Sunday, October 30, 2016


It took us six hours to get to the northern-most tip of Ireland. We were now in a different country (The UK) -- on the same island. We could see Donegal(The Republic), just a short jump over the bay, and Scotland(UK). So, we were standing in one country, looking at a different country that is in the same island and also looking at a different land mass which is the same country. If that isn't confusing I don't know what is.

Our Group rented out the little hostel/B&B right by the beach.
So pretty!
 It took us all of a few minutes to head down the beach. When we packed to come to Northern Ireland, we expected cold and probably rain, instead, we got some of the warmest weather we've had for a while. So everyone took off their winter coats, rolled up our pants and splashed around in the waves.

Footpath to the beach

Our hostel

 Glassy wave caught in mid-air

 There were some ruins up on the cliff, so we hiked up there to explore.
Bishop's Gate

The Ruined Mansion

The beach from above. That is Donegal on the horizon.
 The Beach quickly drew us back, and look what I found!
 These two girls were riding their ponies around on the beach. I wish I could have joined them.
Not sure what this guy was doing...
 As the Sun set. Koert made a fire and we all made Irish Smores and sang songs. We started singing the Fields of Athenry and some of the group started to chant the republican version of the chorus, which involves chanting two Irish republic groups who played a big part in "The Troubles." Then someone said. "Shh, We're in Northern Ireland." And we all decided it was probably best not to shout certain republican things on the beaches of the north. 
 The land is so shallow and flat, the waves just keep coming onto the sand, and wets long stretches of it. The last rays of the sunset were mirrored on the wet sand.
 The same thing happened in the morning.
Niamh got a photo shoot too.

Friday, October 28, 2016


 Carrick-a-Rede is an "Island" of the mainland of Co. Antrim near the Giant's Causeway. There is a rope bridge connected to the island. Centuries ago, fisherman used it to catch the salmon who swim though here.  It used to we two ropes. One to hold onto, the other to step on as you shimmied across. Fortunately, today it is far sturdier. It was a wonderful day to go across. Not too windy. The sun was shining, and the water looked positively tropical!
It is not as warm as it looks.

Little wobbly in the center here...

That is a long way down...

The Bridge from afar.
 The island on the horizon has chalky cliffs just like the ones in Dover England
The white cliffs of Dover?!

Sheephead Island. Don't ask me why it is called that.

A closer look at Scotland!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Guest Blog: JFK Homestead

The stables

The Cow House

What is left of the old house

The inside of the stables has been arranged to look like the inside of the house where John F Kennedy would have visited his family. People cannot go into the real house, obviously, because his family still lives there.
Add caption

The car seat that JFK sat on when visiting.

a replica of the house

What the farm used to look like.

The gate that JFK came in.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Guest Blog: Belfast

This is a post which Eva wrote for our academic blog about our trip to Belfast. This blog contains the adventures of Brad, Meghann, Elizabeth, and Eva. 


When we were in Northern Ireland. We spent a few nights on the coast of Downhill, a beach in front of the house and a cliff behind. It was beautiful. Our last day was spent in Belfast. We first heard a lecture from Brian, our bus driver. He shared his personal views and thoughts regarding the Troubles. After that, he drove us around Belfast. Noel joined us on the bus to tell us the other side of the story. It was very interesting to hear from both sides of the conflict, and it was uneasy to physically be in Belfast and feel the weight of sorrow in the city.

We heard from Brian first- so I will share what we learned from him. As we entered the city, Brian pointed out the peace wall as we drove past. He kept mentioning the murals that we would see and how they change often. This proves how the conflict and unrest are still present in Belfast. People are still exercising their freedom of speech because they want to be heard. Despite the reconciliation of peace in 1998, the peace walls are still standing today, although they are more emblems of the war. These peace walls go on for 22 miles, and a good portion of them are covered in murals. Now, we saw a good portion of murals, and it would take up the whole blog to go through and explain each. I also think that seeing the walls in person is more meaningful than reading about them. However, I will share a few that stood out to me during the morning with Brian. One mural simply had the quote, “It is not those who can inflict the most but those who can endure the most that will conquer.” I was not able to catch who said that but I found it profound. Even for my personal life. Another mural had pastel colored houses on a white background. Underneath each house had a child’s name. This got me thinking about how the Troubles affected families. The conflict went on for years and some people only new life between the start and end of the conflict. Again, I was saddened by these thoughts when I looked at the murals. Another mural depicted what is happening in the present with youth employment, learning, conflict resolution, reconciliation, and education. It was really neat to see that in the midst of tension today, the city is working hard on creating a better future for their children. The murals held so many other stories that struck a chord in my heart, but hopefully, that feeling is something that can be experienced by others in person.

We made a few stops with Brian to a few memorials. What stirred feelings of sadness in my heart was the thought that each neighborhood has a handful of memorials dedicated to all the lives that were lost during the conflict from each section of the city. The first memorial had a phoenix rising out of the ashes. This image is powerful in that it tells of rebirth and sunlight. Perhaps the hope was to show that from the horror, peace would be brought forth and light would be shed upon the darkness of Belfast. Another memorial listed civilians who were killed- including six women by the crown forces and loyalist murder gangs.

After some time learning about the Troubles with Brian, a man of similar age came on the bus. His name was Noel, and he held a very different perspective of the Troubles. Noel has spent the last 13 years working on the communication between the two sides of the Troubles and developing tours for people to learn and further understand the issues. What led him to be so passionate about enhancing communication on either side of the wall was from his experience of being an ex-politically motivated prisoner. As we toured around Belfast with Noel, he pointed out how the houses were built by mill owners. These homes were built without any windows to protect against sudden bombs. The houses at the top of the street were Protestant-owned, and the houses at the bottom were Catholic-owned. Noel would tell us about the barricades that were created on either side. After years of conflict, bombings, and prisoners, there was a ceasefire in 1994. However, the tension did not settle then. A peace treaty was drawn up in 1998, but I can attest to the tension and sadness that still exists in Belfast today. When the peace treaty was created, the prisoners who served over 2/3 of their sentence were released. This included Noel and so he was released. From our time with Noel, I was overwhelmed by the unrest and hatred that seemed to exist. At one point, Noel showed us a field of yellow flowers and said how that once was a bonfire during the conflict. My heart ached, but the beauty of the flowers almost seemed to be redemptive of the peace that is slowly coming back to these people. A mural that we saw depicted children playing games in black and white. As we moved along the wall, the color was introduced, and the kids began to play games from this century. The cloth football became a rubber ball, and a game of stones became a kid with a music player. This mural was to educate viewers on the good outcomes of such hard times. One final story that I will share is when Noel took out the guitar and played a song about Billy. It turns out that Billy was a union volunteer fighter who saved his whole team by throwing his body on top of a bomb that went off early. The song was moving, and I was saddened to hear that he was not given a grave.

At the end of the day we were all exhausted, and personally, I was confused, sad and still had so many questions about the Troubles. To come to Ireland and not know much about the history, I have felt a huge sense of empathy for what happened here. I have seen how the history lectures lead up to what is happening today in Ireland and I appreciate that. Belfast was a really interesting day, filled with so much information. However, it was emotionally challenging as well. Other blog sites have held a lot of history that is fascinating and inspiring almost. Belfast held history that confused me and made me revisit the idea of God in all of this. How has God used the conflict in Northern Ireland to bring people together? Surely that is seen through the relationship between Brian and Noel, but where else has that happened? Still, so many questions to ask and more to learn.