The Grass is Greener on the Other Side of the Pond: First Impressions of Dublin!

Last Wednesday, I arrived safely in Dublin, Ireland. The plane descended towards the airport over a carpet of vivid green; the stereotype of brilliant grass is true! As I exited the airport a cheery voice yelled “Go Sooners!” - my OU sweatshirt was spotted by a fellow Oklahoman. We chatted about Norman and exchanged a “Boomer, Sooner” in parting. What a small world we live in! I arrived in Dublin a day earlier than the rest of the class and was a little apprehensive about exploring a new city on my own, but this stranger’s bright greeting was only the first of many friendly faces that I encountered.

The Dublin airport is easy to navigate, and before long I was on the bus to Trinity College in central Dublin, the site of my dorm room for the next four days. Trinity College has a beautiful campus composed of handsome, gray, stone buildings interspaced with emerald greens and artwork.

The weather of my first two days in Dublin was irregularly filled with bright blue sunny skies that allowed for fun exploration of the city. Ireland has an incredibly rich history that includes a variety of peoples: the Fir Bolgs, Tuatha De Daan, the Fianna warriors, vikings, Celts, the British, and fortunately one of the first places I visited after leaving my luggage at Trinity was the National Archaeology Museum of Ireland.
Exhibits on the Battle of Clontarf in 1014 AD and the Bog Bodies of Ireland were especially interesting, and provided helpful background and historical insight for my time in Ireland.
Later in the afternoon, I met Professor Cusack, who also arrived in Dublin early, for coffee and a walk around Dublin. We explored the National Gallery, the downtown area, and the beautiful St. Stephen’s park where we saw a gorgeous family of trumpeter swans.

Dr. Cusack is familiar with Dublin and was generous in sharing helpful exploration and dinner recommendations.

Staying on your feet is the best way to beat jet lag, so I kept walking after Dr. Cusack and I parted and visited other landmarks like the Dublin Castle and then attended a Choral Evensong service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral which was gorgeous.

 Dublin is an easy city to walk, and I was surprised with how quickly I felt comfortable without a map. The areas of Dublin I visited were safe and clean, especially in comparison to American and other European cities. The few times I felt turned around, the Dubliners around me were happy to assist in redirecting my path. Although I was apprehensive about traveling alone before the trip, everything went swimmingly; the independent time was enjoyable, invigorating, and endowed me with confidence and excitement for future solo adventures.

On Thursday, the rest of the "June in Ireland" class arrived in Dublin! After an introductory “Welcome to Ireland” meeting, fifteen of us ventured to the outskirts of Dublin by tram to explore Kilmainham Gaol, a historic jail that housed almost all of the revolutionary leaders in the Easter Rising. The uprising itself failed, but the sparks of revolution it ignited eventually culminated in the Irish War for Independence. The visit was well worth the tram and the walk! 

Pictured below are some friends and I after visiting the Old Library and the Book of Kells at Trinity College– definitely a highlight of my time in Dublin! (No photography of the illuminated manuscript was allowed)

There are twenty-one students and two professors in the June in Ireland program, and we bonded in Dublin during historical walking tours of the city, a tour of the Guinness Storehouse, explorations of the Dublin famine ships, a Dublin farmers market, and a traditional Irish dinner complete with music and Irish step dancing. I wish there was time to tell you stories of all of our adventures! Dublin is a wonderful city with an intriguing history; I enjoyed every minute of it! 
Tune in next time to hear about driving to Glendalough and life in Cork!