Cork, Ireland: Home Away From Home

Cheers! We’re all safe and settled in our home for the month, Cork, Ireland. This past week we started official classes with Dr. Ehrhardt and Dr. Cusack and adventured around Cork. Our accommodations and classroom for the month is on the beautiful campus of UCC – University of Cork College. Below are pictures of our class building, the main hall, and the president’s office:

The apartments are spacious with a nice kitchen, big penthouse widows, and leather couches! Each student has her own room and bathroom, so there’s lots of communal and private space to enjoy. Here’s a look at the great couches and the pretty view out our windows:

Within Ireland, Cork is second in population to Dublin, but it doesn’t feel that big unless you’re carrying bags of potatoes home from the market. Just like Dublin, Cork is really walkable and safe, one of our professors even said that it’s safer than cozy Norman! There are lots of buses and taxis too if you’re not super keen on walking, but the city is really pretty so my friends and I enjoy walking around.

After several days of exploring, my favorite place in Cork thus far is the English Market. Made famous when the Queen of England visited (and laughed and smiled!) in 2011, the market is home to a variety of gardeners, bakers, and meat vendors. You can even find kangaroo, tripe, and pigs’ heads at several booths! My apartmentmates, Sydney and Krisa, are also fond of the market, so we’ve visited it several times to buy fruits, veggies, bread, and chicken. (We’re not quite brave enough to cook tripe or trotters!) The prices are reasonable and the food is fantastic and fresh! The tastiest thing we bought this weekend was raspberry and elderflower juice and vine ripened strawberries. So wonderful! The English Market is definitely a must-see if you ever visit Cork.

Wonderful produce aside, the English Market is also great for gathering insight about food perceptions and priorities in Ireland. Each of the vendors knows exactly where her items are from, and takes pride in personally delivering the final product to the consumer, whether slicing the bread, selecting the cut of meat, cutting cheese etc. Rather than a cashier at a supermarket, the vendors have direct connections to their food and sell what's fresh and in season. Not only is this a tastier way to eat, but it's also much healthier because the food is fresh and doesn't require unhealthy preservatives. The vendors are all nice and personable as well. Even within the short time we've spent in Cork, one vendor already recognizes my roommates and I and inquires about if we're enjoying our time at UCC. 

The class has been divided into “families” to help everyone get to know each other better, and I’m in family O’Connell! The family motto of O’Connell is: “Intelligence and strength. Virtue,” so we've taken to acing out these characteristics when we take pictures. Here's a family picture in front of the English Market entrance…

On the drive down last weekend, we stopped at the beautiful town of Glendalough (pronounced glen-da-lock). Saint Kevin founded the town and helped establish a parish by the gorgeous lake. The weather alternated between rain and sunshine while we were there, and gave a sense of serenity to the lakeside path and the cemetery around the church ruins. The sun waved over the hills around the lake, and at times the leaves shone silver because of the rain water on the trees reflecting the light of the sun. It was amazing – I wish we could have stayed longer! Here are some shots from our walk around the lake.

Up next: a blissful day in Kinsale, and more about Irish food culture and hospitality. Cheers!!