answer the question of where I would go if I could go anywhere in the world with a quick and resounding IRELAND....AGAIN!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sunday, June 2nd (Belfast, Northern Ireland --> Monasterboice --> Waterford)

Today we were leaving Belfast to travel to Waterford, heading from Northern Ireland back into the Republic.  Also time to put away the Pounds and pull out the Euros. Belfast was going to be hard to beat, but some of my most anticipated places were still coming up and I couldn't wait to see more.  "Then I gathered my luggage, took a picture down the hall and a couple minutes to 10 AM we came to the lobby."

"Then she talked about the monasteries being built and great areas of learning.  One was Monasterboice. Then came the Vikings, who established Waterford." I didn't know a lot about Monasterboice but was excited to check it out.

Monasterboice is near some farm land where they happened to be growing rapeseed, and the yellow color was just beautiful to catch between the trees, hills, and plants.  "Anyway, we got to see the tower, 2 small "churches" and 3 High Crosses as a part of the cemetery.  These monasteries were pretty wealthy and the priests would escape the Vikings by taking their possessions into the tower and pulling up the ladders."

The high crosses are pretty amazing and Monasterboice is known for having the most ornamental High Cross in all of Ireland.  The carvings are beautiful and they were used for teaching purposes.  There is some debate about the crosses, as weather has certainly begun wearing down the carvings, and how best to preserve them.

The cemetery is still used and there are some fairly recent dates on some of the stones.  It was a beautiful place to visit and I'm glad we were able to go.  Seeing the different carvings and hearing about the history of the place was something I'm glad I could experience.

One of the strange things about Monasterboice is it seems to draw cats.  There are even cat carvings on some of the crosses and no one knows for sure why.  We even saw some cats on the way out and Katie told us there are always some around.  I really wanted to get some pictures of the rapeseed close up, but had to settle for some of the very pretty flowers before we left and went to Waterford.

Once we arrived in Waterford and got settled my roommate, Sara, and I walked around the town a bit.  Our room was interesting, clearly a room meant for someone with a handicap or perhaps wheelchair access.  Everything in the bathroom was very low, 1 small counter, not even a tub for the shower.  It was just a drain in the floor with a curtain.  It was a bit strange, but for 3 nights it was more than manageable.  "Then we met some people to go out with...We headed to T & H Doolans, that has live music." That pub is where we all signed a US dollar and they tacked it to the wall, with many others.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Saturday, June 1st (Belfast, Northern Ireland)

Belfast is very proud to be the place where the Olympic class ships were built, including the Titanic.  On the 31st of May 2012 a new Titanic Center/Museum was opened at the docks.  The large Harland and Wolff cranes that helped to build the Titanic are still there with the large H & W on them.  They are affectionately called Sampson and Goliath.

"The building was constructed to look like the gallows for the Titanic.  Inside there are a ton of interactive things that take you through the construction, voyage and sinking of the ship."

"There was also a room that had a 3D "tour" (where they displayed a video on 3 sides around you making it kind of feel like you were there) that showed from the engine room up to the captain's wheel.  The amount of information was staggering.  I could have spent hours in there."

There were poles stuck into the ship building area that showed the size of the Titanic.  It was pretty amazing to really SEE how big it would have been.  One of the buildings in the building area has been rented out to a studio, and that is where parts of Game of Thrones is filmed!  After our museum trip we got to go on a Belfast tour with a guide named Billy.

Looking down different streets and seeing all the different buildings in the city was quite interesting.  At times I wished I could get out and take some better pictures.  Sometimes we did and sometimes we didn't.  It also started to rain a bit which made taking pictures outside of the window even harder.

Billy led us off the bus at one point and led us around to the murals above where we took pictures and learned a little about who was in some of them.  Then we continued around to St. Anne's church, which was a very pretty building.

I really liked the style of the church, and the details above the door were something I just had to get some better pictures of.  Luckily, due to losing a couple of people, we stuck around for a bit.  Unfortunately we didn't find the missing ladies, although they were just fine and we met up with them later.

One of the things I REALLY wanted to see were the murals of Belfast, so it was great that we got to see so many.  Even though I didn't get many pictures of them the ones I got were still very fun.  "We saw a lot of things, however, including murals and areas of "The Trouble."

We got a chance to see the different types of murals as well as how they have changed some over time.  The areas where most of these are done is still a very rough area of the city and they still have outbreaks of violence here.

"Dad went to sing at the BBC and mom and I got ready and went to The Crown for lunch.  We each had stew and it was HUGE but very good.  Then we went shopping. At Victoria Square we used the elevator to go up to the observatory and see the beautiful panorama views of the city.  Then we wandered the mall and streets shopping."

Tonight was the first concert for the Greeley Chorale.  "I went and took pictures of Ulster Hall, then we had to go in the backdoor because we were basically VIP's."

The inside of Ulster Hall was beautiful.  The pipe organ was so ornate, very pretty.  It was a pretty full house for the concert which included the Donaghee men's choir.  Both groups preformed two times, taking turns.  First the Donaghee men's choir preformed, then the chorale.

After each group finished both "sets" they joined together as one large group and preformed a song together.  I believe it was "This Land Is Your Land."  It was a wonderful night, and they had a comedian there to be the host.  He was very fun as well.

After the concert we went back to the hotel for some dinner and many of the men's group stopped by as well.  I got to hang out some more with Terry and Andrew, as well as Andrew's dad Roy.  "Terry sang Old Man River, Andrew sang about a town I should know, but I'm tired and we sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow and Happy Birthday to Sara the waitress again (the Chorale had done it earlier.) Then we all say "Good night whoever" and about 1:30 AM we said our good-bye's.  I got a hug from Terry and a kiss on the cheek and a hug from Andrew.  They are amazing guys and it was a night to remember." That night truly is one I will never forget.  Hanging out with those guys, and some of the ladies of our group was so much fun.  The song Andrew sung was Carrickfergus and has become one of my favorites.  Every time I hear it I think of him.